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A magical experience with ms eleanor and her horses at the evermore farm

General ideas of the Otherworld: As it was necessarily a subjective world, poets could only describe it in terms more or less vague; and its exact geographical location, accordingly, differed widely in the minds of scribes from century to century. And the underground world p. We already know how the Tuatha De Danann or Sidhe-folk, after their defeat by the Sons of Mil at the Battle of Tailte, retired to this underground world and took possession of its palaces beneath the green hills and vales of Ireland; and how from there, as gods of the harvest, they still continued to exercise authority over their conquerors, or marshalled their own invisible spirit-hosts in fairy warfare, and sometimes interfered in the wars of men.

And fairy women came from that mid-Atlantic world in magic boats like spirit boats, to charm away such mortal men as in their love they chose, or else to take great Arthur wounded unto death.

And in that island world there was neither death nor pain nor p. Even yet at rare intervals, like a phantom, Hy Brasil appears far out on the Atlantic. No later than the summer of 1908 it is said to have been seen from West Ireland, just as that strange invisible island near Innishmurray, inhabited by the invisible 'gentry', is seen--once in seven years.

And too many men of intelligence testify to having seen Hy Brasil at the same moment, when they have been together, or separated, as during the summer of 1908, for it to be explained away as an ordinary illusion of the senses.

Nor can it be due to a mirage such as we know, because neither its shape nor position seems to conform to any known island or land mass. The Celtic Otherworld is like that hidden realm of subjectivity lying just beyond the horizon of mortal existence, which we cannot behold when we would, save with the mystic vision of the Irish seer. Thus in the legend of Bran's friends, who sat over dinner at Harlech with the Head of Bran for seven years, three curious a magical experience with ms eleanor and her horses at the evermore farm acted as musicians, the Three Birds of Rhiannon, which were said to sing the dead back to life and the living into death;--but the birds were not in Harlech, they were out over the sea in the atmosphere of Rhiannon's realm in the bosom of Cardigan Bay.

In Irish manuscripts, the Otherworld beyond the Ocean bears many names. In it all alike--gods, Tuatha De Danann, fairies, demons, shades, and every sort of disembodied spirits--find their appropriate abode; for though it seems to surround and interpenetrate this planet even as the X-rays interpenetrate matter, it can have no other limits than those of the Universe itself.

And that it is not an exclusive realm is certain from what our old Irish manuscripts record concerning the Fomorian races. And the fairy women of Tethra's kingdom, even like those who came from the Tuatha De Danann of Erin, or those of Manannan's ocean-world, enticed mortals to go with them to be heroes under their king, and to behold there the assemblies of ancestors.

It was one of them who came to Connla, son of Conn, supreme king of Ireland; and this was her message to him: You are going to be one of the heroes of the people of Tethra. You will always be seen there, in the assemblies of your ancestors, in the midst of those who know and love you.

The queen's gifts serve not only as passports, but also as food and drink for mortals who go with her. Often the apple-branch produces music so soothing that mortals who hear it forget all troubles and even cease to grieve for those whom the fairy women take.

For us there are no episodes more important than those in the ancient epics concerning these apple-tree talismans, because in them we find a certain key which unlocks the secret of that world from which such talismans are brought, and proves it to be the same sort of a place as the Otherworld of the Greeks and Romans.

Let us then use the key and make a few comparisons between the Silver Branch of the Celts and the Golden Bough of the Ancients, expecting the two symbols naturally to differ in their functions, though not fundamentally.

It is evident at the outset that the Golden, Bough was as much the property of the queen of that underworld called Hades as the Silver Branch was the gift of the Celtic fairy queen, and like the Silver Bough it seems to have been the symbolic bond between that world and this, offered as a tribute to Proserpine by all initiates, who made the mystic voyage in full human consciousness.

And, as we suspect, there may be even in the ancient Celtic legends of mortals who make that strange voyage to the Western Otherworld and return to this world again, an echo of initiatory rites--perhaps druidic--similar to those of Proserpine as shown in the journey of Aeneas, which, as Virgil records it, is undoubtedly a poetical rendering of an actual psychic experience of a great initiate.

The Rites of Proserpine as conducted in the Mysteries of Antiquity furnish us with the means; and in what Servius has written we have the material ready. And by "going to the shades" he the poet means celebrating the Rites of Proserpine. It must then follow that all these realms--though placed in different localities by various nations, epochs, traditions, scribes, and poets even as the under-ground world of the Tuatha De Danann in Ireland differs from that ruled over by one of their own race, Manannan the Son of the Sea --are simply various ways which different Aryan peoples have had of looking at that one great invisible realm of which we have just spoken, and which forms the Heavenworld of every religion, Aryan and non-Aryan, known to man.

And if this conclusion is accepted, and it seems that it must be, merely on the evidence of the literary or recorded Celtic Fairy-Faith, our Psychological Theory stands proven. The Rites of Proserpine had many counterparts.

  • On the ocean he meets Manannan riding in his magic chariot over the sea-waves; and the king tells Bran that he is returning to Ireland after long ages;
  • In their coracle they arrive before a gathering at Srub Brain, probably in West Kerry, and Bran who may now possibly be regarded as an apparition temporarily returned from the Otherworld to bid his people farewell announces himself, and this reply is made to him:

Thus, to pass on to another parallel, in the Mysteries of Eleusis the disappearance of the Maiden into the under-world, into Hades, the land of the dead, was continually re-enacted in a sacred drama, and it no doubt was one of the principal rites attending initiation.

In our study of the Celtic Doctrine of Re-birth, we shall return to this subject of Celtic Initiation. One day Bran heard strange music behind him as he was alone in the neighbourhood of his stronghold; and as he listened, so sweet was the sound that it lulled him to sleep.

When he awoke, there lay beside him a branch of silver so white with blossoms that it was not easy to distinguish the blossoms from the branch. Bran took up the branch and carried it to the royal house, and, when the hosts were assembled therein, they saw a woman in strange raiment standing on the floor.


Whence she came and how, no one could tell. And as they all beheld her, she sang fifty quatrains to Bran: There is a distant isle, Around which sea-horses glisten: A fair course against the white-swelling surge,-- Four feet uphold it. When the song was finished, 'the woman went from them while they knew not whither she went. And she took her branch with her.

The branch sprang from Bran's hand into the hand of the woman, nor was there strength in Bran's hand to hold the branch. On the ocean he meets Manannan riding in his magic chariot over the sea-waves; and the king tells Bran that he is returning to Ireland after long ages. In their coracle they arrive before a gathering at Srub Brain, probably in West Kerry, and Bran who may now possibly be regarded as an apparition temporarily returned from the Otherworld to bid his people farewell announces himself, and this reply is made to him: As soon as he touched the earth of Ireland, forthwith he was a heap of ashes, as though he had been in the earth for many hundred years.

Thereupon, to the people of the gathering, Bran told all his wanderings from the beginning until that time. And he wrote these quatrains in Ogam, and then bade them farewell.

And from that hour his wanderings are not known.

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  • The tale is based on seven manuscripts ranging in age from the Leabhar na h-Uidhre of about A;
  • Laeg went with the fairy woman in a boat of bronze, and returned; and when Cuchulainn heard from him the wonderful glories of that Otherworld of the Sidhe he willingly set out for it.

He saw coming towards him a sedate? A branch of silver with three golden apples on his shoulder. Delight and amusement to the full was it to listen to the music of that branch, for men sore wounded, or women in child-bed, or folk in sickness, would fall asleep at the melody when that branch was shaken.

On his promising the unknown warrior any three boons that he shall ask, Cormac is given the magic branch. The household marvelled at the branch.

Cormac shook it at them, and cast them into slumber from that hour to the same time on the following day.

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At the end of a year the warrior comes into his meeting and asked of Cormac the consideration for his branch. So he took the girl with him. The women of Tara utter three loud cries after the daughter of the king of Erin. But Cormac shook the branch at them, so that he banished grief from them all and cast them into sleep. That day month comes the warrior and takes with him Carpre Lifechair the son of Cormac.

Weeping and sorrow ceased not in Tara after the boy, and on that night no one therein ate or slept, and they were in grief and in exceeding gloom. But Cormac shook the branch at them, and they parted from [their] sorrow. The same warrior comes again. But 'a great mist was brought upon them in the midst of the plain of the wall. Cormac found himself on a great plain alone'. It is the 'Land of Promise'. Palaces of bronze, and houses of white silver thatched with white birds' wings are there.

Nine hazels of Buan grow over the well. The purple hazels drop their nuts into the fountain, and the five salmon which are in the fountain sever them, and send their husks floating down the streams. Now the sound of the falling of those streams is more melodious than any music that [men] sing. After she has been magically bathed, he bathes, and this, apparently, is symbolical of his purification in the Otherworld.

Celestial Mechanics

Finally, at a feast, the warrior-messenger sings Cormac to sleep; and when Cormac awakes he sees beside him his wife and children, who had preceded him thither to the Land of Promise. There in the Otherworld, Cormac gains a magic cup of gold richly and wondrously wrought, which would break into three pieces if 'three words of falsehood be spoken under it', and the magic silver branch; and Manannan, as the god-initiator, says to Ireland's high king: And thou shalt have the Branch for music and delight.

And on the day that thou shalt die they all will be taken from thee. The fountain which thou sawest, with the five streams out of it, is the Fountain of Knowledge, and the streams are the five senses through which knowledge is obtained?

And no one will have knowledge who drinketh not a draught out of the fountain itself and out of the streams.


The folk of many arts are those who drink of them both. Now that was afterwards [called] "Cormac's Cup", and it used to distinguish between truth and falsehood with the Gael. Howbeit, as had been promised him [by Manannan], it remained not after Cormac's death.

The Cup of Truth is probably the symbol of having gained knowledge of the Mystery of Life and Death, and the Branch, that of the Peace and Joy which comes to all who are truly Initiated; for to have passed from the realm of mortal existence to the Realm of the Dead, of the Fairy-Folk, of the Gods, and back again, with full human consciousness all the while, was equivalent to having gained the Philosopher's Stone, the Elixir of Life, the Cup of Truth, and to having bathed in the Fountain of Eternal Youth which confers triumph over Death and unending happiness.

Thus we may have here a Celtic poetical parallel to the initiatory journey of Aeneas to the Land of the Dead or Hades. The Irish Druids made their wands of divination from the p.

It will help us to understand how closely the ancient symbols have affected our own life and age--though we have forgotten their relation with the Otherworld--by offering a few examples, beginning with the ancient Irish bards who were associated with the Druids. The Anradhs, or poets of the second order, carried a silver branch, but the Ollamhs, or chief poets, carried a branch of gold; all other poets bore a branch of bronze.

Thus, it was with a magic rod that Moses struck the rock and pure water gushed forth, and he raised the same rod and the Red Sea opened; kings hold their sceptres no less than Neptune his trident; popes and bishops have their croziers; in the Roman Church there are little wandlike objects used to perform benedictions; high civil officials have their mace of office; and all the world over there are the wands of magicians and of medicine-men.

Manannan Mac Lir, tiring of his wife Fand, had deserted her, and so she, wishing to marry Cuchulainn, went to Ireland with her sister Liban. Taking the form of two birds bound together by a chain of red gold, Fand and Liban rested on a lake in Ulster where Cuchulainn should see them as he was hunting.

To capture the two birds, Cuchulainn cast a javelin at them, but they escaped, though injured. Disappointed at a failure like this, which for him was most unusual, Cuchulainn went away to a menhir where he sat down and fell asleep. Then he saw two women, one in a green and one in a crimson cloak; and the woman in green coming up to him laughed and struck him with a whip-like object.

The woman in crimson did likewise, and alternately the two women kept striking him till they left him almost dead. And straightway the mighty hero of the Red Branch Knights took to his bed with a strange malady, which a magical experience with ms eleanor and her horses at the evermore farm Druid or doctor in all Ireland could cure. Till the end of a year Cuchulainn lay on his sick-bed at Emain-Macha without speaking to any one.

Then--the day before Samain November Eve --there came to him an unknown messenger who sang to him a wonderful song, promising to cure him of his malady if he would only accept the invitation of the daughters of Aed Abrat to visit them in the Otherworld. When the song was ended, the messenger departed, 'and they knew not whence he came nor whither he went. She let it be known to Cuchulainn that she was Liban, and that she was longing for him to go with her to the Plain of Delight to p.

And she promised Cuchulainn as a reward that he would get Fand to wife. But Cuchulainn would not accept the invitation without knowing to what country he was called. So he sent his charioteer Laeg to bring back from there a report.