The enigmatic Mother Goddess of the Tuatha de Danann (Children of Danu), Danu has been a mysterious force within the Celtic Pantheon since they first set foot upon the Emerald Isle. She is the Goddess of Water, fertility and abundance, sometimes Winds and the forces of Nature.
Danu, often thought to be named after the River Danube in Europe, which is 362.8 miles from Hallstatt in Austria, which modern scholars believe is the origin of the Celts.
Spheres of influence
Very little has been recorded in mythology about Danu, we do know that she is the Mother Goddess, and therefore a creator, linked to Fertility. The Paps of Anu, in County Kerry, are Mountainous, rounded hills that represent breasts. They were said to be a sacred site to Danu (Anu is often an alternative name for Danu and said to be a separate deity).
We see here the life-giving aspect of Danu, as the giver of life sustenance to her Sacred Children, a Maternal nourisher of the Sacred that resides inside all of us. Moving beyond being just the Mother to a race of God’s but to the Mother of all Humanity, making us all part of the Tuatha de Danann (Children of Danu).
She is Goddess of Rivers, particularly the Danube, just as Boann is Goddess of the River Boyne and Sinnan of the Shannon. Danu’s name translates to “Flowing Water/River ''. When you consider that water is the substance that gives life, could Tuatha de Danann translate more accurately to “Children of the flowing water/river”? Does that then cement her as the Mother of all life?
As we know very little about Danu, beyond a few snippets, we do know she is the Mother of the Tuatha de Danann, we know she is sometimes associated with the Dagda, sometimes Bile. Some sources say she is the Mother of Brigid, but as is often the case with Danu, it is not clear!
Ways of working with Danu
I have come to know Danu as both a fierce and protective Mother, and as a nurturing gentle force. Which I attribute to her connection to water, which is ever flowing, fierce, independent, yet gentle and refreshing.
Create an Altar in your home and dedicate it to her, give thanks for the ways she provides nurture, love and life sustaining nourishment. You can place offerings of milk and flowers as offerings to her.
As a Mother Goddess, call on her when you need guidance, the sort that only a loving Mother can provide. If you have experienced a “Mother Wound”, call on her gentle wisdom to help heal, to call back the Sacred Feminine Spirit into your life. To bring balance and love where there was once hurt and pain.
Place seasonal flowers into waters and Seas to give thanks and honour to her. At Beltane, Midsummer, Lughnasadh and Samhain, give thanks to her and changing of the seasons, the changing faces of nature, and as the Water that always brings life.