Seagulls & Sea Gods

by Harry Miller December 03, 2019

In the ancient collection of Welsh Mabinogian myths, you will find a Celtic story about a boy called Dylan, forsaken by his mother, but acknowledged by his great uncle, Math.  When the boy is baptised he literally takes to the baptismal waters like a fish, moving and swimming through the water as though he was sea born.  Dylan ail Don - son of the wave - was to be known as the sea god who lived under the stormy waters of Cardigan Bay.  

One day Dylan became very envious of a local father and his three daughters - possibly the family he could never have - and in a jealous rage he called forth a storm, and sent a gigantic wave to steal the girls from their life on land.  Naturally their father was distraught, and realising the error of his ways Dylan transforms the girls into seagulls, so that they would belong to the land as well as the sea.  

It is said that an old man would often be seen going down to the beach, where he would call out his girls names, and three beautiful seagulls would fly over to him from the sea.  To this day you can find ‘Dylan’s rock’ on the seashore of the North Welsh village, Clynnog Fawr - where Dylan is said to have met his watery end.   

Over the Irish Sea in Celtic Ireland, they had their very own sea god who would actually take on the form of a seagull himself.  His name was Manannan Mac Air, ‘Lord of the sea’.  When he wasn’t in the guise of a gull he was known to ride his magical steed, Enbarr, who could gallop across both land and sea.  The throne of Manannan was known to be on the Isle of Man - named after the sea deity himself - with his stronghold being on the peek of Barrule.  He is said to be buried in the Tonn Banks, off the coast of Donegall, now Northern Ireland, after meeting his end in battle.

From mythical godly seagulls, to another who exists in popular literature: in the book titled ‘Johnathan Livingston Seagull’.  This famous short story is about a common seagull who leaves the screeching life of the flock and evolves towards seagull godliness.  Being such a poignant book for so many people, I thought it would be nice to leave you with a few words from this inspirational story:    

“To begin with,” he said heavily, “ you’ve got to understand that a seagull is an unlimited idea of freedom, an image of the Great Gull, and your whole body from wing tip to wingtip, is nothing more that thought itself.”  




Harry Miller
Harry Miller

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