Friday, October 24, 2014

A New God

Formatting is bugging me... posting anyway...

One of the biggest dangers of error in designing one's own religion is that one will simply make symbols of the parts of oneself one likes best, and then worship them. Without the guidance of an experienced ancient Celtic polytheist it is difficult to judge which of the great gods should be given attention. Pagans attempt to deal with the problem through 'Patronage', often modeled vaguely on West African models. What is usually missing is that in those models there is no sense that one chooses what god will become one's patron. Patronage is determined by divination, and the results can be surprising.

In modern Paganism it is more common for folks to focus on gods and spirits that resonate with the obvious and positive parts of our personalities and preferences. That can be fine, but it tends to create blind-spots in one's mythography. It seems that I'm not more immune to that than anyone else.

I'm creating another deck of cards. I've authored a full divination system, and fooled with an effort to pack ritual resources into a nice, pocket-sized box - you can see those here. Now I'm trying to expand the 'Temple Deck' in the Traveling Magic kit. I've added new cards for the deities, bringing the full deity-eidolon set to nine gods of Gaelic and/or Tuatha De Danann provenance. In an effort to amuse myself the set will also contain a 'grimoire deck' with ritual text artfully arranged on cards for, I hope, convenient transport and ritual use. There are invocations for each of those nine gods. More about all that down the road. Here's the point:

I reached a point of trying to decide who the ninth god would be, and asked myself (and some friends) what I was missing. Referencing the obvious Book of Invasions list of Gaelic gods it became clear that I needed a Nuada image and invocation to have the set be even vaguely complete. I'm familiar with the famous tale of Nuada of the Silver Arm, of course, who is King of the Tuatha Dé when they arrive, and is eventually dethroned and restored, before passing away and giving his throne to the next generation of gods. I also knew of his association (linguistic, at least) with the North British god Nodens, who was a healer of war-wounds, associated with the ford of a river, where warriors traditionally met. From those bits I felt confident devising this image:
As I turned to the next step, the writing of an invocation, I realized that I had simply never written an invocation to this important Irish god in all my years! Perhaps it is because he rather vanishes in the stories, and is supplanted by kings whose folkloric persistence has been greater. In any case he had simply never been a part of my work. I did what any good modern Druid does, and turned to my library of books.

I'll spare you the details in favor of summarizing my results. Nuada seems to me to be the Indo-European Law/Warrior king to balance the Dagda's Magic/Poetry king. Nuada is the god of the Well of Wisdom, balancing Dagda's presence as the Sacred Fire. He is the husband of the White Cow Queen - Boann - who is tricked by the Dagda into birthing the Wonder Child. He is the ancestor or father of Fionn, and shares with that figure the traits of hunter, leader of the war-band and keeper of inspiration - his name probably means "he who catches". He holds both the Sword of Victory and the Stone of Sovereignty and is, himself, the Once and Future King, as his arm is stricken from him and restored. In my reading I discovered several titles that seemed to lend themselves to invocation.

I'm satisfied with the effort, though I need to look into what might be proper offerings for such a god. I suppose I'll have to actually invoke him, soon enough.

So again, I suppose the lesson here is to be aware of one's blind spots, to note what one has not noted, to know what one doesn't know. May we all grow in wisdom.

1 comment:

firewomanpg said...


I started honoring Nuada a few years back (on Tuesdays). My first attempts were met with a feeling of "What? No one honors me, what are you doing?" Gradually though, that faded away.