Manannán mac Lir…


Manannán mac Lir (manan-awn mak lir) also know as Barinthus, is the Irish deity of the sea. He is one of the most popular deities in Celtic mythology. He is the son of the Lir – meaning sea – whose role he seems to take over. He is usually associated with the Tuatha Dé Danann, although most scholars consider him to be of an older race of deities. Manannán figures widely in Irish literature, and appears also in Scottish and Manx legend. He is also related to the Welsh figure Manawydan fab Llŷr.

fandHis wife is the goddess, Fand ("Pearl of Beauty" or "A Tear" – later remembered as a "Fairy Queen", though earlier mentions point to her also as being a sea deity. Other sources say his wife was the goddess Áine, though she is at other times said to be his daughter. Manannán also had a daughter, whose name was Niamh of the Golden Hair. It is also probable that another daughter was Clídna’. but sources treat this differently. Either way, she is a young woman from Manannán’s lands, whose surname is "of the Fair Hair". His sons were Ilbhreach and Gaiar. Manannán is often seen in the traditional role of foster father, raising a number of foster children including Lugh of the great hand and the children of Deirdre.

The Isle of Man takes its name from this ancient Celtic deity who had his stronghold on South Barrule mountain. Manannán has strong ties to the Isle of Man, where he is referenced in traditional ballads as having been the nation’s first ruler. At Midsummer, the Manx people offer bundles of reeds, meadow grasses and yellow flowers to Manannán in a ritual "paying of the rent", accompanied with prayers for his aid and protection. He is also believed to have been a magician who could make an illusory fleet from sedge or pea shells in order to discourage would-be invaders.

He has strong affiliations with the Otherworld, the weather and the mists between the worlds. According to the Book of Fermoy, a manuscript of the 14th to the 15th century, "he was a pagan, a lawgiver among the Tuatha Dé Danann, and a necromancer possessed of power to envelope himself and others in a mist, so that they could not be seen by their enemies. It was by this method that he was said to protect the Isle of Man from discovery. As guardian of the Blessed Isles as well as Mag Mell he also has strong associations with Emhain Abhlach, the Isle of Apple Trees, where the magical silver apple branch is found. To the Celts, the Blessed Isles that lie beyond the sea are the gateways to the Otherworlds, where the soul journeys to after death. Manannán is the guardian of these gateways between the worlds. It is said that it is he that ferried the wounded King Arthur to the otherworld so that he could be cured.

avalon Mag Mell, (meaning "plain of joy") was a mythical realm achievable through death and/or glory. Unlike the Underworld in some mythologies, Mag Mell was a pleasurable paradise, identified as either an island far to the west of Ireland or a kingdom beneath the ocean.  Mag Mell was similar to the fields of Elysium in Greek mythology, and like the fields of Elysium, was accessible only to a select few. Furthermore, Mag Mell, like the numerous other mystical islands said to be off the coast of Ireland, was never explicitly stated in any surviving mythological account to be an afterlife. Rather, it is usually portrayed as a paradise populated by deities, which is occasionally visited by some adventurous mortals.  This otherworld is a place where sickness and death do not exist. It is a place of eternal youth and beauty. Here, music, strength, life and all pleasurable pursuits come together in a single place. Here happiness lasts forever, no one wants for food or drink.

Gundestrup Manannán was associated with many magickal items including a "cauldron of regeneration". Mannanán’s powerful role in the cycle of life and death is also expressed in his possession of magic swine whose flesh provides food for feasting by the gods, and then regenerates each day, like that of Odin’s boar Sæhrímnir in Scandinavian myth. It is said that he gave Cormac mac Airt his magic goblet of truth; that he had a ship that did not need sails named "Wave Sweeper"; that he owned a cloak of mists that granted him invisibility, a flaming helmet, and a sword named Fragarach Aonbharr ("Answerer" or "Retaliator") that could slice through any armor and upon command when pointed at a target could make that target answer any question asked truthfully. He also owned a horse called "Enbarr of the Flowing Mane" which could travel over water as easily as land. In some sources he is described as driving his chariot over the sea as if over land, and through fields of purple flowers.

Manx legends also tell of four items that Manannán gave to Lugh as parting gifts, when the boy went to aid the people of the Tuatha Dé Danann against the Fomorians – "Manannán is known as a trickster, though his tricks are not meant to harm.’s coat, wearing which he could not be wounded, and also his breastplate, which no weapon could pierce. His helmet had two precious stones set in front and one behind, which flashed as he moved. And Manannán is known as a trickster, though his tricks are not meant to harm. girt him for the fight with his own deadly sword, called the Answerer, from the wound of which no man ever recovered, and those who were opposed to it in battle were so terrified that their strength left them." Lugh also took Enbarr of the Flowing Mane.

When Lugh looked back on leaving, he saw "his foster-father’s noble figure standing on the beach. Manannán was wrapped in his magic cloak of colours, changing like the sun from blue-green to silver, and again to the purple of evening. Manannán waved his hand to Lugh, and cried: ‘Victory and blessing with thee!’ So Lugh, glorious in his youth and strength, left his Island home.

Manannán is known as a trickster, though his tricks are not meant to harm.As magician of the mystical race of beings known as the Tuatha Dé Dananns, Manannán is known as a trickster, though his tricks are not meant to harm. commands a very high status among his people. After their defeat by the Milesians, it was Manannán is known as a trickster, though his tricks are not meant to harm. who gave to the Tuatha Dé Dananns the power of  invisibility. He found retreats for them in the hollow hills and put hidden walls about them so that no mortals could find them. He also gave to the De Danaans the ‘Feast of Age’. No-one ever grew old at this feast, in fact they became immortal.

Tributes to Manannán mac Lir include –

Items from the sea, such as seashells, coral, and driftwood, could be good items for connecting with this watery spirit.

Burn a “watery” incense blend as an offering

Food items connected to the sea (vegans might choose seaweed)

Apples – given his role as a psycho pomp, he’d probably have an appreciation for the fruit that represents eternal life. Plus, he’s the Bargeman of Avalon, which is connected to apples.

You could even create a small altar to him – one beside a pond or yard water feature would be most excellent.

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