Today is the second part in the five-part series I’m doing on my Gods. Today I want to share with you my laughing God, the(An) Dagda.
As I have said before, when I left Christianity, it was Danu who gathered me in, She who I was able to connect with. But it was Dagda that showed me a loving God and helped me to understand how a warrior God could be a God of joy. I didn’t think I’d ever connect to a God after my time in Christianity and the problems I had with my own father growing up. I was like so many post-Christian Pagans in that it was so much easier to accept the image of a Goddess than to accept an image of a God other than the one we were raised with. But Dagda, with his joy and laughter, was able to reach my heart. Oh, He made sure I saw and understood His temper – something we share – and He has often been my serious teacher, relaying a story or lesson to me with all the somber studiousness it required. But always He has shown me the pure joy He has, a joy that encompasses everything.
As for physical, the best idea of how I see the Dagda is the ghost of Christmas present from “A Christmas Carol” – a red-haired giant, but without the bathrobe. ^_~ I see Him wearing a tunic that’s too short, but He has always come to me wearing…tights? Trunked hose? Whatever they are called, they show His form, but in a more dignified way than He is usually displayed. I don’t if He does it for my American sensibilities or if the image of the buffoon is just a rude exaggeration, but this is how I see Him. I have seen Him as an aged sage, but never as a youth. But mostly, He comes to me as a man in His prime – old enough for wisdom but young enough for the energy to carry it out. That is the most prominent of His features – His unrelenting energy.
In the late 90s and early 2000, I talked to other people who walked an Irish path trying to find more information about Dagda, most saw either the fool or the warrior and I was laughed off (at best) or blessed out (at worst) for my insistence that He was, at His best (and most often with me), a God of laughter and music. I’ve recently started reconnecting with other Irish polytheists and have found that this stand-offish attitude was fairly widespread then, but has gotten better in recent years. I don’t necessarily embrace the ideal of Dagda as a high king – a leader, yes, but not a high king. He is called in some places the “druid of the de Dananns” and I think this is where His leadership role (beyond Father of the Gods) comes from. It fits with Him as I know Him – the teacher, musician, and historian – as well as his warrior side. He turns the seasons with His harp and He feeds those of honor who speak truth, even as He carries a club that slays with one end and raises the dead with the other.
I see Him often before a fire as we share meal and mead and tell stories to entertain ourselves and He tells me stories that I may learn. At times in my life where I’ve needed to fight – for myself or for something I believe in – He comes to me ready for war to support me and lead me by example. He gave me faith in a father figure that I had not had since early childhood. He has held me through my tears; He has celebrated with my victories. His is so many things to me, but I think the greatest has been as Ollathair, “All Father”. No, I do not believe He is the husband/mate of Danu; but He does represent the other half of my spiritual parentage. And, at 14, I lit a candle (the closest I could come to a bonfire) and – in my own version of the tradition of showing my courage – I leapt the fire in promise to follow the Dagda with all the strength of my courage and then some. He opened my heart to accept a God, a necessity since I have recently found myself with two more Gods – and it is the courage He has always encouraged me to that allows me to face these new Gods.