Durga/Danu…Ma, Ma, Ma.

October 5th, 2011 by Dearbhla Kelly

We are currently in the festival of Navratri, the nine nights dedicated to the glorification of Shakti, the divine feminine principle. At this time we honour Durga in all her manifestations as the absolute power of divinity and beneficence, the supreme one, queenly consort of Shiva, cosmic creatrix, mother of all.

The first three days are devoted to worshiping Ma as Kali, destroyer of time and death-bringer to the ego. She is fierce and fiercely compassionate and is often depicted with a chain of skulls around her neck, blood dripping from her mouth.

Second three days we honour Shakti as Lakshmi, she who bestows abundance and prosperity. Lakshmi is the great harmonizer, who also represents fertility and embodies beauty, grace and charm.

The last three days of Navratri are dedicated to Saraswati, she of the flow, by whose grace we have the gifts of speech, music, the arts and wisdom.

The Harappans whose culture flourished in the Indus Valley from 5000 – 2000 BCE, worshipped the Goddess as Danu, the same name used by the pre-Christian Irish for their matriarch and protectress.

Danu, was the mother goddess of the Tuatha Dé Dannan (pronounced ‘too-ha-day-don-on’) – peoples of the goddess Danu – a race of gods and heroes in ancient Irish mythology, who were exceptionally skilled in science, art, poetry and magic. She was mother of the gods, the earth, the wind, fertility and wisdom. She was worshiped all over Europe and like Durga could take on many forms from the fierce warrior Morrigan, to Anu who was invoked for prosperity, abundance and wealth.  Like Kali, the black one, Danu was considered the goddess of death and the dead and symbolized by blood. But Danu was also the goddess of flowing water, (the river Danube is named after her) and like Saraswati was associated with poetry, learning and wisdom as well as culture and crafts.

In modern-day Ireland the connection to the ancient ways and the worship of the goddess principle as a cosmic force is virtually non existent. How wonderful that we get to celebrate the divine feminine in her all of her attributes at this most auspicious time of Navratri. We know that this goddess principle transcends culture and race and is part of the metaphorical fabric of the cosmic, the source of fierce, unconditional love in action as righteous anger, grace, and harmonizing sweetness.


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Photos by Robert Sturman.