Danu, Goddess of Water, Sailors, Fertility, Agriculture, and Motherhood
Who Is the Celtic Goddess Danu?
She is the matron and protector, the triple goddess and warrior. She is neither old nor young, but she is all. She is the goddess Danu, the goddess of all Celtic deities.
There is very little known about the goddess Danu. The sources that we derive most of our information from about her are old and unclear. However, there are consecutive myths spoken about her in Ireland and abroad.
The goddess Danu was represented as the mother of all the Celtic gods and goddesses. She was also represented as being the goddess of rivers and water and those who worked amongst the various bodies of water, such as fishermen and sailors. She was the matron and goddess of the Tribes of Danu, or Tuatha de Danann, who were later to become the fairies and leprechauns of Ireland. It is believed that she gave them a great deal of her powers, hence the fairy magic that we hear of in fae mythology. Danu is usually seen represented as the Triple Goddess, due to her being both young and old, she encompasses all.
Known Names of Danu
- Don (Welsh)
- The Triple Goddess
A Brief History of the Tuatha de Danann
Fun Facts About Danu
- She is also present in Hindu beliefs under the same name.
- The rivers Danube, Dniestr, Dniepr, and Don all receive their names from the goddess.
- The colors green, blue, black, and silver are associated with her.
- It is believed that Danu shares a connection with the Celtic goddess Brigit.
- The Welsh equivalent of her name is Don.
- She is also a goddess of fertility, agriculture, and many earth-based things.
- Some believe her original name was Anu, and that early 19th century scholars penned her as Danu.
- There is a mountain on the planet Venus named after the goddess.
Symbols Associated with Danu
- Fish are considered a symbol for the goddess due to her association with water. She makes an excellent goddess for fishermen and sailors.
- A black cauldron filled with water is considered another symbol representing the goddess. Many pieces of artwork found representing the goddess depict her holding a cauldron filled with water.
- The goddess has a very strong association with water. Several rivers received their names after her, including the Don, Danube, Dniestr, and the Dniepr.
- Circle (represents the womb). Aside from being a water goddess, Danu is also associated with fertility. She is a great goddess to include in your rituals if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.
She is the mother goddess of fairies and leprechauns. Anyone interested in inviting fae into their homes and gardens should first research a little on Danu to obtain further knowledge about the fae folk.
Tuatha de Dannan: The Fairy People
Danu is said to be the mother goddess of the Tuatha de Dannan, the people later known for being the fairy folk in Celtic legend. Their name literally translates to, "The children of Danu". Some researchers claim that the fae was born of her, but others dispute this claim and state that she was merely their mother goddess and not their actual mother.
The Tuatha de Dannan were a magical people filled with great warriors and healers. They fought many battles trying to claim their land but ultimately were driven underground by the Milesians. It is said that Danu gave them some of her powers so that they could shapeshift and hide with relative ease from their enemies. They shifted into the forms today known as fairies and leprechauns.
The Tuatha de Dannan are said to have remained underground and developed their own world there. This world is now commonly referred to as Otherworld, Fairy, or sometimes Summerland. In this world, time is different and operates at a different pace than that of our time.
Today the Tuatha de Dannan are honored by many Pagans and Wiccans. They are often given gifts inside the Pagan's garden or kitchen to invite them into their homes for blessings and protection.
Danu in the Pagan Religion
Danu is an excellent goddess for Pagan and Wiccans alike. She is considered a Triple Goddess and has a strong connection with water, making her a great choice for people who practice the goddess religion or for those whose element is water. She is also a great goddess of choice for people who have a connection with the fae, or who wish to invite the fae into their homes.
An excellent way to incorporate Danu into your worship is by first starting with the fae. The best place to begin is in the garden. Even if you don't have room for a decent sized garden, try to at least incorporate some flower beds or window planters into your home.
The fae folk love brightly colored plants and flowers. Tulips and pansies are great flower choices, while thyme and oregano make good herb choices. Keep in mind that the garden should be bright and attractive to attract the fae.
Another great reason to incorporate Danu into your worship is if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. She is a goddess of fertility and helps aid women to conceive, as well as to carry full term happy, healthy babies. Many who are prone to having premature babies will seek out Danu for support in having a full term baby.
Teaching Children About Danu
Danu is a fun goddess to teach young children about due to her association with the fae realm. Children and the fae tend to be automatically drawn to one another. So, if you are a Pagan raising children of your own, introducing your children to your craft by first involving them with fairies and the deities associated with them is a great way to bring up your children in your religion.
A few ideas for teaching children about Danu and the fae include:
- Making a fairy garden for Danu and her children.
- Reading about the Daghda (the high chieftain of the Tuatha de Danann) and the fairies in the book Circle Round - Raising Children in Goddess Traditions (link for the book found below) and discuss with your children Danu's association with the fae and the Daghda.
- Baking and leaving honey cakes outside at night for the fae for a late night snack. Fairies love honey cakes!
- If you're not inclined to leave a slice of honey cake for your fairy friends, they also really enjoy sugar cubes or a tablespoon of sugar left in a small bowl or cup.
- Going on a fishing trip and discussing Danu's association with water and fishermen.
Books for Pagans
Circle Round is an excellent starter book for people interested in the Pagan religion, as well as those raising children in a Pagan home. It has wonderful stories about many of the Pagan gods and goddesses, as well as craft projects and altar ideas associated with the seasons.