Sunday, February 23, 2014

[Pagan Blog Project] D is for Dé Ocus Andé

I was first tempted to do "D is for Days Late" since I again am making this post late... Oh well. This project is for me; I'll get it done when I can get it done. 

Speaking of how this is for me, I actually just want to discuss the phrase "dé ocus andé" as something I find extremely interesting instead of talking about my relationship towards them.

Not surprising, Tairis has an section dedicated to the dé ocus andé that I am going to be referencing through this.  Tairis explains that "dé ocus andé" means "gods and ungods." So right away, what is an un-god?! 

The article goes through possible explanations. One suggestion is that the andé refer to the "husbandman" of the dé, and that the dé possess artist skills. Since Tuatha dé Danann is interpreted as a race of people, this could be a division between the holy dé and the laymen andé. Tairis writes: "Of the Tuatha Dé Danann, then, we are led to believe that there were those who were skilled in the arts (dé), and those who were not (andé), but were still of the same race, the same people. Effectively, it is the skill (and resulting status) of the dé that set them apart from their fellow people, and marks out their divine status."

Another suggestion goes that the dé are the gods, and the andé serve the gods like priests or kings while on earth. Tairis quickly does not favor this interpretation: "The ungods, then, are not divine, but perhaps to be seen as divine-like, or the closest to the divine. The explanation given by the Cóir Anmann, however, if we take it at face value as drawing a distinction between higher, skilled status of the gods, and the lower, unskilled, layman status of the ungods, would seem to contradict this idea. The Cóir Anmann, and the other sources who give similar distinctions, all seem to emphasise the ungods' secular status. In this respect, it's difficult to see any metaphorical idea of the ungods as being husbandmen of the gods, in terms of their being priests."

The next theory is that the andé are the opposite of dé, so something similar (or exactly like) demonic entities. Again, Tairis doesn't think this theory holds water, since the Christian scribes that recorded about the dé ocus andé would most likely have edited out anything to do with demons, and it is "one thing to talk about the demonic, another to invite blessing from such."

Tairis doesn't disregard the entire theory, though, and writes: "We might not interpret the andé as being wholly negative in outlook – 'enemy of gods' – but certainly it seems that we are not dealing with mere mortals, either. Whatever the andé are, it seems that they are still possessed of some sort of power, and are worthy of respect and blessing. In this sense, we might see them as spirits – perhaps genius loci, nature spirits, daoine sìth, phantoms and ghosts included, and even members of the Fir Bolg and Fomorians – and while they may not all be evil, they are not necessarily all seen as sweetness and light either."

So the andé is then argued to be meaning spirits, fae, and other entities that fit with the animistic world view but acknowledge that these other beings are not god-status.

More interesting to me is that translating the phrase gets tricky, because in English "ungods" hardly would mean that if someone wasn't aware of the context. I mean, I'm not a god, so am I an ungod? (Answer: Not in this context!) I don't know where the exact explanation is, but translating dé ocus andé even into modern Irish creates similar problems.

I love that this phrase exists. It was the first Old Gaelic I learned to pronounce because of how important the words were for their connotation (which one does not get with the English translations.)

Ahhh Languages! :D

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