I was pondering some information that seems fairly well established. Notably, that the Vedic Hindus, Celts, and Norse/Germanic tribes are all rooted in the same cultural, spiritual and linguistic ancestry. One of the more important goddesses in Celtic Myth is Danu/Dana, in terms of early influence on the world. Some of the myths are reconstructed, but what is known is that Tuatha De Danaan means “Children of Danu” or “Tribe of Danu.” Her name is all over Europe, according to Ellis, Knight and others. The Danube and its many names are prominent examples. She also appears in at least two contexts in Hindu lore, both times as a water goddess. The earliest reference I am aware of is supposedly in the Rig Veda, I haven’t found it yet. It’s interesting because in this context she’s a goddess of primordial water and darkness, and Rig? must defeat her son (some sort of beat) and drive the Danavas (children of Danu) out. The later reference is, as I understand it, simply as a beneficial water goddess, associated with the Ganges and other rivers.
Also interesting is that there’s a reference to some battle between the gods and the Asuras in Hindu lore. The Asuras are often held to be the Æsir in Norse myth. Again, the gods defeated them and drove them out…
So, probably these are examples of ancient religious rifts that survived in the lore. That the Danavas and Asuras (and their followers, or children) left after some sort of dispute, and elements of ancient disagreements and shifts of power among the gods (Tyr and Heimdallr/Rig used to be more prominent than Oðin in Norse Lore)
and that these accounts should recognizably survive in each culture’s lore is remarkable. It led me yesterday to the question of whether Dana/Danu survived in Norse and Germanic lore, which I didn’t have time to research.
Today, I managed to have near-immediate luck with a quick web search. The answer appears to be both yes and no. That is to say, in Scandinavia (named for Skaði, the Norse goddess of the hunt and winter), Danu’s function appears to have been absorbed by other entities. However, in places throughout central and western Europe, her legacy lives on in place names. The Celts probably left their mark (I have seen academic sources on this but am not presently prepared to quote them, do your own homework first) on the religion of the Greeks and the Etruscans, in names such as Zeus (Tiwaz/Tyr) and Diana (Dana/Danu/Tana/Ana). Moreover, a rather popular deity in the western Germanic and present-day Dutch lands was known by the name Tan or Tanfana. She was a mother goddess, a water goddess, a goddess of the moon. These are all associations made frequently in various cultures to goddesses with names that sound (when spoken) like Danu, Dana, Diana, Tana, Tan, Don, etc.
For this little bit of trivia I do have a reference. The book is called Geesten en goden in Oud Oldenzaal, by A.G. de Bruijn (1929). This page has an English language summary of the chapter on Tanfana, which I am pasting here for posterity:
Chapter 6 deals with the goddess Tanfana.
J. van der Worp already concluded that the temple mentioned by Tacitus that was dedicated to Tanfana could not have been positioned at Oldenzaal or on the Tankenberg.
In succession of van der Worp’s work de Bruijn tries to provide an answer to the question who Tanfana really was.
De Bruijn does not exclude the possibility that Tanfana was worshipped in the Dutch area of Twente, and that the name Tankenberg is connected to her.
The ending of her name, -fana, is seen with more goddesses, like the Roman Befana.
De Bruijn splits the name in the pieces Tan and Fana, and explains them as: the goddess Tan.
The diminutive form of Tan, Tanke, can explain the name of the Tankenberg.
Although there have been no temple on the Tankenberg there are clear clues that the Tankenberg used to have been a religious place.
The Big Stone (see 1st chapter) is also said to have stood there in earlier times.
This Big Stone almost certainly symbolized Tan herself, and according to legend the White Women come there every year on May the 1st to drink beer.
The moving of the stone from the Tankenberg to the city may have been an attempt to stop its worship.
On the Tankenberg is a well, which was later changed into a fountain by the Christians.
Because of this it is plausible that this well used to have played a role in the heathen religion.
Along this well lies the witte-wijvensteeg (white-women alley).
Tan has similarities with the in the province of Zeeland worshipped Nehellenia.
De Bruijn agrees with J. Wagenaar and C. Cleijn, and thinks that “goddess of the new light” is the best explanation of her name.
She would have been worshipped during the New Moon.
Just like the White Woman of Monferland she carries a little basket, but although Nehellenia was only worshipped as a solely benefacting goddess the White Woman also has some revengeful and ghostly features.
The name Monferland can be explained as Maanvrouwland (“Moonwomanland”).
The name Tan can still be seen in the Dutch girlsname Tanneke, and the Dutch saying “Anneke Tanneke toverheks” (“Anneke Tanneke magic-witch”).
Girls with the name Anna were teased with this because their name looked like a by the Christians hereticiced old goddess.
The Carthaginian goddess Tanit does not only look like Tan in name.
Tanit means “well” in Berber, Tan is a very old Germanic word for water (compare Tanais, the old name for the river Don).
Tanit was often depicted with a half moon, a serpent staff in her hand and a sun symbol above her head.
The serpents are symbols for the orbits of the Sun and Moon through the sky.
The snakes have a lionshead and an eagleshead, symbol for constellations.
This depiction looks much like the stamp found near the Dutch city of Ommen, which dates from 1336.
On this stamp is a woman with in her hand a fir-tree (“Denneboom” or, as in older Dutch; “den Tanne”, alluding to Tan).
To the upper left of her is a Sun symbol, and she is flanked by a catlike creature and a bird.
The stamp symbolizes the marriage of the moongoddess Tan with the sun, and after the marriage she changed from a moongoddess into a mothergoddess.
The stamp completely originates from pre-Christian times, and the current city-weapon (heraldic sign) of Ommen is according to de Bruijn “a caricature and evidence of the disgraceful ignorance in our country about this subject.”
The Christians equalled Tan with the Irish saint Brigida.
The old heathen customs lived on in her worship, like the burning of an eternal flame.
The Irish church prohibited this custom in 1200.
In Noorbeek in the Dutch province of Limburg people still have the custom of raising a fir-tree in front of a chapel that has been dedicated to Brigida in the beginning of February during New Moon.
Tan also has a linguistical similarity with the old word for stone, “stan”.
This is the symbol for the Earth, source of new life.
The cavities of the stone are also resting places for the souls of the dead.