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This pan-Celtic god of the Tuatha de Danaan is known as Lugus, in Ireland (and most famously) as Lug, and possibly in Britain as Llew Llaw Gyffes.  To the Romans he was Mercury, the playful and inventive god.  He was in Irish myth half-Tuatha de Danaan.  His most famous story involves his entry into the war-band of the Tuatha de Danaan.  Approaching the gate to their fortress he was faced with a situation familiar in Celtic myth; he had to prove to the gatekeeper that he was worthy of joining the Tuatha de Danaan.  His response was that he was an expert wrights man, but the gatekeeper refused him because the Tuatha de Danaan already had one.  He then said he was a smith, a champion, a swordsman, and an expert at several other skills, but the clan already had a master of each trade.   Finally he asked if they had anyone who was an expert at all of his skills.  There was none and he was accepted.

Lug would soon win his way into the heart of the Tuatha de Danaan king, Nuada, who would make him the king’s champion and ask him to lead their forces against the Fomorians.  In that war he would be victorious.  In the course of it, Nuada would be killed and Lug would be proclaimed the new king.

Lug is portrayed as the quintessential high-king, capable of doing everything better than the people under him, of ruling well and guiding his people to happiness.  That’s where I was introduced to him.  There is a legend that the first great high-king of the last Irish invaders, Cormac, once suffered the abduction of his wife (abduction is a common theme in Irish myth and is related to the treatment of the queen as a personification of the land he rules).  Cormac’s men searched a year for her, but at the end of that time it was Cormac himself who located her.  She was being kept in the hall of Lug.

Thereafter followed a ceremony in which a maiden approached Lug and asked him “To whom shall the cup be served?”

Lug indicated Cormac and the maiden gave him the cup.  He drank and returned it to her.  She asked the question over and over again, and each time Lug responded by naming off a descendent of Cormac.  The cup, like the woman, was a symbol of kingship.  When the ceremony was over Cormac was given back his wife, reinforced in the title of Ireland’s high-king.

He is also half-Fomorian.  That is an explanation for his abilities beyond the physical and intellectual.  He is often described as a trickster, breaking cultural norms much like Loki does in the Norse myths but with more the helpful intentions of the Native American coyote trickster.  That seems odd considering Lug is the king of the gods, or maybe it should seem exactly right for a Celtic god more closely tied to magic and inspiration than to war and kingship.  After all, the Tuatha only elected him king because their king had died and he had defeated their enemy.  Lug was not born to kingship or fighting but was able to adapt to it because of his other skills.