Celtic Otherworld

Celtic Otherworld

Celtic Otherworld

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The Otherworld (orbis alius, so named after Lucan's account of the druidical doctrine of metempsychosis, Pharsalia, 1, 457) is a concept in Celtic mythology, referring to a realm of the dead, the home of the deities or spirits.

Tales and folklore describe it as Fortunate Isles in the western sea, or at other times underground (such as in the Sídhe mounds) or right alongside the world of the living, but invisible to most humans.

Beliefs of the ancient Gauls

Many Graeco-Roman geographers tell about the Celtic belief in islands consecrated to gods and heroes. Among them were Anglesey (Môn), located on the Northern Welsh Coast, which was the sacred island of the druids of Britain; the Scilly islands, where archaeological remains of proto-historical temples have been found; and some of the Hebrides Islands, which were, in the Gaelic tradition, home of ghosts and demons: on one of them, Skye, the Irish hero Cúchulainn was educated by the war goddess Scathach.

Byzantine scholar Procopius of Caesarea described the Otherworld beliefs of the ancient Gauls. He said it was thought that the Land of Dead lay some place west of Great Britain. The Continental Celtic myths told that once the souls of the dead had left their bodies, they traveled to the Northwestern coast of Gaul and took a boat in direction to Britannia. When they had to cross the Channel, the souls went to the homes of the fishermen, and knocked desperately at their doors. The fishermen went then out of their houses...
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