The Immortal Game
Manannan mac Lir
Mannan beg mac y Leir, Manandan mac Alloit
Associated Abilities: Art, Control, Empathy, Occult, Politics, Survival
Associated Epic Attributes: Manipulation, Wits
Associated Purviews: Death, Illusion, Magic, Prophecy, Psychopomp, Water
Manannan mac Lir is the son of Lir, an ancient ocean god believed by many to be of an older generation than the other Tuatha, born of some long-lost line of Danu or even a sibling or close relation to her. Indeed, his son certainly seems different from the other Tuatha; Manannan is the god of the sea that beats against the rocky shores of Ireland and of the restless dead, a figure of dread, confusion, and mystery. Despite the dark realms he moves through, he is an honorable god and is often sought for the fairness of his rulings, a fact that seems at odds with his occasional decision to act as a trickster to open the eyes of his fellow deities. He makes travel possible, whether by sea or atop a land steed, and often seems to possess an answer when no others can solve a problem without his knowing help.
Manannán was adopted into the Tuatha when the pantheon arrived in Ireland, but he comes from a much older pantheon whose name has been lost to history. He is the God of the sea and the ferryman that conducted the souls of the dead from the lands of the living to Tír na nÓg. Manannán is also known as a trickster God, whose pranks can be violent enough to cause harm but always teach a valuable lesson. He serves as foster father to Lugh and came to his aid when Lugh
helped the rest of the Tuatha overthrow Bres, the corrupt half-fomorian king who ruled the Tuatha
after Nuada. Manannán is also associated with horses and owns a magical steed named Enbarr
that can cross water just as swiftly as it can race over land.
Manannán usually appears as a white-bearded, hoary old man, somewhat shorter than the rest of
the Tuatha, with faded blue eyes and a wry smile. He is fond of seducing young women and has
no compunctions whatsoever about taking on a younger, more handsome form to do so. He is an accomplished shape-changer and has been known to assume the form of a woman’s lover or husband
in order to seduce her.
Manannán has taken to a variety of roles in modern times. As comedian or gigolo, funeral director or fisherman, card sharp or jockey, he is always found with a smirk on his lips, a twinkle in his eye and a spring in his step.
Manannán’s Scions are best known for their sense of humor and their quick wits. They come from all walks of life, but large numbers of them gravitate to professions involving the ocean or death. Navy personnel, oceanographers, merchant marines and underwater photographers are as likely as forensic pathologists, gravediggers, cemetery caretakers and even serial killers (who often end up choosing their victims from the ranks of those who serve titanspawn).
Manannan mac Lir and Fand
Manannan mac Lir’s beautiful wife, Fand, met Cu Chulainn one day and found him so handsome that she ran away with him, accompanying him as his new lover. They were chased across the countryside by Cu Chulainn’s wife, the jealous Emer; Fand would have destroyed her for she was a mere mortal, but when Emer finally cornered them she realized that the woman was worthy of her husband, and furthermore that she missed her own. She called out to Manannan to come back to her; he appeared and surrounded them with mist so that Cu Chulainn could never meet her again, and took her back to his palace, there to remain for good.
Manannan mac Lir and Aodh Dubh O’Donnell
A jester once came to the court of Aodh Dubh O’Donnell, and there spoke in riddles and confused the court sorely. The jester was dirty and somewhat rude, and O’Donnell sent for his gatekeeper to chide them man for letting him in, but he swore up and down that the jester had never entered through the gate. In apology for his behavior, the jester played music on a harp that was so beautiful that the entire court was enraptured; he refused any payment for it, but O’Donnell feared the jester would leave and, not wanting to be deprived of the music, posted an armed guard about him to keep him at the court. The jester refused to stay, and confounded his guards with music until they killed one another instead of touching him, whereupon he demanded a hefty fee to raise the men from the dead. O’Donnell scoffed, for he did not believe that the jester could do any such thing, but then the jester revealed himself to be Manannan mac Lir and the O’Donnell gladly apologized and paid his price to see his men resurrected.