Information on Gaelic folklore:

Total posts: [17]
1 SalmonPunch14th May 2013 07:23:07 AM from Connecticutt, USA
I never asked for this
I've been trying to collect some info on the Gaelic myth of the "Otherworld" and especially it's inhabitants, but it's next to impossible. Wikipedia is an absolute maze on this topic, as it includes other cultures mythologies under Category:Fairies and the actual Irish myths are divided into the Fommorians, Tuatha, etc with no overarching category page linking them all. Googling things like those only brought me to source books for that tabletop game "Changeling: The Lost" or to homemade websites written by people convinced that they are Faeries.

Obviously stories have been written about this, and those authors must have gotten the info on the folklore somewhere... but where?

I'd prefer if I could be pointed towards sources that are both trustworthy and on the internet, as my towns library doesn't stock much on non-Greek mythology, and I don't have the funds to go on a book binge right now.

PS: While this is about my writing process I'm not 100% sure this is on the right forum — If this belongs on "world building" then I apologize and could use help moving it there.

edited 14th May '13 7:24:26 AM by SalmonPunch

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2 demarquis14th May 2013 10:12:28 AM from Hell, USA , Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
There really is no one "Gaelic myth of the Otherworld", there are many, many versions that are not consistent with each other. See here. The best known version is probably Tir na nOg, from the tales of Oisin.

Enjoy your research, let us know what you discover.
I do not compromise—I synthesize.
The main problem with finding good, reliable information on Celtic mythology (both, Gaelic and Welsh) is that the British Isles were Christianised pretty much as soon as the Roman Empire set foot on the islands; with there being little by way of written records predating it, and little of the respective religions being practiced post-Christianisation. And during the interim period, the Romans (who were Christians) weren't particularly keen on reporting in detail what they saw as pagan (and therefore, heretical) practices.

edited 14th May '13 10:38:45 AM by peasant

4 KyleJacobs14th May 2013 11:00:16 AM from DC - Southern efficiency, Northern charm , Relationship Status: One True Dodecahedron
Find Exelixi on the Tabletop Games forum and shoot her a PM. She generally knows her shit when it comes to all things Gaelic.
5 VincentQuill14th May 2013 01:33:44 PM from Dublin , Relationship Status: Sinking with my ship
Although ruthlessly christianised, i would get my hands on the The Battle Of Magh Tuireadh,The Children of Lir, The Children Of Tuireann, Táin Bó Cúailnge, The Voyage Of Bran Mac Febail, and The Wooing of Etain. I haven't read any of them myself and they're likely tricky enough, but that's the closest to the original legends as you can get. Good luck!
6 Sharysa14th May 2013 06:19:46 PM from Alameda, CA , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
The local bard
Are you looking for folklore, or mythology? You said folklore, but are mostly describing mythology. *is Irish neopagan*

There are lots of subtle but distinct differences in those two.

edited 14th May '13 6:20:58 PM by Sharysa

7 SalmonPunch15th May 2013 07:06:13 AM from Connecticutt, USA
I never asked for this
[up] I guess more folklore than myth, as folklore is more "modern".
"You like Castlevania, don't you?"
8 Sharysa15th May 2013 01:18:25 PM from Alameda, CA , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
The local bard
Strictly speaking, there's no specific "Otherworld MYTH" in either of them, where one particular story will have the answers you're looking for; the Otherworld's characteristics were mostly implied/mentioned through other stories.

Look at the "Voyages" and the "Adventures".

Generally, these are the main features of the Otherworld:

  • A hidden or faraway land populated by The Fair Folk, with no suffering, death, or age.
  • The Folk will often need to invite you to the Otherworld, but there are places and times where one can reach the Otherworld without them. Newlyweds and newborn children are very susceptible to being abducted by the Folk without warning.
    • Places: Standing stones, the seashore, the sacred mounds/hills, cliffs, particularly old/sacred trees, sacred bodies of water, and forests.
    • Times: The major holidays are when the veil/barrier between this world and the Otherworld are thinnest. Samhain, Bealtaine, Imbolc, and Lughnasadh are among the most powerful days among the Irish.
  • Time is different in the Otherworld. A hour here can be weeks in the Otherworld, or vice-versa.
  • Morality is different in the Otherworld.
  • Gods and The Fair Folk are similar, but very distinct. (Christianity demoting most gods into Fair Folk does not help at all.)
    • Gods understand people, because they are products/embodiments of human needs/wants/doings. The Folk are not human at all.
    • Gods are more powerful than the Folk, but the Folk are nigh-unpredictable.
    • If you fuck with a god, you can make amends. Really, really, really big amends. And if it was unintentional, they might let it slide as long as you never do it again.
    • If you fuck with the Fair Folk, there is no telling what they'll do.
    • Sometimes the Folk use humanity's pants-wetting fear of causing offense to take advantage.
  • The Fair Folk do not feel love as humans understand it. Gods do.
  • The Fair Folk do not fear death, because they are not bound to any part of the physical plane and so they don't die. Gods die on occasion and they certainly don't like it, but they don't fear death because it's not PERMANENT for them.
  • Most gods have a basic understanding of the Folk, but among the most experienced with them are the Morrigan, Manannan MacLir, Ogma, and Aengus Og.

If there's anything else I might have missed, like specific folkloric knowledge, then by all means ask for more.

edited 15th May '13 1:27:21 PM by Sharysa

9 SalmonPunch15th May 2013 06:33:25 PM from Connecticutt, USA
I never asked for this
[up] thank you for the extremely informative post. I have a few more questions

Have there ever been any physical descriptions of what the Otherwords looked like?

And I remember once hearing about "Unseelie" and "Seelie" courts, are those actually part of the folklore or were those made up by authors?
"You like Castlevania, don't you?"
10 DeMarquis15th May 2013 07:18:58 PM from Hell, USA , Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
No, those actually do come from Scottish folklore.
I do not compromise—I synthesize.
11 Sharysa15th May 2013 07:47:24 PM from Alameda, CA , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
The local bard
The Otherworld's physical traits tend to be mostly reflective of the real/physical world, but some traditions (and my personal experience) believe that certain things (especially magical things) are the reverse of what they would be in the real world.

A never-ending cauldron would be the size of a smallish bowl, a giant tree would look like a year-old sapling, and likewise.

Also, I almost forgot that you DO NOT EAT Fairy/Folk food. If it's not explicitly cursed, you still shouldn't eat it in case it's a trap to get you under the Folk's control.
12 Madrugada15th May 2013 08:50:12 PM , Relationship Status: In season
One other thing to keep in mind is that your local library may not have much itself, but Interlibrary Loan is a boon and a blessing, if you find a book that isn't available online. In fact, in cases like this, the librarian may well be a boon and a blessing themselves. Ask them.
...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
13 Sharysa15th May 2013 10:00:09 PM from Alameda, CA , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
The local bard
Sacred-texts and the CELT files are also really good sources.
@Sharysa: Holy... That's an awesome summary. You're an absolute boss!! grin

Incidentally, do you know much about Welsh (Brythonic?) folklore as well? Or perhaps where to look it up? That's something I'm currently looking for a piece I'm working on as well. Sorry for the inconvenience.

edited 15th May '13 11:15:35 PM by peasant

15 Sharysa16th May 2013 09:10:20 PM from Alameda, CA , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
The local bard
Thank you! This was gathered through just about a decade of reading Irish folklore and myth.

The only Welsh literature I really know is the Arthurian mythos (which is pretty much British) and the Mabinogion, but:

  • The Welsh Otherworld is called Annwn/Annwfn (roughly pronounced "Ah-nu(fe)n"), ruled by Arawn or Gwyn Ap Nudd. Usually it's Annwn. Annwn is either beneath our world or, like the Irish Otherworld, an island (or group of islands) across the sea.
    • Arawn is the earlier King of the Otherworld, while Gwyn Ap Nudd is king much later. More frequently, Gwyn Ap Nudd is the leader of The Wild Hunt.
  • The fairies are called the Twyleth Tegg and are beautiful, ethereal blondes. The Twyleth Tegg are not the only denizens of Annwn, as some Otherworld creatures are nightmarish.
    • Much like the Irish sidhe, the Twyleth Tegg frequently abduct children, especially beautiful/talented ones or unbaptized infants.
  • Annwn/The Otherworld before modern times (especially pre-Christianity) is not the afterlife. The House of Donn is where human souls go after death.
  • Also like Irish folklore, the Twyleth Tegg are said to fear iron.
[up] Once again Sharysa, you're a star. Most of the stuff I managed to find on my own tallies up with what you said though there's a few bits here and there that I missed which will definitely be useful to know. I even got a couple new ideas from your info.

Once again, thanks.
17 DeMarquis17th May 2013 07:43:08 PM from Hell, USA , Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
I seem to remember that Gwyn Ap Nudd lives in a glass castle...
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Total posts: 17