The Four Hallows of the Tuatha De Danann

When I first started leading public rituals, I grabbed every circle I could get my hands on.  I enjoyed composing and presenting ritual, I learned a lot preparing for them, and I got good feedback on them.  After a while, though, I realized there were other people who wanted – and in some cases, needed – to lead circles.  And my plate got so full with life I welcomed large stretches of following someone else’s scripts, or in some cases, simply showing up and participating.  These days, it’s rare for me to volunteer to lead a circle unless Someone has told me He or She wants something in particular.

Somehow, though, I managed to walk away from last Fall’s planning meeting with responsibility for Beltane and no clue as what it was going to be.  I wasn’t worried, though – I knew I was gong to the ADF Texas Imbolc Retreat and to Pantheacon, and I assumed something would come to me at one of those events.  And it did.

After I experienced the Temple of the Morrigan at Pantheacon I knew what we were supposed to do.  The Coru Cathubodua had incorporated the Four Treasures of the Tuatha De Danann into their temple.  We needed to present the Treasures – the Hallows – on their own.

Thanks to everyone who took a part in presenting this ritual last night, and to everyone who came and experienced the presence of the Hallows.  Special thanks to Morpheus Ravenna for her help in articulating the difference between the Spear and the Sword in Celtic lore and without relying on traditional Occult interpretations.

Because it’s Beltane, our ritual included a Maypole dance and a spiral dance that ended up being more of a snake dance.  But in between, we had this main working.

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When the Tuatha De Danann invaded Ireland, they brought with them the four Hallows, the four Treasures – four powerful items of Otherworldly origin.  They are the Lia Fáil, the Spear of Lugh, the Sword of Nuada, and the Cauldron of the Dagda.  Though we speak of the Hallows as objects and they are represented by objects, they are more than objects.  They are the essence of what they do and what they provide, and their forms change from time to time and from place to place.

Throughout history, they have presented themselves to those in need who are worthy of them:  women and men whose hearts are true and whose motives are pure.  They help those who possess them do great things, but then they return to the Otherworld – you may touch a Hallow and be blessed by a Hallow, but you will never own a Hallow.

Tonight, we welcome the Four Hallows of the Tuatha De Danann to our gathering.  As they enter our circle, see them with more than your eyes – hear them with more than your ears.  In a few moments you will have the opportunity to be blessed by one of them.

From the city of Falias comes the Lia Fáil, the Stone of Destiny.  It cries out in the presence of the true King.  The Lia Fáil represents sovereignty and the Goddess of Sovereignty.  It gives the right to rule, and it expects rulers to rule rightly.

Who holds the sovereignty of your life?  Are you spending your days following your True Will, or are you in slavery to the will of another?  Do you need to reclaim your sovereignty?

Perhaps the Lia Fáil is presenting itself to you.

 

From the city of Gorias comes the Spear of Lugh, the Invincible Spear. No battle ever went against it or the warrior who carried it.  The Spear of Lugh represents the strategy and discipline of the warrior.  It tells us to fight with honor and courage toward noble goals.

Are you facing battles in your life?  Do you need to recommit yourself to practice and training?  Do you need to change your strategy?
Perhaps the Spear of Lugh is presenting itself to you.

 

 

From the city of Findias comes the Sword of Nuada, the Sword of Light.  No one could resist it or escape it once it was drawn.  The Sword of Nuada represents the power of the King and the sacrifice of leadership.  It calls us to exercise authority not for self-gain, but for the good of the community, and for the good of all.

Do you face a challenge of authority?  Do you need to place your irresistible abilities in service to the Gods, the Tribe, and the Greater Good?  Are you being called to leadership?

Perhaps the Sword of Nuada is presenting itself to you.

From the city of Murias comes the Cauldron of the Dagda, the Cauldron of Plenty.  No company ever went away from it unfilled.  The Cauldron of the Dagda represents hospitality, and our obligation to care for our families and our guests.  It calls us to receive with gratitude, and to reciprocate with generosity.

Do you suffer from need and want?  Do you hunger for the food of the body, or the food of the soul?  Or do you need to share what you have with your friends and allies?

Perhaps the Cauldron of the Dagda is presenting itself to you.

Behold, the Four Hallows of the Tuatha De Danann!”

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We’re all familiar with the boy Arthur pulling the sword from the stone and becoming king.  But it is important to remember that Arthur did not become king because he pulled the sword from the stone.  He was able to pull the sword from the stone because he was the true king.

The Hallows do not present themselves to everyone.  They present themselves to those who are worthy of them and to those who are receptive to them.  The Sword of Gryffindor presented itself to Harry Potter on several occasions, but it also presented itself to Neville Longbottom at a crucial moment.

If a Hallow presents itself to you, do not ask if you are worthy.  You are, or the Hallow wouldn’t have presented itself to you in the first place.  If you find yourself offered a stone, a spear, sword, or a cauldron; if you stumble upon an unexpected opportunity, if you receive something good you had no idea was coming, first say “yes.”  Then give thanks.  Then consider what you should do with it.  Remember Percival, who held the Holy Grail but failed to ask it to heal the wounded king.  How can you use it to build the common good?  How can you use it to serve the Gods?  How can you use it to serve the world?

Whatever you do, do not think that because you pull a sword out of a stone, the sword becomes your property.  You may possess a Hallow but you will never own it.  You may see it as an object but it is not an object – it is the essence of what it does and provides.  Make good use of it while it graces you with its presence, then bid it a fond farewell when it returns to the Otherworld.

You have seen the Four Hallows of the Tuatha De Danann and you have heard their stories.  Is one of them calling to you?  Is one of them presenting itself to you?  Do you need to say “yes”?  If so, then come, make an offering of grain, touch the Hallow, be blessed by it, and begin the process of manifesting its gifts in this world.

Danu, Mother Goddess and Lady of the Waters, You have blessed us with Your presence and with the presence of the Four Hallows.  For this we thank You.  Grant that we may embody them in our words and deeds; that we may bring sovereignty, victory, service and hospitality to our community and to our world.

And then with no warning, no dismissal, and no devocation, the Hallows returned from whence they came.

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And what of you, blog readers?  Is one of these Hallows presenting itself to you?  Do you need to say “yes” to their blessings?  Do you need to say “yes” to their challenges?  What opportunities are awaiting your response?

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About John Beckett

I’m a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I’m an ordained priest in the Universal Gnostic Fellowship. I’m the Coordinating Officer of the Denton, Texas Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. This year I’m also serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of CUUPS National. I’m a member of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

I write as a spiritual practice. It helps me organize my thoughts and work through ideas and concepts. It helps me evaluate my beliefs and practices against my core values and against what I know (or at least, what I think I know) to be true. It helps me interpret my experiences (religious and otherwise) in ways that are both meaningful and honest.

  • Eilidh Nic Sidheag

    Great idea for a ritual! I wish we knew what the Gaulish or Brythonic equivalents of those Hallows were (those being my pantheons). I’m going to bookmark this for future reference.

  • http://www.celestinetarot.com/ Celestine Angel

    This ritual sounds really great and moving. Truly inspired!

  • Lupa

    What a great ritual! Even those not directly involved in Celtic traditions could easily be inspired by this.


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