We spent Laa Luanys (Lá Lúnasa) on the Isle of Man this year. Mann isn’t a place that I associate with Lúnasa, but it certainly didn’t disappoint. True to Celtic form, there were advertisements for many festivals throughout the island during the early days of August. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make any of them this time, as we left on the 3rd.
The main event of the day was a morning hike up South Barrule. This is the traditional Manx home of the god, Manannán mac Lir. Manannán had a special relation to the god Lugh, for whom the festival of Lúnasa is named; so, it seemed appropriate to spend some time atop south Mann’s highest point.
I could feel the hillside pulsating, alive as we drove through the nearby plantations. It had a noticeable energy about it. The best way I can describe it is that South Barrule was “awake.”
The hike up the western slope of the hill was unexpectedly steep. A cold, damp mist encapsulated the summit, and we were soon engulfed in it. The wind blew relentlessly, and each time we thought we were nearing the top, another shadow of still higher ground appeared on the horizon. Manannán was surely shaking out his cloak, preparing for the August sun, and we were directly in the midst of it.
We did finally make it to the top, which is crowned with the runes of a Celtic Iron Age hill fort. It was a but surreal, being surrounded by Manannán’s mist on Laa Luanys standing at Celtic ruins on South Barrule. We gave our offerings and sat for a while in the hill fort. While the outside world was cold and windy, there was a warm, orange glow that stirred within me.
The mist lessened as we made our way down Barrule. The sun felt warm and welcoming, though definitely more distant, past its summer prime. It was a good reminder of the sacrifice element of Lúnasa–that as the sun is born, thrives, declines, and dies for the preservation of the crops, so too must we sacrifice ourselves in order to leave behind a legacy for future generations. Rather unexpectedly, I spend much time quietly hiking back to the car, thinking about the Witches who came before me and gifted their legacy onto my Priesthood and the wider community.
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