Meet Tailtiu – Celtic Goddess of the Land

According to ancient Irish mythology, the goddess Tailtiu is the adoptive mother of the god Lugh. She is closely associated with sovereignty, the Earth, and agriculture. Furthermore, the abundance of the land, fertility, and prosperity fall under this divinity’s remit. Said to be the namesake of the Tailtean Games (artistic, athletic, and craftsmanship competitions traditionally held as part of the Lughnasadh celebrations), Tailtu’s legacy as a goddess of the land influences Irish culture to this day.

This powerful mother goddess was, according to legend, so committed to the harvest that she sacrificed herself, clearing vast areas of land ready for cultivation by her people. Lugh, to honor his foster mother’s sacrifice and spirit, instituted the Tailtean Games to ensure her memory and legacy lived on.

Celebrating Lughnasadh with Tailtiu

Goddess Tailtiu
Credit: Journeyingtothegoddess on Pinterest

Tailtu is a goddess inherently linked with the sabat Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas. This harvest celebration traditionally honored Tailtu as well as her adopted son, Lugh, and gave thanks for the land’s bounty.

Communal feasting was a key part of this sabbat, so why not arrange an outdoor get-together with friends and loved ones? Set up some trestle tables outdoors (or lay blankets on the ground), and enjoy some delicious food together. Choose in-season fruits and vegetables for the feast, sourced from local farmers’ markets if possible, and serve up homemade jams and breads.

Decorate your Lughnasadh table with wildflowers, candles in yellow, orange, and green, and small sheaves of wheat or corn husks, and enjoy the unique atmosphere of this special time of the year.

A Recipe to Honor Tailtiu and Lughnasadh

Tailtiu is associated with crabapples, so have a go at this recipe to make a batch of crabapple sauce. I love it with pork, the flavors work together beautifully. You’ll need:

  • Six pounds of crabapples, washed and quarters, with the stems and blossom ends removed
  • Sugar

Place the crabapples in a large pot, add six pounds of water, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the pot down to a simmer. Cook for around twenty-five minutes, until the apples are soft. Next, drain the water and put the apples into a food processor or blender. Once turned to sauce sample the mixture, and add sugar to taste. You can enjoy your sauce warm, or refrigerate or freeze it for another day.

Other Ways to Approach Tailtiu

Goddess Tailtiu

Need some inspiration on ways to honor Tailtiu? I’ve got your back. Try out some (or all) of the ideas below to get close to her divine energy and welcome her into your daily life.

Get Creative

Tailtiu is powerfully linked to craftsmanship and creativity. Learning a new skill, or taking up a hobby that’s long interested you, are great ways of getting closer to this goddess’s essence. Whether this is learning carpentry or how to tap dance, embrace your new pursuit with optimism, enthusiasm, and an open heart.

Perhaps there’s a hobby you used to enjoy that’s slipped away over time. It’s easy for this to happen. Consider re-taking up a once much-loved pursuit, or make time in your day to enjoy doing something that gives you joy. This could be meditating, sketching, or simply watching the birds in your garden.

Clearing Out Clutter

Just as Tailtiu works to clear the fields and facilitate the annual fall harvest, we can follow in her footsteps and sweep away clutter from our own homes. Set aside some time to have a spring clean, and clear away items that you no longer love or no longer serve you. Recycle or donate as much as you can, sending each item on its way with love and best wishes.

Think, too, about thought patterns and habits of behavior that no longer serve you, either. Ask Tailtiu for help in clearing these things away so you can enjoy a renewed harvest. I like to imagine myself physically releasing such old and unhelpful thought patterns and watching them floating away, getting lighter as they rise until they vanish into the infinity of the sky. Feel them as a lifted weight, and enjoy the feeling of release.  

Nurturing Rituals

As a goddess of the land and abundance, Tailtiu has a profoundly nurturing energy. Enjoying some simple nurturing rituals is a great way to connect with her divine feminine vibe.

  • Start and end every day with gratitude. Express thanks for all the blessings you enjoy, from the feeling of the warm blankets around you to the love of your family.
  • Take time in the morning to nurture your mind and body, even if this means setting your alarm clock fifteen minutes earlier. Meditate for five minutes before getting up, and enjoy a nutritious, delicious breakfast rather than a quickly-grabbed coffee as you head out the door. You’re worth this.
  • Guide your energy by repeating intentions or affirmations throughout the day, aimed at boosting your self-worth and self-esteem.
  • Unplug from electronic devices for an hour every day.
  • Eat mindfully, giving your full attention to your food, its taste, texture, and smell. Think about its journey to your plate, and visualize it nourishing your body.

These simple nurturing rituals are just the start. Think about what works best for you, and build them into your daily life. Thank Tailtiu at the start and end of each ritual, to deepen your connection to this deity.

Community and Sacrifice

Tailtiu’s story is ultimately one of community and sacrifice for the greater good. Involving yourself in some community or charity work in her honor is a perfect way to revere her. This could be anything from taking part in a local litter pick to volunteering at a food bank or organizing a local event to bring the community together.

Nurturing the environment is a central element of Tailtiu’s tale. Think about ways to embrace this in your neighborhood or town. Could you create a communal garden where food can be grown and shared, or get involved in local projects aiming to support biodiversity? Consider, too, how you could walk a little lighter on the planet’s surface by decreasing your carbon footprint.

A Mentor Ritual

Tailtiu was a powerful mentor to her foster son Lugh, guiding his steps, showing him his power, and supporting him. Try a simple ritual to honor your own mentors, and express your gratitude for their help. Start by lighting a candle and setting an intention to give thanks to these mentors. Imagine the light of your gratitude as you watch the candle’s flame, and visualize this heading to and being received by your mentors.

As the candle continues to burn, write in your journal exactly how these people helped you, and how you have grown as a result of their mentoring. In the days ahead, why not get in touch with them, perhaps drop them a line via email or send them a note, letting them know just what a difference they made to your life?

Tailtiu’s Symbols and Sacred Sites

Tailtiu is connected to Teltown in Ireland’s County Meath. The Aonach Tailteann (forerunner of the Tailtean Games) has been held at the site since ancient times. Mound structures near Teltown are described in legends contained in the Book of Invasions (thought to date from the eleventh century) as manmade earthworks constructed around 2,500 years ago. The goddess is also associated with the Plain of Brega in Ireland, which lies between the Liffey and Boyne rivers. Several sacred sites are located here, such as Knowth and Tara.

Hill of Tailte
Hill of Tailte

The Hill of Tailte, also in County Meath is sacred to Tailtiu, too, and a popular destination for pilgrims and visitors keen to honor the goddess. Believed to be Tailtiu’s final resting place, it is considered to be a very special site. If you visit, you’re likely to see offerings left for the goddess as well as thanksgiving ceremonies and rituals.

Symbols of Tailtiu include:

  • Crabapples – these were the only types of apples found in ancient times in Celtic lands
  • The Shamrock
  • Sickles and sythes
  • Bread and grains

If you would like to create an altar dedicated to Tailtiu, any of the above items would make a great addition to it. You could also add items relating to creativity or crafts, such as a poem you’ve written, or a painting you’ve made. 

Goddesses Connected with Tailtiu

Tailtiu is often viewed as one element of the triple goddess figure that also incorporates Anu and Danu. The triple goddess represents abundance and sustenance, strength and endurance, and movement and change.

Tailtiu is said to be the daughter of the king of Spain, Mag Mor. She was also the beloved wife of the last Fir Bolg king of Ireland, Eochaid mac Eirc.

Making Time for Tailtiu, and Nurturing Your Own Inner Goddess

Tailtiu is a profoundly beautiful and powerful goddess, who represents the land, sacrifice, creativity, and community. She is a nurturing, protective deity who welcomes those who approach her. Always keen to share her gifts and blessings with those who have good intentions and an open heart.

Make time for Tailtiu not just at Lughnasadh but all through the year. Doing so by nurturing yourself, those close to you, and your community. Small shifts can make a big difference, so never underestimate the power of a gift meaningfully given.

Featured Image Credit: lu.bruxaverde 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.