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Gods and Goddesses, Fairies and Fey: Brigid and the Danann

Sheila Lamb

Sheila LambBy Guest Author: Sheila R Lamb

In the stories about the Túatha de Danann, the one which fascinated me was Brigid. Of all the Danann, she is the most diverse. She had intriguing story lines, and she carries her name across history.

The Danann are part of Ireland’s ancient mythology and legends. They are known as warriors and gods, but they are also known as fairies.

It’s an interesting contradiction.

I read several different sources about the Túatha de Danann, including Lady Gregory’s Irish Myths and Legends. I read good websites, such as online excerpts from CELT (Corupus of Electronic Texts), Sacred Texts, and Timeless Myths. I read questionable websites (no names mentioned). Putting all the various stories together, their tale goes something like this: the Túatha de Danann were among the first settlers of Ireland. They had magical or druidical powers. Some sources believe they arrived from the lost island of Atlantis. They brought with them magical spears, swords, and the Lia Fail, the stone of destiny, which still stands on the hill of Tara today. The Lia Fail stone was said to choose the new Irish kings.

Several of the Túatha de Danann had natural elements assigned to them that were consistent across different readings. Macha was known as a war goddess, as was Morrigan. Dagda was the father or highest-ranking god. Lugh represented the sun, hence the harvest festival of Lughnasad.

Brigid was the most intriguing. Of the women in the Danann tales, she, not her sisters, was the one forced to marry the enemy.  She is known as a poet, a healer, and a blacksmith. She’s said to have power over fire. She is thought to have brought keening, the lament, the practice of wailing at funerals. She’s said to be an inspirational muse to artists.

Legend has it that when the Túatha de Danann were lost to the final wave of invaders, they went underground. They all became fairies, or for the women, bean sidhe. Gaelic for “woman fairy”. The modern Americanized word: banshee. The Túatha de Danann lost their status as gods and goddesses. Instead they turned into what are now known as fairies, and sprites, and leprechauns.

Yet it is Brigid alone who incarnates into another life, a druid’s daughter who supposedly converted to Christianity and became St. Brigid. Many of the aspects ascribed to the goddess are also ascribed to the saint.

Why is she the one that survives and many of the others fade into the realm of myth?

In my trilogy, I’ve chosen to take the fantastical, paranormal leap that this is the same Brigid, a Danann goddess turned human over time. The Danann play a part, always wanting to be free of their underground prison.

Macha, Dagda, Lugh…and Brigid. They are the original Danann. The original settlers, warriors, gods, goddesses and fey. Whether they are now fey or gods, fairies or goddesses, the Danann are firmly rooted in Irish myth and legend and in our imagination.

Links:

Website: http://sheilarlamb.com

Once A Goddess:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Once-Goddess-Sheila-R-Lamb-ebook/dp/B00M7H5X9C

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/once-a-goddess-sheila-r-lamb/1105585500

Once a Goddess

For the sake of peace, Brigid of the supernatural Túatha dé Danann enters into an arranged marriage with Bres, the next chieftain of the enemy Fomorian tribe, whose iron weapons and brute strength challenge Danann magic. Brigid is told to spy for her people, and to keep the source of their powers secret, dangerous tasks that complicate her desire of making the best of her forced union.

Sacrificing her own hope for love, Brigid faces the Fomorians alone. She must confront her rival, Morrigan, who tries to manipulate the tribe against her. At the same time, Brigid suspects that Bres is breaking the truce for reasons she doesn’t understand. When his tyranny threatens the very existence of the Danann, Brigid has no choice but to risk her life in order to save her people.

Set in a time when myths were reality, Once A Goddess brings the legend of Ireland’s magical Túatha dé Danann to life.

About the Author

Sheila R. Lamb received an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University. Her stories have earned Pushcart and storySouth Million Writers Award nominations. She’s also the journal editor for Santa Fe Writers Project.

Her first novel, Once A Goddess, has been released by Solstice Shadows, an imprint of Solstice Publishing. Fiery Arrow, the second book in the Brigid trilogy, is also forthcoming from Solstice.

Sheila has traveled throughout Ireland and participated in the Achill Archaeology Field School. She loves Irish history, family genealogy, and is easily distracted by primary source documents. She lives, teaches, and writes in the mountains of Virginia.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Reviews, Interviews, and Guest Blogs | Sheila R. Lamb

  2. Pingback: Reviews, Interviews, and Guest Blogs | Sheila R. Lamb

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