Now, I shall explore Ireland’s own Zeus.
This book is about all of the available information about the Dagda. He is the Irish god of the harvest, fertility, and was a leader of the Tuatha De Danann. It is meant to be an analysis of this poorly recorded, complicated character from Irish mythology; as well as her own commentary pertaining to the relevance of the Dagda to her own life.
Daimler has taught Irish myths and was a polytheist since the ’90s. They are a blogger and have written about Irish neopaganism. They use they/them pronouns.
They mentioned how the material about the Dagda was shaky and explains how they were able to connect what they researched about the Morrigan and attempts to explain who the Dagda really was like.
Daimler herself noted that they were fascinated by the Dagda from an early age.
Historical Context (Kettesten Hwedheldusek)
In the light of barely any historical documentation about the Dagda, Daimler attempts to tie in any form of historical context in order to understand why the Dagda dresses and fights the ways he does. When the Dagda disguised himself in order to infiltrate the Fomorian camp, Daimler attempts to explain that the revealing tunic the Dagda wore was meant to resemble the Iron Age peasant garb.
There is a lot of harkening back to the Old Irish in which the Dagda and his many epithets derive from. As such, there is a lot of context that the author provides in order to show how it relates to his physical form. Of course, Daimler also further gets into detail about the Indo-European comparisons with Greek, Roman, and Celtic gods.
Adding to that point, the Dagda is compared to the weather and father gods such as Zeus, Dis Pater, Odin, and Secullos. Of course, what is the main unique part of the Dagda’s path to the fatherly king of the Tuatha De Danann is the fact that he is not the biological father of a lot of the gods he is supposedly a father of; and he does not start that way and only becomes so out of desperation in the fight against the Fomorians.
The use of objects and animals provide important points to the Dagda when fighting against the Fir Blog. In the case of the never-ending cauldron, the Fir Bolg underestimated how all-encompassing the Dagda’s appetite was. The Dagda also had to claim a staff that could kill and resurrect depending on how it is used. The never-ending cauldron is also a major theme in the Dagda’s possession, but also a major component of Celtic mythology.
The cauldron itself represents abundance, which is an attribute of the Dagda. There are many attributes of the Dagda, such as masculinity and the harvest. This is also reflected off the fact that he acts as a father of the Irish gods, in spite of the fact that none of the most important gods are his own.
As for the battles, the Dagda especially partakes in the fighting against the Fomorians until eventually the Tuatha De Danann settle in Connacht. It is interesting how the conflicts continue to escalate, yet there is some form of peace between them.
Of course, love lives are a major part of the Dagda family’s tragic history. This is seen when his sons woo married women and paid dearly for it. As for the Dagda himself, he loved the Morrigan as his equal, but did have other mistresses, such as the Fomorian princess.
What Daimler notes about the prime characteristic of the Dagda is his numerous contradictions. Although he is a god of many trades, he mainly deals with actions that are complete opposites. While he is a king, he also has not qualms disguising himself as a commoner.
The identification with complete contradictions is definitely something that is inherent in the human condition. This was especially seen in human civilization itself, as Yuval Noah Harari noted. There were plenty of benefits and disadvantages associated with empires for instance. On the one hand, they enjoyed large amounts of trade and diversity, but it came at the expense of the colonized peoples who were subjugated.
As for how Celtic mythology has been an inspiration for Tolkien for Middle-Earth, it is definitely seen with the Sidhe. It is clear that Galadriel and the elves were directly inspired by the Tuatha De Danann–as Marjorie Burns argued. Of course, I do not know where the Dagda would fit in, since Tolkien did have the stereotypical worldview that the Celts were feminine and fairy-like.
Writing Style (Gis Skrifedh)
As expected for a book this short, the writing style is simple enough to understand. There is a pronunciation guide in the Appendix for both Old Irish and Modern Irish words and names.
Real-World Application (Omrians Vys-Wir)
This book attempts to provide a detailed description of the Dagda, which would help when venerating him in a pagan context. She suggests depicting the Dagda in a more modern setting, since there would have been no difference between the clothes of today and the Iron Age that would have been recognized by the Iron Age worshipers as completely foreign. However, it would ruin the Dagda’s relevance to the Iron Age.
Daimler does suggest some prayers to the Dagda, which I will attempt to use in this review. This may not sound tasteful, but there has not been a major focus on the issue of masculinity; at least one that is not tainted by the actions of that small percentage who ruin it for the rest of us. I can only hope that the Dagda would provide that light that needs to be cast upon masculinity, such as the harvesting of a bountiful increase and the willingness to risk danger in order to protect the ones around him. It all sounds corny, but is it really any different from femininity?
Recommend This To… (Komendysen Ma Dhe…)
- Anyone who might be interested in knowing more about the Dagda, since there is barely anything known about him, other than juxtapositions with other father-gods like Zeus and Odin. Although there is enough information about the Dagda in the book, do not expect a comprehensive study on him.
- Burns, Marjorie. “Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.” 3rd Edition. University of Toronto Press. 2018.
- Daimler, Morgan. “Pagan Portals – the Dagda: Meeting the Good God of Ireland.” Moon Books. 2018.
- Harari, Juval Noah. “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.” 1st Edition. Harper-Perennial. 2018.
- “Morgan Daimler – Moon Books.” John Hunt Publishing.