The Underworld, also known as the Otherworld or Netherworld, is featured in most mythologies around the world. It is a realm of the dead, where the souls of the recently departed go in their afterlife. Many versions of the Underworld are seen as places of abundance and joy, and reward for good work during their mortal life.
World mythologies call the Underworld by several names:
Celtic – Annwn, Mag Mell, Tír na nÓg, Hy-Brasil, Ablach, Sídhe mounds
Norse – Hel, Niflheim, Valhalla, Gimlé, Vingólf
Greek – Hades, Elysium, Tartarus, Asphodel
Roman – Inferno, Avernus, Orcus/Hades, Pluto
Egyptian – Aaru, Duat, Neter-khertet, Amenti
Christian – Heaven, Hell
The Spiral is known as a symbol of the goddess, a symbol of life. A Spiral represents “death and rebirth as movement into the disappearing-point of formlessness, and out of it again, to a new world of form.” (The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets)
The Gundestrup Cauldron is a richly decorated silver vessel attributed to the late La Tène period or early Roman Iron Age (1st or 2nd century BCE). Its plates are etched with many mythological and ritual scenes from the pagan world. It was unearthed in a peat bog in 1891 near Gundestrup, in Himmerland, Denmark. The vessel had been dismantled into several pieces and deposited in the bog, most likely as a religious sacrifice.
Frigg (Frigga) was the Norse goddess of marriage, chastity, fertility and motherhood. She was married to the chief Aesir god Odin, and together they ruled Asgard. She was seen mostly as wife and mother, and also an earth goddess.
Freyja, ‘The Lady’, was the Norse goddess of love, war, and beauty. She had a twin brother Freyr and together they were the chief gods of the Vanir. She was a master of Seidr (magic), and is the wife of Ód. Freyja was the leader of the Valkyries, who would ride over battlefields to choose slain warriors to rest in Freyja’s hall Sessrumnir (the rest going to Odin’s hall Valhalla).
Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn Mac Cool) was an Irish warrior hero who features in stories from the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology. He also features in the folklore of Scotland and the Isle of Man.
Fionn was the son of Cumhaill, the leader of the Fianna, and Muirne, daughter of the druid Tadg mac Nuadat. As Muirne’s father was against the match, a battle ensued which killed Cumhaill. Muirne, already pregnant, was spared, however her child Fionn was put under the protection of Fiacal mac Conchinn and his wife Bodhmall. A warrior woman, Liath Luachra, taught Fionn the arts of war, hunting and magic.
Éire / Éireann/ Éirenn / Éirinn / Erin
Ériu was a Queen and patron goddess of Ireland around the time of the Milesian invasion. She was seen as the Goddess of Irish Sovereignty along with her sisters, Banba and Fódla. Ériu’s name is thought mean ‘earth, soil’ or ‘plentiful’, as well as ‘fat land’ or ‘land of abundance’.
The Druids were a class of priests, teachers, judges, seers, astronomers, doctors and philosophers who held very high standing in Iron Age Celtic society. The word “Druid” has generally come to mean a wise man or a priest, with knowledge of the oak. Very little is known about the Druids since there is no written record of their beliefs and practices. Scholars must piece together evidence from a variety of sources, mainly from their conquerors (Romans, Greeks) and their successors (Christian Monks).