Saturday, January 14th, 2012

5. Dìan Cècht (il Sacerdote) — Tarocchi dei Celti

Giordano BertiArtist: Giordano Berti


This is a 22-card, majors-only deck. The little booklet that comes with it is all in Italian.

I asked the deck, “Show me something new.”

“Il Sacerdote” is the priest, or the hierophant.


Dìan Cècht is the physician-god of the Celtic tribe of Tuatha Dé Danann. Famously, he made a silver arm for King Nadua when the original got chopped off in the First Battle of Magh Tuiredh. (Bodily perfection was a requirement for kingship.) To prevent such mishaps during the Second Battle of Magh Tuireh, Dìan Cècht blessed a nearby well. Any of his tribe’s wounded warriors who bathed in the well would become whole and ready for battle again, unless they had been decapitated.


Dìan Cècht’s son Micah preferred to use herbs and direct touch and incantations rather than surgical and prosthetic procedures for healing. Some said it was because Dìan Cècht was jealous that his son was the better healer; Dìan Cècht said it was because Micah had been disrespectful— but when Micah replaced the silver arm of King Nadua with a flesh-&-blood arm, Dìan Cècht slew his son with a strike through the skull to the neck.


Dìan Cècht’s daughter Airmed mourned deeply. All the healing herbs of the world sprung from the ground as her tears fell on her brother Micah’s grave. Airmed catalogued the herbs and their properties. Unfortunately, Dìan Cècht was an angry, jealous father. He scattered the herbs, destroying the work of two children with one blow. Now no human will ever know the healing properties of all the herbs.


Meanwhile, Dìan Cècht’s other son went abroad, married well, and sired Dìan Cècht a grandson named Lugh. Lugh returned to Ireland to lead his father’s people in the Second Battle of Magh Tuiredh— the battle for which Dìan Cècht provided a magic well of regeneration for wounded soldiers. This time, King Nadua of the twice-replaced-arm was killed by Balor of the Poisonous Eye— Lugh’s other, foreign grandfather. Lugh then drove Balor’s eye out the back of his head with the stone from a sling-shot— or blinded him with a spear— or decapitated him— but either way Lugh got rid of his maternal grandfather, Balor of the Poisonous Eye, and won back the throne for his father’s tribe and the now-resurrected King Nadua of the twice-replaced-arm.*


Gods are human, too— but not too human.

*I think.

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