Midsummer Rite of Manannan Mac Lir

by Erynn Laurie

NOTE: Anything in italics is a note to the ritualists.

Items needed:

irises or flowers for each person
altar cloth
image or symbol of Manannan
bowl of water for crossing the water
hand towel
cup or bowl of water
feather or other sky symbol
libation vessel
milk or other offering liquid
incense burner
charcoal and incense (or incense sticks)
large bowl of water
vessel of water to pour from
container for alcohol
alcohol for well
(candle can be substituted for flame source)

Set up:

The altar is set on a cloth on the ground if outdoors, or on a small table if indoors. Sky object is at the north. Sea is at the southwest. Land is at the southeast. In the center is a large bowl partly filled with water. Inside the large bowl is a small clear bowl with a little alcohol in it, for the well flame. You can substitute a candle instead if you prefer. If you have an image you use for Manannan, place it at the north (a Shiva trident or a large seashell does quite nicely). A small censer of incense may be placed before the image of Manannan. Nearby are a bowl, cup or other vessel filled with milk, honey-water or ale for libations to the land spirits and ancestors. Also nearby is a bowl of water with a shell in it, for “Crossing the Waters”. If you think you will need it, have one of the celebrants carrying the waters also carry a towel for drying the hands of the participants. Make sure you have your matches and other incidental needs within reach before the rite begins. Assign roles to at least three people, to make the ritual flow more smoothly.

Blessing the Waters Between:

Hold bowl of water between hands

"Herein lie the waves of the sea, the cloak of mists, the moving waters of the ford. Between my hands, the power to pass between worlds."

Draw Triskele over the water

All approach, carrying flowers

Challenge to the participants:

Draws double spiral gate, bars the way with a staff

"Beyond nine green-necked waves you shall not go, without the aid of strong Gods."


"We come with the blessings and aid of Manannan, Gatekeeper, Lord of Mists, to do him honor and pay him tribute."

Crossing the Water – Washing of hands and face:

Pour out to each

"Then may the king of Tir na mBan keep you safe in your journey".

The Center Point:

Group circles altar, which is arranged to face North.

Stand quietly and relax with your hands resting at your sides. Clear your mind and concentrate on your breathing. Breathe in and out slowly and follow along with this meditation, which will place you in the center of the cosmos.

"We are at the center of the world."

Exhale, move to one knee with palms on the ground before you.

"We stand firmly upon the land."

Inhale and rise to your feet, moving the hands behind at hip height, palms up, cupping.

Exhale and move the hands in an arc until they meet in front.

"The sea always surrounds us."

Inhale, move the hands to the sides, spread the fingers wide, palms forward.

Exhale and raise the arms, bringing the hands together above the head, thumb & forefinger meeting to create a triangle.

"The sky spreads itself above us."

Inhale, lower the hands to the heart again.

"We are at the center of the Three Realms."

Exhale and lower the hands to the sides.

The Ground of Being:

Take the stone, raise it above the head, lower it to touch the ground.

"May the Sacred Land support us."

Set the stone back in its place. Take water and tip some salt into it. Swirl the water clockwise three times. Walk three times counterclockwise around the group.

"May the Eternal Sea surround us."

Place the water back and take the bird's feather or sky symbol. With the feather, describe an arc east to west over the head.

"May the Endless Sky watch over us."

Replace the feather on the altar space. Take up the libation vessel.> (libation vessel is passed to each person.

Ad lib: ancestor and land spirit invocations.

Each person pours an offering as they meditate upon the ancestors and spirits.


Raise incense.

"We call to thee Manannan, Lord of Mists, Wave-rider!"

Ad lib invocation.

"Blessed Manannan, it is by your hand we have come here. Come to us to receive our sacrifices in this, the season of Midsummer."

Make symbol of Triskele with incense. Group begins to circle the altar tuathail.

"We bring together the waters of the sacred rivers of Ireland, into the Well of Wisdom which resides at the center of all worlds:"

Three celebrants pour water into the bowl - substitute any sacred rivers you like for local and global rivers.

"I invoke thee, Shannon
I invoke thee, Bann
I invoke thee, Boyne
I invoke thee, Amazon
I invoke thee, Nile
I invoke thee, Ganges
I invoke thee, Duamish
I invoke thee, Snoqualmie
I invoke thee, Columbia"

"May all the sacred waters of the world be present here!"

Light alcohol flame in the center of the well. All stand facing the well.

"On the day of Midsummer, the people of the Isle of Mann go to the top of the highest hill to pay rent to the first king of their island, Manannan mac Lir, Lord of the Waves, Son of Nine Mothers."

"On this day of Midsummer, we come before Manannan as well, to give tribute and sacrifice in honor of him who keeps the Gates between the worlds".

"Bring forth your offerings to the well, and meditate upon he who makes possible all your journeys between the worlds".

Offerings are placed at the well. If you're by the seashore, take the flowers and cast them into the sea, pour a libation into the waters for him. Then lots of drumming & dancing, room here for prophetic utterances & ecstatic trance.

"Here before you is the Well of Wisdom. Keep its flame with you in your heart as you return to the world of mortals."

Put out flame.

"Manannan a Thiarna, accept our offerings and bless us through this year as we depart from your blessed realm."

Crossing the Water – Washing of hands and face:

Pour out to each.

"May the king of Tir na mBan keep you safe in your journey home."

Close double spiral gate with staff.

Copyright © 1995 Erynn Laurie
All Rights Reserved
May be reposted as long as the above attribution and copyright notice are retained