See my other post: Boand – Water Goddess of the Boyne
In the ‘Metrical Dindshenchas’ entries about Boand, the eponymous goddess/fairy woman of the River Boyne, there is explicit mention of a belief that all rivers run to the Otherworld which is also the world of Creation:
“…Sid Nechtain is the name that is on the mountain here, the grave of the full-keen son of Labraid, from which flows the stainless river whose name is Boand ever-full.
Fifteen names, certainty of disputes, given to this stream we enumerate, from Sid Nechtain away till it reaches the paradise of Adam…
….from paradise back again hither
to the streams of this Sid.”
The ancient Greeks believed exactly the same – all rivers ran into the ‘world river’ Okeanos (the great sea) which bordered the realm of Cronus-Atlantis (Ogygia) and the Elysium. The Dindshenchas entry actually claims that the River circulates from the Otherworld, back to Sid Nechtain where it arises within the Sid as the magical spring or stream of Segais, before emerging back into the mundane world at the ‘pool of Mochua the cleric’.
This is an important piece of mysticism that explains much about the reincarnation beliefs of the Atlantic peoples, as promoted by Caesar’s Druids.
Boand is famous in the Irish Mythological Cycle as being the mother of Aengus Og, after an illicit coupling with the Stallion-Man-God known as the Daghda. The similarities between her Dindshenchas stories and those of Sinand are marked by allusions to the mystical origins and recirculation of rivers between this world and the next, and back again. Key to this are the mystical Otherworld/underworld wells from which the Boyne and the Shannon arise: described as ‘Connla’s Well’ (Sinand/Shannon) and Segais (Boann/Boyne) – both interchangeable motifs linked to fairy women at sacred hills (the usual site where springs arise). The Irish, ‘Arthurian’ British, Gallician, Germanic and Breton mythologies plus that of Gallia Aquitania and the Pays D’Oc, are full of the motifs of magical men and women riding horses, associated with spring pools, forests, hills and rivers and the Otherworld. They are connected by an important common thread of themes which defies the explanations of Roman and Greek religion and Roman and Greek understandings of Gaulish, German and British religion in the Iron Age.
All text © 2014 The Atlantic Religion, except where stated.