Children of Danu: A History
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We are moving ever closer to the release of Assassin Creed Valhalla’s first story expansion DLC, Wrath of the Druids, which is due to release on the 13th May. The new content will see Eivor travel to Ireland where she will forge alliances with Gaelic Kings and battle a druidic cult known as the Children of Danu. But who were the Children of Danu and how might they factor into this new piece of the Valhalla story?
Wrath of the Druids is the first downloadable content expansion for Assassin's Creed Valhalla, and is set to launch May 13th 2021.
Danu is a goddess in Irish mythology – though she is a bit different to what we may assume when we think of mythological gods. Danu is a hypothetical god and functions as a mother goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann, which translates roughly as “the people of the goddess Danu”. We can assume that the Tuatha Dé Danann are the cult Eivor will be fighting, or at the very least it will be worshippers of the Tuatha.
Interestingly, there are no surviving myths or legends associated with Danu in the medieval Irish texts, though Danu is sometimes assumed to be an alternative name for Anu who is another Irish goddess. It is possible that Danu was inspired by Dôn from Welsh mythology, who was a mother goddess in the Mabinogion. It is also possible that Danu is actually Danand, daughter of Delbáeth and mother of Brian, Iuchar, and Iucharba, though this is disputed. According to some interpretations of the myth, Danu had a relationship with a sacred oak tree which grew two giant acorns. The acorns fell to the ground and out came The Dagda and Brigid, who would later become important figures within the Tuatha Dé Danann. Another interpretation is that Danu is actually the Greek goddess of the sea, Eurynome. Eurynome was once known as Danae or Dana, which could suggest a connection between her and Danu. Eurynome is usually represented as a mermaid with bright red lips, piercing blue eyes, pale skin, and long blonde hair. It is also theorised that Danu may represent the Danube River, further connecting her to water.
The Tuatha Dé Danann were a pantheon who have appeared throughout Celtic mythology in various forms. They were a supernatural race rather than a cult in Irish mythology, which could suggest that Eivor will meet human followers of the race rather than the race themselves due to Assassin’s Creed generally not including supernatural phenomena.
According to legend, the Tuatha Dé Danann live in the realm of the deities known in Celtic mythology as the Otherworld. In other legends, it has been known as Annwn, Avalon, and Tír na nÓg. Despite living in the Otherworld, the Tuath Dé often visit the human world and interact with humans. Their rivals were the Fomorians, who the Tuath Dé defeated in the legendary Battle of Mag Tuired.
Over the years, the legend surrounding the Tuath Dé has evolved and been altered by those who have interpreted it. The pantheon have been regarded as ancient kings and queens with supernatural abilities, as fallen angels, or even as gods themselves. Eventually, the Tuatha Dé Danann came to be known as the aes sídhe in Irish and Scottish mythology.
The Tuath Dé are generally associated with nature and each member is connected to one aspect of life or nature. Some of the more well known members of the Tuatha Dé Danann pantheon include The Dagda, god of fertility, agriculture, strength, magic, Druidry and wisdom; The Morrigan, a crow who was associated with war, fate, death and doom; Manannán, god of the sea; and Brigid, goddess of wisdom, healing, protection and animals.
Concept art for Ireland coming from the Assassin's Creed Valhalla Season Pass Trailer.
Legend tells that the Tuatha Dé Danann hailed from four cities in Ireland’s north: Falias, Gorias, Murias. and Finias. The Tuath Dé taught their skills in sciences, the arts, architecture, magic and necromancy to the humans in Ireland. According to Lebor Gabála Érenn, the Tuath Dé arrives in Ireland “in dark clouds” and “brought a darkness over the sun for three days and three nights” before burning the ships they sailed in on.
According to the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, the Tuatha Dé Danann arrived in the country in 1897 BC. They almost immediately became caught up in a battle with the previous settlers, the Fir Bolg. The Tuath Dé overthrew the Fir Bolg but their king, Nuada, lost his arm in the battle and could not continue to rule. He was replaced by Bres who was a tyrant. Dian Cecht managed to replace Nuada’s arm with a prosthetic. Dian Cecht’s son Miach used a spell to force flesh to cover the prosthetic and essentially give Nuada his arm back, but Dian Cecht was furious at being upstaged and murdered his son. Nuada became king again, but this enraged Bres who ended up bring the Fomorians to battle the Tuath Dé. In the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh, Nuada was killed and Lugh took over as king.
It is said that a third battle occurred, this time between the Tuath Dé and the Milesians. The Milesians met three Tuatha Dé Danann goddesses Ériu, Banba and Fodla, and their husbands Mac Cuill, Mac Cecht and Mac Gréine. The three husbands were kings at the time and called a truce between the two groups – however the Tuath Dé broke the peace by creating a magical storm. In the end, the Milesian Amergin was called on to split the land between the two peoples. He gave the land above ground to the Milesians and sent the Tuatha Dé Danann to live underground in the Sidhe mounds, thus ending their reign in Ireland.
One of the most interesting pieces of the Tuatha Dé Danann legend is the Four Treasures. According to the myth, the Tuatha Dé Danann brought four magical treasures to Ireland, one from each of their home cities. These treasures were a cauldron, a spear, a stone, and a sword. Is it possible that we will see these treasures in Wrath of the Druids? After all, each treasure sounds like the perfect basis for a Piece of Eden.
The treasure from the city of Falias was the Stone of Fal. The stone itself is real and still stands in Ireland today. It is now known as the Lia Fáil, meaning Stone of Destiny, or as the Speaking Stone. It can be found on the Hill of Tara in County Meath. The Lia Fáil was said to have supernatural powers. Legend states that the stone would “roar” when the rightful High King of Ireland put his feet on it. It was also said to have the power to rejuvenate the king and bless him with a long reign. According to Lebor Gabála Érenn, the stone can no longer do this due to being split by Cú Chulainn, the Irish demigod and Lugh’s son. The stone also provides the origin of the name Inis Fáil, an ancient name for Ireland.
Journey to Ireland and unravel the mysteries of an ancient druidic cult. Fight your way through haunted forests and dazzling landscapes while gaining influence among Gaelic kings.
The second treasure was the Spear of Lugh from the city of Gorias. The story of the spear has been told several ways, but generally it involves Lugh demanding the spear which belonged to the King of Persia. The spear was said to be impossible to overcome and would answer to spells. One of these spells was “Ibar” which caused the spear to always hit its mark, and another was “Athibar” which caused the spear to return to its owner. Some writers have also suggested that the spear was alive and thirsted for blood and only a pile of fresh poppy leaves could prevent it from killing everyone around. It also may have been able to shoot flames or even lightning. It is starting to sound like a Piece of Eden we have seen before.
The treasure from Findias was the Sword of Light and it belonged to Nuada, the king. Much like the Holy Grail in Arthurian legend, the Sword of Light frequently appears as a quest object in Irish and Scottish mythology. It is thought that the Sword of Light and Cú Chulainn’s sword Cruaidín Catutchenn may be one and the same. The sword is also described as a “fiery and bright lightning weapon” which could emit sparks.
The final treasure is the Cauldron of the Dagda which came from the city of Muirias. The Dagda could control life and death, the weather and crops, as well as time and the seasons. He was skilled in magic and Druidry which may explain his connection to the cauldron. The cauldron was known as the coire ansic and was said to be bottomless and left no man unsatisfied. It was also said to have a ladle so big that two people could fit in it.
According to the Annals, at least ten members of the Tuatha Dé Danann were High Kings of Ireland at one point. These were Nuada, Bres, Lugh, Eochaid Ollathair, Delbáeth, Fiacha, Mac Cuill, Mac Cecht and Mac Gréine. However, as all of these kings reigned before the Common Era, it is unlikely we will see them in Wrath of the Druids.
All that said, what can we expect to see in Wrath of the Druids? As many scholars of Irish mythology have pointed out, Danu is essentially a blank slate. With no concrete myth or legend surrounding her, any writer is free to do what they wish with the goddess. As such, the writers of the DLC really do have the freedom to interpret Danu and her influence on Ireland however they like. As for the cult itself, that is harder to anticipate. It is unlikely that the cult will be the Tuatha Dé Danann themselves. Instead, it will probably be a cult who either believe themselves to be the Tuath Dé or who worship them. What kind of fight will they put up? They are druids who follow a supernatural race, so it is likely they will be using potions and mysticism in their battles.
What is perhaps most interesting is whether the Four Treasures will appear? Considering how important Pieces of Eden are to the Assassin’s Creed mythos, and how many fantastic weapons appeared in the main story of Valhalla, it would be very disappointing to not see at least some of the treasures in the DLC. Who wouldn’t love to fight using the Sword of Light or the Spear of Lugh? Or to visit the Stone of Destiny or drink from Dadga’s bottomless cauldron?
In any case, focussing the DLC on the Children of Danu seems like the perfect move after a game full of cursed objects, hallucinogenic mushrooms, and potions which take you to Asgard. If you enjoyed the more mystical elements of Valhalla, it seems like Wrath of the Druids will be right up your street.
Could the DLC introduce Pieces to Eden to Assassin's Creed Valhalla?
About the Author
Lauren is a online article writer who joined the program in 2019, which allowed for her work to be viewed by a larger audience.
She is especially interested in Assassin's Creed lore, and wrote a number of thought provoking articles which you can find here in the Community HUB.
Lauren left the program in 2021 shortly after the 'Assassin's Creed Infinity' announcement, which understandably left many fans feeling uneasy. We wish her the best of luck with her future projects.