The Dana People (Tuatha Dé Danann)The Dana People called themselves "Tuatha Dé," and that is the name by which they were known by the people of Ireland before the arrival of Christianity. This has been translated as "The People of God," but would be more accurately translated as "The Nations of God," or "The Peoples of God." In the singular "Tuath" means "People," or "Nation." In the plural, "Tuatha," then, means "Peoples," or "Nations."
Their language was closely derived from the Proto-Indo-European that the precursors of all the European people spoke and was closely related to Sanscrit, which also derived from the Proto-Indo-European.
The word is found in other places in Europe; for example: Breton (north-west France) "tud" and Galician (Spain) "tuodo," where it also means people or nation.
What's in a name?The name by which they knew themselves indicates a number of facts about the Dana People:
- They were a spiritual people, believing themselves close to or protected by God.
- They spoke an Indo-European language.
- They came with a political culture and structure, including a political constitution by which they divided themselves into "peoples," rather than regarding themselves as a unitary political unit. This structure they in due course applied to the whole island of Ireland, which they divided into around 300 "Tuatha." Millennia later, the name Tuath was converted into "Barony" by the Normans but continues as a legal land-division up to the present day.
- That they had a political constitution also indicates that they had a set of laws, no doubt shared with others of Indo-European extraction, which is also evident in their behaviour in preparing for war with the Fir Bolg and the resignation of the king wounded in battle as no longer fit to rule. These, then, were the origin of the Brehon Laws, and not something brought in and imposed by an Iron-age invasion from Europe.
Relationship with the previous and subsequent "Invaders"The way they interacted, in the stories, to the previous and subsequent settlors show that they spoke the same language as the Fir Bolg who came before them and Milesians who came after them. They also intermarried and shared political power with the Fomorians, a tribe of giant pirates that lived on Tory Island, which indicates that the Fomorians were also part of the same migration. However, it is clear that they did not have clear communication with the original settlors, the Parthalonian, hunter-gatherer settlors, who seem to have spoken a different language, presumably one that pre-dated the Indo-Europeans.
Studies by linguists in recent decades have found evidence that the language of the travelling community contains elements that pre-date the Indo-European languages.
It used to be thought that:
- The Parthalonians were mesolithic hunters/ gatherers;
- The Fir Bolg were neolithic, stone age farmers;
- The Dana People were bronze-age arrivals, and
- The Milesians iron age arrivals and the first of the Celts.
The archaeological findings at the Céide Fields in north Mayo show that at that time (6,000 years ago) the climate was warmer than it is now. The stories have many allusians to the parched lands left behind and the cool green-ness of Ireland.
Christian Influence on the LegendsThe Christians brought the Roman alphabet and the custom of writing on parchment to Ireland. Previous generations used Ogham, and the only example of this found are engravings on stone, although it is most probable that, while any form of literacy was probably exercised only by a minority of the population, the ancient people also wrote their Ogham on timber and/ or on leaves.
At first, the Christians were only concerned with copying their sacred books, but after a few centuries they began recording the oral tradition.
In a gross translation error, they ascribed the term "Tuatha Dé" to the Jews, the Chosen People of the Bible. To distinguish our own Tuatha Dé, they added the word "Danann" when referring to the Dana People. From now on the "Tuatha Dé" were the Jews and the Dana People were "Tuatha Dé Danann."
So who was this "Dana" (or "Danu" as spelling varied)?
The GoddessIf you were an objective observer from another planet wishing to describe human cultures to your own people and observing the behaviour of Popes and Catholic peope, including the great devotion to Our Lady at Fatima, Lourdes, Knock and Medjugorje, you would be excused by writing that the Catholics adore a goddess known as Mary.
The Indo-European culture, and the Hindu culture of today's india, harbours many devotees of the Goddess, and this Goddess manifested herself in apparitions to the ancients just as Mary does to Catholics of our time. If you observed the behaviour of the Dana People, you would have noted that, though they pronounced devotion to a supreme God and to multiple minor Gods, as the Hindus still do today, yet behavioural manifestations of devotion to the Goddess were more prominent and obvious. So, in distinguishing them from the Chosen People of God (i.e., the Jews), you would use a reference to the Goddess.
It would appear that the Goddess was given the personal name "Dana," and not just regarded anonymously as "Goddess," just as today the Queen of Heaven is given the name "Mary." "Dana" undoubtedly derives from the same Indo-European name that gave the Greeks "Diana."
It would appear that the Goddess, (whether known as Mary, Dana, Diana, or a Hindu name), like the supreme God, is a psychic reality, (to use the terminology of Carl Jung).
Other GodsIt is common to human people to find the supreme God too remote for ease of communication, so we devise various ways of personalising God. Human leaders who show excellent character and charisma are singled out for recognition as Sons of God, and, after they die, legend tranlates them into Gods.
Christianity is not all that different from the pagan approach, the main difference being that the Christians single out one person as the only Son of God, whereas the Indo-European pagans had many. Christianity replaces the minor Gods by Saints, Angels and Demons.
The heroes of the Dana People, who led their people to Ireland and fought valiantly against their oponents, were regarded as Sons of God, and, after they died, provided the whole population of Ireland with its retinue of Gods.
Since the Dana People seemed to fade away, rather than wait to be slaughtered in battle, it was believed by the Milesians that they were never defeated and lived on in the underground caverns of Ireland.
So, the heroes of the Dana People provided the Milesians with their retinue of Gods, and communication with the other world was a terrifying possibility through the underground caverns and the Fairy Forts and Caves that led to this underworld.