This quote is from the same Druidry book as last week's post, and is about the different worlds, or realms of existence, according to the Ancient Celts:

From Brendan Cathbad Myers's The Mysteries of Druidry (2006):
"The threefold 'vertical' division of Sky, Land, and Sea, which roughly correspond to Heaven, Earth, and Underworld, is intersected with a fourfold 'horizontal' division of the Earth, the realm where we live, corresponding to the four cardinal directions."

Circle Celtic Tree of Life by foxvox
It's simply stated, so let's look at what these worlds actually are. First of all, the three vertical divisions are divided according to a spiritual sense. The Underworld is called Annwin, which is the realm of the dead, seen as being "below" our world. This is where we came from before becoming humans, and where our soul will return. This is often symbolized by the sea, or by water.
The terrestrial, mortal world that we live in is called Abred. It seems to me that this is the only world where things can grow, die, and actually change. Obviously, the symbol for this is the land.
Lastly, the celestial realm, where spirits and deities exist, is called Gwynfyd. This is our proper home, and our soul is on the way there, though it may go between Abred and Annwin many times as it incarnates into physical form and then becomes a spirit (bodiless being in Annwin) in an intermediate period between its next incarnation. This is the Druid's idea of reincarnation. Similarly to many other religions such as Buddhism, the soul will eventually get out of this cycle to reach Gwynfyd (or at least, that's the goal). The number of reincarnations it takes to reach Gwynfyd is different for everyone due to their level of enlightenment, making some people "ready" for the higher world earlier than others.

These realms are united along a vertical axis, conjoining in a Sacred Centre on Earth, symbolized in the image of the World Tree. The Druids made passage mounds such as at Newgrange in Ireland (see picture) to unite these realms and so be able to pass between them or communicate with beings in the other worlds. At Newgrange, sunlight enters the inner chamber only once a year on December 21 (Midwinter's Day), where the sun is "born" anew. This is when the three realms come together at the centre, and life is renewed every year. So the Druids' idea of "creation" is not a single process, but rather something that is ongoing that we can take part in as well.

Celtic Cross (Graveyard of the Parish Church of St Materiana, Tintagel, Cornwall UK), by Zanthia, via Flickr
Now, the horizontal divisions divide Abred into four realms which correspond to sunrise in the east, sunset in the west, the top of the sun's arc in the south, and the bottom of the sun's arc in the north. They also correspond to the four regions of Ireland, and a host of other things too. The design of four stations and a circle around them is also found inside Newgrange's passage mound. This is also represented by the equal-armed Celtic Cross. The circle in the Celtic Cross represents Time, which unites the four stations around it. The central circle is also the joining point for the upper and lower worlds, if you imagine them coming out of the image and into the image vertically. Celtic crosses are also symbols of unity, with perfect harmony along every direction.


In the picture below, you can see the three worlds (named differently though) and the four divisions of the Earth:Celtic Cosmology by Morsoth

So this is the basic structure of the world in Celtic cosmology. It is similar to other traditions as well, which, as I've read in other books, points to their common source of inspiration that has spread throughout the world since ancient times.


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