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The God Manawydan fab Llŷr/Manannán mac Lir

The God Manawydan fab Llŷr/Manannán mac Lir

PostAuthor: Tylluan » Mon Aug 15, 2011 9:33 am

This month’s Celtic Deity has been a bit more difficult to do as, like with many others, these two are completely separate in some texts and the same God in others. I hope that you will not find this too confusing and will give you more insight to one of my favourites; the God of the Sea.

In Irish tradition the best documented Sea God is Manannán mac Lir, whose name simply means Manannán Son of the Sea. In later Celtic tradition, the name Manawydan fab Llŷr or “ap Llŷr” appears, though not as a Sea God. Manawyddan's name is fairly evidently linked to the name for the Isle of Man, situated between Ireland and Britain in the Irish Sea, which in Cymric is Manaw and in Gaelic is Mannan. The same name also occurs in south-eastern Scotland (along the Firth of Forth) in the name of the ancient realm, the Manaw Gododdin. The most reasonable explanation is that both the Cymric and Irish names are independently derived from the name of the Isle of Man. On Midsummers day, the people of the Isle of Man go to the top of the highest hill to offer bundles of reeds, meadow grasses and yellow flowers to Manannan in a ritual "paying of the rent" to the first king of their island accompanied with prayers for his aid and protection in and fishing. The name seems superficially linked to the Cymric for awl, manawyd and this may explain the link between the God and shoe-making. In the Irish tradition Manannán mac Lír was a sea and weather god. He is usually counted as one of the Tuatha Dé Danann (the cognates of the Cymric Plant Dôn whereas in the Cymric tradition he is numbered amongst the race of giants, the Plant Llŷr) although he was sometimes considered as older than them. His wife was Fand and he ruled over the Blessed Isles as well as Mag Mell, the underworld. According to legend he gave Cormac mac Airt his magic goblet of truth; he had a ship that did not need sails named "Wave Sweeper"; he owned a cloak that granted him invisibility, a flaming helmet, and a sword named "Answerer" that could never miss its target. He also owned a horse called "Enbarr of the Flowing Mane" which could travel over water as easily as land. Cymric folk tradition also links Manawyddan with the sea and one of the names for the wild white-tipped waves seen before a storm was the Ceffylau Manawyddan (The Steeds of Manawyddan) and this linking of Manawyddan and his sea-steeds may also be the reason for the link between Manawyddan and Rhiannon, the horse Goddess.

Manannán mac Lir

In Mythology and Folklore:
Manannan appears in many Celtic myths and tales, although He only plays a prominent role in some of them.

In the tale "His Three Calls to Cormac" Manannan tempts the Irish King Cormac mac Airt with treasure in exchange for his family. Cormac is led into the Otherworld and taught a harsh lesson by Manannan, but in the end his wife and children are restored to him, and Manannan rewards him with a magic cup which breaks if three lies are spoken over it, and is made whole again if three truths are spoken.

The tale "Manannan at Play" features the God as a clown and beggar who turns out to be a harper. Manannan, here in his trickster guise, plays a number of pranks, some resulting in serious trouble, but by the end of the tale he once again sets everything to right.

In the Ulster Cycle tale, Serglige Con Culainn ("The Sickbed of Cuchulainn") Manannan's wife, Fand, has an ill-fated affair with the Irish warrior Cuchulainn. When Fand sees that Cuchulainn's jealous wife, Emer is worthy of him (and accompanied by a troop of armed women), she decides to return to Manannan, who then shakes his magical cloak of mists between Fand and Cuchulainn, that they may never meet again.

In the Voyage of Bran, Manannan prophesied to Bran that a great warrior would be descended from him.

The 8th century saga Compert Mongain recounts the deeds of a legendary son, Mongan mac Fiachnai, fathered by Manannan on the wife of Fiachnae mac Baetain.

According to the Book of Fermoy, a Manuscript of the 14th to the 15th century, "he was a pagan, a lawgiver among the Tuatha De 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.

Manannan was associated with a "cauldron of regeneration". This is seen in the tale of Cormac mac Airt, among other tales. Here, he appeared at Cormac's ramparts in the guise of a warrior who told him he came from a land where old age, sickness, death, decay, and falsehood were unknown (the Otherworld was also known as the "Land of Youth" or the "Land of the Living").

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. Manannan is the guardian of these gateways between the worlds. He is the Ferryman, who comes to transport the souls of the dead through the veils.

Rules Over:
Sea, navigators, storms, weather at sea, fertility, sailing, weather-forecasting, magick, arts, merchants and commerce, rebirth.

Manawydan fab Llŷr
Manawydan fab Llŷr is a figure of Welsh mythology, the son of Llŷr and the brother of Brân the Blessed and Brânwen. Unlike Manannán, no surviving material connects him with the sea in any way except for his patronymic (llŷr is an old Welsh word for sea). Manawydan's most important appearances occur in the Second and Third Branches of the Mabinogi (the later of which is named for him), but he is also referenced frequently in medieval poetry and the Welsh Triads. Manawyddan ap Llyr expresses his divine nature in mastery of many crafts, and proficiency in magic. Manawyddan is associated with the sea and the Otherworld, which are ever connected in the Celtic mind. His especial realm is a fortress made entirely of bones, made in the shape of a beehive and called Oeth and Anoeth - a prison for those living humans who trespass inappropriately in the Otherworld.

In Mythology and Folklore:

The Mabinogi - Second Branch
Manawydan is an important character in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi, the Mabinogi of Brânwen, Daughter of Llŷr. In this tale, Manawydan serves as advisor to his brother Brân the Blessed, the King of Britain. He sits beside Brân at the feast celebrating the wedding of their sister Brânwen to Matholwch, king of Ireland, an occasion which is meant to solidify an alliance. When their half-brother Efnisien, upset that he has not been consulted, mutilates Matholwch's horses, Brân sends Manawydan to offer recompense. Later, when word gets back to Britain that Matholwch has been mistreating Brânwen, Manawydan joins Brân's rescue effort.

In the ensuing war, Manawydan is one of only seven men to survive. The mortally wounded Brân asks Manawydan and the others to cut off his head and take it back to Britain; it will continue speaking and keeping them company in the meantime. They come to a wondrous castle on the island of Gwales, where they enjoy a great feast and forget their sorrows. Manawydan recognizes opening the door of the castle "facing Cornwall" will break the spell, but one day his companion Heilyn son of Gwyn grows overcurious and opens it, and all their sorrows return. The group take Brân's head to the White Hill (the location of the Tower of London) and bury it there, where it serves as a talisman against foreign invasion.

Third Branch
Manawydan plays an even greater role in the Third Branch of the Mabinogi which can be read in Rhiannon’s story.

Other appearances
Manawydan is mentioned in the poem known as "Pa gur yv y porthaur" ("What Man is the Gatekeeper?"), where he is named as one of the warriors in King Arthur's retinue. The poem praises him as providing worthy counsel and for splintering shields at a place called Tryfrwyd; later in the poem this battle is associated with cinbin or dogheads and a figure known as Garwlwyd (Rough-Gray). Tryfrwyd shows up as the Battle of Tribuit in the Historia Brittonum and in later works.

In How Culhwch Won Olwen, Manawydan appears once again as a knight of Arthur's and takes part in the hunting of the Twrch Trwyth. He is mentioned twice in Trioedd Ynys Prydein; he is named as one of the "Three Golden Shoemakers of the Island of Britain", a reference to his role as a shoemaker in Manawydan uab Llyr, and as one of the "Three Prostrate Chieftains of the Island of Britain", a reference to his submission to the usurper Caswallon. Reference is made to the "land of Manawyd" in the epic poem Y Gododdin.

In the 2003 film Otherworld, Manawydan was portrayed by Welsh actor Daniel Evans. In the same year, the Yugioh video game Duleists of the Roses included an antagonistic figure named Manawyddan fab Llyr, an incarnation to the villain Darknite. Manawydan appeared as a vengeful sea god in Bernard Cornwell's Warlord Chronicles.

He is associated with Emain Abhlach, the Island of Apple Trees, said to be the Isle of Arran on the Firth of Clyde, but obviously an Otherworld location. This island is related to the Avalon of King Arthur, and the theme occurs again in the Vita Merlini of Geoffrey of Monmouth, where Merlin and the Bard Taliesin take the wounded Arthur to the Fortunate Island to be cured of his deadly wound by the Morgen, shape-changing mistress of therapy, music and the arts. The Ferryman for this journey is Barinthus, a mysterious character who echoes the role of the ancient Sea Gods, who “knows well the way of sea and stars”.

Rules Over:
Element: Water
Sphere of Influence: Sea and Weather
Preferred colours: Green, Blue
Associated symbol: Trident, Seashell
Animals associated with: Swine
Best day to work with: Moon
Best Moon phase: Full
Strongest around: Litha
Suitable offerings: Pork
Associated Planet: Moon
Manannan 0002
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May your summers and winters be short, springs be mild and autumn reaping plentiful.

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