The Gift of the Four Treasures
From Gaelic mythology comes the Four Treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann. These represent sacred principles from the Gaelic wisdom tradition. The lore of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the “Tribe of Danu”, tells us they are a tribe of divine beings, who came to Ireland after learning sacred knowledge, mystical arts, and magical skills in the “north of the world”. Some accounts say they arrived in Ireland in clouds of mist, others say they arrived on ships and burnt them to prevent retreat, with the resulting smoke becoming the “mist”.
The Tuatha Dé Danann brought the Four Treasures with them from four magical “cities” of Findias, Gorias, Murias, and Falias. The treasures are the Sword of Nuada, the Spear of Lugh, the Cauldron of the Dagda, and the Lia Fáil (Stone of Destiny). Some sources have the provenance of the spear and sword reversed. Each of the treasures is named after a prominent deity of the Tuatha Dé Danann. The Dagda is an earthy father-figure, both a provider and guardian, associated with abundance, generosity, regeneration and the change of seasons. Nuada is a king and wise leader, able to discern truths and engage the burdens of responsibility with honesty and courage. Lugh is a youthful champion of the tribe and master of many skills. Although the Lia Fáil is not so-named directly, this Hallow is under the aegis of the Goddess of Sovereignty.
The mythology of the Four Treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann can be related to on a personal level as symbols to guide you in healing and empowerment. These sacred journeys take place again and again, on deeper levels and in different ways, as we enter new cycles throughout the course of our lives. The truths and strategies that worked for us at one stage of life change and transform in meaning for us as we shift towards a new horizon of consciousness. A fresh worldview is reborn in direct relevance to our continual evolution. But in order to be adaptable to change, to not suffer in resistance to the reality of impermanence, requires that we are open and ready to accept our own truths, even as these are interwoven in webs of relationship with others. The Four Treasures offer rich symbolism that engages us on multiple levels of awareness.
Nuada weilding Fragarach, image by Jim Fitzpatrick
From Findias, east, comes the Sword of Nuada, “Fragarach” (Answerer), from which no one escaped after it was unsheathed; when pointed towards a target, they could not flee and would answer any question truthfully. The wielder of the sword is made unconquerable after it has been drawn and used. This is the consequences of actions set in motion, cutting through falsehood/deception (including self deception), strengthening self-awareness, and illuminating necessary sacrifices in the course of personal responsibility. This evokes the necessity of the right and just use of one’s power. Fragarach is particularly apt when quick and decisive action is needed. Are you able to take initiative, stepping up to make decisions when needed? How do you relate to the diligence of personal integrity? Do you handle personal responsibilities in balanced and honest ways? Keywords: Right action and equanimity.
The Spear of Lugh
From Gorias, south, comes the Spear of Lugh, against which no battle was maintained. It renders the holder of the spear unconquerable, piercing all resistance. Herein are powers of charisma, persuasion, determination, accomplishment and victory. A spear is a range weapon, striking from on high, or piercing from a distance. This requires precision aim, planning, forethought, and strategy. Focus on your long term goals and values in life, and the necessary determination, perseverance, and faith to achieve them (faith is meant here in a sense of confidence and hope, not “blind belief”). What is your relationship to planning and goal setting? How do you sustain your focus and energy when things get difficult, or when things need time to unfold towards their goal? What kind of follow-through do you have in the course of plans? Keywords: discernment and perspective.
Undry, the Dagda’s Cauldron
From Murias, west, comes the Cauldron of the Dagda, “Undry”, from which no one left unsatisfied. This treasure relates to abundance, restorative and regenerative energies, nurturing of needs. How do you relate to meeting your needs and self-care? How do you balance meeting your needs with obligations to care for family, friends, guests, and community? What is your relationship to both giving and receiving generosity? What is your relationship to abundance? How do you accept and appreciate the blessings in your life? Do you have a healthy and balanced relationship to these aspects of your life? Are you driven by compulsions or enslaved by addiction? Do you lack vigour, joie de vivre, or suffer from an inability to enjoy life in wholesome ways? Keywords: generosity and compassion.
The Lia Fáil on the Hill of Tara
From Falias, north, comes the Lia Fáil, the Stone of Destiny on the mound of Tara, which cries out when touched by a rightful sovereign. The Lia Fáil relates to the concept of sovereignty. This is rooted in the sacred center, and involves integrity, integration, wholeness, truth (firinne), validation of one’s path and the manner in which one is living, also wealth in its different forms. According to Celtic wisdom traditions, the Goddess of Sovereignty, embodiment of Nature, is the ultimate kingmaker and legitimizer of authority. How do you relate to the concept of sovereignty, and in particular, the issue of personal sovereignty? What is your relationship to authority and the boundaries set by the society and culture in which you live? In what ways do you measure wealth, and how do you engage with ways of achieving them? Key words: sovereignty and integrity.
I encourage you to engage creatively with the Four Treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann. You could draw images they each invoke for you, or perhaps compose a poem or song illuminating your personal relationship with them. You could even setup a physical sacred space with appropriate representations of each Treasure in their associated directions. Or maybe sitting quietly in simple meditation and visualization upon the Four Treasures feels more fitting for you. There are myriad ways to make the myths meaningful to you in personal ways. The sacred is not something “out there”, present only at specific times or places; the sacred wisdom encoded in our ancestral myths can be applied and integrated into our everyday lives. The Four Treasures reside within each of us, as divine gifts upon we can draw for guidance, wisdom, healing, and inspiration. May they be gleaming jewels of beauty in your life.