There is little we can say with historical certainty about the Goddess Danu. Last year I wrote about what we know: She is the mother of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the Children of the Goddess Danu. Several rivers in Europe bear her name, most notably the Danube. There is a Hindu Goddess named Danu who may or may not be the same deity. And that’s about it.
But as with so many other Goddesses and Gods in our polytheist restoration, Danu is making Herself known. And since this blog is one of the few sites that talks about Danu, I get the occasional question asking how to connect with Her and how to honor Her.
If we lived in a polytheist society this blog post would be unnecessary. You might know little or nothing about Danu, but you would have seen and participated in many rites of devotion and sacrifice. Honoring a new-to-you deity would be no more difficult than making a fine dinner for a visiting relative you had never met.
But we don’t live in a polytheist society. Yet.
This is how I have connected with and honored Danu. You may find it helpful, but in the words of the Reformed Druids of North America, “this is one way, yea, one way among many.”
Find a time when you won’t be disturbed. A half hour is best (and I’ve had some run longer), but 10 minutes will work, and any time spent in devotion to the Gods is better than none.
Just before sunrise or just after sunset is best, but any time will do. Outside is best, but indoor devotions are perfectly acceptable.
Are you seeing a pattern here? Some ways are better than others, and if at some point in the future you are called to deeper service to a deity those better ways may become mandatory for you. But don’t let the desire for a perfect devotion stop you from performing a good devotion, particularly early on.
Prepare yourself for ritual. Take a few deep breaths, ground and center, perform an act of purification – whatever you need to do to put yourself in a reverent and receptive frame of mind.
Call to Danu. Use whatever names and titles seem appropriate. I simply say “Danu, Mother Goddess, Lady of the Waters, I call to you. Join this rite, I ask, that I may honor You and listen for Your wisdom.” Unlike some deities, Danu doesn’t have a million titles. Don’t worry about going on and on with an elaborate invocation. Just be sincere, and above all, be polite.
Make a hospitality offering. If you feel so called, offer wine, ale, or mead, but for the Lady of the Waters, an offering of water is quite appropriate. If you’re outdoors, pour a libation onto the ground. If you’re indoors, pour into an offering bowl and after the devotion take it outside or use it to water plants.
How do you see Her? As a young woman of infinite potential? Pregnant with new beginnings? As a new mother, nursing Her child? As a strong and powerful woman? Or perhaps as a great river, nourishing all who drink from Her?
Some people can’t visualize – they can’t see with other-than-physical eyes. Perhaps instead you hear Her voice, or you hear Her as a rushing stream, a flowing river, or a serene lake. Perhaps you simply feel Her drawing near and sense the presence of a mighty being. There is no One Right Way to experience the presence of a Goddess.
What if you can’t sense anything? Clear your mind, see with more than your eyes, hear with more than your ears, feel with all your being. Danu is a subtle Goddess – unlike some deities, She rarely overwhelms you. If you still can’t sense anything, perform the devotion anyway – it is always good to honor the Gods.
Greet Danu. If you’re presenting a public ritual, you may want to craft a formal script, but for a solitary devotion simply speak from your heart. Imagine you’re greeting a famous visitor from another country: be friendly but not overly familiar, be polite but be genuine. Acknowledge Her call, give thanks for Her presence and blessings, express your interest in Her and Her work. If you’ve been called to make a special offering – a food offering, an object offered to a body of water, a song or poem – make it now.
Do not make careless statements. Do not promise what you cannot or will not do.
Now sit and listen.
Perhaps She will communicate in thoughts, in words or sounds, in visions or images, or perhaps in more indefinite impressions. Be open to communication in many forms. There is no faster way to disappointment than insisting a Goddess give you an answer only in your preferred medium.
Just listen. Experience, don’t interpret – there will be plenty of time for that later.
At some point, the communion will be over. Pour another offering, and this time drink some yourself. There is great power in shared food and drink.
Thank Danu for Her presence and Her blessings. Add any words of farewell that seem appropriate – again, be polite. Listen for Her departure.
Gradually bring yourself back to this place, this time, and this world. Stand up, stretch, walk around. Gather up any objects or materials you may have used.
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You may want to record your experience in a journal, or it may be impossible to capture in words. You may want to contemplate meanings and messages, or perform divinations. Or your experience may have been so clear you don’t need to think about it, you just need to do it.
Remember that the primary purpose of a devotional rite is to honor and commune with a deity. Don’t expect an emotional life-changing experience every time. Regardless of what does or doesn’t happen, it is always good to honor the Gods.
I do not know why Danu is reaching out to more people. If She has any overarching goals I’m not aware of them. It’s not my job to know Her goals and plans. It’s my job to honor Her, to respond to Her call, and to embody Her virtues in this world.
Blessed be Danu, Mother Goddess and Lady of the Waters!