Gaelic Polytheist

Devotional Practice with the Dagda

I was sitting at my desk, enjoying the grey sky morning, when the amazing Lora O’Brien asked the Irish Spirituality group she runs on Facebook, “What one thing you would like to learn about the Dagda?”. It was a question that my mind immediately ran away with. So many things! What archaeological evidence is there? What modern Irish practices and culture resonates with him? What title does he like the best? The list ran long and I was thoroughly enjoying the replies that the question brought up. I started to feel that contented full heartedness that just comes with the Good God. It’s a warm larger than life feeling, it settles in the rib cage and then just expands out. You feel like you could do anything. You feel like anything in the cosmos is possible. You feel like you just climbed a mountain and are looking out on the expanse of the miracle that is nature and all your eye can see. You feel like you want to be at a table full of friends enjoying good food and drink. You feel like if someone challenged your abilities right now you would take that challenge with gusto and laugh heartily. It is about now when this one realizes that she has a Good God at her shoulder, while looking at the several people all asking to know how to connect to him.

It’s not really a conversation. It’s all feelings and impressions but my tiny little mortal mind takes it all and makes it into a story format that my limited consciousness can understand. So bear with me gentle reader, what I write below is not literally what happened, but then again…it is:    

Sitting as inconspicuously as possible at my very conspicuous desk in a very standard office, I let the large comforting and uplifting feelings of the Good God wash over me as I read the responses and think more on my plans for this weekend in the woods, making a mental note to buy him a large Guinness.  

“You should write about how you do things.”

I pause in my typing and general work. I didn’t hear anything, there were no sounds to hear, but I heard it all the same. The feeling on my heart increases, expands, the temperature rises. For a moment I smirk at the idea of hearts growing bigger and the physical, likely dangerous, impact on the human body. The humor is there and so is the strength, settled deep in the chest, in the bones and it has been many months since I have been honored with his presence this acutely. I consider my words, the feelings this small proposal brings up, the doubts, the excuses. None of them are fully formed thoughts and yet the Good God knows them all.

“The work continues on. You aren’t claiming to be anything but yourself. That is enough. You have created a space to share, so share. Others may find their way and more work will be done.”

I breathe deep letting the air fill the caverns of my expanded self. The host of self doubt, of feeling an impostor, of not being enough, remain. I am human and my psyche will always hold these scars, but I will not let them hold me back. I had not been asked to serve for some time. Not in this way. Many things had changed in the course of that time. I had wondered if I would feel this calling ever again or if that path was done.

“It would please me.”

A warm smile blooms on my lips. The path has not gone. It split off but it is as surely mine as it ever was and sometimes a Good God would walk with me. One that was deep, strong and red. One of life and death, of work and play, of love and loss, of the earth and the sky, of wisdom and of foolishness.

For him I will gladly do the good work.

Which, my readers, those of you who have come this far, means that I will be writing a series for the Dagda and posting it here. I already have been given some ideas on how to break things down, and this will really just be explanations of what I do and what has worked for me. Just one version of how this very American, Gaelic Polytheist has practiced Devotion to the Irish God known as the Dagda. Not the end all, or one true way, or how the ancestors did it. Just how I do. That being said, if anyone has questions or something they’d particularly like to know, I would love to hear them!    

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Sacred Places: Cove Beach

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I thought it was about time to spotlight one of my dear and sacred places. What perfect timing as I just made a trip out there with Temple Witch to continue with our Dark Moon offerings practice! As you can see the beach has the glorious appeal of having cliffs as well as the Sea, oh but wait there is more 😉

The beach has a official state name, as it is an official state beach, but that name doesn’t seem to sit with it in my mind very well. Originally I was calling it Crab beach because it is a massive grave-site to countless crabs. Literally thousands of crabs from tiny tiny to big ol’ guys carcasses and shells litter the beach. Temple Witch has taken quite a few of the shells home for her own Sea dealings. But that name didn’t last long as the true star of the this amazingly peaceful and treacherous land emerged.

Before I indulge in that I’ll give you a little background. It was Temple and the Giant that found this beach, and were generous enough to share it. Unlike our other Sea haunt of Muir Beach, Cove Beach seems to be at the same time more peaceful, and more active. It is more peaceful in that most of the humans who visit tend to stay within a 100 feet of the parking lot, leaving the whole other side of the beach empty and gloriously isolated for our feasting and pleasure. More active in that the spirits and animals of the place just seem more…restless. It is not uncommon to watch a huge 100+ flock of seagulls diving and feasting on the crabs when the waves hit just so. Or to watch the Pelicans diving not to far off shore and the Gulls clamoring for scraps.    There are often many dead on the beach, not just crabs, gulls and other birds as well. And the turkey vultures always seem to make at least one pass of the sandy area. The waves themselves hit a little rougher, the undercurrent unforgiving and relentless in its want to pull you out. All and all Cove beach is a bit more wild.

Which suits are needs just fine.

Now the title of this wonderful beach is due to its neolithic-style coves that immediately impress the mind with the majesty and beauty of natures temples. There really are no words to describe the joy at seeing this powerful combination of Land, Sea and Sky. So instead I shall show you.

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The pictures cannot do it justice. It is primal raw natural energy. It is intoxicating in its simplicity and it’s complexity. It is holy. The first cave (there are several) is accessible at certain times of the year when the tide is farther out. Making it an amazing liminal place, let alone that fact that it is a cove that tapers off into nothing. A true opening to the underground, the other world, the beyond.

There is a lot of evidence of the holiness of these underground spaces. There are huge man made cairns in Ireland and France, neolithic structures many of which are oriented to celestial bodies like the sun and moon. One of the many things that I would like to study more about, the way the sun has a habit of beaming into the cove really speaks to me. Was it finding such a wonder as this that made the Ancients of Ireland decide to build there own? Portals have always been a fascinating feature in the myths and stories, and staring into the darkness at that point when suddenly the crashing waves are muffled, feeling the cold damp and heaviness of rock. I can feel the draw. The pull to somewhere else. Somewhere beyond.

Luckily I have always managed to feel the sun’s call and return back to the glittering passioned sea.

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One of these days we will get around to holding a ritual in this cave. Temple has long wanted to honor Persephone in this manner, and I know there are several of my deities who would use such a portal as this to be honored. But till that time, we continue to come and leave our humble offerings.

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I to sign my songs and praises of the Gods that I have oathbound and those who I have not. To feel the warmth of the sun and the strength of the rock, to see the darkness of the shadow and size of the sea. Under the massive cliffs I feel the Morrighan’s watchful eye, the challenge and the expectation forever weighing upon me. I thank the Dagda for his continued blessing, and for the guidance to keep hospitality in my heart. I acknowledge my vows to the Great Queen and know that there is much yet I need to do to be worthy. I turn smiling to the jovial sea and sing flirtatious love songs at the wild outsider Manannan Mac Lir. I give thanks to the beach and the land, those small spirits that have opened up this sanctuary to me.

And I feel blessed.

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