The Beautiful Ones: Tuatha De Danann

sundaylegends

Okay, now to play with the big boys.

I’m not going to even pretend I can pronounce these names. One of my friends is dedicated to Nodens [Nuada] and thinks that it’s funny that I call him Doyle (…I’m not sure if I’m hoping or not hoping that you get that reference…).

This is where someone like my friend Karen with her Masters in Classics would probably do better with an entry like this, but I haven’t been able to convince her to write for here yet. This is where Celtic, and Irish specifically, mythology, starts to get all timey-wimey.

Irish history can be kind of nasty to pull apart because, to use a gross oversimplification, there has been a folkloric habit of turning old gods into faeries. Ireland was invaded in waves and the pre-existing deities were absorbed into the myth ways, but as various fey spirits. One of these groups, the Tuatha de Danann, or Children of Danu, is one of the central groups-and probably the ones that are probably the most familiar to people.

They just don’t know it.

The group of deities involved in this era are the ones that we still see pop up in pop-paganism (think the fluffy stuff that’s easily accessible on-line): the Dagda, Nuada (who is actually going to be my lead in for the second half of this entry, because Doyle’s my boy), Lugh, Manannan mac Lir. However, somewhere along the way they were demoted. Depending on your source/your stance they turned into folk heroes (this is most obvious, I think, with the Dagda), or they shifted into a different aspect of the supernatural-they became something like the Sidhe.

I’ve heard it argued orally that they are the Sidhe. I’ve heard a lot of things about them in passing actually. I’d be interested to see how much of it actually makes sense in a sociohistorical light.

It does need to be stated that they do have their own mythology. A mythology that I’m admittedly horrible with, so you need to find another blogger for that.

You can’t just shove them into whatever faerie-esque role you would like them to be.

…Or can you?

This is where Nodens/Nuada/Doyle comes into play, and why I said that I lot more people are going to be familiar with them than they think. Because modern fantasy writers, especially urban fantasy writers, for whatever reason love turning them into elves. It seems to be a trope lately that if you want something like authenticity, you turn the Tuatha de Danann into an elf/sidhe/something prettier and more powerful than a human and roll with it.

Is this is a bad thing? Like most things, that depends on your stance on appropriation of imagery, I guess.

Tuatha De Danann

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2 comments

  1. I love Irish folklore and legends, though I feel like I don’t know nearly enough of them. I have noticed the modern urban fantasies’ tendency to ‘port pretty much ANYTHING Irish into “oh, they’re fairies” or “oh, they’re elves”, and for me, it doesn’t really feel like the right fit. It seems like there’s always some decision made that just kind of makes me cringe. Irish Stuff™ is popular to people who aren’t Irish (or Irish American; I’ve seen people get pretty touchy about the ways others claim their Irishness), and I’m not sure they’re really scratching the surface of what makes the old stories important. As a result, it ends up feeling kind of slick and false to me.

    1. It’s just awkward, especially for the paranormal romance stuff. Like, you just turned someone’s deity into an imaginary perfect boyfriend. The older I get the weirder that strikes me.

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