On July 5 on Tynwald Hill, St. John’s, Isle of Man, the people gather to celebrate an old Norse assembly system established more than 1,000 years ago. The ceremony still takes place on the old Norse field of assembly at St. John’s, near the center of the island, where there stands the ancient circular Tynwald Hill, 12 feet high and surrounded by four concentric steps or platforms. It is believed that the hill is atop an old burial mound that made it a place of Celtic gatherings where the Old Midsummer rites (July 5) were held during Pagan times.
From the chapel nearby, the queen’s Lieutenant Governor leads the Tynwald’s procession to the hill, on a path strewn with green rushes, a survival of offerings to the sea God, Manannan. Once at the hill, there is the reading of old laws as new ones are presented. As each new law is read, it is followed by loud shouts and cheers. This custom prevails today. Before the lieutenant governor can sign a law into effect, he must wait for the assent of the people.
Hymn to the Morrigan
by Isaac Bonewits
O Morrigan, we call your name Across the dusty years.
You speak to us, of blood and lust. You show us all our fears.
You are a goddess, old and wise. Of holy power you have no dearth.
Beneath your wings : Black, Red and White, We learn of death and birth.
You walk about, this ancient land, Your hungers raw and clear.
You make the crops, grow rich and strong, As well your geese and deer.
A flirting maid, a lusty hag, A mother of great girth :
Without the touch of your black wings, We cannot heal the earth.
You float upon, a blood red wave, Of swords and spears and knives.
Your voice inspires, fear and dread, That you’ll cut short our lives.
You try the warriors’, courage sore, Our inner souls unearth.
Without the touch of your red wings, We cannot know our worth.
You fly above the silver clouds, To Manannan’s shining Gate.
You lead the dead along that path, To meet our final fate.
The joke’s on us, we find within, A land of laughter and of mirth.
Without the touch of your white wings, We cannot have rebirth.
Son of Llyr and Renarddun. Brother of the mighty Manawydan ap Llyr (Ireland, Manannan mac Lir) and Branwen. Represented by the raven in Celtic lore. Bran is credited with prophetic powers and, like a raven, holds the gift of being far sighted. He is also said to watch over the bard and ovate offering guidance when needed. His severed head is said to reside under the Tower of London protecting the kingdom from invasion, and for that reason the ravens at the tower have their wings clipped to stop them from leaving. Arthur once dug up the head claiming that he was the sole guardian of the realm only to find the saxons began their raids, hence the Pendragon promptly replaced Bran’s head to it’s rightful resting place before restoring order to the land. A giant; “raven”; “the blessed”. God of prophecy, the arts, leaders, war, the Sun, music, writing.
Deity of the Day
Manannan Mac Lir (Irish, Welsh)
Celtic sea God. Guardian and protector of the blessed islands Arran and the Isle of Man. He is also thought to hold connections with the Tuatha De Danaan. The original crane bag belonged to Manannan, in this he would keep his coracle and the original hallows of Britain and after which Cormac quested. He is one of the Grail guardians along with Pryderi, and skilled in the art of shapeshifting; appearing in the forms of heron or crane. He is known too for the loving of women. Sometimes seen riding a sea chariot, he is not bound to the seas and has been associated with rivers, lakes and lochs… possibly even springs and wells. Water worship was hallowed to the Celts, and they would leave treasures and offerings in lakes, lochs etc. During the Roman conquests these were plundered and the waters sold. Therefore in more ways than one they robbed the Celts of their treasures. He dressed in a green cloak and a gold headband. A shape-shifter. Chief Irish sea god, equivalent of the Welsh Llyr. Son of the sea god Lir. At Arran he had a palace called Emhain of the Apple Trees. His swine, which constantly renewed themselves, were the chief food of the Tuatha De Danann and kept them from ageing. He had many famous weapons: two spears called Yellow Shaft and Red Javelin; swords called The Retaliator, Great Fury, and Little Fury. His boat was called Wave Sweeper, and his horse, Splendid Mane. He had magic armour that prevented wounds and could make the Tuatha invisible at will. God of the sea, navigators, storms, weather at sea, fertility, sailing, weather-forecasting, magic, arts, merchants and commerce, rebirth.