Thoughts on the Otherworld – Where we go when we die.

Not everything about gentlidecht
comes from doing research and applying it to the practice.  Some of it has
to come from being thoughtful.  One such situation is the Otherworld, its
existence, and what happens after death.

There is no need to really go into the literary existence of the
Otherworld.  You can read the stories for yourself or get a copy of “The
Otherworld in Early Irish Literature” by David Spaan which goes into great
detail on the subject.  In fact, according
to Spaan there are 116 names for the Otherworld in the literature, most of
which are island or even other countries such as Spain or Egypt (Spaan 428-29). The question one
has to ask is: does the Otherworld exist outside of literature?  Anecdotally the answer is yes.  There is some sort of ‘other world’ that is inhabited
by other beings, simply by virtue of the existence of the gods and ungods. If
one believes that these other worldly being exist, then it stands that they
would have to live someplace.  Since we
do not see them in the physical realm then there must be another place in which
they live.  If we look to the literature and
folklore, this place is beneath the waves and under the hills.

Experientially the answer is also yes. 
There is an entire practice of ‘journeying’ to the Otherworld to meet
with the beings that live there for guidance. 
The experiences of those who have done this work increases the anecdotal
evidence of another realm outside of our own in which other beings exist.

So assuming the Otherworld exists, and that there are beings that live there
and that is where the gods reside.  Is
that also where we go when we die? 
Looking to the stories and strictly speaking from the stories the answer
is no and yes.  In Spaans research there
is no indication that the dead go to any of the 116 named locations that are
the Otherworld.   However, there is a place not named in Spaans
research that is given as a dwelling place of the dead, Tech nDuinn, the House of Donn.  Arguably this is also an Otherworld but what
is important to note is that it is not the same Otherworld location where the
gods and other spirits reside.  There is
some argument as to whether or not the dead move from the House of Donn to
another location but that is not the focus of this article.  From my perspective, according to the
literature when we die, we pass to Tech
nDuinn
.

Is that it though?  Is
that the answer?  This is where reconstruction
based Neopagan religions start to fail, including gentlidecht, but not because they do not provide the answers because
they do.  The failure is that most of us
don’t really believe the literature 100%. 
We don’t take it to heart. Despite our use of the literature to inform our practices and beliefs, we are more pragmatic about death and what happens
after.  

For me the answers are a mix of ideas.  When we die, we pass over to some other place;
I will call it Tech nDuinn. Where we
enjoy the company of others and maybe meet the gods and other spirits.  Then, at some point we are born again as
mortals…someplace…sometime.   In the end
(heh, see what I did there) it is a personal thing.  What we believe happens after death is what
WE believe based on our own experiences, ideas and values. 




The truth is waiting.  

Spaan, David Bruce. The Otherworld in Early Irish
Literature
. Ann Arbor: Univeristy of Michigan, 1969. PDF.

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