The Dagda

HomePage | Recent changes | View source | Discuss this page | Page history | Log in |

Printable version | Privacy policy

The Dagda is the supreme god of the Celtic pantheon. This word means "The Good God", not good in a moral sense, but good at everything, or all-powerful. The Dagda is a father-figure, a protector of the tribe and the basic Celtic god of whom other male Celtic deities were variants. Celtic gods were largely unspecialised entities, and perhaps we should see them as a clan rather than as a formal pantheon. In a sense, all the Celtic gods and goddesses were like the Greek Apollo, who could never be described as the god of any one thing.

In Dorset there is a famous outline of an ityphallic giant with a club cut into the chalky soil. While this was probably produced in Roman times, it is very likely that it represents the Dagda. In Gaul, The Dagda appeared in the guise of Sucellos, the striker, equipped with a hammer and cup.

Irish tales depict The Dagda as a figure of immense power, armed with a magic club and associated with a cauldron. The club was supposed to be able to kill nine men with one blow; with the handle he could return the slain to life. The cauldron was bottomless, capable of feeding an army.

He also possessed a richly ornamented magic harp made of oak which, when De Dagda played it, put the seasons in their correct order; other accounts tell of the harp being used to command the order of battle. In Irish mythology, The Dagda was moreover the High King of the Tuatha de Danaan, the fairy folk and supernatural beings who occupied Ireland prior to the coming of the Celts. His wife was Boand. Prior to the battle with the Formarians, he coupled with the goddess of war, Morrigan, on Samhain in exchange for a plan of battle.