Monday, Feb. 07, 2011


Like many other pre-Christian deities, the Celtic sun god Lugus, or Lugh in Ireland, is remembered in some legends as a quasi-historical figure, a shimmering, brilliant warrior king who helped a tribe of ancient Irish win a war against a race of giants. Leading the giants, known as the Formorians, was Balor, an evil god of the underworld who happened to be Lugus' grandfather. Balor's great power emanated from a magical Cyclops-like eye, but in battle Lugus managed to sling a stone into Balor's socket, pushing the eye out of the back of his head so it wreaked havoc upon the army of giants arrayed behind Balor. A multifaceted deity, Lugus was tied to fertility rites, skills of invention and harvest cycles. The story of his victory over Balor is similar to a host of other mythological tales in the Indo-European tradition, in which a young, plucky usurper and his allies supplant the old rulers of land, who were often denizens of some dark underworld realm.