Manannán mac Lir is also known as simply Manannán or Manann. His surname, Mac Lir (Irish), Mac y Leir (Scottish) and fab Llyr (Welsh) mean “Son of the Sea.” In Irish myth, his father Lir appears to be a primordial sea god, about whom little else is known. Manannán is a significant figure throughout Irish, and later Welsh mythology and Scottish folklore.
To the Irish, he is one of the Tuatha De Danann, a god of the sea, kingship, magic, and a guardian and gatekeeper to the Otherworld: Tír na nÓg. His resident domain in Tír na nÓg is Emain Ablach, the Isle of Apples, which would later reappear as Avalon in Arthurian legend. He is associated with the Otherworld provinces of Mag Mell, the Plain of Delights, and Tir Tairngire, the Land of Promise. His Otherworld provinces are described as being in the West and can be reached by boat, provided Manannán parts the mists that divide the worlds.
Manannán is also known as Manannán mac Alloit, meaning “Son of the Land,” possibly signifying that his mother is an earth goddess. He is named after the Isle of Man, whose inhabitants claimed him as their first king and dynasty ancestor, Mannin or Manau. In the Welsh Mabinogi he appears as the wise wizard-king Manawydan fab Llyr – one of the most famous figures in Celtic myth – leading scholars to conclude that his roots are possibly pre-Celtic. In Irish myth, he is one of the chieftains of the Tuatha De, coming into power after the godly tribe leave Ireland to the mortal ancestors of the Irish people, referred to as the Milesians. Manannán leads his immortal people to forevermore dwell in the Otherworld and draws the mists between the two worlds, more or less permanently.
These world-dividing mists are described as his cloak, which shimmers like the multi-hued rippling of the sea. Lifting his cloak seems to make all the difference between scrambling about in a dark, dank, wormy barrow mound – or being lost in lonely waters – and finding transport into the Elysian Tír na nÓg. His mists not only barricade the path between worlds but can also cause forgetfulness among those on either side: mortals who crossover do not recall in detail their journeys to the Otherworld, and those who dwell in the undying lands do so blithely unconcerned with the troubles of the mortal world.
When he travels about on land, he often does so in the form of a bird, such as a hawk or sparrow. He also can take on the form of a storm or “fiery wheel” (suggesting churning wind and lightning). In this form, his legs can sometimes be seen whipping about like a wheel, in a comedic fashion, like the Road Runner of Looney Toons. This image is the folkloric origin behind the flag of the Isle of Man, the three-legged triskelion.
He sometimes travels mortal lands as an anonymous warrior, who vaguely describes where he comes from as a place without death or dishonesty. There are places named after Manannán throughout Ireland, the Isle of Man and Scotland. In Ireland, most of them are watery or water-associated regions. On Man he was ceremonially offered rushes – wetland plants that were sacred to him.
Manannán is associated with magic and magical treasures, and is variously described as a Druid, illusionist and necromancer. His boat, the Squabe Tuinne (“Wave-sweeper”) can move on command without need for a sail or rowing. His horse Aonbharr and chariot can travel over water as well as land. He possesses Fragarach, a sword which can pierce any armor and kill with the slightest of blows. These items he loans to Lugh that he might succeed in the battle against the Fomorians and become the next king of the Tuatha De. Manannán possesses a magic wand, a silver branch with golden apples, which produces enchanting music that sedates all who hear it. This, along with something called the Goblet of Truth, he gives to the aid of another great Tuatha king, Cormac mac Airt, who becomes the High King of Ireland.
Manannán‘s wife is Fand, who famously falls in love with the Cu Chulainn. When things between her and the heroic demi-god do not work out, Manannán separates them with his misty cloak, giving his wife the gift of forgetfulness. He also appears to have had as a wife the goddess Aine with whom he fathered Niamh, an enchanting maiden who was able to cross back and forth between the mists on horseback.
Manannán is an over-king of the Tuatha De when they retreat through the mists, and he divides up the fairy kingdoms and sidh mounds (gateways between the worlds) amongst the surviving immortals. His mists hold back the passing of age and time, such that those on the Otherworld-side do not age. Like Dagda, he possesses immortal pigs who grant a never-ending supply of pork, the eating of which, like Iðunn’s apples in Germanic myth, grant renewed youth and vitality.
Manannán created the treasure Crane-Bag, which he made from Aoife, a female figure in the myths who was turned into a crane by a Druid’s curse. In this form she died, and Manannán used her crane-form’s skin to make the sacred bag. This was a “bag of holding” of nigh-infinite capacity. Its contents could only be seen during high tide, and it appeared completely empty at low tide. The bag contains all of the magical treasures of the Tuatha De Danann, and Manannán shared it widely. It later appears in the story of Rhiannon (who is another of his wives, or perhaps simply a title for his wife, as Rhiannon means “Great Queen'').
In the Mabinogi, Manannán appears as Manawydan, and he has two brothers. He is described as one of the three humble chieftains of the De Danann, because he sought to rule through the virtue of having deserved and being given his position, rather than through war-lording his way to his own kingdom. He travels from Ireland to London to bury the head of his giant brother, the great king Bran the Blessed. He ends up at the court of the noble king Pryderi Dyfed in Wales, the son of Rhiannon, to woo his mother. Manawydan sought to retire from the life of a warrior-king and settle down with the immortal queen who had outlived her human husband Pwyll. Manawydan and Rhiannon’s domestic bliss is interrupted by an enchanted, mysterious mist which swallows up all the kingdom’s resources, its people, livestock, possessions, and even the land’s fertility. Leading the adventure to undo this mist, Rhiannon and Pryderi become spellbound, entrapped to a golden grail or bowl. Manawydan untangles a complex web of wizardry to save his wife and his nephew, and restore fertility to the land.
In the Irish, and later told in Scottish folklore, Manannán prophesies the birth of the rightful king Mongan, who he then conspires to help the future conception of. Mongan is said to be the reincarnation of the hero Fionn mac Cumhaill. To do so, he calls upon the mighty power of his mists.
Manannán‘s folk memory lasted long into the early modern era, in many folk tales and oral traditions as a wandering wizard throughout the land.
Like all the Tuatha De Dannan, Manannán is depicted as a handsome, strong, and exceptional warrior. However, he is closer to what we in a modern age might think of as a wizard. He is a divine escort and ally to earthly kings, seeking to install them in their sacred positions. He seems to be one of the informants of the Arthurian character Merlin. His episode with the mists in siring Mongan with Caintigern bears similarities to Merlin leading Uther into Tintagel to seduce Igraine through the power of illusion and mist, towards the conception of Arthur. His endeavors are always to ensure that the land continues to be fruitful – a role that ancient kings were required to perform.
A significant theme for Manannán is that of benefactor of the Good King. He himself is such a king, and he works towards the begetting, educating, counseling and ennobling of other kings – to ensure the installment and functioning of Goodly Kings. In the Irish lore, he works to liberate the land and her people from the Fomorians, the previous dynasty of gods under whose rule the people must sacrifice the land’s fertility in tribute, and in doing so may, or may not appease the Fomorians. The Fomorians travel by sea, often accompanied by foul weather and mist. In the Welsh lore, it is the mysterious mist (sans Fomorians) which appears to steal away the land’s fertility, setting off a series of events in which the goddess of the land’s sovereignty and its rightful heir (Rhiannon and Pryderi) become trapped. It is Manawydan who must solve this mystery and restore rightful power and prosperity to the land.
His wandering the lands in and out of the mists is reminiscent of Óðin, wandering gray wizard associated with moody weather, stirring events to ensure that men achieve their destiny and recruiting heroes to his cause. Manannán also strongly resembles Norse Heimdallr. Heimdallr is also born of the sea, the son of the Nine Waves, sea goddess daughters of Aegir and Ran, the primordial powers of the sea in Norse tradition. Heimdallr is associated elsewhere with sheep and rams, which are poetic names for the waves. He wanders mortal realms in disguise, and ensures the installment of the social orders, signifying who will be the jarls, and who will work the land. Like Manannán, Heimdallr is the doorman, the guardian of the gate to the Otherworld, the watchman of the Rainbow Bridge into Ásgard, the abode of the gods.
Tír na nÓg is commonly now referred to as Fairyland, or simply as Faerie, with various spellings. As god of the Otherworld and of right kingship, he is clearly a guide to the pursuit of something greater, to the project of living for something greater than oneself. He functions as something of a spiritual tourist, taking kings on journeys of the Otherworld, and showing mortals glimpses of the magic beyond. He might be in modern times thought of as a god of calling and life purpose. He also seems to be a deity who counsels, and so might be a helpful reminder of helping others live in their own integrity as goodly kin
Manannán appears also in Scottish and Manx legend, where he is known as Manannan mac y Leir ("little Mannan, son of the sea"). The Isle of Man (Mannin) is named after him, while others say he is named after the island. He is cognate with the Welsh figure Manawydan fab Llŷr
Manannán rode his chariot over the sea, meeting with Bran and his crew sailing by ship, in the tale Imram Brain ("Voyage of Bran"), considered an early work.] In this story he told Bran that sea was not actually water to him but rather "I [Manannán] see in the Plain of Feats/red topped flowers without fault." He goes on to tell Bran about how he is heading to Ireland to have relations with Caintigern who would go on to bear Mongán.
In late sources, Manannán visits the land of the living, his movement is compared to the wind, a hawk or swallow, and sometimes takes the form of a thundering wheel rolling across the landscape, such as in the "Pursuit of the Gilla Decair", a 16th-century comic tale. There is also the local lore the Manannán moved like a wheel turning on his three legs, a tradition widespread on the Isle of Man (cf. triskelion), but also found in some eastern Counties of Leinster according to John O'Donovan, though this folklore was unfamiliar to Whitley Stokes.
After the Tuatha Dé Danann were defeated by Érimón of the Milesians (humans), Bodb Derg was chosen as king of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and Manannán as co-king or perhaps the king's overseer. In one passage Manannán declares he has assumed over-kingship above the petty kings of the Tuatha Dé Danann.
Manannán was tasked with allotting which sídhe or fairy mounds the surviving members of the Tuatha Dé Danann were to be settled. Manannán's own dwelling was at Emain Ablach, in the city of Cruithin na Cuan, as the tale later reveals. Manannán ensured the welfare of the Tuatha Dé Danann by concealing in the féth fíada or a mist of invisibility, holding the Feast of Goibniu (Fleadh Goibhneann) which conferred eternal youth, and feeding them Manannan's Swine (Mucca Mhannanain) which gave an inexhaustible supply of food.
Manannán in the tale "Echtra Cormaic" owned two magical items which he gave away to Cormac mac Airt, high king of Tara: a soothing musical silver branch with apples made of gold, and the Goblet of Truth.
Manannán initially appeared in the guise of a warrior, and described without naming his homeland as a place where old age, sickness, death, decay, and falsehood were unknown. He eventually coaxed the king to arrive as guest to this Land of Promise (Tír Tairngire).
Manannán had other magical items according to the Oidheadh Chloinne Tuireann, a romance that only survives in early modern Irish recensions.
He had a self-navigating boat called "Manannán's currach (coracle)" aka Sguaba Tuinne (Scuab-tuinne) or "Wave-sweeper" was self-navigating, as well as a horse that could travel over land or sea called Aonbharr of Manannan, translated in popular re-telling as "Enbarr of the Flowing Mane". Both the horse and boat were on loan to Lugh Lamhfada, but the Sons of Tuireann managed to borrow the boat.
Manannán also supplied Lugh with a full array of armor and weapon as the Tuatha Dé gathered their host to battle the Fomorians. Lugh rode Manannán's steed Aonbharr, and was girt with Manannán's sword Fragarach ("Retaliator or "The Answerer"). Any wound this sword gave proved fatal, and its opponent was reduced to the weakness of a woman in childbirth.
Lug also wore Manannán's helmet Cathbarr, which O'Curry amends to Cennbhearr, which he regards as a common noun and not a proper name. This helm was set with two precious gems on the front and one in the rear. Manannán's lúirech or body armour] and Manannán's scabal (neck-piece or breastplate) were also part of Lugh's panoply.
Manannán was also the owner of the "crane-bag" (Irish: corrbolg) full of treasures] according to the Middle-Irish Fenian lay "The Crane-Bag" (Duanaire Finn Poem VIII) datable to the 13th century,
To Manannán was sent a woman transformed into the shape of a crane. She was Aoife, daughter of Dealbhaoth (Irish: Áiffe ingen Dealbhaoíth), and mistress of Ilbhreac of many beauties (Irish: Ilbric Iolchrothaigh). Ilbhreac here may have been Ilbhreac son of Manannán. Aoife was transformed by the druidery of her jealous love-rival (Iuchra daughter of Ábartach), whose spell was to last 200 years.
When Aoife died, Manannán crafted her crane's skin into a magical treasure bag, whose contents were only visible when flooded during full tide, and would seem empty when the tide had ebbed.The bag was in the possession of Lugh Lamhfada, then taken by Lugh's killers, the three sons of Cermait. Later Manannán endowed it to Conaire Mór the high king at Tara. The crane-bag was eventually owned by Cumhall mac Trénmhóir, as told at the outset of this lay.Macgnímartha Finn. This is assumed to be the "treasure-bag" that was lost to Cumhall's "servant-turned-traitor", Liath Luachra, who treacherously wounded Cumall in the Cath Cnucha, but recovered later by Cumhall's son, Finn when he grew up.
Manannán also commissioned the craftsman Lucra (recté Luchta) to make him a shield to be made of wood, and this later passed on to Finn, according to the lay (duan) "Shield of Fionn". The wood came from a withered hazel tree, on the fork where Lugh had set the severed head of Balor. The venom had penetrated this tree, killing or blinding workers trying to uproot or handle it. Various owners are named, such as Tadg mac Nuadat, but was given by Manannán to Crimall mac Trenmor, Finn's uncle, after the death of Finn's father.
Manannán is furthermore identified with several trickster figures including the Gilla Decair and the Bodach an Chóta Lachtna ("the churl in the drab coat").
The similarity of Manannan's inexhaustible swine to Odin's boar Sæhrímnir in Scandinavian myth has been noticed. Mannanán also owned a speckled cow that he and Aengus retrieved from India along with a dun cow, two golden goblets, and two spancels of silk.
In Manx mythology:
According to the local lore of the Isle of Man, Manannán was the island's first ruler.
A document called the "Supposed True Chronicle of Man" (16th century) asserts that Manannan was the first "ruler of Mann" and "was as paynim (pagan), and kept, by necromancy, the Land of Man under mists", and imposed as tax a bundle of green rushes, which was due every Midsummer Eve at a place called Warfield (the present-day South Barrule). More or less the same thing is stated in verse within "The Traditionary Ballad" aka "Manannan beg va Mac y Leirr", whose third quatrain ran:[The poem thus identified the king of the island as one Manannan-beg-mac-y-Lheirr, "little Manannan, son of the Sea" (or, "son of Leir"). Manannan was later banished by Saint Patrick according to the poem.
As to the Manx offering rushes to Manannán, there is evidence these wild plants—which typically grow in wetlands—were sacred to him.
According to tradition, Manannan once held Peel Castle, and caused a single man guarding its battlements to appear as a force of a thousand, thus succeeding in driving out his enemies.] Manx storyteller Sophia Morrison repeats this story except reducing the amplification to hundredfold men, and referring to the rampart "a great stone fort on Peel Island". She also appends a story that Manannan once crafted makeshift boats out of sedges, creating an illusion of a larger fleet, causing the Viking invaders to flee in terror from the bay of Peel Island.
The Dagda (Irish: An Dagda) is an important god in Irish mythology. One of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the Dagda is portrayed as a father-figure, king, and druid. He is associated with fertility, agriculture, manliness and strength, as well as magic, druidry and wisdom. He can control life and death, the weather and crops, as well as time and the seasons.
He is often described as a large bearded man or giant wearing a hooded cloak. He owns a magic staff, club, or mace (the lorg mór or lorg anfaid), of dual nature: it kills with one end and brings to life with the other. He also owns a cauldron (the coire ansic) which never runs empty, and a magic harp (uaithne) which can control men's emotions and change the seasons. He is said to dwell in Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange). Other places associated with or named after him include Uisneach, Grianan of Aileach, and Lough Neagh. The Dagda is said to be husband of the Morrígan and lover of Boann. His children include Aengus, Brigit, Bodb Derg, Cermait, Aed, and Midir.
The Dagda's name is thought to mean "the good god" or "the great god". His other names include Eochu or Eochaid Ollathair ("horseman, great father" or "all-father"), Ruad Rofhessa ("mighty one/lord of great knowledge") and Dáire ("the fertile one"). The death and ancestral god Donn may originally have been a form of the Dagda, and he also has similarities with the later harvest figure Crom Dubh. Several tribal groupings saw the Dagda as an ancestor and were named after him, such as the Uí Echach and the Dáirine.
The Dagda has been likened to the Germanic god Odin, the Gaulish god Sucellos, and the Roman god Dīs Pater.
Tales depict the Dagda as a figure of immense power. He is said to own a magic staff, club or mace which could kill nine men with one blow; but with the handle he could return the slain to life. It was called the lorg mór ("the great staff/club/mace") or the lorg anfaid ("the staff/club/mace of wrath"). His magic cauldron was known as the coire ansic ("the undry cauldron") and was said to be bottomless, from which no man left unsatisfied. It was said to have a ladle so big that two people could fit in it. Uaithne, also known as "the Four Angled Music", was a richly ornamented magic harp made of oak which, when the Dagda played it, put the seasons in their correct order; other accounts tell of it being used to command the order of battle. He possessed two pigs, one of which was always growing whilst the other was always roasting, and ever-laden fruit trees. He also described as being the owner of a black-maned heifer that was given to him for his labors prior to the Second Battle of Moytura. When the heifer calls her calf, all the cattle of Ireland taken by the Fomorians as tribute graze.
The Dagda was one of the kings of the Tuatha De Danann. The Tuatha Dé Danann are the race of supernatural beings who conquered the Fomorians, who inhabited Ireland previously, prior to the coming of the Milesians. The Mórrígan is often described as his wife, his daughter was Brígh, and his lover was Boann, after whom the River Boyne is named, though she was married to Elcmar. Prior to the battle with the Fomorians, he coupled with the goddess of war, the Mórrígan, on Samhain in exchange for a plan of battle.
Despite his great power and prestige, the Dagda is sometimes depicted as oafish and crude, even comical, wearing a short, rough tunic that barely covers his rump, dragging his great penis on the ground. Such features are thought to be the additions of Christian redactors for comedic purposes. The Middle Irish language Coir Anmann (The Fitness of Names) paints a less clownish picture: "He was a beautiful god of the heathens, for the Tuatha Dé Danann worshiped him: for he was an earth-god to them because of the greatness of his (magical) power."
The Dagda has similarities with the later harvest figure Crom Dubh.
The Dagda is said to be husband of the Morrígan, who is called his "envious wife"] His children include Aengus, Cermait, and Aed (often called the three sons of the Dagda), Brigit and Bodb Derg.He is said to have two brothers, Nuada and Ogma, but this may be an instance of the tendency to triplicate deities. Elsewhere the Dagda is linked exclusively with Ogma, and the two are called "the two brothers." In the Dindsenchas, the Dagda is given a daughter named Ainge, for whom he makes a twig basket or tub that always leaks when the tide is in and never leaks when it is going out. The Dagda's father is named Elatha son of Delbeath. Englec, the daughter of Elcmar, is named as a consort of the Dagda and the mother of his "swift son". Echtgi the loathsome is another daughter of the Dagda's named in the Banshenchas.
Before the Second Battle of Maig Tuired the Dagda built a fortress for Bres called Dún Brese and was also forced by the Fomorian kings Elatha, Indech, and Tethra to build raths. In the lead up to the Second Battle of Maig Tuired, when Lugh asks Dagda what power he will wield over the Fomorian host, he responds that he "[…] will take the side of the men of Erin both in mutual smiting and destruction and wizardry. Their bones under my club will be as many as hailstones under feet of herds of horses."
The Dagda had an affair with Bóand, wife of Elcmar. In order to hide their affair, Dagda made the sun stand still for nine months; therefore their son, Aengus, was conceived, gestated and born in one day. He, along with Bóand, helped Aengus search for his love.
Whilst Aengus was away the Dagda shared out his land among his children, but Aengus returned to discover that nothing had been saved for him. Aengus later tricked his father out of his home at the Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange). Aengus asked his father if he could live in the Brú for láa ogus oidhche "(a) day and (a) night", which in Irish is ambiguous, and could refer to either "a day and a night", or "day and night", which means for all time, and so Aengus took possession of the Brú permanently. In The Wooing of Étaín, on the other hand, Aengus uses the same ploy to trick Elcmar out of Brú na Bóinne, with the Dagda's connivance.
The Dagda was also the father of Bodb Dearg, Cermait, Midir, Áine, and Brigit. He was the brother of Oghma, who is probably related to the Gaulish god Ogmios; Ogmios, depicted as an old man with a club, is one of the closest Gaulish parallels to the Dagda. Another Gaulish god who may be related to the Dagda is Sucellus, the striker, depicted with a hammer and cup.
He is credited with a seventy- or eighty-year reign (depending on source) over the Tuatha Dé Danann, before dying at the Brú na Bóinne, finally succumbing to a wound inflicted by Cethlenn during the second battle of Magh Tuiredh.
In a poem about Mag Muirthemne, the Dagda banishes an octopus with his "mace of wrath" using the following words: "Turn thy hollow head! Turn thy ravening body! Turn thy resorbent forehead! Avaunt! Begone!", the sea receded with the creature and the plain of Mag Muirthemne was left behind.
In the Dindsenchas the Dagda is described as swift with a poison draught and as a justly dealing lord. He is also called a King of Erin with hosts of hostages, a noble, slender prince, and the father of Cermait, Aengus, and Aed.
Veles, also known as Volos (Russian: Волос, Влас, Власий), is a major Slavic god of earth, waters, livestock, and the underworld. His attributes are wet, wooly, hairy (bearded), dark and he is associated with cattle, the harvest, wealth, music, magic, and trickery.
According to reconstruction by some researchers, he is the opponent of the supreme thunder god Perun. As such he probably has been imagined as a dragon, which in the belief of the pagan Slavs is a chimeric being, a serpent that devours livestock. His tree is the willow much like Perun's tree is the oak.
Volos is mentioned as god of cattle and peasants, who will punish oath-breakers with diseases, the opposite of Perun who is described as a ruling god of war who punishes by death in battle.
According to Ivanov and Toporov, Veles' portrayal as having a penchant for mischief is evident both from his role in the storm myth and in carnival customs of Koledari shamans. In his role as a trickster god, he is in some ways similar to both Greek Hermes and Scandinavian Loki. He was connected with magic. The word volhov, obviously derived from his name, in some Slavic languages still means sorcerer while in the 12th century Ruthenian epic The Tale of Igor's Campaign, the character of Boyan the wizard is called Veles' grandson. Veles was also believed to be protector of travelling musicians. For instance, in some wedding ceremonies of northern Croatia (which continued up to the 20th century), the music would not start playing unless the bridegroom, when making a toast, spilled some of the wine on the ground, preferably over the roots of the nearest tree. The symbolism of this is clear, even though forgotten long ago by those still performing it: the musicians will not sing until a toast is made to their patron deity.
As a god of the underworld and dragons, he became identified with the Devil. His more benevolent sides were transformed to several Christian saints. As a protector of cattle, he became associated with Saint Blaise, popularly known among various Slavic nations as St. Vlaho, St. Blaz, or St. Vlasiy (Armenian: Սուրբ Վլասի; germ: Blasius; fr: Blaise; sp: San Blas; port: São Brás; it: San Biagio; Croat: sv. Blaž; eng: Blase; Greek: Άγιος Βλάσιος). In Yaroslavl, for example, the first church built on the site of Veles's pagan shrine was dedicated to St Blaise, for the latter's name was similar to Veles and he was likewise considered a heavenly patron of shepherds. As mentioned already, in many Eastern Slavic folk tales, he was replaced by St. Nicholas, probably because the popular stories of the saint describe him as a giver of wealth and a sort of a trickster.
The Russian philologists Vyacheslav Ivanov and Vladimir Toporov reconstructed the mythical battle of Perun and Veles through comparative study of various Indo-European mythologies and a large number of Slavic folk stories and songs. An unifying characteristic of all Indo-European mythologies is a story about a battle between a god of thunder and a huge serpent or a dragon. In the Slavic version of the myth, Perun is a god of thunder while Veles acts as a dragon who opposes him, consistent with the Vala etymology; he is also similar to the Etruscan underworld monster Vetha and to the dragon Illuyankas, enemy of the storm god of Hittite mythology.
The reason for the enmity between the two gods is Veles's theft of Perun's son, wife, or, usually, cattle. It is also an act of challenge: Veles, in the form of a huge serpent, slithers from the caves of the underworld and coils upwards the Slavic world tree towards Perun's heavenly domain. Perun retaliates and attacks Veles with his lightning bolts. Veles flees, hiding or transforming himself into trees, animals or people. In the end, he is killed by Perun and in this ritual death, whatever Veles stole is released from his battered body in the form of rain falling from the skies. This "storm myth", or "divine battle", as it is generally called by scholars today, explained to ancient Slavs the changing of seasons through the year. The dry periods were interpreted as the chaotic results of Veles' thievery. Storms and lightning were seen as divine battles. The ensuing rain was the triumph of Perun over Veles and the re-establishment of world order. On a deeper level, as has been said above, Perun's place is up, high and dry and Veles' down, low and wet. By climbing up into the sphere of Perun, Veles disrupts the equilibrium of the world and needs to be put in his place. Perun does this in a fierce battle by smiting him with his lightning and drives him down into the water under the tree stub and the log and by putting him back in his place Perun restores order. Then they stop being adversaries and remain just opponents until the next time Veles tries to crawl up into Perun's realm.
The myth was cyclical, repeating itself each year. The death of Veles was never permanent; he would reform himself as a serpent who would shed its old skin and would be reborn in a new body. Although in this particular myth he plays a negative role as bringer of chaos, Veles was not seen as an evil god by ancient Slavs. In fact, in many of the Russian folk tales, Veles, appearing under the Christian guise of St. Nicholas, saves the poor farmer and his cattle from the furious and destructive St. Elias the Thunderer, who represents Perun. The duality and conflict of Perun and Veles does not represent the dualistic clash of good and evil; rather, it is the opposition of the natural principles of earth and water (Veles) against heaven/sky and fire (Perun).