Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/153

This page needs to be proofread.


THE EUROPEAN SKY-GOD.

V. THE CELTS {continued).

BY ARTHUR BERNARD COOK.

Manx tradition knows nothing of Nuada or of Bile. In their stead it tells of Manannan, a god in some respects comparable to them both ; for he too had pretensions to control the atmosphere, the sea, and the world of the dead. He used to exhibit his power over the air by enshrouding his eponymous island in mist, whenever an assailant tried to find the way thither.^ Moreover, he was closely related to Lug the sun-god : not only does Lug ride the horse ^ and wear the armour^ of Manannan, but in one ancient tale* Lug actually appears as king in Manannan's palace.^ Commonly, however, Manannan was connected with the watery element. ' Scots and Brittons,' says Cormac, ' called him a sea-god and declared that he was sprung from the sea, i.e. mac Lir, "son of

^J. Rhys Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx Oxford 1901 i. 284, 314.

^Rhys Studies in the Arthurian Legend Oxford 1891 p. 221 f.

^C. Squire The Mythology of the British Islands London 1905 p. 89.

^ Infra p. 157 f.

A. Nutt The Voyage of Bran Son of Febal London 1895 i. 292 f. rightly insists on the 'close alliance between Manannan and Lug,' and points out that the Celtic Manannan as chariot-driving and steed-possessing god of the western wonderland has important features in common with the Greek Helios. Note also that the annual tribute of rushes brought on Midsummer Eve to two hill-tops in the Isle of Man, and there presented to Manannan (Rhys Celtic Folklore i. 314), implies a sun-god, or at least a sky-god.

Dr. O'Donovan, commenting on Cormac's account of Manannan, states that, ' according to the traditions in the Isle of Man and the Eastern counties of Leinster this first man of Man rolled on three legs like a wheel through