Muir (pronounced “mweer”) is the land of trail and refinement, and it is in the depths of this place that the Fomorians live, tempting humans to go against the Gods. The sea (also called Underworld, Lower World or Tir Andomain) is also the realm of the Ancestors. The Sea is the mystery, the portion of the human world most alien to human-kind. Within its misty vastness may be found islands of wonder and fear, the isles of the Otherworld is the home of the cattle of Tethra, the uncounted fishes and their stranger cousins and kin. Some of those are friends to human folk, and some are not. The lower world is treated as a source of material and flesh level of our reality; it is situated at the roots of the tree. Its ruler is the Horned God (horns are symbols of fertility and power) who is shown sitting by the well as the primary chaos. He rules the seven rivers of life having their source in the well. These rivers go around the three Realms to the top of the tree of the world making a kind of a shell. As they go up they turn into rainbows. The Realms situated inside the shell are endless and at the same time from the outside this universe looks smaller than a mustard seed (an ancient standard of something extremely small). The Sea is represented by the Moon. While this realm has many different levels, it is at its deepest a place of extreme pain, sorrow, and despair. If a person dies unjust and unrighteous then his/her soul travels to Muir. Here the soul is cleansed of its vices. How this is done depends upon how severe the offenses were. One may be forced to cry, to laugh, or to be continually slaughtered in battle. The remedies are numerous. According to this variant nature of Muir, this realm is often depicted as being composed of many different islands, each one set aside to deal with a different vice. Of course, the soul is not kept here forever. Having learned its lesson, it eventually rises above its struggle and returns to Talamh.
The power under the Earth is called the “chaos of potential”. The Underworld Realms are the place of the Chthonic Deities, and of the Ancestors (the Dead who would journey to the distant islands of the West beyond the mists of the sea). From their halls and lands issue bounty and new life, the wisdom of memory, and the root of personal strength. The underworld is associated with water, both the sea and the waters under the Earth. This water is the rich nutrient soup into which all individual existence dissolves and from which it arises. So it is sometimes called, or symbolized by, the Cauldron of Rebirth (or Cauldron of Regeneration). This realm is also associated with the Otherworld. Manannán mac Lir was the keeper of the gate to the otherworld, the sacred wells were passages to that world. Here the cycle of life, death and rebirth is granted.
This is the realm of the past. here we find the constant ebb and flow of the tides that rule the emotions and the mental processes of humankind. Deep within this realm exists the sacred well of wisdom, from which the seven seas flow. These senses instruct and aid humankind. The Realm of the Sea is the dwelling place of the ancestors and is the home of the God Manannán mac Lir, whose cloak of mist and fog acts as a great well that separates the three realms. The Ancestors are important because they are the keepers of the knowledge of the old ways. They are responsible for who we are and what we will someday become. We see their knowledge and wisdom. They have lived and learned and crossed the veil, and they have much wisdom and guidance to share with us. They are us and we are them, the communication between the present and the past is vital to our future and out path.
The minor kingdoms which make up the Realm of Seaare known as “lands” and are as follows:
- Tir fo Thuinn (LandUnder-Wave) Grants fear and attitude
- Tir na Marbh (Landof the Dead)
- Tir na mBan (Landof Women) Grants beauty and pleasure, also maternal traits
- Tir na mBeo (Landof Eternal Life) Grants eternity and history
- Tir na n’Og (Landof Youth) Grants needs and rejuvenation
- Tir Tairngire (Land of Promise) / Emain Ablach (The Plain of Apples)