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January 14, 2021

Which Irish Deity Should I Work With?

Well first off, your answer may be – none.

You don’t have to work with any god or goddess to be a practicing Pagan, or to follow native Irish spiritual traditions.

In fact, you’re probably closer to any Irish ancestral connections that are there by just having a general ‘something bigger than me exists but I’m not sure what’ worldview, given that the people of this island have been colonised by Christianity for a solid 1500 years or so.

But if you do want to work with a pre-Christian (who are also post-Christian!) Irish deity, you’ve got a good range to choose from.

Irish Gods and Goddesses

The first thing you need to understand is that in Ireland, we don’t really have specific Gods of this and that.

Yes, there are attributes that are associated with Irish deities, but they are not the be all and end all of what that God or Goddess is about.

For example, the Mórrígan is often called a Goddess of War. Technically, she (or they, if we’re including her sisters) does be around a lot of battles, and does seem to be concerned with fighting, according to her native lore mythology… as well as many people’s experience of her.

However, she is more rightly and roundedly concerned with poetic prophecy, people, Otherworldly animals, and change. And magic.

Her ‘War Goddess’ role is a part of what she is/they are, for sure. But it’s not the whole picture, and it’s doing both you and them a disservice to reduce them to a soundbite.

Called or Chosen?

The next common confusion I see is the question of whether you need to be called by a God or Goddess, or if it’s ok to just choose one to work with?

What does ‘being called’ look like?

From what I’ve seen, the Gods don’t always arrive in our lives with a flash and a bang. I mean, actually, they are pretty much never that obvious.

But Irish Deities aren’t exactly subtle either. If one of them is taking a particular interest in you, they can be quite persistent.

I go into a lot more detail in this video – Is the Mórrígan Calling You? – which has a lot that’s applicable to other Gods too. But generally, it won’t just be a case of “I saw a crow today, that must be the Mórrígan”.

These fuckers SHOW UP. Then you get to choose what to do about that.

So, what if you’re not getting any regular, out of the ordinary, signs or communications that a particular Irish Deity is interested in you, but you just feel drawn to one?

Maybe the Dagda appeals because he seems to be a much needed healthy model of masculinity? (More on that in this free course.)

Maybe Brighid seems like the kind of kick ass feminist you could follow? (She is often not portrayed as such in modern – not Irish – Paganism, but you can get a solid Introduction to the native perspective on our Brigid/Brighid in this online class.)

Maybe Manannán Mac Lir seems to be a useful sort to have on your side if you’re going to engage with a type of ‘Shamanic’ Journeying Practice, given that he is a Guide to the Otherworld?

{You can learn more about specific Irish Deity in this post here.}

{We also have further resources on the Dagda, Lugh, Nuada, and Medb, at the Irish Pagan School, and a lot more on the Mórrígan here.}

Ultimately, I think if you are feeling drawn towards a particular one of the Irish Gods and Goddesses, that can be something of a ‘calling’ too. Like, there’s probably a reason for that, and it’s worth exploring.

Feeling called by an Irish deity isn’t any better than seeking them out on your own, either. We really need to leave that special ‘chosen one’ thing alone, as a community.

I get that it feels like it would be exciting or affirming to be chosen by a God, instead of you choosing them… but in reality, it just means they’ve got a load of work for you to do. So, if that genuinely happens, please just get over yourself, and get on with doing that work.

How To Work with Irish Deity?

I mean, it’s a big question, and probably more than I can get into in a standard blog post.

It’s also highly personal, because there’s no ‘One True Way’ – and anyone telling you that is trying to sell you on a crock of shite. Please don’t let them.

Your experience is going to be different than mine, or theirs, because we’re all at different places in our lives, whether developmentally, geographically and experientially. There are some basics though.

  • Keep a Record – I journal everything, because our often frail human brains are designed to lead us astray and drop the ball in certain ways (cognitive bias, heuristics, social conditioning, and memory functionality, for a start). Write shit down so you have an accurate picture of what’s happening to you, and you can tell if a god or goddess is actually showing up for you on the regular.
  • Do your Research – Learn all you can about the Irish Deity you are interested in, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to educate yourself with source material from within the native culture, past and present. Please stop believing the appropriated and misunderstood wanderings of those who do not have a solid foundation in the culture and people from which these deities were born and reared.
  • Learn to Communicate – And this goes both ways, talking and listening. I go into this in great detail in my book – A Practical Guide to Pagan Priesthood – but in short, communication may include prayer (praise or petition), offerings, meditation, lucid dreaming, rituals, divination, and Journeying.

You’ll find a lot more to work with in my course Meeting Irish Gods, including:

  • — What is a God?
  • — Tuatha Dé Danann – overview of their origins and lore
  • — The First Battle of Moytura
  • — The Second Battle of Moytura
  • — Name, Pronunciation Guide, and Primary/Starting Source for each of the Gods covered
  • — How to Build Relationships
  • — Addressing your Cognitive Biases

Learn More Here – https://irishpaganschool.com/p/irish-gods

Relationship with Irish Deity

Whichever God or Goddess you want to work with, please remember that there MUST be appropriate give and take.

Far to many NeoPagans are coming in with the idea that they can ‘use’ a deity for a ritual or a spell, and expecting the Gods to just drop fucking everything and do the beck and call thing.

I dunno who that’s working for, but it certainly doesn’t work with our lot.

Yes, they may help out in an emergency, but in my experience, you sort of owe them one afterwards. So do take that into account.

Whether it’s out of basic decency and respect, a desire to not be just another of THOSE entitled fools raised in coloniser culture, or just a wish to actually be effective and get true results from your spiritual growth or magical practices… just don’t do that, ok?

Get to know the God you want to work with, just as you would a person or an animal, or anything in any other relationship. Bring a gift or two when you first show up. Check in regularly, just because. Figure out what they like, what they don’t like, and what sort of relationship is expected or wanted – by both parties. (Coz you do get a say too!)

And do all of that, probably for a good while, before you start demanding stuff for your own benefit, yeah?

Slán go fóill 😉

Related Posts

(Free) Native Sources for Irish Paganism

How to Make Offerings to Pagan Gods and Goddesses

Question – Irish Ancestry and Cultural Appropriation?

Irish History – Guide to the Phases & Dates

About the Author

Irish Author, Educator, and Guide to Ireland. Co-Founder of the Irish Pagan School, Eel & Otter Press, and Pagan Life Rites (Ireland).

Lora O'Brien

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