Legends about the Tuatha de Danann flow like a winding river through the ages in Irish lore. They have been the subject of both Irish poets and Christian monks who wrote fantastical histories of Ireland; or were their histories all that fantastical? I introduced you to the Tuatha de Danann in my last post. In this post we will explore where they came from and where they went in a little more detail.
According to legend, as reported in the Annals of the Four Masters, compiled by Franciscan monks between 1632-1636 CE from earlier texts, the Tuatha de Danann were a race of God-like people with supernatural powers. According to the Annals they invaded and ruled Ireland over four thousand years ago, from 1897 BCE until 1700 BCE. In less than two hundred year they became the stuff of legend. Again, according to the Annals, they arrived from four mythical Northern cities: Murias, Gorias, Falias and Finias. Their arrival is recounted in The Book of Invasions (compiled c. 1150 CE) which claims that they came to Ireland riding in "flying ships" surrounded by "dark clouds" and that they landed on Sliabh an Iarainn (the Iron Mountain) in County Leitrim where they "brought a darkness over the sun lasting three days".
The Tuatha de Danann defeated the ruling tribe, the Fir Bolg, in the First Battle of Moytura to gain control over Ireland. The Danann High King Nuada Argetlam lost his arm in this battle. A king had to be perfect in all respects and so he was forced to relinquish his throne. However, the physician Dian-Cecht replaced the lost arm with a fully functional "arm of silver" and the physician's son, Miach, later caused skin and flesh to grow over the silver (bionic?) arm. Once restored to his previous perfection Nuada was restored to the position as king by ousting his successor, the tyrant Bres.
The kingdom of the Tuatha de Danann ended in two battles with the the first Gaels in Ireland, the Milesians, The Milesians and Tuatha de Danann agreed that each would rule half of Ireland. The victorious Milesians got to choose their half of Ireland first and their ruler, Amergin, chose the half of Ireland which lay above ground. Thus the Danann were forced to occupy the Irish underworld. They entered their new domain via Sidhe mounds, led by Manannán, the god of the sea. Manannán shielded the departing Danann from human eyes by raising an enchanted mist, the Faeth Fiadha or "Cloak of Concealment". With the passage of time the Tuatha de Danann became known as the Sidhe or the fairy-folk.
And so, if you chance to take a shamanic journey to the underworld and set your intent to enter via a Sidhe mound you may be privileged to meet the fairy-folk, the Tuatha de Danan.
I'm Dr. Dave, a modern druid. I lived and worked in Bolivia and Peru for over six years, where I and was trained by Andean Shamans, and today practice Druidcraft and contemporary shamanism.