Archipelago and Otherworld

  • Alfred K. Siewers
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


In the early Irish story Immram Brain, whose origins probably trace back at least to the lost eighth-century Book of Druimm Snechtai,1 the legendary Irish ruler Bran mac Febail is near home when he hears music behind him. Although he keeps looking back for the source of it, the music always stays elusively behind. He falls asleep finally in its sweetness. When he wakes, he is lying next to a silver branch whose white blossoms are hard to distinguish from the stem. When he takes the branch into the stronghold where his warriors are gathered, suddenly they see a strangely dressed woman, who sings a song of the otherworldly realm Emain and tells of how she has brought from there a silver branch of an apple tree. So sweetly she sings of her distant otherworldly island that Bran and a party of men sail off to find it, only to discover in their many adventures that the sea itself is an Otherworld, and that their home cojoins this multidimensional archipelago of elements and beings that ultimately makes it an Otherworld as well. While on his adventure, Bran meets Manannán mac Lir, a sea god who shows him that the ocean is teeming with hidden life. Addressing Bran, Manannán says:

Caíne amrae lasin mBran ina churchán tar muir nglan; os mé im charput do chéin, is mag scothach imma-réid.


Twelfth Century Literary Culture Cultural Geography Religious Scholar Native Tradition 
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