February brings with it Imbolc, the Celtic sabbat that focuses on the return of Spring and the Goddess Brighid. However, this month also brings the romantic energy of Valentine’s Day, the origins of which are inherently pagan. While many practitioners focus on the Goddess this time of year, our resident Fae Witch felt the immense need for balance; a masculine energy that can be celebrated in harmony with Brighid, with attributes that fall in line with the season’s focus on love, youth, and creative inspiration.
With that thought in mind, she’d like to share one of her favorite, flirty members of the Celtic pantheon to work with this time of year: Aengus Óg. Often referred to as Angus the Young, he is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann -- a magickal, powerful race of Fae that once ruled the lands of Ireland before the Milesians pushed them underground. Get ready to feel the love, witches, because this god’s story of passion and pursuit is one for the ages!
If you'd like to learn more about the Tuatha De Danann, we highly recommend the book Gods and Fighting Men: The Story of the Tuatha De Danaan and of the Fianna of Ireland by Lady Augusta Gregory.
Aengus, Son of the Dagda and Bóann
Aengus Óg was the son of the Dagda and Boann, Goddess of the River Boyne. The issue with Aengus’ conception is that the Dagda was wed at the time of his affair with Boann, so he knew that he had to conceal her pregnancy from the other gods. He cast a spell that caused Aengus’ birth to take place in the span of a single day. Because of this, Aengus would forever symbolize youthfulness in those who worshipped him.
Aengus eventually made his home in Brugh na Boinne, an underground Sidhe palace on the banks of the very river his mother presided over...but not without some family drama. In time, Aengus grew powerful and decided to act against the Dagda when he heard that his father left him without any land. He needed a way to get the land he was rightfully owed, so he came up with a mischievous plan. He asked the Dagda if he could stay at Brugh na Boinne for a single day and a night, and his father agreed. The Dagda had been tricked, however, as the way in which Aengus phrased the question meant that he could occupy the land for 'day and night', essentially making it his for eternity. That’s a masterclass in the art of wordplay.
He was an extremely attractive divinity and considered a romantic, often meddling in the love lives of those around him. Aengus was especially known for his gold harp that played enchanting music, as well as the four birds that circled him at all times. These birds were said to symbolize his kisses, which had the power to invoke love in anyone that crossed his path. Aengus is especially fond of couples in love and heeds the call of lovers in need of help. In some stories, he’s even been known to possess the power to bring the dead back to life. If that isn’t swoon-worthy, I don’t know what is.
God of Love, Youth, and Poetic Inspiration
As an artist, musician, and poet, he is one of the more passionate and creative gods in the Celtic pantheon. Aengus is the romantic's god, representing the beauty of love and its pursuit. He rules over all aspects of romance and courting: new love, lost love, self-love, and love that has yet to be found. He inherited a large amount of his wit and charm from his father, the Dagda, and serves as the quintessential representation of love in its purest form. Working with Aengus helps us embrace love as it is and learn that it is often better to focus on the horizon, or the bigger picture, rather than what is right in front of us. With the goal-setting energy of Imbolc, it’s only appropriate that he be honored during this time.
Aengus had the power to inspire love among anyone he met, but he also found himself dizzy under love’s spell when he became enchanted with a woman he had met in his dreams. The ensuing saga takes the phrase “woman of my dreams” to a whole new level. His quest to find his true love would become the most famous tale of Aengus Óg, known as 'The Dream of Aengus'.
Dreaming of True Love
In The Dream of Aengus, he repeatedly sees a maiden in his dreams over the course of a year, falling madly in love with her with each astral meeting. So much so that he becomes lovesick and unable to focus, yearning for a love that he has yet to meet in person. Aengus knows in his soul that the woman of his dreams is out there, so he sets out on a mission to find her. His mother and father both join in on the search for this mysterious woman, though all three experience setbacks and obstacles in their journey. Fatefully, the woman is eventually found after the third year of searching at the Lake of the Dragon’s Mouth.
Aengus goes to the lake and, to his utter surprise, finds hundreds of maidens chained in pairs. Among them, he spots the woman from his dreams, whose name is revealed as Caer. She is as beautiful as he dreamt, but his quest for love does not end there. Of course there’s a catch, this is a Celtic love story. Every other year at Samhain, all of the women who are chained together turn into swans, and they must remain so until Samhain of the next year. He is told that if he can identify his lover while she is in her swan form, he is free to marry her. The next year, Aengus goes to the lake and recognizes Caer among the bevy of swans almost immediately. He calls out to his love, and she answers his call with a proposition: if he promises that she can return to the water, she will go with him and live in Brugh na Boinne. Aengus joyfully agrees, turning himself into a swan and flying around the lake with his soulmate, singing beautiful music that put everyone around asleep for three days and three nights. They then flew back to the banks of the Boyne, living out their days in pure love.
Swans are still considered sacred by many witches to this day, thanks to the story of how the Celtic God of Love found his other half. They represent love, music, and poetry much in the same way that Aengus does. When all is said and done, he persevered through the long search and never gave up hope of finding the woman of his dreams. In this way, we can learn a lot from Aengus about our own inner strength and ability to manifest our goals. That’s seriously beautiful.
Modern-Day Magickal Associations
Appealing to Aengus Óg in your magickal workings can be a heartwarming, fulfilling experience if you’re open to receiving his messages. He not only represents the search for love and the protection of lovers in need but also youth and the perception of time. He inspires hope in those who long for a companion, while also bolstering those of us who just need an extra boost of self-love and appreciation. He can also be called to for communication spells and rituals, thanks to his charming wit and intelligence.
If you choose to work with Aengus -- or if you’re hit by one of his love-inducing kisses, it happens -- there are certain magickal ingredients that he favors more than others when used to call him. He loves the smell of jasmine and rose, as well as offerings of fresh fruit or rose quartz crystals. You can also appeal to him with imagery of swans, or by working with the Swan Spirit Animal to further understand love in its purest essence. When our resident Fae Witch calls to Aengus, she adorns her altar with swan feathers that she’s collected from her walks by the lake and lights a jasmine incense. For a simple ritual, offer rose petals and honey to Aengus while asking him to fill your home with love and fae energy. He will delight in your appreciation and repay you in kind. Unlike some of the more skeptical members of the Fae, Aengus is notorious for his fondness of humans and will gladly help us when asked with respect.
The warmth of his energy is a welcome relief in the cold months of winter, and you can’t help but fall in love with Aengus’ ability to persevere in order to find his true love. Embrace his youthful, spirited energy this Valentine’s Day! You never know what messages of love and inspiration might float your way.
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