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Nature Spirits

50 51 mananan mac lir charming and calming the waves Mananan mac Lir, who gave his name to the Isle of Man, is a god of the sea and an ancient ally of the Celtic peoples, especially the honoured kings Bran and Cormac to whom he gave several magical gifts, including the famous silver branch. He often appears in myth as a noble warrior with silver hair, like his father, the sea god Lir. According to a description contained in the 7th century tale The Voyage of Bran, his underwater realm is an otherworldly pastoral vision, and at its heart is a crystal castle, which is the home of the selkies, the seal folk and other magical water spirits. Mananan could be called upon to grant safe seafaring, as the Celts were great mariners. It was traditional at first to make an offering to the sea god such as a glass of mead, or some flowers. Then, it is thought that he and the accompanying spirits would be sung to, in rhymes such as Mananan mac Lir Make the ocean smooth and clear Let us sail without fear Mananan Mac Lir ... with accompanying toandfro dancing, reflecting the motion of the waves. Mananan and others that had assisted would then be thanked. If the god had allowed it, there would be calm seas and safe passage, but if not the souls of the drowned sailors would join in the feasting in his glimmering kingdom far beneath the waves. Above Mananan Mac Lir is the legendary first settler on the Isle of Man, often considered the magical centre of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Each year at midsummer the Manx people cast rafts of flowers upon the waves to honour him and ritually pay respect and give thanks for his continuing protection.
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