The Tuatha Dé Danann are said to have come out of their four cities and journeyed around on their route back to Ireland collecting every occult or hidden druidic knowledge.
This gathering of a thousand heroes were no stranger to conflict and the harm that inevitably comes from battle. What made them more resilient than other peoples was their knowledge of healing. Knowledge that predominantly rested with one man.
Who is Dian Cecht in Celtic Mythology?
Dian Cecht is a renowned member of the Tuatha Dé Danann – those who later became known as Ireland’s Pagan Gods and Goddesses – and many of them owe him their life on account of his talents. During the first battle of Moytura as the Tuatha Dé Danann tried to establish a place for themselves in Ireland, Dian Cecht and his children were crucial in achieving that victory.
It was by Dien Cecht’s knowledge that a well of healing was created, containing all of the healing herbs with the healing words chanted over it. At the end of each day, warriors bearing even the most grievous of wounds would be placed into the well waters, and come out completely healed with their vigour fully restored. This was the ability that Dian Cecht brought to battle, wounded warriors restored and fit to fight fresh each day.
When Lugh came to Tara to seek audience with Nuada, he was refused many times because there was someone greater in that skill already present. Dian Cecht is listed as the greatest Leech (physician) in all Ireland.
Dian Cecht’s abilities go beyond herbalism and healing chants. He it was who saved Nuada from death when Shreng of the Fir Bolg cut his arm from him. It was also Dian Cechts knowledge of anatomy coupled with Credne’s skill in fine metals that crafted for Nuada his Silver arm. This feat, creating a prosthesis with all the motion of the original hand showed the great extent of Dian Cechts abilities.
Cian – was a stout warrior and it was he who snuck onto the tower Balor had created for his daughter and conceived with her the child who would become Lugh.
Miache – rivalled Dian Cecht in all his abilities and eventually went beyond his father’s talents in restoring Nuada’s flesh and blood arm to him. In doing so he removed the blemish of the wound which made Nuada eligible to be king once more. Though one might think Dian Cecht would be proud of his son, he was instead enraged. Dian Cecht battled Miache yet for every wound, even the most grievous or mortal wounds, he inflicted, Miache was able to restore himself. Eventually Dian Cecht beheaded his son and no ability could restore him to life.
Airmead – worked diligently with her siblings in the care and treatment of her tuatha. She stood over the healing wells and chanted the words to imbue the herbs with their abilities. Aggrieved by the loss of her brother Miache, she buried him in secret so Dian Cecht would not know. Miache gave one last gift, for on his grave grew every herb of healing from the very spot on a body which it healed. Airmead came to the grave and taking off her cloak she would harvest each herb and lay them out so that each would be remembered for its use. That was until her father grew suspicious. Following her one day he found her harvesting the grave and in a rage he destroyed all of the herbs, tearing them up and casting them to the wind so that the knowledge of healing would remain only with him.
Who is Dian Cecht Today?
Dian Cecht is a lesson to us about the responsibility that comes with our talents. He is the Tuatha Dé Danann God of healing, but as we see in the stories he is equally familiar with the ways of harming.
As with all of the old tales, there is a lesson to be learnt in its retelling. The lesson of Dian Cecht could be an exploration of the duality of our existence, each of us capable of great harm, yet also great caring.
What do you think?
Where To Now?
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