The Vision, The Father

I don’t often talk about my personal experiences with the subconscious mind or what some would call mystical or spiritual activity.

The reason is that I’m a pretty sober and conscious guy who doesn’t dabble too much in vaguely defined mysticism or nonsense. My feet are very much grounded in reality, most of the time.

But having said that, I have had a small number of visionary experiences in my life, usually brought on by the change of consciousness that goes in hand with physical exercise and exposure to the elements. One such experience I had recently went like this.

I was doing dumbbell chest flies beneath an open sky one summer evening. It was about 9 pm, and I was wrapping up my workout.

I’ve got a little home gym set up out the back of my house. Homemade squat rack, bench, barbell and plates, two dumbbells, one kettlebell, a sandbag, and a bag of resistance bands. It’s a pretty Spartan setup, and that’s what I like about it.

But what I really love about my home gym is that it’s under the open sky in my garden. I thought about building a roof over it, but then I realized that I enjoy the open air. Even when it’s raining, and it usually is raining in Ireland, I still enjoy my outdoor workouts.

So there I was, doing chest flies looking up into the twilight sky when suddenly I had a visionary experience.

The sky was overcast with a thin layer of grey cloud, through which the rays of the low summer sun shone golden and rose-colored. These clouds suddenly began to open up like a yawning mouth, and the clear golden radiance of the sun pierced through. I blinked, thinking I was hallucinating. But it didn’t go away. When I opened my eyes, the sky was still split in two like an immense yellow set of jaws. Then a great dark bird descended from out of the golden gap in the firmament and flew down towards me. I looked closer and saw it was an eagle descending from the gate of the heavens to earth.

I kept moving the weights. I knew what was happening in the back of my mind. I knew it was a vision brought on by the strange combination of exercise, fresh air, little sleep, and whatever happened to be going through my mind at the time. I didn’t want it to stop, so I didn’t stop. I shut my mental chatter up and kept lifting the weights.

Then I saw, beyond the eagle and high above the gap in the sky, a great golden eye staring down at me. It was an eye of fire in the heavens, and it was watching me.

Then I knew exactly what my mind had dreamed up. I understood what was happening, and I even had the early intimation of what strange series of events had led up to it. At that moment, I knew enough to explain it in an entirely rational way, which didn’t actually detract from the experience at all.

After about thirty reps of chest fly, twice as much as I intended to do, the great eye closed, the clouds returned, and the eagle was nowhere to be seen. The vision had ended, and I was back in my own frame of mind again.

What I had dreamed up that evening was a vision of Father Sky, Dyeus Phter, the Indo-European Sky Father God who was believed to rule the heavens and judge human deeds by our far distant ancestors.

For about a year prior to this event, I had been researching the culture of the Indo-European and Proto-Indo-European peoples, from whom almost all Indic and European cultures and religions are descended. These were migratory peoples who tamed wild horses and used them to pull chariots across the grasslands of Europe many millennia ago. They used their superior technology and their thirst for exploration and conquest to dominate the lands they settled. Their expansions served to populate the lands of Europe, The Near East, and India with cultures and peoples who were uniquely related, though still very different on the surface.

My research into that fascinating subject mainly consisted of reading numerous books and research papers and watching a lot of Youtube videos. I indulged in the usual staples of Indo-European studies by reading articles by Bruce Lincoln and well-regarded books like “The Horse, The Wheel, and Language” by David Anthony. But I also consumed content by writers and filmmakers who take a different approach to Indo-European studies. English historian Tom Rowsell creates great videos investigating various aspects of Indo-European culture, religion, and genetics, and publishes his videos for free on his Youtube channel, Survive The Jive. American author Jack Donovan has done a lot of research into how the Indo-European systems of worship might be revived and made relevant to modern people.

The point of all that is to say that I had immersed myself in a particular field of study for about a year. I had psychologically primed myself to have some dream, hallucination, or vision inspired by that subject, and so it was no surprise at all when it finally happened. Imagine if you thought about nothing but Christmas for weeks and months at a time. Some people actually do look forward to Christmas that much. But if that were you, wouldn’t it be entirely inevitable for you to start having dreams, daydreams, and maybe even hallucinations about Christmas?

Well, I think that’s probably what happened to me.

While I was researching the Indo-Europeans, I was repeatedly drawn back to their system of worship, particularly the character who was probably the primary god of that people. Although we can’t be sure because we have no written records, they probably called him something like Dyeus Phter, and his name probably meant something like “Father God of The Daylight Sky.”

In other words, the main god of our very distant ancestors was a father who looked down on and judged his people from his kingdom in the sky. The sun was probably thought to be his eye or lamp, and birds were perhaps thought to be his agents.

The Sky Father is attested in many documented religions in various forms, almost all of which share some common characteristics. To name a few:

The Greek Zeus looked down on mortals from his throne on the top of a mountain. Eagles carried messages to Zeus, and he even turned into an eagle when it suited his purpose. Roman Jupiter is a direct result of Latin exposure to Greek worship, and his name literally means Father God. His symbol is the eagle, which was the totem carried by Roman legions on campaign in his honor. The Norse Odin spied on mankind from his high seat in his hall called hlidskjalf, which means something like “mountain-shelf gate,” which is probably a kenning or poetic nickname for an “opening in a high place.” Like an opening in the sky through which the father god can see things. An eye in the sky, if you will. Odin sent two ravens into the world to spy on mankind and report back, and he turned himself into an eagle to steal the magical mead of poetry. In Vedic India, there is a father god called Dyaus Pitar, who is said to have sired the other gods. His domain is the sky, and his name is almost exactly the same as the reconstructed name for the Indo-European Sky Father God.

Piecing together all these symbolic representations from different but related cultures, we can safely assume that the Indo-European’s main god, the one they worshipped above all others, was a father who lived in the sky and watched people using his solar eye and his bird-spies. He has the high seat above everything from where he can enact his master plan.

I was fascinated by this character as I was researching the Indo-Europeans, and He kept coming back to my thoughts even when I wasn’t reading about their religious practices. I think it was because I became a father myself during this time, so fatherhood and father figures were constantly on my mind. 

Anyone who knows my work will know that I use the wisdom in old stories and myths to enlighten me and aid in solving my modern problems. I’ve never had the best relationship with my own father, and so I often look to stories of great father figures to offer me guidance. Who could be greater than one of the first and oldest father figures in history, one so compelling that his sons carried the culture of his religion across half the world? Who could offer us better guidance in fatherhood than the father of so many different gods, peoples, and cultures?

Think of it like this, and you might grasp the appeal of that story for me and men like me.

I am a father, but I also have a father, and he and I both come from a long line of fathers stretching back into antiquity who all embodied, in their own way, some aspect of what we call “fatherhood.” Beyond me, my father, and our fathers, there’s the ideal of fatherhood itself. The idealized form of fatherhood is embodied in the mythic character of the Father God, who rules in the heavens looking down on all of creation and judging what he sees. 

He is a father not only to humans but to everything that exists. He looks down from his high seat to judge the earthly realm and maintain a view of the vast scale of universal events. Therefore, he is the ultimate expression of what we understand about paternal parenting projected onto the grandest scale we can imagine. So what better way could there be to come to terms with the idealized form of fatherhood than to study the origin story of so many Father Gods?

The idea of a Father in the sky is so compelling that almost every religion and culture I’ve ever studied has some form of Sky Father, and the cult of his worship continues even today in the Abrahamic religions. The god of the Old Testament is very Indo-European in character, even if He isn’t the product of Indo-European culture.

I’m certainly not the first to have had a psychological encounter with this Sky Father archetype. People have been recording their visionary experiences for thousands of years now, and it’s really no surprise that so many Christian saints, monks, and mystics have claimed to have had visionary events of dramatic significance. I won’t list examples as there are so many to choose from, but the Abrahamic myths are full of people seeing the face of God, hearing the voice of God, or meeting with God’s Angels. The Hebrews of Exodus even carried the living form of God across the desert in a tent called the Tabernacle, and their priests went inside to commune with God directly.

You might dismiss that as superstitious ignorance, but how else would a pre-scientific people comprehend a visionary experience except in terms of religion? Even I lack the proper words to adequately describe what I experienced without sounding too far out or nonsensical, and I’m a reasonably scientifically literate man of the modern world with a modern education. If I can’t come to terms with it, what chance did those guys in the Bible stories have?

We’ve been seeing, or claiming to see, strange and mysterious events which seem to transcend reality since probably we were able to communicate with each other. Sometimes the face of reality as we know it peels away, and the structure that lies beneath and behind everything reveals itself to us. Usually, we can’t comprehend what we see. Some people spend a lifetime thinking over what they experience in these moments of revelation. Some people actively seek out these experiences using drugs and plant medicines. I’ve got limited experience of these visionary events, but even I can attest to their power.

There’s even a large and growing industry these days for people who want to undertake vision quests and use plant medicine to forcibly induce the kind of spiritual experiences the mystics have been writing about for ages. I know someone who traveled across the world to South America seeking out just such an experience at significant personal expense, and he’s but one of a great many who go to the jungle to see the face of the being that lurks behind the curtain of reality.

Considering all these things, is it any wonder that the vision which unveiled itself to me was an eagle descending from the heavens surrounded by a giant burning eye? My fascination with the Sky Father doesn’t mean I worship him as a god, not in the sense that most of you would mean anyway. But when I find a pattern of behavior embodied in relatable form, an archetype, if you will, I always try to emulate it as best I can to help me thrive in my own life.

That’s why I’ve been so attracted to the stories and symbols surrounding the Indo-European Sky Father, and that’s why the vision that was revealed to me was of Him and His Eagle. Because I need to understand idealized fatherhood for the sake of my family. I need some high and noble standard against which to measure myself.

The brief vision was a wonderful experience, but if you were to ask me what it meant, I probably couldn’t give you a good answer. I don’t know if it “meant” anything at all. I only know that it was awesome to behold, and I feel privileged to have experienced it. I feel even more privileged to have some general understanding of the psychological conditions which combined to make the vision appear. Experience is one thing, but understanding is even greater. I think I understand what happened and what it might have to teach me, but as a friend of mine suggested, I’m probably overly rationalizing an inherently irrational experience.

As I already said, I consider myself a man of reason rather than emotion and intuition. I’m not very intuitive or “visionary” at all. I’m actually pretty slow and blunt. I’m smart but not sharp. But despite depending on reason and rational thought rather than intuition and emotion, I always try to keep myself open to experiences of the metaphysical. I know that human understanding is tremendous and can explain a lot of what we previously assumed to be supernatural or divine, but I still try to keep my mind open to the experience of those things that can appear to be divine when we encounter them, even if there’s a perfectly logical explanation for it.

Why?

Because experience and understanding must go hand in hand if we’re to be truly human. We know we’re smart. We know we can explain a lot of life’s mysteries away into cold facts. We know there’s a logical explanation for pretty much anything we encounter. But none of that understanding detracts from the sensation of awe and wonder when we pierce the thin veil of our reason. When the face of the world peels back on itself, like lips peeling back over teeth, and whatever lies hidden behind the facade of reality steps forth, we’d be wise to keep our minds open to whatever we see. It might be a fantasy or the onset of madness, or it might just be the unfolding of a great and rare insight into the nature of reality. You won’t ever know which if you don’t keep your mind open to the possibilities.

We must experience as much of life as possible and then try to understand it if we’re able. But understanding without experience leads to machine thinking. Machine thinking leads to machine minds and machine men. But I think we’ve got enough machines. What we need is more humanity, and humans combine the earthly with the supernatural, the human with the divine.

So what’s the point of all this?

I guess if there is a point, it’s something like:

Keep your eyes open, and occasionally the light behind reality will shine into the dark caverns of your limited understanding. The experience of this universal mystery will keep you human and prevent or at least delay your descent into mechanistic thinking.

And we’re all at risk of becoming more machine than human these days, with the ever-present and ever-increasing influence of technology in our daily lives. What was once a mere tool of progress has now got us trapped to the point that most people are entirely addicted to technology and the convenience it provides. Don’t think we can depend on the machine to such a great degree without becoming part machine ourselves. The more mechanized we become, the more humanity we lose. So keep your eyes and mind open to things you don’t understand, and hopefully, you’ll hold on to your human soul in this age of technocracy.

I’d be interested to hear if you’ve ever experienced anything similar. Have you ever had a vision like the one I describe here? Contact me and let me know using the button below.


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Lugh, The Striker, and The Sun

This coin is one of a commemorative collection that all portray a scene from popular Irish myths. I might talk later about the other coins in the series, but this is the one that resonates with me the most.

 

This coin shows an image of Lugh charging down the hosts of the Chthonic beings known as Fomorians, or Fomoraigh in Irish.

 

The Fomoraigh were a race of mythical beings who settled in Ireland before the coming of the race of Gods (called Tuatha De Danann) and the race of the current Irish population (called Milesians). Direct comparisons are tricky when it comes to Irish myth, but it’s reasonable to compare them to Jotnar or Titans. The Fomorians were sea pirates who regularly landed in Ireland to plunder and enslave its other inhabitants. Their portrayal in myth is heavily influenced by the actions of the Viking raiders around the time Christian monks and traveling poets were writing these stories down.

 

The Fomorians were primarily opposed to the Tuatha De Danann, the People of the Goddess Danu.

 

Lugh was a young warrior who was half Fomorian and half Tuatha De. He was raised in secret fosterage away from his people until he was grown to manhood, at which point he entered into the King’s hall and introduced himself as a warrior and a master of every conceivable skill and art. Because of his considerable talents, youthful vigor, and eagerness to fight, the old King Nuada hands over authority to Lugh. This was probably intended to be a temporary arrangement, but things turned out otherwise in the end.

 

A common trope you’ll see these days claims that Lugh was a solar God for the pre-Christian Irish. This isn’t true, but rather it’s an invention of the Victorian era, which probably stems from an incorrect translation of Lugh’s name to mean “light.” The only surviving manuscript which hints at a solar connection dates from the 16th century, and even that manuscript says that Lugh actually isn’t the sun.

 

“Bres rose up and said: “Isn’t it a wonder to see the sun rising in the west today.”

“It might be better if it were the sun,” said the Druids.

“What else is it?” said he.

“It’s the shining of the face of Lugh.”

– From Oidheadh Chloinne Tuireann

 

So the Druids confirm that it isn’t the sun approaching, just the bright face of Lugh. In other words, Lugh and the sun are not the same thing.

 

On the back of this coin is a knotwork of fairly common Irish design, which has become so prevalent in all things Celtic since the Celtic Revival in the 19th century. This side contains a great deal of detail, including animal motifs hidden inside the intricate flowing knots.

 

Although Lugh is shown on one side with the sun flashing at his back as he charges down a host of enemies, this image doesn’t resonate with me on any solar level. I just can’t make the mental leap necessary to proclaim Lugh as a solar God despite the evidence to the contrary.

 

But he does fall into the Striker category reasonably neatly when examined through the structure Jack Donovan lays out in his book, Fire In The Dark.

 

Lugh comes to the aid of his people, who are beset on all sides by chaos, greed, and resentment. The Fomoraigh have basically enslaved the Tuatha De Danann, who haven’t been able to resist. Then Lugh arrives, and when he’s asked what he is and what he can do, he says that he can be whatever he needs to be to get the job done.

 

Lugh unites the forces of Order and drives out the Chthonic Fomorians using his spear and his magic. He inspires others to stand up for themselves and assert their will and independence. He kills a fierce being of malice and destruction when he strikes out the magic eye of Balor (which inflicts paralysis) using his sling stone.

 

He lacks some of the symbolism of The Striker which is common in other traditions. His weapon is a spear, not a club or hammer. He isn’t related to the lightning or the oak in the myths, although there is an aspect of storm symbolism in some folklore sources. Also, two of his names are Lonnbemnech (pronounced long-BEV-neck) which means “fierce striker,” and also Rindagach, which means something like “eager to fight with a spear.” The word lonn is also used to describe lightning. Lasrach lonn is an Irish phrase for lightning, and it means something like “fierce flames or lights.” His relation to the spear is evident, that’s just what he fights with, but you could argue that lightning is probably more spearlike than clublike.

 

So although the idea of Lugh having a solar aspect doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, the tangle of knots on the back of this gold-plated coin reminds me of a solar eye, or perhaps a solar engine of motion, dynamism, and light. The playful dance of light across the knots on the back reminds me of the bright eye of The Father watching me in silent judgment, while the image of Lugh charging down a host of foes fills me with Striker energy.

 

These are just some of the thoughts which have occurred to me while using this coin as a focus for meditation. I usually carry this coin everywhere I go in my pocket, separate from my other coins, which are mere currency. In times of doubt, I flip the coin and trust to its decision.

 

Little artifacts like this can often prove invaluable when imbued with the right intent. They can serve as a totem for focus, a source of inspiration, a cure for indecision, or a trigger for different modes of thought. If that’s not magic, then I don’t know what is.

 


To read more detailed analysis of old myths and stories, check out my books. Click the button below to learn more.

The Layman’s Havamal (Verse 1)

This is a sample chapter from my book, The Layman’s Havamal, which is available now.

If you like what you find here, I hope you’ll consider reading the book and sharing your thoughts.

To buy the book, click the button at the bottom of this page.

 


Havamal Verse 1

“At all doors, before you go forth,

Take your time to look about,

To nose your way in.

For you never know when a foe

Might sit in the seats before you.”

 


This, the gateway into the Havamal, warns us to be wary before we pass through a gateway. Wise counsel. The world is full of danger and enemies who would work their malice upon you if given a chance. Collectively speaking, we’ve probably never been as safe as we are now in the modern age of police, forensics, street cameras, gun control laws, general political stability, the relative infrequency of wars, and the general trend towards peace which seems to pervade modern Western societies. Sure, violence still happens, but I’d be willing to bet that it happens a lot less than it did during, for example, the feudal societies of the Middle Ages or the brutal migratory upheaval of the Bronze Age.

 

We live now in a time of relative peace, relative safety, relative goodwill to our fellow man. But relative safety is not absolute safety. It’s only more or less safe than something comparable. So although it’s generally not fatal for us to let our guard down when we go on a journey or meet new people, that doesn’t mean we should be complacent. The world’s still a turbulent and dangerous place, and it’s occupied by unstable and dangerous people. Some of those people will take advantage of us if it’s necessary and the opportunity arises. Some of them will actively seek to bring us down for no apparent reason at all. So watch out and pay attention to the people you meet. They’re dangerous, even the ones who don’t look like it. Perhaps especially the ones who don’t look like it.

 

Unfortunately, walking down any street or stepping onto any form of public transport will yield countless examples of people who do not heed the advice given in this verse. How many people do we see every day who go about their business in densely populated areas, surrounded by other people, other predators, with their headphones in their ears and their smartphones in their hands, heads hung low to stare at their feet or entranced by the dull blue light of their screens? They might as well be walking through life with their eyes shut and their fingers in their ears. Any physically capable man would only need the advantage of surprise over these people to harm them grievously and take whatever they carry, no matter how competent that person might be when in an alert state. Even a person with a gun and the ability to use it can be caught off guard and defeated by surprise.

 

This complacency and ignorance of our surroundings is a modern tendency that arises from the comforts of contemporary life. We are relatively safe, in general, and probably a little naive, so we feel safe enough to ignore people most of the time. Most of the time that isn’t a problem. Until it is. It only takes one time, one moment of distraction, for some predator to destroy us. So take the time, a long time if possible, to scan your surroundings and the people in your path. You never know when one of those people might take advantage of you.

 

This is good advice in all areas of life. But it’s especially good advice when you undertake a journey, embark on an adventure, do something or go somewhere you’ve never been before, especially if you’re with someone you’ve never met before. In other words, it’s good advice at a gateway.

 

A gateway is a portal that allows one to pass through a boundary or a barrier. The purpose of a barrier is to separate the inside from the outside, the familiar from the strange, Us from Them. We must build walls, metaphorically and literally, to separate the things we want to keep in from the things we want to keep out. This is how we order our environment. We divide the desirable from the undesirable by building walls. Even paradise had a wall. Those who dwell beyond the wall may or may not be our enemies, but they cannot be wholly trusted until they have proven their alliance to those inside the wall. They may be amicable and friendly to us, but this does not mean that they have our best interests at heart. As such, situations where those inside the wall meet with those from outside are fraught with tension and the potential for betrayal. Do not enter such situations naively, but rather keep your wits about you. You may be ridiculed for being paranoid or mistrustful, but better that than to be the victim of treachery because of your own folly.

 

Never offer your enemies the advantage of catching you off guard, whether you are walking down a street, sitting in a meeting, or entering a building. The feeling of security you might feel is entirely illusory, and the world is full of those who would seek to take advantage of your distraction. As the saying goes, “There are no victims, only volunteers.” Do not volunteer to be caught off guard. But do not give in to fear and paranoia either. This verse doesn’t tell us to be ever doubtful, fearful, isolationist, on our guard. Instead, it tells us to watch, be aware, and take the time to look and think, to analyze, to use your head.

 

At the intersection between you and The Other, make your preparations beforehand, plan your course, anticipate any dangers, then walk boldly through the gateway. Expect to be surprised, for it is practically assured, but prepare yourself in such a manner that you are capable of operating effectively even when caught off your guard.

 

Watch out and be ready.

The Throne

"There is a throne at the heart of every culture, and whoever sits on it will be the force you take your instruction from."

There’s always someone at the top. Someone or something we look up to, admire, venerate, in a word, worship.

 

In times past, it was God. Then it was Kings. Then science. Then it became something else entirely, something I can’t define despite long thought on the subject.

 

But there’s still something we look up to and venerate. Some ideal that we elevate above all others. Something we place on a throne.

 

We all need inspiration to survive. Without something inspiring to look up to and admire, perhaps to emulate, we’re lost. We search for something meaningful, and when we don’t find it, we give in to despair and unrestrained hedonism.

 

This is what I see happening today. We’ve given up on the Gods of our fathers, given up on royalty, given up on leadership, given up on truth itself.

 

So what have we got left? What keeps us going?

 

We still search for that meaning, that kingly ideal, that Godhead, even though most of us no longer believe in it to any meaningful degree.

 

We still put things, people, and ideas “on a pedestal” or lock them up in “ivory towers” that stretch above us and give us something to aspire to, something for which to hope.

 

For some people, it’s Democracy. For others, it’s Jihad. Others look to the state. Some still hope for the Communist Utopia. For many, it’s friends and family. For far too many, it’s mere pleasure.

 

But all of us look to something.

 

We all have some ideal that we place on a throne.

 

The throne is where the King sits, but more importantly than that, it’s where God sits.

 

We’ve been portraying our Gods as Kings for millennia, and there’s no sign of the trend coming to an end, despite the scarcity of Gods these days.

 

No matter what you hold to be pure and admirable and worthy of emulation, you actively worship and venerate something through your actions.

 

If you go to church, for example, you are worshipping God. But if you work out on a regular basis, you’re worshipping strength and health. If you make great sacrifices for your career, you’re worshipping power, status, and perhaps money. When you spend time with your family, time you could spend in selfish pursuits of pleasure, you’re worshipping the idea of family and community.

 

An excellent way to find out what you worship is to ask yourself two questions.

 

What do I spend my money on, and what do I do with my time?

 

The answers to those questions will tell you what ideal, what God, you regularly worship and place on a throne.

 

The word worship means “to give worth to something,” which means you can worship pretty much anything, not just Gods and ideals.

 

At the foot of what throne do you bow?

 

What spirit hovers above the alters upon which you make your sacrifices?

 

If you don’t know the answers to those questions, you’re in trouble.

 

Because you will bow, and you will make sacrificial offerings to something, to some ideal you wish to make manifest in your world.

 

Even if it goes no further than thoughtlessly spending money on something or doing something out of habit, your actions and investments determine what you consider to be important, what you give worth to.

 

The question is, and always has been, what do you serve?

 

For serve you must, but to serve blindly runs the risk of being possessed by some ideal, some god, that perhaps is truly a demon in disguise.

 

So ask yourself if your actions and investments of time, money, and energy are doing you any good.

 

If you realize that you’ve been worshipping at the foot of the wrong throne, that’s good news.

 

It’s good news because now you know. Most people don’t know what they worship, and some foolishly think they don’t worship anything at all.

 

But they do, even if they don’t know it. Once you figure out what you’ve been bowing down before, even if it’s something harmful, at least you know.

 

And once you know, you can change.

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The Striker and How The Dagda Got His Staff

“I am Aed Abaid of Es Ruad, also called Ruad Rofhessa and Eochaid Ollathair. These are my names. I am the Good God, a druid of the Tuatha Dé Danann. An Dagda.”

 

And there he was, An Dagda, with Cermait Milbél, one of his sons, on his back. Cermait had fallen in combat to the frenzy of Lugh, High King of the Tuatha Dé, for the sake of a woman’s embrace. The woman was Buach, the wife of Lugh. As it often happens with the wives of great men, she endured much loneliness and often turned in the dark hours to her husband’s pillow, only to find it cold and bare.

 

So Cermait, the Dagda’s son, lay with her, because of which Cermait was slain by Lugh. The Dagda considered his vast horde of mystical knowledge, then he surrounded Cermait’s body with herbs and began chanting such spells as he knew.

 

This done, he lifted Cermait and, bearing the lifeless body of his son upon his back, he searched the world until he came to the far eastern realms of the Earth.
 In that strange and distant land, he met three men going along the road carrying three treasures. The Dagda conversed with them, and they said;

 

“We three are the sons of one father and mother, and we are sharing our father’s treasures, as is right for sons to do.”

 


”What treasures have ye?” asked the Dagda.


 

“A great shirt and a staff and a cloak,” said they.


 

“What virtues have these to be considered treasures?” said the Dagda.


 

“This great staff here,” said the eldest of them, “has a smooth end and a rough end. The rough slays the living, and the smooth revives the dead.”


 

“What of the shirt and the cloak?” said the Dagda, “What are their virtues?”


 

“He who wears the cloak may take on any shape, form, figure, or color that he chooses. As for the one who wears the shirt, grief or sickness could never touch the skin that it covers.”


 

“Truly?” said he.


 

“Very truly,” said they.


 

“Put the staff in my hand,” said the Dagda.

 

Then the youngest of them lent him the staff, for the Dagda had been good company as he almost always was. Then, with great speed, he put the rough end upon them thrice, and they fell dead in the road.

 

After this, he pressed the smooth end upon his son’s breast, and the lad arose in the fullness of his strength and health. Cermait put his hands on his face like one waking early from a dream, then rose and looked at the three dead men that lay before him.


 

“Who are these three dead men in our path?” said Cermait to his father.


 

“Three men that I met,” said the Dagda, “sharing their father’s treasures. They lent me this staff. I slew them with one end and brought yourself to life with the other end.”


 

“It would be a sad story to tell at a feast,” said Cermait, “if they should not be given back their lives by that which caused me to live.”

 


The Dagda agreed and put the smooth end of the staff upon them, and the three brothers arose in the fullness of their health and strength.


 

“Do ye know that ye had been slain,” said the Dagda, “with your father’s staff?”


 

“We know it,” said they, “and you have taken an unfair advantage of us.”


 

“I have knowledge of your staff and its virtues,” said the Dagda, “and I have given you your three lives when I might have kept them. Now lend me the staff to take to my home far to the west of this land.”


 

“What bond have we that our father’s staff will ever come back to us?”


 

“The sun and moon, land and sea, provided that I might slay foes and give life to friends with its magic.”


 

Under that condition, a loan of the staff was given to him.


 

“How shall we share the treasures we have?” said they. “For we are three sons, but only two treasures remain to us.”


 

“Two of you must bear the treasures and one without any until his turn come round at some predetermined interval until the staff is returned to you.”

 


Then he brought that staff away and went home with his son. With it, he gave death to his foes and life to his friends.

 

In time, he took the kingship of his people by means of that staff.

 

However, the days of the Dagda’s kingship were numbered, as are the days of all things, and the time would come where the Dagda’s kingship would be ended and new kings would take his place.

 

Indeed time has been so cruel to the Dagda and his sons and all of that fair Tribe that those of us now living would hardly ever know that they lived at all were it not for the old tales that we tell.


 

I originally posted this little tale to my old blog, Unchaining The Titan, while it was still active.

 

This is my interpretation of an obscure story titled “How The Dagda Got His Staff” from the Yellow Book Of Lecan manuscript. It was written in Old Irish, and like all Old Irish literature, it rarely gets much attention.

 

But something in it spoke to people.

 

It was very well received, and people told me how much they enjoyed reading it, even though many of them had no prior knowledge of Irish myth and some had never heard of An Dagda or his son Cermait.

 

I’ve always been fascinated by the character of Dagda because of his many parallels to the Indo-European figure of The Striker.

 

The Striker is a character who appears in many Indo-European mythologies and usually bears similar characteristics.

 

The Striker wields a fiersome club or hammer with the power of life and death and upon which oaths are sworn. He also goes out beyond the borders of his people and slays his enemies. One of his primary foes is often a great sea beast like a dragon or sea-snake or, in Dagda’s case, a kind of octopus. In the Indo-European worldview, The Striker is typically either a son or an ally of the Sky Father character.

 

The Striker, in his many aspects, has always appealed to me for obvious reasons.

 

Linguists have reconstructed the Proto-Indo-European root word per-, which means “to strike,” and also perkus, which means “the oak tree.” Many Striker figures in Western Indo-European cultures have names that contain versions of this root word per-, such as the Slavic God Perun, Belarusian Piarun, Lithuanian Perkunas, Norse Fjorgyn, who was the mother of Thor, and possibly Erc Mac Cairpri in Irish (though this last connection is tenuous).

 

However, the most well-known personification of The Striker in modern culture is Thor, the Norse God who was a son of Odin. Thor wielded a hammer with which he slew his people’s enemies and which also had the power to bring the dead back to life, as he did with his own goats. The hammer was used to bless marriages and funerals and possibly to seal oaths and agreements. With his hammer, Thor fought and eventually slew the great sea-serpent Jormungand. All of this is a clear parallel to other Striker figures from different cultures.

 

Strikers are usually associated with lightning and mountains and sometimes oak trees, for obvious reasons. Lightning strikes mountaintops and tall oak trees more often, and so these can be said to be the domain of The Striker.

 

So the root words per and perkus gave rise to various European deities whose names were probably derived from some pre-existing Striker, and so too is the name of the Dagda. One of his names is Cercce. Old Irish had no letter P, so the word was likely adapted into a local variant with a C instead of a P. But even despite these many apparent connections to The Striker, there’s more to old Dagda than meets the eye.

 

You see, the Dagda is also a parallel for the Indo-European Sky Father as well as his son, The Striker. Dagda’s name means both Good God and Shining or Bright God. The Indo-European Sky Father figure is always associated with the bright daylight sky. His name has been reconstructed by linguists as Dyaus Phter, meaning “Father God of The Daylight Sky.”

 

Another of Dagda’s names is Ollathair, which means Great Father and is cognate with the Norse God Odin’s name of Allfather. There are other tales that better illustrate Dagda in his role of father, king, and leader of his people than the story of how he got his staff, but it’s still fascinating that this one figure can have so many connections to prehistoric deities.

 

It’s important to note that we don’t know much for sure about the Proto-Indo-European peoples. They wrote nothing down, left little archaeological evidence, and weren’t written about by any contemporaries. But yet we know from linguistic and genetic evidence that their culture spread out from the Eastern steppes into Europe and down into Iran and India. Wherever they went, they carried their culture and established themselves as the dominant people across a vast territory, which stills carries on evolved forms of their legacy to this day. Just as the Indo-Europeans can be easily recognized in Indian culture, they can also be identified in Irish culture and myth.

 

So in this jovial character called Dagda by the Irish, we have two men, one young and one old.

 

A Striker and a Father.

 

The Striker is a young man, a warrior with explosive and expansive energy. He goes out beyond the boundaries of the known world into unfamiliar and hostile territory, risks his neck, slays foes and monsters, and he returns with great treasures that are a blessing to his people.

 

The Sky Father is an older man, wise and stern and judgmental. He is harsh and holds his people to high standards as he looks down from heaven. He rules over and establishes order in his domain so that his people are protected from chaos. When necessary, he sends his sons out to confront that chaos before it takes root in his kingdom.

 

These ancient and ethereal archetypes are embodied, however imperfectly, in the Irish Dagda. It’s unclear to what extent the pre-Christian Irish knew about or revered the Dagda or if they even worshipped him at all.

 

But there has to be something to these stories. They can’t be complete fabrications of Christian scribes and secular poets. There are too many parallels, too many connections to stories from across the European mythosphere, which carry echoes of older tales and older gods.

 

Upon these stories lie the fingerprints of our ancestors, our great fathers and mothers who preceded us by many thousands of years. We can never know what they thought or who they worshipped and how, but we can find traces. Those remnants of their identity and their worldview can shine a light upon who we are today.

 

Who are we, those of us who have inherited the cultures passed down from our Indo-European forefathers from out of time immemorial?

 

We are Strikers and Fathers.

 

We are the ones who go out beyond the borders of safety to confront chaos at its source. We protect what is ours, and we establish order for the ones we love while also nurturing a new generation of Strikers and Fathers.

 

That is the ideal we have to live up to. It isn’t easy, but it’s a noble goal.

 

How can we embody The Striker and The Sky Father in our daily lives?

 

Seek out the chaos in your life and impose order upon it, then maintain that order so that future generations can grow and prosper. Teach your children to be strong and wise and kind. Destroy anything that threatens the security of your ordered domain. Seek out monsters and demons and foes to crush, not because you hate them, but because your job is to protect what is yours.

 

That all sounds great on paper, of course, but how are we modern men who live soft lives of comfort to live up to this brutal and, perhaps, archaic ideal?

 

Well, chaos embodies itself in many forms, not just in monsters and sea demons. We’ve all got a little chaos in our lives, a little doubt and stress and vulnerability. Identify where the cracks are in your life. Is your marriage secure? Are your children protected? Will they grow up to be strong and wise? 

 

Are you financially stable? Are you fat or sick? Do you need more training or experience?

 

Small daily acts which promote order and reduce the chaos in your life can add up over time to great things. Even little things like fixing that leaky pipe in your house before it becomes a major problem is an act of establishing order. That leak could become, in time, a flood that destroys your home and puts your family on the street in the night, where more sinister monsters lurk.

 

So look for the chaos, the uncertainty in your life. Wrestle with that chaos and impose your will upon it. Then nurture your people and family so that they too will grow to grapple with chaos.

 

Learn to love the struggle and hardship of daily life because in those struggles lie the opportunity to embody Striker and Father energy which will be a blessing on you and those you love.

 

This is the legacy you have inherited from your Indo-European forefathers and foremothers, and this is just one of the many lessons we can learn from studying old myths like the seemingly innocuous story of how The Dagda got his staff.

Beowulf : An Ancient Model for Modern Heroism

beowulf manuscript anglo saxon

I’m not alone in the belief that “Beowulf” is among the greatest legends ever written in the English language. Many are the giants of English literature who have dissected it to unravel its secrets, not least among them being J.R.R. Tolkien whose works are heavily inspired by the Beowulf saga. Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon and an expert on the topic of Beowulf, and he is largely credited with popularizing the legend, which had previously been regarded as unworthy of study. This article will be the first part of a series which will give an overview of the narrative, the plot and some important background information. We will also delve deeper into the intimidating mere of the myth that many consider to be England’s National Epic, by interpreting the themes and devices that make this thousand-year-old myth relevant to modern man.

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Sailing To Érin : Mythic Migration from the Irish Perspective

 

None know for certain from whence the island of Èrin was sprung, though I like the symbolism of Frank Mill’s modern account which says she was birthed from a song which the winds sung to the seas. Regardless, she was born and eventually she sprouted life. Great murky forests of oak and ash and birch and rowan covered the island, interspersed with wide open grassy plains on which horses rode like traveling kings, and dank misty bogs of ancient peat which would swallow up any careless creature who wandered too deep into its mire. Back then there were giants on these lands; literal Giants like the Irish Elk with his murderous horns spread out from horizon to horizon. This is how it was for a long time in Èrin, longer than any human mind could fathom, and for all this time the island was devoid of human life. But eventually that changed and the history of Èrin as we know it was begun.

 

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