Monday, September 1, 2008

Synchroblog: Journeys to the Otherworld

This synchroblog comes from I'm happy to participate as this is my second time and these are fun. Check out Mahud's blog to see the other takes on this topic.

Journey to the Otherworld - When I first heard the topic, I kept hearing "otherworld" in deep, echoing words. That is until I remembered that I had watch a Genesis video and Phil Collins introduced "Home by the Sea" as a journey into the other - world (echo echo echo). Alas, I'm not doing a blog on Genesis. I would never be invited to do another synchroblog and it really doesn't have any mythology to it anyway.

Instead, I'm going with Cu Chulainn, Irish hero and all around neat guy. Now the last time I did a Celtic blog entry was about the salmon connection and no, I am NOT going to talk about fish (although Cu Chulainn can jump so high they call it the salmon leap...). I did one Cu Chulainn and his battle rage yesterday ( This is his journey into the other world.

The Irish otherworld is not a distinct other location, as it is in most other mythologies. It exists all around us in a different dimension. There are places and times where/when the boundaries are weaker than others and people and otherworlders can cross between at will or by accident.

This story starts early in our hero's life. He had been in battle, but had not made a name for himself and he falls in love (right there, you know trouble is coming) with the gorgeous Emer. Her father, Fogall, does not like him and puts Cu Chulainn off by saying, "You don't have enough battle experience, kid." He was obviously thinking Cu was like any other boy who would just go and find someone else. Instead, Cu Chulainn said, "You're right," and goes off to find the best teacher in the world to make him worthy of the beautiful Emer (you know, if she had a better name, I would not have to add adjectives.

The problem is, how do you find the best warrior? Cu Chulainn decides to do so by travelling to the land of shadows and trains under the warrior-princess Xena (Ha! just joking, the warrior princess is named Scathach). He trained for a year and a day.

As you'll see from the picture, warrior princesses may be able to fight well, but often do not understand the finer aspects of armor and how it works.

During this year, Cuchulainn becomes the lover of Scathach’s daughter. Now this is O.K., because he still love Emer. Scathach warns Cuchulainn not to fight her sister, Aoifa, but Cuchulainn cannot turn down the challenge. When she enters the field to teach him a lesson, he beats Aoifa and she becomes his mistress (once again, this is O.K., because in his heart, he is faithful and true to his one love, Emer). He gives Aoifa a ring to remember him by when he leaves. After he leaves, she gives birth to his son, Conlai. Cuchulainn does not know this.

Cuchulainn returns from the shadow world to claim Emer, but Fogall puts up a fight a she never intended Cu Chulainn to have Emer. Cuchulainn, now the best warrior in all Ireland (although he doesn't officially earn that title until he defeats a Green Knight wannabe) defeats all of Fogall’s warriors and Fogall does what any sane man would do to avoid fighting Cu Chulainn, jumps to his death to avoid Cuchulainn.

And they live happily ever after.

What? The kid? Oh yeah, Conlai returns to find his father, refuses to give the king his name (an offense with a death penalty) and the king has Cu Chulainn kill him. Since the kid is wearing the ring, Chulainn knows who he must be and kills him anyway. Loyalty to one's king is a heroic trait, after all...

Here are some other participants to the synchroblog:

Faith and the Hero’s Journey (Hawk’s Cry: The voice of a witch)
Journeying to Otherworlds: Access Denied (Between Old and New Moons)
Lions at the Door (Quaker Pagan Reflections)
More Than These Words (Aquila ka Hecate)
Journeying to Otherworlds (The Dance of the Elements)
Mythology Synchroblog 4: Children’s Story for Mabo (Pagan Dad)
Underground Ruminations (Gorgon Resurfaces)
Otherworlds Synchroblog: Olympus (Paleothea: the Ancient Goddess)
Symbolic Saiho-ji and Otherworld Journeying (Symbolic Meanings)
Becoming pagan in America - an otherworld journey (Executive Pagan)
Welcome to the Otherworlds Next Door (Many Questions)