Some thoughts on the coming of Lugh.
The Irish sea god Manannán mac Lir, whom you may remember from my post on The Voyage of Bran, takes the young god Lugh to Tir na nOg (The Land of Youth) for his upbringing. Here -
He raced the waves along the strand; he gathered apples sweeter than honey from trees with crimson blossoms: and wonderful birds came to play with him. Mananaun's daughter, Niav, took him, through woods where there were milk-white deer with horns of gold, and blackmaned lions and spotted panthers, and unicorns that shone like silver, and strange beasts that no one ever heard of; and all the animals were glad to see him, and he played with them and called them by their names.
When Lugh came of age, Manannán gave him a magical sword, and Lugh decided to head back to Ireland and see what he could do to straighten things out. Of course, when he got there, nobody knew who he was, so he had a little trouble getting into Nuada's castle. Through a dialogue of boasts and challenges, he was finally admitted, and proceeded to best Nuada at chess and other games.
Seeing Lugh's many talents, Nuada then asked him to play the harp -
"I see a kingly harp within reach of your hand," said Lugh.
"That is the harp of the Dagda. No one can bring music from that harp but himself. When he plays on it, the four Seasons--Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter- pass over the earth."
"I will play on it," said Lugh.
The harp was given to him.
Lugh played the music of joy, and outside the dun the birds began to sing as though it were morning and wonderful crimson flowers sprang through the grass--flowers that trembled with delight and swayed and touched each other with a delicate faery ringing as of silver bells. Inside the dun a subtle sweetness of laughter filled the hearts of every one: it seemed to them that they had never known gladness till that night.
Lugh played the music of sorrow. The wind moaned outside, and where the grass and flowers had been there was a dark sea of moving waters. The De Danaans within the dun bowed their heads on their hands and wept, and they had never wept for any grief.
Lugh played the music of peace, and outside there fell silently a strange snow. Flake by flake it settled on the earth and changed to starry dew. Flake by flake the quiet of the Land of the Silver Fleece settled in the hearts and minds of Nuada and his people: they closed their eyes and slept, each in his seat.
Lugh put the harp from him and stole out of the dun. The snow was still falling outside. It settled on his dark cloak and shone like silver scales; it settled on the thick curls of his hair and shone like jewelled fire; it filled the night about him with white radiance. He went back to his companions.
The sun had risen in the sky when the De Danaans awoke in Nuada's dun. They were light-hearted and joyous and it seemed to them that they had dreamed overnight a strange, beautiful dream.
"The Fomorians have not taken the sun out of the sky," said Nuada. "Let us go to the Hill of Usna and send to our scattered comrades that we may make a stand against our enemies."
Music, art, symbolism and nature are potent magic. When we are asleep, sometimes it is the dream that truly wakes us. Particularly when the sleep feels like being stuck, as Nuada was. An oracle reading is just one way to dream yourself awake. You might prefer to read a myth, go into nature or experience music or art. All are potent.
At this point in the story, Lugh was Nuada's oracle. Yet he never said "Go, fight the Fomorians, and this time you will win!" Instead he sang of joy, and sorrow and peace. When each man awoke the next day, he knew what to do. And so they all showed up for the battle. The battle they could not win before. Of course, Lugh and the army of Tir na nOg showed up, too. How could they not? They were the embodiment of the inspiration the De Danaan awoke with that morning. For there are three parts to inspiration - there is the dream, then the awakening, and finally the doing. The inspiration of the oracle is in all three.
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