Recently I tried to engage my curiosity and interest in games to create a new habit of using the social media platform Instagram in a more active and fun way. The Game, was 'Ask me Anything' by commenting @DagdaBard to which I would reply the following day. It was a good experiment and lead to many fantastic interactions.
Alas, a habit has not been formed as other matters took priority and the 'game' slipped from focus, but there were many interesting questions and one of which lead to a fantastic and inspirational exploration of the ancient Irish Lore, "The Cauldron of Poesy".
The question, asked by @corvidbird, was whether I thought there was any connection between the Cauldron of The Dagda, and this poetic work attributed to Amairgen Glúingel (White-Knee), File of the Son's of Mil and ollamh na h'Eireann, or Chief poet of Ireland.
Needless to say, I was intrigued by the idea, and readily admitted my knowledge gap, a gap I was soon to fill to the best of my abilities. Research mode activate!
I already had some knowledge of Amairgen and the Son's of Mil from by travels through the lore, but The Cauldron of Poesy' was something I had not heard of so it was off to the internet and the resources to try find more. Now this is oft a mine field of truth, mixed with hear say, personal gnosis and misinformation, so lets just say I had my salt to hand and more than a few pinches to dispense as I read.
Fortunately for me it wasn't long before I came across a name I was familiar with and a piece of work that tackled not just the poetry itself but a very engaging and interesting perspective on the possible intent and meaning behind the imagery.
The writer is Erynn Rowan Laurie you can read their exploration of the Cauldron of Poesy, HERE.
Erynn's work really did get the inspiration going and I would encourage an exploration of that writing if you are looking for more insights, especially since I don't think I could do a greater justice to the exploration than Erynn has already. In brief though, the supposition is that the power of poetry (and many other crafts) flows from a person, spilling forth from them through three Cauldrons; The Cauldron of Incubation, The Cauldron of Motion, The Cauldron of Wisdom. The work explains how these cauldrons function within a person, their orientation be it upright, over turned, or on its side, how they are moved through these orientations and the impact that they have on the person and their abilities.
So now I had information on the Cauldron of Poesy, but where could I look for any Dagda connections? At no point in the work is Dagda referenced, even obliquely as he is in some other texts, but I have found that this doesn't me that the Big man isn't about somewhere in the back, fulfilling a role without needing acknowledgment. So here is where we take that leftwise turn down personal gnosis avenue. Fear not though, personal gnosis can be very valid, once a person is willing to question their insights in detail and seek root lore corroboration where possible.
So, how do you find The Dagda, without presuming overly much or being blinkered by your own personal bias? Really if anyone has an answer to this let me know, cause I struggle with NOT seeing the Big Man's foot pints, (or butt prints) all about the place these days.
As ever, its off to the root lore where possible and thankfully there is a great source HERE in the Celtic Literature Collective, specifically the section on the Lebor Gabala Erenn - The Book of the Takings of Ireland better known as The Book of Invasions.
In this ancient text we see the origins of Ireland and its occupation laid out in a cycle of Emigration and Immigration, as various people come into the land, leave it, then return once more. So to answer our question we need to look to the later cycles of immigration, that of the 'Tuatha dé Dannan' and the group who followed them, 'The Son's of Mil', or Milesians.
In the ranks of the Tuatha dé Danna we find The Dagda, oft referred to as the 'Good God' and linked to many magical abilities given his role as a deity of druidic lore. Yet there is more to Him than first meets the eye as in later tales we learn of His many names which give greater insight into his true nature. There is probably a whole post on his names, or better yet a book coming out soon which does it a lot more justice, but I will pluck a few here for reference to our research.
So I think its not too far a stretch here to say that The Dagda was very skilled in the arts, with great knowledge of the power of performance and the impact that these skills can have. So we have our first possible, if tenuous, connection of Dagda to the Cauldron of Poesy works, in that He is a God of the arts and performance, but this is far from being enough, so we must carry on further and its easy to see our next step, The Cauldron.
It's said that when the Tuatha dé came to Ireland they brought with them their four great treasures, one of which is the Cauldron of the Dagda, ' from which no company ever left unsatisfied.' This cauldron, never empty, always un-dry, connects The Dagda to imagery of abundance, over overflowing sustenance, but as I have mentioned elsewhere, can one truly be satisfied with a full belly alone? What about that other piece of information linked to this cauldron, that each person would find their portion in keeping with their merit, yet how does one establish their merit?
For this we can look to almost any of the stories and there in find an answer. At any gathering, particularly involving warriors, there was always a declaration, a recitation of feats, a performance if you will, by which the 'Champion's portion' would be allocated. Could it be that The Cauldron of the Dagda is linked with the performing arts in this manner? That the creation of prose and poetry would be directly linked to a person's merit and their by their just portion?
Here we will leave our Dagda research and look to the other person involved, for Amaigen is the attributed composer of the Cauldron of Poesy and as such we need to know how and where he fits into the tale.
The Son's of Mil come into Ireland and with them comes their File or poet. The trial of the Milesian's are many as they first seek Ireland. It is only by the powers of Amairgen's words that they first arrive. Again it is with this persons interactions that they come to know the name Eiru and that it should be place upon the island once they take over. Its by his judgement that they leave Ireland to the Tuatha dé and its three kings, Mac Cuill, Mac Cécht, and Mac Gréine, only to be buffeted by storms cast against them by the sorceries of the Tuatha dé.
Yet all is not lost for by the power of words, the poet calms the storms, parts the mists and returns them to Ireland again, here to take final ownership of the island, and see the people of Danu leave the world above and go into the mounds below the earth.
So, I think its fair to say that Amairgen knows the powers of performance and the impact that words can have, but how can we tie these two figures together? Is there anyway to establish a common ground for our supposition and by that answer our question?
Well there are a few more strings that we can tug on for our investigation. Firstly, The Dagda became King after Lug and is said to have ruled for 80 years. When Amairgen and the Milesians arrive, Ireland has three kings, Mac Cuill, Mac Cécht, and Mac Gréine, all of which are referred to as 'the three sons of Cermait', who is in turn one of the sons of The Dagda.
When the Milesian's take Ireland an agreement is struck to split the island in two so that each peoples may have part, but by the power of words and a twist of their meanings, the Milesian's gain the 'Top half' of the island or the 'above ground'. This drives the Tuatha dé into the mounds from which they never return becoming, as some would say, the Aes Sidhe of Ireland. You may forgive me for a little leap here but this too could connect to The Dagda, as we have seen that it was by his hand that some of the mounds were made for the people, and also it was by his arrangement that the Tuatha dé each had a Síd to rule over.
Yet, though we have come far and there are a few challenges to our research, not least of which is the tale that The Dagda died of a would placed upon him as the Battle of Moytura, there is one additional piece of infomation I would put forward for consideration. In the times when the Milesian's first arrived Ireland is referred to, by Amairgen as "A fishful sea! A fruitful land!" yet when they take the land it is said that the land went to waste and that no grain would grow not milk flow. The only way as resolution could be found for this was for the Milesian's to 'make friends of The Dagda' so that the land could be restored to abundance, and here is where my last leap would come in. Who would you send to entreat on this matter if not your Cheif poet, one who has power in words, and has a history of overcoming the Tuath dé sorceries and winning the day with his Words.
So there you have it. I'm not exactly sure what 'it' is but its here. I think its plausible to suggest a link between Amairgen and The Dagda, that the possibility of discussion on poetry and the Right use of Words could have occurred, and that The Dagda would use what he had to hand to make his point, ie. a Big ol' Cauldron.
I offer this purely as a thought exercise. I make no claims to any definitive discovery here, I merely ask the questions and enjoy chasing the answers through my thoughts.
What are you thoughts?
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An Scéalaí Beag
We all have thoughts and perspectives and opinions. Its simply part of the human condition as a socialized species. So In the interest of insight, this is where I will share my perspective and opinions.