Mannanan and Midsummer

June 19, 2014 at 11:49 pm 1 comment

The Summer Solstice is one of the 8 Wiccan/Druid Wheel of the Year holidays that some Celtic polytheists don’t celebrate- we don’t have as much evidence for it, as compared with Samhain, Beltaine, Lughnasadh and Imbolc (or whatever your regional equivalent may be) However there is a Manx tradition (as in Gaelic culture of the Isle of Man) of paying “rent” in the form of rushes to Mannanan Mac Lir, the god of the sea, for fishing. The Isle is said to be named after him/sacred to him and there seems to be a strong folk memory of him, as he shows up in many later Christian-era folk tales. Of course like any Celtic festival a bonfire is involved! The focus of this festival is on protection of the crops (whereas Beltainne focuses on the blessing of cattle by driving them between fires), and blessing the coming harvest. Typically rather than the Solstice itself (June 20 or 21) Midsummer was celebrated on June 23rd- the eve of St. John’s Day. Again, as with Beltainne and Samhain, witches and fairies were said to be active at this time, so precautions were made to protect children, animals and crops from their mischief. Hence Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream- watching a movie or play, or even reading lines from it would be a fun way to celebrate. Collecting herbs is also traditional- particularly St. John’s wort, mugwort and yarrow. Related to this, another deity who might be appropriate to honor would be Airmid, the Irish goddess of herbal healing.

We usually go camping in late June, so I tend to forget about formally celebrating the Solstice. Though spending time out in nature with my sweetie is of course, a very Druidy activity! I’ve joked to him that he’s really a better Druid than me- he can spot and identify many birds, trees and plants and animals.  So if we do get our act together and go camping next week, perhaps I can make an offering of some kind to Mannanan before we go fishing!

References/Resources:

Midsummer, Celebrating Midsummer– articles from Tairis including Scottish, Irish and Manx customs

St. John’s Eve in old Ireland

Better Know a Celt: Mannanan Mac Lir by Sage & Starshine Nice compilation of info about Manannan.

The Temple of Manannan

Airmid: Goddess of the Growing Green by Erynn Rowan Laurie

An Essay on Sacrifice by Erynn Rowan Laurie (about plant sacrifice)

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Entry filed under: Celtic/Druid, Deities, Holidays. Tags: , , , , , .

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