Episode 5

Being Human Is a Habit that Can be Broken: A Story of Mannanán by Seán Pádraig O'Donoghue | S5 Ep5

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Calling All Writers & Creative: Reweave Your Own Myths

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Mannanán was the god of the sea. He was also a shapeshifter who interceded in the affairs of the humans who came to Ireland after his people, the great gods of the Tuatha Dé Dannan, were driven into the hills. In this story, Mannanán leads King Cormac mac Airt on a journey into the Otherworld.


Seán Pádraig O'Donoghue is an herbalist, poet, and teacher, and an initiated priest of the Feri and Crossroads traditions.   He lives in western Maine and is the author of three books:  The Silver Branch and the Otherworld (now available for pre-order), Courting the Wild Queen, and The Forest Reminds Us Who We Are.  He also writes for Plant Healer Quarterly and for his own Seánfhocail newsletter on Substack. Seán offers weekly online classes through his Otherworld Well Hedge School.

Follow Seán on Instagram and Facebook.


  • Irish philosopher John Moriarty would say that to meet Mannanán is to become undone. To meet Mannanán is to learn that being human is a habit that can be broken.
  • What it means to live poetry, like the bards who spend 18 years in study  
  • “Gardaí dúchas” is a term Seán coined for self-appointed guardians of the Irish tradition who insist that anyone whose understanding of gods or heroes or stories does not conform with the understandings gleaned from either medieval text or mid-twentieth century folklore
  • How time works in the Celtic otherworld. The Celtic year and the Celtic day begin at darkness, just as everything begins in darkness.
  • Ancestral work goes forward and backwards. We need to connect to the ancestors and we need to remember that we are also someone else’s ancestors. Generations from now, people will gather around bonfires telling the story of how we survived. 
  • The many meanings attached to Irish words, like Art which means bear, stone, power, and god 
  • Ireland and Palestine as nations that understand colonization.
  • The Easter Rising took place near Bealtaine - we can think of the proclamations as a conjuring of another world as the events of that day led to including women in the new constitution and the restoration of the language. That process is still ongoing.
  • The Celtic Twilight and its concept of identity was rooted in colonial ideas, but it was a necessary stage to pass through. We would not be having this conversation without that early 20th century cultural revival.

Our Music

Music at the start of the show is by Beth Sweeney and Billy Hardy: billyandbeth.com

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  • 1:1 Writing Coaching: If you are working on a spiritual memoir or wellness professional or a creative entrepreneur who wants to use stories to build your business, book a free consultation with Marisa. Learn more at writingcoachmarisa.com
  • The Writers’ Knot opens to new members on Lughnasadh, August 1. Learn more and join the interest list: www.marisagoudy.com/writers-knot-community
  • Find more of Marisa's writing and get a copy of her book, The Sovereignty Knot: www.marisagoudy.com

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About the Podcast

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KnotWork Storytelling
Myths Retold, from Ireland and Beyond

About your host

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Marisa Goudy

Marisa Goudy is a story healer, a writing coach, and a word witch. Her book, The Sovereignty Knot: A Woman’s Way to Freedom, Power, Love, and Magic, was released in 2020.
Marisa nurtures writers and storytellers in her long-running online writing community, the Sovereign Writers’ Knot.
On this show, Marisa combines her passion for story with her love of Irish literature, culture, and folklore and her fascination with the Celtic world. She has a particular love of stories of heroines, goddess, and women whose tales were forgotten by history.

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