With Great God Comes Great Responsibility!
The Lebor Gabála Eireann, or Book of Invasions tells of the coming to Ireland of the Tuatha Dé Dannan. As this tribe struggled to establish themselves upon the land and then defend it from invasion and war, there was one among the heroes who offered to do all that any other could volunteer. The lore tells us that they called him An Dagda as he was their Great God of druidry and magic.
I find it fascinating to delve into these ancient origin stories of Ireland and explore tales about characters we know to be at least one thousand year old. Though tomes like the book of Kells, the Yellow Book of Lecan or the Book of Fermoy are dated to the eleventh and twelfth centuries, we know that the language is from the ninth century, and that these tales were considered old indeed when they were first committed out of memory and onto pages. So, we have stories of heroes and Gods that have survived the trials of time to still resonate with us today.
So, what powers did this Good God of druidry possess and what belief was there in his abilities that none raised challenge to his claim to wield all that they had promised?
Within the tale of the Second Battle of Moytura, a war council gathers and there the sorcerers promise to call the mountains of Ireland to throw themselves against the invaders. The Cup bearers will call up the lakes and the rivers so that no invader would find a drop to drink and last, the druid will call rains of fire from the skies, steal two thirds of their valour and bind the urine inside both man and horse so that every breath an invader took would diminish them, ever were the war to last seven years.
Here the Dagda speak and with his own words he proclaims his ability; ‘The power which ye boast I shall wield it all by myself.’
Yet this is not the only time we see the Dagda refer to his power. The Dagda has upon himself the power over sun, moon, land and sky. This he declares when he takes up the additional power over life and death in the famous magical club. Yet for all of the tales we hear of this hero amongst heroes he is rarely presented as prideful, wrathful or mean of spirit. He instead offers service time and again to his children and peoples, caring for them and carrying out all forms of toil so that his Tuath may thrive.
It might be fair to say that With 'Great God' Comes Great Responsibility!