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[Conch Shell]

Mannanan mac Lir

(pronounced MAH-nah-non mock leer)

Soon after the discovery of our tribal god, An Bruane's attention was turned to the figure of the ruler of the Otherworld, the realm of the dead. The season of Samhain was approaching, and we recognized that we had a need to discover who was the patron and protector of spirits who have passed from this life. Our research made it quite clear that the god responsible for this realm was Manannan mac Lir but we had never made contact with him.

Equipped with the knowledge that we had gained we set out to make contact with him. We began experimenting with a new trance induction technique based upon his lore, using the ringing of bells. Our first contact, however brief, was during such a trance session at sunset on the shore of one of our many lakes.

A week before that year's Samhain ritual we held a special rite to strengthen our contact with Manannan. In the forest long after dark the participants were led on a symbolic journey into the Otherworld to commune and dance in trance with the spirits of the dead. It was an incredibly powerful experience wherein very substantial spiritual exchanges and at least one possession left most of the participants overcome with emotion. Through that rite a strong link was forged with Manannan and the dead.

Manannan, while more mysterious in nature than many of our other deities, is not particularly sinister. He is the King of the Otherworld which is associated with the sea. He is the protector and beneficent host of our beloved dead who enjoy his hospitality at great banquets in the Otherworld as they await their time of return. This realm is often seen as a series of magical islands such as the Isle of Apples ("Emain Ablach" - later known in English as the Isle of Avalon) and the Land of Promise ("Tir Tairnigiri").

Manannan usually travels concealed in mists and has been known, at least in the myths, to father children while visiting mortal women in their dreams. His appearance is that of a mature man with a long gray beard and a shimmering cloak of many colors. He is a master of wisdom, trickery, illusion and magic.

He is especially important to the grove at Samhain and during funeral rites. He acts as a guardian of the boundaries and a guide for transporting the dead beyond, but he also assists us in making contact with our ancestors. He has many wondrous objects such as magical pigs and a cauldron that never empties. Sacred to him are the heron, willow trees and apple trees.

The most appropriate offerings for Manannan are rushes such as cattails, apples and yellow iris flowers.

[heron]

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