I’ve stayed up late into the night, fascinated by a series of Wikipedia articles on Hy-Brasil, a mythical island to the west of Ireland, said to appear once every seven years.
Legends speak of it’s strange inhabitants, and how their civilization possessed magical flying chariots and livestock of immense size. To them, other races were little more than barbarians, and they shunned contact with any who approached their shores.
From there I drifted from one era of Irish mythology to the next, as specific topics caught my eye. Let’s see… there was the Salmon of Knowledge, Conn of the Hundred Battles, the Children of Lir, and also… the threefold death, also called the tripartite death. It was a sort of… “fated end”, in which a person died from several… circumstances, at once. One unfortunate such soul was Myrddin Wyllt, who was chased off a cliff by a gang of youths, where he fell on a stake, and drowned with his head below water.
Super shitty, eh?
The more I read, the more confused I became. See, the Celts sort of… saw things differently. Where we might describe a progression, from life to death, they saw things almost in terms of… well, seasons, you might say.
As opposed to the dreary ‘underworld’ that many cultures and religions speak of, a place where dead spirits pass through, the Celts spoke of the ‘Otherworld’, known as Tír na nÓg, and it’s… well, fascinating!
Tír na nÓg is normally inaccessible to the living, but in special circumstances it’s possible to travel there by ‘journeying through a mist’. Not “through mist”, or “through mists”, but “a mist”.
…see the distinction there?
In other instances, you could also reach Tír na nÓg through specific caves, burial mounds, or by a path across the sea, called Mag Mell, which meant “Plain of Honey”.
In my opinion, the descriptions of Tír na nÓg seem to vary in the four eras of Irish Mythology. There are accounts of a mysterious ‘flowered plain’ beneath the forested wilderness that Tír na nÓg lies within.
Confused yet? Same here.
With regard to Tír na nÓg’s buildings, towers, and fortresses, there’s mention of ‘feather thatch roofs’, white silver ornamentation, and also… ‘Silver Wattle’… which is apparently the name of a yellow flower.
Tales such as these set the mind alight with fanciful visions and vivid imagery. There’s very little in the way of artwork from this particular era of history, leaving a great deal open to speculation, and one’s own imagination.