(Originally published in Druid's Progress 11)
In Dagda is the eldest, wisest and mightiest of the Tuatha De, for his is every power of all powers. He is called the Excellent God, the Lord of Perfect Knowledge and all Father. His central attribute is the Sacred Fire and, like it, he is always hungry, ready to consume the offerings; he is also a red god. The Dagda is also a phallic deity, his lust matching his hunger. He is the father of many of the Tuatha De but his key function is as Druid of the Gods.
It is proper to offer to the Dagda for wisdom, for bounty and for victory in law or judgement. His favorite offerings are oat bannocks or porridge, ale in quantity and butter offered to the fire.
The Dagda's symbols are the Cauldron of Bounty, the Harp of the Seasons and the Club that Slays and Revives. The Cauldron is called 'Never Dry', one of the Four Treasures of the Gods. It serves each their favorite food but will not serve a coward or an oath breaker. The Harp is called 'Four Cornered Music' upon which the Dagda plays the seasons' turning. The Dagda's great war-club slays with one end and grants life with the other.
The key image of the Dagda begins in a landscape of green hills with a great plain before them. Over the hills comes a man's form, tall and broad. He wears a patch tunic of nine colors and kilt of burnished leather. His mighty arms and legs bear bands of gold and his shoulders a cloak of scarlet fastened with a great brooch. Upon his thick neck is a great torc with bull-head finials. His uncut hair and beard are red and his features broad, with smiling eyes and lips. In his right hand he drags his war club, cutting the turf as he goes. On his back is his harp and under his left arm he bears his cauldron, steaming and boiling all the while.
Hymn to the Dagda
By Ian Corrigan
Dagda most honored
To you we make sacrifice
Oats from our bounty we freely give
To Eochaid the All-Father
You, the Fire Beneath the Cauldron
Hear us, Old Giant
God with the Great Staff
Lord of Secret Knowledge
Fire of the Sacrifice, great in appetite To you we do honor Excellent God
Mate of the Geat Queen
Fergus, the Mare's Son
Chieftain of Danu, Bountiful Giver
Flame in the belly that sustains Life
Flame in the loins that continues Life
Flame in the eye that comprehends Life
Be in us as we are in you
Kindle in us as we make our offering
Oats of the Stallion we give you
Boiled in the Cauldron upon
the Sacred Fire
O Harper of the Seasons
Taker of the Sacrifice
Druid of Oak and Hazel
Great Good God!
Accept our Sacrifice!
(Abridged from Ian's forthcoming book Celtic Paganism)