Skip to main content

HIST & MYTH: Irish Deity: Dian Cécht – God of Healing

Written by Ben Kesp 

Dian Cécht - God of Healing or God of Power and Health for the Tuatha Dé Danann, the race of Ireland’s ancient gods, can be said from the murky visibility of Irish mythology to have been the brother to: Dagda (Father of the Gods and God of Earth), Lir (Sea God), Nuada (King of the Danann) and Ogma (Champion of the Danann).  He was the physician and healer to the Danann, saving their warriors during times of battle.  He has been accredited with many feats and his healing powers were invoked in Ireland as late as the 8th century.  Numerous cures and spells are associated with him, in addition to his gift as an oracle or foreseer.
Through his first marriage, he had three children: Miach, Airmed and Étan.  On his second marriage to Danu he had a son named Cian who would later marry Ethlinn, daughter of the notorious Fomorian King, Balor.  Cian was the father of the Sun God & Storm God, Lugh - saviour of the Danann and Lugh would later father the Irish legendary hero Cu Chulainn
Dian Cécht once saved Ireland from the risk of being depopulated by three serpents.  Dagda, the father of the gods and his wife, the Morrígan (Goddess of War, Death and Rebirth) had a child that was so evil in its appearance that Dian Cécht passed the motion that the child should be killed in infancy.  On doing so, Dian opened the infants’ heart to find three serpents inside that would depopulate Ireland when they would fully grow.  He destroyed the serpents by burning them and cast their ashes into a river that boiled, killing every creature within it.  The river became known as the River Barrow, the second longest river in Ireland after the River Shannon.  The River Barrow is known as one of The Three Sisters with the other two rivers called the River Suir and the River Nore.
When Nuada, King of the Danann lost his arm in the First Battle of Moytura against the Fir Bolgs, he was seen by the Danann as imperfect to be King.  As a result King Bres, (half Danann: half Fomorian) was chosen to be the next King and the Danann suffered under his rule.  They longed for Nuada to be returned to power.  Dian succeeded in replacing Nuada’s arm with a silver replacement and Nuada was reinstated to the throne giving Nuada the name of the “Silver Arm”.  However Dian became jealous and envious of his son Miach who later replaced Nuada’s original arm with the help of his sister Airmed, with a combination of magic and surgery.  Miach was equally as gifted as his father, if not better.  Dian killed his son and following his burial, magical herbs grew over his grave. His sister Airmed tried to categorise the herbs but in her father’s anger, Dian dispersed the herbs destroying her work, leaving the healing properties of the herbs unknown today.
Dian’s other two children were Étan who was a poet and Cian, son of Danu, who married Ethlinn, daughter of Balor of the Fomorians.  The marriage between Cian and Ethlinn sealed a peace treaty between the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Fomorians following the First Battle of Mag Turied (Moytura) against the Fir Bolgs. Relations were at first peaceful with the Fomorians however it was short lived.

Today, buried deep within Heapstown Cairn in Co. Sligo is Dian Cécht’s healing well.  The Formorians built the cairn following the Second Battle of Mag Turied to conceal it.  Hidden from sight within the well contains every type of herb which grows in Ireland.  It was in here the Dannan warriors were bathed and renewed to full health following their falls in battle.  Dian Cécht is also known to have blessed a well on the Galway and Mayo border in the province of Connaught. Dian Cécht is recorded as having an important role within the Irish Deities, not only for his great healing and magical feats but also as an oracle, often called on for council and his decisions held sway – surely a powerful figure in the pantheon of Irish gods. 

For more, check out the Irish History & Myth Collection on the Ben Kesp Website. 

Image: Wikipedia 

Discover more on Ben Kesp, author and writer on the Ben Kesp Website.
Discover how to Contribute on the Ben Kesp Website.

Popular posts from this blog

HIST & MYTH: The Dagda - Father God Figure

Post 227. Written by Ben Kesp. 

Of all the Irish deities making up the pantheon of gods, the Dagda is seen as the most powerful and omnicompetent, unlike his counterparts who are often limited in their abilities.
What I found interesting on my research of the Dagda is his role when it came to the introduction of Christianity. Ireland’s culture and belief systems have been very insular due to its isolation from mainland Europe and its strong ties with its former pagan culture. The development of the Irish church intertwined and fused the old pagan beliefs into the new religion with many crossovers with the gods of old. It appears to have been easier to Christianise and bestow saint hood on former gods than to have them removed altogether. All of the old pagan customs and rituals were based on earth’s seasonal cycles of the year and each is attributed to a related god, so as the seasons impacted the people, so did the god. 
The pagan Irish gods of old came from the “Otherworld” however w…

HIST & MYTH: Tlachtga and Samhain

Post 242 Written by Ben Kesp 

The end of another seasonal cycle is fast approaching and we are all getting ready to celebrate the ancient festival of Samhain. There is no other place in Ireland or the world more associated to the festival of Samhain than at Tlachtga or the “Hill of the Ward”, located near Athboy in Co. Meath, Ireland, twelve miles from the Hill of Tara. This is an ancient archaeological site which saw a big excavation dig in the summer of 2014 and like Tara the earthen works are most impressive by air. 
It was on this hill over two thousand years ago that saw the birth of Samhain which would later become better known as Halloween. In Irish Mythology, Tlachtga is the daughter of Mud Ruith a powerful druid and sun god. He is a figure of immense power and could grow to great sizes and his breath could turn people to stone! Not someone you would want to cross! According to myth and the tales that are retold, Tlachtga travelled with her father Mug Ruith to Italy to study un…

CULTURE: Montmartre - Bohemian District of Paris

Post 225 

Guest Post by MikeH
In 2006 I had a wonderful experience that left me with an everlasting memory. This fond moment occurred in Montmartre, in the north of the city of Paris. The place itself added to the moment because of its charm and bohemian character. To this day, Montmartre holds its distinct individual character despite having been swallowed by the city. As you wander around its hilly streets, it makes you believe that you are walking around a country village! 
On visiting Paris recently, I had the great opportunity to revisit this charming district, exploring it in more detail and I realized this is a world apart from the rest of the city! Montmartre has captivated Bohemian artists since the Belle Époque (Period of Western European History) and continues to delight tourists today. The whole area has a unique ambience. Joie de vivre is everywhere: merry-go-rounds, quaint sidewalk cafés, and impromptu street performances. Not only is it a touristic area, it has also been…

HIST & MYTH: Strongbow & Aoife – Ireland’s Power Couple of the 12th Century

Post 221. Written by Ben Kesp.

The union of marriage between Aoife, Lady of Leinster, Ireland and Richard de Clare, nicknamed Strongbow, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, Wales would change Ireland like never before and its ruling class along with it. 

Aoife, born April 26th, 1143, was the daughter of King Dermot MacMurrough (Diarmait Mac Murchada) of the Kingdom of Leinster and his wife Mor O’Toole, Queen Consort of Leinster. Aoife who later became more known as Eva of Leinster and on her marriage became the Countess of Pembroke, agreed to the marriage as she did have the right to refuse under Brehon Law (Early Irish Law). On the 29th of October 1170, Aoife and Strongbow were married at Christchurch Cathedral in Waterford City
Following the death of King Dermot in 1171, under Anglo-Norman law, Strongbow had succession rights to the Kingdom of Leinster, whereas Aoife had a life interest under Brehon law. Strongbow claimed the right to the Kingdom in his wife’s name ensuring his position as Lord o…