Danu: Elemental Irish Water Goddess

Considered to be one of the oldest of the Celtic deities, it is said that all of the Tuatha De Danann (the Irish Gods) can trace their lineage back to Danu. She is strongly associated with rivers and water. The River Danube is linked to her, as is the River Don in Scotland, and the Rivers Dnestr, Don, and Dniepr in Eastern Europe.

It is Danu’s nurturing aspect that I – and many of her followers – are particularly drawn to. In mythology, Danu healed the Tuatha De Danann back to strength during their painful exile, teaching them new skills and magical abilities, and deeply caring for them.

Danu is a goddess whose compassion belies a profound strength. Turn to her in turbulent times for comfort and to build resilience, or to give you greater wisdom and insight when it comes to making difficult decisions.

The Triple Goddess

Danu Goddess
Photo Credit: thaliatook

Danu is the essence of the triple goddess figure, representing all the faces of the divine feminine: maiden, mother, and crone. As such, her power is connected to all things, and interwoven with all life stages. While she is most strongly associated with water, connecting with Danu can be undertaken in near-infinite ways. Use the guide below to approach her if you need some help to get started, and then trust your intuition as you develop a closer bond with the deity.

How to Welcome Danu into Your Daily Life

There are lots of ways that you can approach Danu, give thanks for her blessings, and ask for any help you need. Creating an altar is a good way to begin a regular practice, so why not start with this?

How to Create an Altar to Danu

As with everything related to the divine, intention and intuition are everything. I find that keeping a clear intention in mind as you create and dedicate an altar is an extremely powerful way of both honoring the feminine divine and creating a space for contemplation and thankfulness. 

You can set up your altar for Danu wherever it feels right. This could be a quiet corner in your home or a peaceful spot in your garden. You may wish to decorate the space or the altar itself in the colors most commonly associated with Danu, which are blue, white, silver, and earthy browns and greens. This could be in the form of candles, a cloth, or outdoor decorations that you can hang from the branches of a tree.

On the altar itself, you may wish to place a bowl (or other vessel) of water, and images of flowing water, fish, seagulls, or wells. Natural stones, especially river stones, are also perfect for your altar. Consider adding herbs such as mint, mugwort, thyme, rosemary, lavender, nettle, dandelion, Irish moss, and twigs from apple, elder, or hawthorn trees. Choose items, images, small statues, and items that seem right – or speak-  to you. This could be anything from a feather to a few lines of poetry that you’ve written.

For outdoor altars, why not hang offerings to the birds nearby, such as homemade fat and seed balls, to represent Danu’s care and protection of all living beings?

Water Element Crystals

Danu Celtic Goddess
Photo Credit: primalinstincttattooak
on Instagram

In Western astrology, the element of water is connected with the emotions, intuition, healing, and caring, which perfectly ties in with Danu’s characteristics. You may wish to use crystals to help nurture a relationship with this divinity. Crystals that are particularly appropriate may include aquamarine, selenite, aventurine, blue lace agate, blue chalcedony, celestite, and moonstone, all of which are associated with the watery element.

One of my favorite ways to work with crystals is to begin by simply sitting somewhere quiet, closing my eyes, and holding the stone loosely in the palm of my hand. Keeping my mind as still as possible, I try to connect with the crystal’s energy, or life force, and ask for its assistance or guidance. Try this with one of the stones above, asking your crystal to help you nurture a relationship with Danu. Once you feel this ritual is complete, place the stone on your altar, or keep it with you in a pocket or bag throughout the day.

Pay a Visit to Danu’s Sacred Sites

Spending some time in meditation at a sacred site connected with Danu is a lovely way to connect and work with this goddess. The banks of streams and rivers are perfect, as are oak groves and forests (with this tree’s affiliation with wisdom).

If you’d like to visit a site specific to Danu in Ireland, here are some of the best places to spend time:

The Well of Segais, is said to be the Otherworldly source of the River Boyne. It has powerful connections with Danu: some believe it to be her spiritual home. The river in general is strongly associated with the goddess, in its nurturing of the land and life-giving properties.

The Hill of Tara is an ancient burial and ceremonial site in County Meath. Legend says that Danu bestowed mystical powers to the High Kings that were crowned here.

Paps of Anu (“the breasts of Anu”) in County Kerry are a pair of mountains named for Anu (or Danu), as the mother goddess. It’s believed that the mountains have been sacred sites since ancient times. Connected to the concept of the Earth as a maternal, nurturing, and protective body.

Stone circles can be found throughout County Cork and County Kerry that are dedicated to Danu. These sites offer powerful means of communing with the deity and attract pilgrims from around the world. Coming there to honor Danu and ask for her favor and blessings.

Enjoy a Moon Ritual or Two

The goddess Danu is often associated with motherhood, the moon, and fertility. As such, enjoying a moon ritual at different points in the cycle is a great way to approach the goddess and embrace her divine energy. Here are the best times of the lunar cycle for each type of ritual:

  • New Moon – Self-care and intention setting
  • Waxing Crescent – Goal setting and planning
  • First Quarter – Taking action; working to bring goals to fruition
  • Waxing Gibbous – Meditation and self-reflection
  • Full Moon – Ceremonies, manifestation, and divination
  • Waning Gibbous – Creative pursuits and hobbies
  • Last Quarter – Letting go, releasing, and energy clearing
  • Waning Crescent – Planning next steps and contemplation

Make your altar the center of your moon rituals, honoring Danu calling on her wisdom as the lunar wheel turns.

Danu’s Days of Celebrations

e Celtic Goddess Danu with her dog in the Glastonbury Experience Courtyard
Photo Credit: cerridwenrosehealing

As a triple goddess with connections to so many other deities, Danu can be celebrated on any of the major Celtic festivals that mark the Wheel of the Year. However, there are a few days particularly connected with her. 

Today, January 18th is celebrated as the Day of Danu. Festivities on this day tend to focus on Danu’s wisdom, and capacity to guide. A little later in the year, the goddess is revered on March 9th, Mother Goddess Day. Then traditionally, small statues or dolls of Danu are placed around the house. Danu often plays an important role in the Beltane celebrations in May, where she is depicted as the May Queen.

I love how Danu’s appearance in each of these festival days highlights one of her three aspects. First as the Maiden (May), second as Mother (March), and finally as the Crone (January). She is binding these elements into a single divine whole.

With her association to abundance, many choose to honor Danu as part of their Lughnasadh celebrations. This festival marks the beginning of the harvest season. Want to get involved? Baking bread, creating a salad or dish using herbs, leaves, and vegetables grown in your garden, enjoying a picnic with friends and family, or simply enjoying the great outdoors are all fantastic ways to mark Lughnasadh.

A Powerful Web of Deities

As an ancient goddess much about Danu remains shrouded in mystery, obscured by the mists of time. Her influence reaches far and wide, however, and she is linked to many other deities. Just as many tributaries flow into a great river. It has been suggested that one of the faces of the Morrigan (another triple goddess), Anu, was, in fact, Danu. Others believe that the latter shares a connection with the Welsh deity Dôn. She plays a key part in the Mabinogi.

The Celtic goddess Brigid is also often associated with Danu. Brigid is a goddess of crafts, the poetic arts, prophecy, and divination. Like Danu, she is also linked to wisdom, healing, and protection.

Goddesses far and wide – beyond the Celtic pantheon – may also be associated with Danu. For example, the Hindu river goddess who shares her name could point to a common Indo-European ancestry. The Greco-Roman deities Demeter and Gaia have also been linked to Danu. 

Welcoming the Nurturing Embrace of the Goddess Danu

Worshipped since ancient times, Danu remains an important deity today. Moreover, she is revered by both Pagans and those simply seeking to follow a more spiritual path. The goddess offers profound comfort, wisdom, and guidance to those who develop a relationship with her. Use the guide above to help you approach Danu and get started working in partnership with her. Finally, you can prepare to welcome her nurturing embrace.

Featured Image Credit: sacrednatureecoart on Instagram

Photo of author

Melanie Smith

Melanie Smith is a freelance content and creative writer from Gloucestershire. She lives in a funny little cottage with her daughter and cat, The Magical Mr. Bobo. Her blog posts and articles on the subjects of tarot, crystal healing, holistic wellness, and parenting feature regularly in magazines and websites around the world.