Day of Danu: Celtic Mother Goddess

Danu is a mother goddess in the Celtic and Irish traditions. She is the goddess of fertility, creation, water, and the land.

We celebrate the Day of Danu on January 18.

Who Is Danu?

She is considered a hypothetical or reconstructed goddess because there are no surviving texts or artworks attributed to her. So much about her remains a mystery.

A creator goddess she is connected to earth and water. She is a goddess of fertility, abundance, and prosperity.

Danu, also referred to as Anu, is often associated with water. She commands rivers and helps humans find wells or springs.

There is quite an argument among linguists on where her name comes from. Some say she corresponds with the Vedic primordial water goddess Danu. Her name means to flow or river in the Scythian language. Other linguists relate her name to the old Latin Duenos (Buenos) meaning good.

There is lingual evidence that her reach extended off of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland. The Danube River in Eastern Europe is probably a tribute to her.

She corresponds to the Welsh Ancestor Goddess Don. In the modern neopagan tradition, Danu is seen as both a primordial and a triple goddess.

She is also associated with the great oak, Bile. It is said when he was a seedling Bile drank of her waters and became a great tree. He produced two acorns which became their children, Brighid and Dagda.

Fun Fact: There is a successful Irish Folk band named Danu.

Several geographical places are named for her including the Paps of Anu and the Well of Segais.

Paps of Danu in Ireland

The Paps of Danu located in Cork/Kerry area of Ireland. Named after the Mother Goddess because they look like breasts. Photo by Gerard Lovett

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The Tuatha Dé Danann

The Tuatha Dé Danann (the tribe of the Goddess Danu) is a pantheon of the Irish Gaelic people. Danu is the mother of gods and she was believed to have suckled the gods as children.

The Tuatha Dé Danann is an ancient culture that predates the Milesians (the ancestors of the modern Irish). Lore says that they were extremely wise and gifted in magic and so were cast from the heavens because of this.

Archaeological evidence shows that they arrived about 1000 BCE and were a highly-skilled group of people who made many cultural advancements.

Connection to the Fae

When the Tuatha Dé Danann were cast to earth they hid in the misty mountain tops and thus became associated with fairies.

Correspondances for Danu

Pantheon: Irish

Abode: Rivers

Animals: Salmon, snake, and seagulls

Color: Blue, White, Silver, Earthy Greens

Divination: Water scrying

Elements: Water, Earth

Plants: Mugwort, mint, thyme, Irish moss

Planet: Moon

Stones: River Stones, clear quartz, amber, aquamarine, green aventurine

Symbols: Black Cauldron, Rivers, Sea, Bodies Of Water, Wind, Earth, Moon, Crown

Wood: Apple, Hawthorn, Elder

Consort: Bile’

Altar to goddess Danu

A simple altar I made to the Goddess Danu. Photo by Ame Vanorio

Altar for Danu

I created an altar to go along with the ritual below as it is winter as I write this. I used white and green candles, blue cloth and a pitcher of water. I placed water-related crystals on the altar and used a flowering primrose potted plant to represent wildflowers.

I sang along with the song after completing the ritual between steps eight and nine.

Chant/Song to use

The river is flowing,
Flowing and growing,
The river is flowing,
Down to the sea.
Mother earth carry me,
Your child I have always been,
Mother earth carry me,
Down to the sea.”

Folk Song/Chant sung by Rachel Sessions

A Ritual invoking the help of Goddess Danu

Modified from Elizabeth Trivia from her article Exploring the Goddess Danu - this is a great read for a more modern personal interpretation.

  1. Start with a ritual cleansing bath, or smudge with some sage or sage and cedar.

  2. Then go out and look for a rock. Ideally, this rock should be about as big as your fist… which I am told, is about the same size as your heart.

  3. Also at this time look for a wildflower. Any wildflower in bloom will work. If there are not flowers in bloom at the time you do this ritual, substitute the flower for any gift you may leave, such as a strip of cloth or ribbon to tie to a nearby tree or shrub branch.

  4. Now take the rock to a body of water, a river is best because its currents will assist you. Sit next to the water and think of the heartache or problem you are experiencing….

  5. Focus on the situation and its associated problem.

  6. Then envision all of that energy from your sadness and grief going into your rock.

  7. Ask Danu to take the sadness and negativity back into the universe, where it will no longer harm you or anyone else.

  8. Request that Danu let the water wash it away, and throw the rock in the water.

  9. Lift your arms and offer thanks to Danu. Leave the wildflowers or ribbons as a gift to her.

  10. You should feel much lighter when you return home.

Author, Ame Vanorio is a lifelong pagan, an environmental educator, and a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Ame writes about honoring nature, animal spirit guides, crystals, and holidays. She also does our social media pages. Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.