The Dagda: the good god with a killer harp

Welcome to another instalment of Mythology Mondays!

The winner of our poll was The Dagda, a member of the Tuatha De Danann. (Runner-up was Manannan Mac Lir.)

I actually put him on the poll because I saw a post about him on Folklore Thursday a while back, and the picture shared of him made him look a lot like my husband. Or my husband looks like him. Anyway, it inspired me to read up more on him. (I’ve since discovered the picture is from Heroes of Camelot.)

Anyway, the Dagda — High King of the Tuatha De Danann for about 80 years.

The Tuatha De Danann is, in short form, the main family of gods from pre-Christian Ireland. They’re somewhat analogous to the Olympians of Greece — not the only supernatural beings there, of course, but some of the heavy-hitters, with a massive family tree that takes years to understand.

The Dagda is one of the “big guys” within the Tuatha De. He’s a chieftain, a druid, and a father-figure. (One of his epithets is “all-father,” though that might have more to do with his prolificness than a fatherly attitude — he sired a lot of kids.) He’s considered a very powerful god, especially as he’s said to have control over the weather, the seasons, and life and death itself.

The Dagda is well-versed in Druidic magic, and he has several magical items in his possession. One is his cauldron, which is so big it’s said the ladle can hold two grown people in it. This cauldron is known as the “cauldron of plenty” — it’s bottomless and apparently leaves no one unsatisfied (except cowards and oath-breakers).

Another item is his massive club, so big he apparently had to drag it in a wagon behind him, or across the ground. The hammer/head end of his club can kill many people at once (probably because of its massive size; I don’t know, just spitballing here), but the handle can bring people back to life. See: power over life and death.

Dagda also possesses a magic harp made from oak wood. This harp could change the seasons or the emotions of people. It also straight-up murdered some folks. Yes, the harp did. A harp.

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Hera: Queen of Heaven, Enforcer of Boundaries

Welcome to another installment of Mythology Mondays!

Today we’re going to learn a bit about Hera, Greek Queen of the Gods.

(Thanks to Kayla for suggesting her in the comments on my Facebook post!)

Hera gets a bad rap, honestly, especially with TV shows like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys being one of the main ways most modern Westerners know of her. She’s seen as jealous and shrewish, a vindictive, scorned wife of the king of the gods.

But let’s be real for a moment: if your partner slept around as much as Zeus did (according to the myths), wouldn’t you be a little cranky? I mean, assuming it’s not an open relationship (and for Zeus and Hera, it wasn’t).

One of the main things people know about the Greek gods these days (if they know anything) is that Zeus…was a bit of a player. And by “bit of a player” I mean he had sex with pretty much everything. Most mythological creatures in Greek mythology? Yeah, they exist because Zeus is their dad.

And the thing is, this is after he and Hera are married. In the beginning, they were both born of Cronos and Rhea (yeah, they’re sister and brother, which is honestly pretty common in a lot of mythologies; I know, it’s kinda weird; just go with it). However, Cronos was told his son would usurp him. So he ate all his kids, natch.

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Hephaestus, renowned artificer of weapons and wheelchairs

Welcome to the first instalment of Mythology Mondays!

Every other week (to start) I’ll be posting a short intro to a figure from mythology. Any mythology that I know something about is up for grabs — Hellenic, Roman, Irish, Buddhist — you name it, I might cover it.

I’ve studied a lot of mythology over the years, both because I enjoy it and because it is rich fodder for fantasy world-building. Also because I’m a polytheist, but you already knew that, I think.

Please note, for the purposes of these posts, the term “mythology” is not a pejorative. As an anthropological term, it is merely descriptive, referring to a body of work of stories told by a religious or cultural group to explain the truths of their worldview.

Calling something myth does not actually comment on whether or not it’s real. It’s important to remember that there is a difference between cosmic truth and literal fact, and they are not mutually exclusive concepts.

Myths reveal what a religion’s or culture’s cosmic truths are — that is, truths about the culture’s cosmology, or how they view the cosmos. They don’t comment on the existence or not of the figures within them. That’s up to members of the religion or culture.

I’m kicking off Mythology Mondays with one of my favourite dudes: Hephaestus.

Continue reading “Hephaestus, renowned artificer of weapons and wheelchairs”

30 in 30: Day 08 (in which I’m just asking for some hatemail)

A book everyone should read at least once

The Bible.

I know, I know, it’s a total fucking cliche, right? And you never expected this from your favorite Witchy author, right?

I’m sorry to disappoint.

BUT.

Nearly everything in English literature is based off ideas found in the Bible — or based off a rejection of those ideas. Only in more contemporary work are we seeing people really start to move away from that influence. Reading the Bible — or, hell, reading the Cliff’s Notes version, for those of us who are not terribly masochistic — can deepen one’s understanding of favorite poems or stories in English lit.

Not to mention, reading the Bible will prepare you SO well for any English lit class you take. True story. I was there. And I was one of the few people in class who actually knew the Biblical stories being referenced in the stories we were reading — and I’m a Pagan.

So, seriously, if you appreciate literature and you want to deepen that appreciation, or if you’re about to take an English lit class and you’d like to be the smartest asshole in class (as I  am), I recommend reading or at least familiarizing yourself with the stories in the Bible. Another good option is the Classical myths, which are severely under-taught in schools, in my opinion. You know what, fucking read both. You can’t go wrong with that. Also Greek myths are full of great stuff like rape and incest and shit; real edge-of-your-seat thrillers. (The Bible is full of that stuff too, by the way.)

Not only that, it’s awesome to have actually read the Bible so when those door-to-door jerkwads* come by to tell you about Jesus Christ you can tell them off, cause I guaran-fucking-tee you you’ll probably have more knowledge about the book than they do at that point.

And if you are of the Christian stripe and you haven’t read the Bible**, you should so you can tell off that dumb Pagan kid who thinks he knows more about your religion than you do.

*I’m not religiously intolerant; I’m “Coming to my door at 8am on a fucking Saturday” intolerant.

**Seriously, guys?

Also, yes, I’m aware that the Old Testament is also known as the Torah and it is the book of the Jewish faith, and that the New Testament is really the Christian part. Those two books are usually referred to as “The Bible”, and that whole thing is used as the basis for Christian faith by most Christians, and that’s what I’m getting at here.

(Also, Rabbis don’t come to my door at 8am on a Saturday and ask if I’ve heard of the Shekinah. Though I will admit that would be pretty awesome if they did.)