Lately, I’ve been contemplating Aonghus Og. In part, it’s because of my experiences on Mean Earraigh and the subsequent inspiration for poetry and music. His nature reminds me of a spring bubbling up from the ground or flowers thrusting upward into the light: magical, both powerful and light. “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower,” as Dylan Thomas puts it.
His stories sing to me. He was born of trickery, of the Mother of Waters (Boann) and her fling with the All-Father (Dagda) when her husband Nechtan, god of fresh waters, was away. To conceal his birth, the gods had the sun stand still for nine months, after which the young god was fostered with his half-brother, Midhir (whom I honor as the god of the moon and measurer of time).
He is accompanied by sweetly singing birds and wears a cloak of concealment that he uses to hide forbidden lovers on their trysts. he’s clever, and tricked his father out of Brugh na Boinne by asking for it for day and night — since Irish has no articles.
And he is devoted. He dreams of the love of his life and searches the world over for her, sick with longing. After many trials, he must choose the shapeshifting Caer Ibormeith from a lake of 150 identical swans — and does so easily. He turns into a swan and flies off with her, returning home victorious.
Marie-Louise Sjoestedt translates his name as “unique force.” And so he is: a force that swells and rises, whether its the lover’s lust, springtime or music. There’s little of the traditionally masculine; Aonghus bears no weapons and fights no battles. He does sire children; his daughter Maga is the grandmother of Conchobhar mac Nessa and CuChulainn. Perhaps befitting of a love god’s daughter, she has two husbands: Ross the Red and the Druid Cathbad.
I love the brightness of Aonghus — the essential sweetness of love, the devotion it inspires, its ties to dream, music, shapeshifting, magic. He protects those who risk everything for the sake of the heart. He inspires beauty, joy, the warmth of summer.
All hail the god of love!