Deity of the Day for August 7: Balor

Balor

by Micha F. Lindemans

In the Celtic-Irish mythology, Balor is the god of death and the king of the Fomorians, a race of giants. He was the son of Buarainech and the husband of Cethlenn. Balor had only one eye, which he kept closed because anything he looked at would die instantly.According to some prophesies, Balor would be killed by his own grandson. He locked his daughter Ethlinn in a crystal tower, to prevent her from getting pregnant. With the help of the druidess Birog, Cian of the Tuatha Dé Danann, managed to enter the tower and slept with Ethlinn. She gave birth to a son, but when Balor learned of his existence he threw him in the ocean. Birog saved the boy and gave him to the sea god Manannan mac Lir, where he was raised. The boy, named Lugh Lamhfada (Lugh of the Long Arm), became a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann and led them in the second battle at Mag Tuireadh.

In this second, and final battle, Balor killed King Nuada of the Tuatha Dé Danann with a glance from his eye. But when he opened his eye to kill his grandson Lugh, the latter managed to rip out Balor’s eye with a sling and Balor fell dead to the ground.

Deity of the Day for Sept. 27th is THE DAGDA

The Dagda

The Dagda (Proto-Celtic: *Dagodeiwos, Old Irish: Dag Dia, Modern Irish: Daghdha) is an important god of Irish mythology. The Dagda is a father-figure (he is also known as Eochaid(h) Ollathair, or “All-father”) and a protector of the tribe. In some texts his father is Elatha, in others his mother is Ethniu. Other texts say that his mother is Danu. The Dagda’s siblings include the gods Ogma and Lir.

The Dagda was a High King of the Tuatha Dé Danann after his predecessor Nuada was injured in battle. The Tuatha Dé Danann are the race of supernatural beings who conquered the Fomorians, who inhabited Ireland previously, prior to the coming of the Milesians. His lover was Boann and his daughter was Breg. Prior to the battle with the Fomorians, he coupled with the goddess of war, the Mórrígan, on Samhain in exchange for a plan of battle.

Despite his great power and prestige, the Dagda is sometimes depicted as oafish and crude, even comical, wearing a short, rough tunic that barely covers his rump, dragging his great penis on the ground.

The Dagda had an affair with Bóand, wife of Elcmar. In order to hide their affair, Dagda made the sun stand still for nine months; therefore their son, Óengus, was conceived, gestated and born in one day. He, along with Bóand, helped Óengus search for his love.

Whilst Aengus was away the Dagda shared out his land among his children, but Aengus returned to discover that nothing had been saved for him. Under the guidance of Lugh Aengus later tricked his father out of his home at the Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange). Aengus was instructed to ask his father if he could live in the Brú for láa ogus oidhche “(a) day and (a) night”, which in Irish is ambiguous, and could refer to either “a day and a night”, or “day and night”, which means for all time, and so Aengus took possession of the Brú permanently. In “The Wooing of Étaín”, on the other hand, Aengus uses the same ploy to trick Elcmar out of Brú na Bóinne, with the Dagda’s connivance.

The Dagda was also the father of Bodb Dearg, Cermait, Midir, Aine, and Brigit. He was the brother or father of Oghma, who is probably related to the Gaulish god Ogmios; Ogmios, depicted as an old man with a club, is one of the closest Gaulish parallels to the Dagda. Another Gaulish god who may be related to the Dagda is Sucellus, the striker, depicted with a hammer and cup.

He is credited with a seventy or eighty-year reign (depending on source) over the Tuatha Dé Danann, before dying at the Brú na Bóinne, finally succumbing to a wound inflicted by Cethlenn during the second battle of Magh Tuiredh.