Goddess Tailtiu

prod691Tailtiu or Tailltiu or Tailte is the name of an Irish Goddess, who is linked to Teltown (Old Irish Tailtiu) in County Meath and she is one of the harvest Goddesses of the time in august called Llhugnashad, Llammas, one of the big pagan festivals of the wheel of the year.

The linguistic analysis of the name reveals that Tailtiu as a place-name derives from a loan word of Brythonic origin represented by the Welsh telediw „well formed, beautiful.“, whilst the mythological character of Tailtiu likely derives her name from the place-name.

She is said that she was the daughter of the king of Spain and the wife of Eochaid mac Eirc, last Fir Bolg High King of Ireland, who named his capital after her (Teltown, between Navan and Kells). She survived the invasion of the Tuatha Dé Danann and became the foster mother of Lugh, the celtic God of light. Tailtiu allways cared for Her people and is said to have died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture. Lugh held Her in such high regard that he created the Tailtean games, which took place during Lammas (rather like the Olympics). The name of the festival is Lughnasadh, one of the great fire festivals of ancient and modern Celtic peoples. It is a time to bring the harvest in and be greatful for what you have got. This honor may have also had something to do with Tailtiu’s association as an earth Goddess.

Lugh established a harvest festival and funeral games, Áenach Tailteann, in her honour, which continued to be celebrated as late as the 18th century.

The first Áenach Tailteann, later the Tailtin Fair, was held at Teltown. Historically, the Áenach Tailteann was a time for contests of strength and skill, and a favoured time for contracting marriages and winter lodgings. A peace was declared at the festival, and religious celebrations were also held. Aspects of the festival survive in the celebrations of Lughnasadh, and were revived as the Teltown Games for a period in the twentieth century.

Small exercise and questions for you:

Tailtiu asks – “What are you grateful for in your live? What is the harvest of the last year for you, that gives you the biggest pleasure? Which things and projects worked out in your live, this year, which ones where not so fruitful…? How do you feel about it?”


Sources: Wikipedia and the Llammas lesson script of my teacher Suzanne Corbie