Articles Tagged with: Mythological Cycle

Danu

Background:
Danu is the most ancient of the Celtic gods. She was referred to as the mother of the Irish gods, which indicates that she was a mother goddess. In this guise she probably represented the earth and its fruitfulness. Many place names in Ireland are associated with her, most notable the Paps of Anu in Kerry, which resemble the breasts of a large supine female, part of the land. She is the ‘beantuathach’ (farmer), which reinforces the fertility aspect of the goddess. Rivers are associated with her, and represent the fertility and abundance in a land. There is a suggestion that Danu might have had dual characteristics, one being the beneficent, nurturing mother goddess, and another being the strong, malevolent side of the warrior goddess. The root “dan” in ancient Irish means art, skill, poetry, knowledge, and wisdom.

Stories of Danu:
Not many stories of the goddess Danu survive, but there are several allusions to her that help us to piece together her personality.

She is associated in one story with Bile, the god of light and healing. Bile was represented as a sacred oak tree that was fed and nurtured by Danu. This union resulted in the birth of Daghdha. The strength and stability of this male figure needed the nurturing nature of the land in order to flourish.

She is most associated with the Tuatha Dé Danaan, the people of the goddess Danu. These were a group of people, descended from Nemed, who had been exiled from Ireland, and scattered. It is thought that Danu offered them her patronage, under which they succeeded in rebanding, learning new and magical skills, and returning to Ireland in a magical mist. The mist is thought to be the loving embrace of Danu herself. She is seen as having influenced them, nurturing these broken people back to strength, and imparting magic and esoteric wisdom to them. The Tuatha Dé Danaan are the clearest representatives in Irish myth of the powers of light and knowledge. In this story we can identify aspects of the nurturing mother goddess, the teacher imparting wisdom, as well as the warrior goddess who does not give up.

The Tuatha Dé Danaan were associated with Craftsmanship, music, poetry and magic, as was Danu herself.

Conclusion:
Danu was clearly a very powerful and fundamental earth goddess, from which all power, wisdom and fecundity of the land poured forth. She was a wisdom goddess of Inspiration and intellect (In this case she is very similar to the goddess Brigit, who is thought to be the same goddess with a different title). She was also a teacher, as she passed many of her skills on to the Tuatha Dé Danaan. She also had aspects of the warrior goddess. In Danu we find traces of the triple goddess, so commonly associated with Irish goddesses.

Daghda

Background:
Daghda was chief amongst the Gaelic gods and was therefore an equivalent to the king of the Greek gods, Zeus. Daghda’s name means the “good god”, not in the moral sense but meaning good at everything. One of the main differences was that the Irish gods were not worshipped or sacrificed to, but instead they were characters of an oral poetic tradition. Daghda was a mystical supernatural being with magical powers, and his strength derived from his knowledge of the hidden, which in folklore was the highest kind of wisdom.

Tales of Daghda:
Daghda was especially connected to two particular implements. The first was the large bronze cauldron from which it was said he ate his porridge. Another version of this was that he ate it from a huge hole in the ground. The second was the club with which he armed himself. Its enormous size meant that it had to be transported on wheels.
Daghda was a warrior god, taking part in many battles. His death occurred when he was killed by a female warrior called Caitleann who cast a sling shot at him and he died of the wound.

Conclusion:
Daghda was the warrior chief of the Gaelic gods and was a dominant, if not invulnerable, character. His power was further enhanced by his knowledge of hidden powers, a gift which set him above the ordinary gods.

Cliodhna

Background:
Cliodhna was a Munster goddess whose especial domain was Glandore in Co. Cork. She presided over the Celtic Otherworld, which was a happy place for feasting and hunting, without death or aging. It was also a place full of beauty, and Cliodhna herself is supposed to have been extremely beautiful.

Stories of Cliodhna:
She possessed three magic birds, the song of which was so sweet that any of the sick who heard it were lulled to sleep and cured. However, legend also tells of a harder edge to the goddess Cliodhna. It is said that she used to employ her beauty in order to seduce men and to lure them to their deaths by the sea shore. This is supposedly what gave rise to the old Irish superstition that it is unlucky to see a woman before you put to sea. One young mortal is said to have learnt her magic and plotted to kill her, but she took the form of a wren and escaped. She is said to have drowned in the harbour of Glandore and the noise of the waves entering cliff caves near that spot has since been called Tonn Cliodhna – Cliodhna’s wave. Its noise is loud and sudden and is said to foretell the death of a king or noble man in Ulster. Cliodhna foretold, that because of the way she was treated by mortals, a great wave sent by her, would one day engulf all of Munster.

Conclusions:
Cliodhna is another of the beautiful feminine Irish goddesses. Her responsibility is the Celtic heaven and so she is associated with light and happiness. There is a colder edge to her character however, and she is often depicted as stealing or causing the death of mortals, not necessarily from malice, but more out of cold disregard for insignificant mortal life.

Ceasair

Background:
Ceasair was one of the first goddesses of Ireland, and a great leader. She was the granddaughter of Noah, who when refused entry onto the ark, decided to create one of her own. She led a large group of people to Ireland in the hope of starting afresh there.

The Story of Ceasair:
When she was ten years old her foster father, a priest in Egypt, told her to gather together a group and set out in order to escape the flood. She built a fleet of three ships, which she populated with many capable women, each with a different skill. When her father Bith was refused entry onto the ark, along with Fintan and Ladra, Ceasair offered to bring them to safety as long as they acknowledged her leadership. She set sail for Inis Fáil (Land of destiny, or Ireland), reasoning that as Ireland had as yet been unpopulated by man, no sin would have been committed there, and so would be safe from the flood sent to cleanse the world of evil.

After many years of traveling they finally arrived in Ireland. Only one ship remained, which contained fifty women and three men. They decided to divide the women into three groups, each group to take one of the men to populate the land. They also divided up the sheep they had brought with them (the first sheep to come to Ireland). Cesair allocated herself to Fintan’s group. Banba, a great warrior was the leader of Ladra’s group.

Bith died, overwhelmed by the responsibility of impregnating 16 women. Ceasair and Banba divided his women and brought them into their own groups. Ladra, incapable of surviving the greater demands, also died, which left Fintan as the only man on an island of fifty women. Feeling inadequate in the face of this mammoth task, Fintan fled in the form of a salmon. Ceasair, abandoned by her great love, was broken hearted, and soon died. The rest of the women died in the flood, apart from Banba. Fintan, in the form of a salmon, also survived. It is thought that the Formorians were descended from this pair.

Conclusion:
Ceasair was a formidable woman, taking the future of her and her people into her own hands, unwilling to wait patiently while a wrathful god planned her extermination. She is thought to have been an early Irish goddess, with a strong agricultural role. She displays power and sexuality, common traits in Irish goddesses.

Brigid

Overview:
The character of Brigid is extremely interesting in that she seems to have been both a pagan goddess and a Christian saint, with a smooth transition over time. As a goddess she was the patron of healing, crafts and poetry. Although venerated all over Ireland, Brigid had special territorial power over Leinster. She was an expert in prophecy and she was invoked by women in childbirth. This fertility aspect of her character is strong, and her pagan feast day was the feast of Imbolc, which was a season al fertility feat celebrating the lactating of ewes.

Stories of Brigid:
The Christian story of Brigid tells of her growing up in a pagan, perhaps druidic house. She was surrounded by magic, being fed by the milk of Otherworld cows. Her father was enraged at his daughter’s profession of Christianity. And was even more angry when s he said she wished to live a celibate life tending to the poor and needy. Brigid is admired for her strength in standing up to her Father, and she became the first Irish nun. In spite of her celibacy, Brigid remained strongly connected to images of fertility. She had a food store that never decreased, and from her cloak she could provide a lake of milk. A story tells of how she and a small band of followers wished to establish a convent for themselves somewhere in Kildare. Brigid sent a request to the local, pagan, land owner asking for a portion of land on which to build this convent. The reply came back that she could have whatever land her cloak covered when laid on the ground. Not daunted by this rebuff, Brigid laid her cloak on the ground and it grew to a size big enough for a convent and a substantial farm besides. The Brigid’s cross which is so popular in Irish country homes today came into being when Brigid visited a sick man in her locality. While she tended him he asked her the nature of her Christian God, and while telling him the story of Christ, Brigid picked up the rushes from the floor and started to weave them into a cross, fastening the points together. The sick man asked what she was doing. She began to explain the cross, and as she talked, his delirium quieted and he questioned her with growing interest. Through her weaving, he converted and was baptized at the point of death. Since then, the cross of rushes has been venerated in Ireland.

Conclusion:
Brigid as a female was a gentle, cultured woman, with strong powers of healing and providing. In her guise as a Christian woman she had the strength of her convictions and pursued her aims, but in a quiet, determined way, and not with harshness or stridency. She is surrounded by magic and mystery, and it is impossible to say where paganism stops and Christianity begins.

Aengus Óg

Overview:
Aengus Og son of the Daghda and Bionn (Goddess of the river Boyne) is the love god of Irish Mythology. Aengus means ‘true vigour’.

Aengus Og, God of Love:

Four bright birds hovered over his head. The birds represented his kisses. He brought love singing into the hearts of any a maiden and youth.

Stories of Aengus Og:

A spell cast by the Daghda caused Aengus Og to be both conceived and born on the same day, hence he is known as the archetypal youth. According to the myth of Diarmuid and Grainne, Aengus Og was Diarmuid’s guardian from the Tuatha. He offered the safety of his protective cloak to both Diarmuid and Grainne in their attempt to escape Finn and his men. He advised them on which path to follow on their journey and also presented Diarmuid with a gift of a sword.
Aengus fell in love with awoman he had seen in a dream. He asked Bionn and the Daghda for help. The Daghda called for aid from Bov the Red (from the Children of Lir). Bov undertook a search that lasted one year and declared that he found her by the Lake of the Dragons Mouth. When they went to the lake they saw one hundred and fifty maidens tied in pairs with gold chains. But Aengus knew his lady because she was taller than the rest. Her name was Caer, daughter of Ethel. But Ethel would not let his daughter go.

Aengus lamented that he was not strong enough to carry her off. Bov sought the help of Meadbh and Ailill of Connaught, but Ethel refused again. However with the combined powers Ailill and the Daghda they took Ethel prisoner. When they demanded Caer again he confessed that he did not comply for ‘she is more powerful than I’. He explained that she lived alternatively in the form of a maiden and a swan ‘and on the first day of November next she will be seen with a hundred and fifty other swans at the Lake of the Dragons Mouth’. Aengus went to the Lake and told Caer of his love for her. He was transformed in to a swan and the lovers flew to the palace on the Boyne accompanied by a music so divine that it lulled many hearers to sleep for three days and three nights.

Conclusion:
Aengus Og is a patron of young lovers. He helps them to get over the obstacles in front of them.

Nuadhu of the Silver Arm

Overview

Nuadhu was the King who led the Tuatha Dé Danann into Ireland. He brought the great sword of Nuadhu from which no opponent ever escaped.  This sword was one of the four special gifts the Tuatha brought with them. His army defeated the Fir Bolgs, but he lost his arm in the battle and therefore lost his Kingship, as there was a condition that the King of the Tuatha Dé Danann must be perfect in every way.

Stories of Nuadhu

Nuadhu led the Tuatha Dé Danann into battle and took the land from the Fir Bolgs who resided there at that time. During the first battle of Moytura, his right arm was severed in combat with the Fir Bolg warrior Sreang. Nuadhu asked Sreang to tie up his own right arm to continue with the combat in a fair way but Sreang refused. The Tuatha Dé Danann intervened and offered the province of Connaght to Sreang to save their beloved Nuadhu.

Breas the Beautiful gained the Kingship because of Nuadhu’s imperfection. And while Breas reigned,  Nuadhu’s physician, Dian Céacht, magically fashioned him a silver arm, hence, he became known as Nuadhu of the Silver Arm. However, Dian Céacht persisted with his magic and restored his arm to perfection after an operation that lasted nine days where the physician never left Nuadhu’s side. He was perfect  and eligible to be King again.

At the second Battle of Moytura when the Tuatha Dé Danann went to battle with the Formorians, King Nuadhu gave Lugh authority over his army. At that battle, Nuadhu was slain by the powerful Formorian, Balor of the Evil Eye. When Nuadhu lay dying, the phantom queen, The Morrigán appeared in the shape of a black crow and screamed encouragement at the De Danann troops. Fresh courage was restored and they went on to win the battle. After this the Kingship went to Lugh.

Conclusion

Nuadhu was a wise King who was loved by his people.    His story embodies the idea of the ‘perfection’ in the king.  The fact that he gave up his kingship to Lugh is indicative of a recognition of a code of Sovereignty seen as ‘bigger’ than only one man.

Nemed

Overview

Arrived in Ireland with his wife Macha his four sons and their wives and twenty other Nemedians.  Nemed had lost all but one of a fleet of thirty two boats.  The nine Nemedians became settlers who cleared, like Partholon, the forests of Ireland to create twelve more fertile plains. The Nemedians also had to fight the Formorians with their dark and evil ways.  They won three battles but finally lost the fourth and were destroyed.

Stories of Nemed

Nemed and his family arrive din Ireland thirty years after the plague that had wiped out Partholon and his people.  He had had a great fleet of ships that had been lost in a greedy pursuit of gold when they discovered a tower of gold in the sea.  In pursuit of the gold the sea had risen up to destroy the fleet, as well as nine hundred and fifty one of Nemed’s people.  They became cultivators and settlers, and on the model of Partholon cleared the forest of Ireland.

They created twelve plains and by diverting rivers they created four new lakes.  One of these was named after Nemed’s wife, Macha.  She was a seer and predicted in her dreams and vision great happenings on the plains.  One of these visions was about the creation of a grand court, which became known as Emhan Macha, after the place she was buried.  Nemed defeated the sea pirates, the Formorians, in three battles.  He made four of the Formorians build a fortress which they did in one day.  He had a ruthless streak and killed them in case they built a better fortress for other people. Nemed died of a plague then on an island in Cork harbour.

After his death, the Formorians gained the upper hand and eventually the Nemedians rebelled and attached the Formorian stronghold at Tory Island.

They did capture the tower on the Island but reinforcements and the sea rising up led to a defeat.  It was a frightful slaughter and only one boat managed to get away.  Some, with Simeon fled to Greece.  Others went North to become the Tuatha de Danann.

Conclusion

Nemed was a druid but also a great leader with the ability to engender prosperity and well being.  To do so required the skills to cultivate land, having cleared it but also the warrior that was able to defeat the Formorians.  With his wife, Macha, they constituted a powerful force whose role was taming nature and establishing a culture.

The Book of Invasions – Part 6: The Sons of Mil

The Tuatha de Dannan ruled Ireland for a long time, and during that time, the land prospered. Summers were never too hot, nor winters too cold. The forests were bountiful, and there was always enough for everyone to eat. One day, the High King of Ireland died, and left his kingdom to his three sons. Their names were Mac Cuill, Mac Cecht and Mac Gréine. The three of them could not agree on how best to divide the land between them, and they quarrelled bitterly, until the Tuatha de Dannan were on the brink of war.

At this time, far away in Spain, there lived a wise old man named Ith Espaine. He often stood on his high tower, looking out over the sea. One day, he thought he could see an island in the distance; a place of high mountains and green forests. Ith told his brother and his nephews about this land that he could see, but they thought that he was looking at storm-clouds, and laughed at him. But every day that Ith looked, he could see the island a little clearer, and at last he became determined to sail there if he could.

Ith gathered his men, and set sail. When he and his men reached Ireland at last, Ith marvelled at the wonderful land he saw. He made his way to Tara, where Mac Cuill, Mac Cecht and Mac Gréine were arguing still. They welcomed Ith and his men, and because of his age, they decided to ask his council. Ith told them that he best thing to do would be to follow the laws and customs of the land, because from what he could see, those customs must be very good indeed, for the land to be as perfect as it was. Ith went on, praising everything about Ireland, and speaking in glowing terms of everything that he had seen there.

But he being a foreigner, it made them uneasy to hear him talk about Ireland with such praise. They decided he must have come as a conqueror, and so without further provocation, the Three Kings of Ireland killed poor Ith Espaine. When Ith’s men brought word of his death back to his grandson Mil, he and his three sons gathered an army and set sail for Ireland to get justice for Ith.

Mil died on the voyage, but his sons Amergin, Eremon and Eber Donn, honoured their father’s wishes and continued on their way.

Now, Amergin was a powerful druid, and when they came to the shore of Ireland, Amergin sang a song announcing his presence, and all the skills of magic and respect for nature that he had.

The sons of Mil journeyed to Tara and announced to the three kings of the Tuatha de Dannan that they had come to exact revenge for their great-grandfather’s murder. The three kings asked for three days, during which time they would decide whether to abandon Ireland, to fight or to submit. Amergin, being the wisest among them, agreed to this condition, and they retreated on their ships nine waves beyond the shores and waited there, so that there could be no chance of their planning anything underhanded. The druids of the Tuatha de Dannan were not so honourable, and they sang up a storm. They called down a mist to scatter the ships so that they would not be able to land again.

When the storm blew up, Amergin suspected that it was magical; he sent one of his men up the mast to see the storm from above. The man fell from the mast to his death, but as he fell he managed to call out to Amergin that it was calm above: there was no storm. From this, Amergin knew for sure that it was not natural.

Now Amergin’s druidic powers were a match for the de Dannan druids, and he sang a counter-song against their songs that quieted the storm. Furious at the treachery of the Tuatha de Dannan, the Milesians decided not to wait till the three days were up, but to land immediately. After the storm died down, one of the men, Dunn, was so enraged that he began to talk about how he would kill all of the Tuatha de Dannan, exulting in the thought of the slaughter they would wreak. As he spoke these hateful words, the storm blew up again, stronger than ever!

The Sons of Mil had to make an anti-clockwise trip around Ireland before they could land by sailing up the Boyne. On their way to the Plain of Tailtiu, they met with the three Queens of the Tuatha de Dannan, one after another. The Queens, Banba, Eriu and Fodla, promised that they would help the sons of Mil, if in exchange they named the land after them. Amergin agreed to each Queen’s demand, and that was why, in ancient times, Ireland had three names, though only Eriu’s survives today.

On the plain of Tailtiu, the sons of Mil met the Tuatha de Dannan in a great and terrible battle. The three kings of the Tuatha de Dannan were slaughtered, and then the sons of Mil slaughtered their wives. The Tuatha de Dannan’s forces were routed, and they fled all the way to the sea, with the sons of Mil in pursuit, killing and slaughtering all they could get their hands on.

After the battle, the Tuatha de Dannan were defeated beyond any hope of recovery. They decided not to stay with the sons of Mil, who were dividing Ireland in half so that Eremon and Eber Donn could rule it together. Instead of staying where they would have to pay taxes and tributes to the conquerors, they retreated, and shrouded themselves in invisibility, taking all of their magic with them. They took ownership of the hills, the forests and the waterways of Ireland, where they lived forever more.

The Book of Invasions – Part 5: The Second Battle of Moy Tura

In the first Battle of Moy Tura, the Tuatha de Dannan were victorious, but a terrible wound was inflicted on their king, Nuada: his arm was cut off. The physician of the Tuatha de Danan, Dian Cecht, went to work on Nuada, and made a beautiful arm for him out of silver, that worked just as well as the arm he had lost. But the laws of the Tuatha de Dannan were clear: no man who was in any way mutilated or deficient could be king, so Nuada lost his throne.

The Tuatha de Dannan met among themselves, and decided on who should be their king. They chose their greatest warrior, Breas. Breas was a strong, beautiful young man, and he was the son of two races: one of his parents was Fomorian and the other Tuatha de Dannan. It was thought that this would be a benefit, and that he would be able to bring the two races of people closer together.

Unfortunately, it turned out that Breas had no gift for kingship whatsoever. He imposed heavy taxes on the Tuatha de Dannan to increase his own wealth, and worse still, he allowed the Fomorians to come in and impose taxes of their own, with no limits. So the Tuatha de Dannan were oppressed from within and without. But Breas’ worst crime, in the eyes of the Tuatha de Dannan, was his meanness. One day, a traveling bard came to Breas’ fort to visit him. Expecting to be made welcome and given the best of everything, as one should with a guest, he was shocked when Breas put him in a cold room, without even a fire, and left him alone all night, with only a dry crust of bread to eat.

He was so appalled by Breas’ miserliness, that the bard composed the very first Satire in Ireland, lampooning Breas for being so mean. The song travelled up and down Ireland ahead of him, and was heard at every gathering, and it so destroyed Breas’ reputation that the Tuatha de Dannan rose up against him and deposed him. And ever after that, the kings of Ireland made sure to respect the powers of the bards, and give them their due.

The first thing Breas did was run to the Fomorians for help. They gathered an army to take on the Tuatha de Dannan and restore Breas’ rule. This army was led by Balor, a great hero from Donegal. He had one eye in his forehead that was so poisonous that whenever he opened it, it split rocks in two and killed anyone in its way. There seemed to be no way to defeat him.

At this time, Balor was very old, and his eyelid had grown heavy and drooped down over his eye so that five men had to stand behind him with hooks in the eyelid to open it up and direct it at his enemies.

Now, many years before that, Balor’s daughter Eithlinn and a Tuatha de Dannan called Cian had their own love story, and they had a child together called Lugh. Balor had been told that his grandchild would be the death of him, so he decided to put the grandchild to death, by casting him out to sea. But a druid woman called Birog of the mountain stole the baby away, and brought him safe to his father. Cian named the child Lugh, and fostered him out to a smith, where he could learn all the arts that he could. Lugh grew up a child of wonderful skill and insatiable curiosity. He asked questions of everyone he could, and learned as much as he was able from everyone he met.

When the Tuatha de Dannan heard that the Fomorians were gathering their forces, they assembled an army at Tara to fight. Lugh decided to go and join them there. He journeyed to Tara and knocked at the gate. The order had been given not to let any stranger into Tara, in case he might be a spy from the enemy, unless he had some skill that would be useful in the upcoming battle. The gatekeeper asked him what skill did he have. “I’m a magician,” he said, but they already had a magician. “I’m a cook,” said Lugh, but they already had one of those. “I’m a smith,”
“No, we have one of those.”
“I read the stars.”
“We already have a someone to reads the stars.”
And on and on it went, he listing his skills and the gatekeeper refusing. And at last Lugh said: “Go and ask your Master have you any one man who can do all of these things.” And so he was let in.

One of the warriors of the Tuatha de Danna, a great strong man, decided to challenge this newcomer and see what he was made of. He bent down and pried up a huge flagstone, bigger than ten men, lifted it up in the air and carried it to the next hill. Without saying a word, and without any sign of aggression, Lugh quietly walked out, picked up the flagstone and threw it back so that it landed exactly where it had been picked up out of the ground. In that way he managed to calm things down, and prove his strength, without any conflict.

Then Lugh set about impressing everyone else with his skills and entertaining; throwing giant boulders, jumping, and performing other feats. The Tuatha de Dannan were so impressed by this young man that they asked him to lead their troops into battle against the Fomorians. This proved to be a very wise choice. The first thing he did was to inspect all of the Tuatha de Dannan troops, identify all of their strengths and how best to use them in Battle. He devised great strategies and invented new weapons for them to use, and went off to speak with Mannanan Mac Lir to get advice.

The other de Dannans made their own preparations for battle. The Daghda decided that he had to make sure the war goddess Morrigan was on their side. So he went to find her. Now the Morrigan knew that he had a reputation as being very persuasive with ladies, so she decided to protect herself by standing with one leg on either side of a river, to make sure he couldn’t get at her and seduce her. But the Daghda managed to get around her anyway, and by the time they had had their fun, she was so pleased with him that she agreed to be on his side in the battle.

Then the Daghda went to the Fomorians to parley with them, and see if he could make peace. Even though the goddess of war was on their side, he would prefer not to fight than to fight. They played a mean trick on the Daghda to try and disgrace him. They dug a huge hole in the ground and filled it up with porridge and meat and different things and told him he had to eat all. He decided to turn the tables on them, and took out his giant spoon and scooped everything up, even scraping some of the earth from the side of the hole, and ate it all up. He had to drag his belly behind him after that, disgusted with the Fomorians and the way they’d made a joke out of hospitality, and disappointed that they couldn’t talk things out. He met a very beautiful Fomorian woman on his way home, and tried to seduce her, but she laughed at him because he was so fat. He went away and disgorged all the huge amount of porridge he’d eaten and then came back and slept with her. She was pleased enough with him that she came over to the de Dannan’s side too.

By the next day everyone had done their jobs so well, particularly the Daghda and Lugh, that they were ready for battle. The Fomorian troops arrived with Balor at their head. Just as his five attendants were starting to pull up his eyelid, Lugh took his sling and flung a stone through Balor’s eye. The eye rolled back in his head till it pointed behind him at the Fomorian army, turning them all into stone.

And that was how the Tuatha de Dannan defeated the Fomorians.

The Tuatha de Dannan were still at a loss as to who could be their king. Dian Cecht, the physician, had restored the function to Nuada’s silver arm, but it was still a prosthetic, and there was nothing more that his skill could do. But Dian Cecht’s son, Miach, was a physician of even greater skill than his father. He managed to grow Nuada’s arm back and restore him to wholeness.

This was cause for great celebration among the Tuatha de Dannan, as Nuada of the Silver Arm was able to take up his office of kingship again.

But Dian Cecht was terribly envious of his son Miach’s skill, and in a jealous rage, he killed him. Miach’s sister, Airmed, wept tears of grief over her brother’s grave, and from that grave sprung up all the healing herbs of the world. When he saw that these herbs were growing, and that they would mean his skills as a physician would no longer be needed, Dian Cecht again gave in to his jealousy, and scattered the herbs to the corners of the earth. And that is why no one now knows the healing properties of all the herbs.

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