Kuat and Iae
The Xingu people of Brazil have stories about the twin brothers Kuat and Iae, who forced the king Urubutsin to give light to the dark world. Kuat occupied the sun, Iae the moon. Their wakefulness keeps light in the world except for a brief time each month when they both sleep and the world experiences dark nights.
In Celtic mythology god Dagda was head of a group of Irish gods called the Tuatha Dé Danaan. He was considered as a god of life and death, fertility, plenty, and knowledge.
While I was studying the manhole cover designs and underground sewage tunnels of London during my MA in Print Making, I began asking myself a lot of questions. Any time I walked on the footpaths, I began to realise that I was walking on the skin of an ancient and beneath the skin there were endless tunnels and countless flows, which controls the livelihood of this city. Just as the veins and arteries controls the living body.
The water that we drink, the gas that heats our houses, the telephones and so many conveniences reach out to us from this underground world. And our waste, whatever we discard flows away. There is a world hidden from our sight that helps run our own world. A hidden world that never accommodate living humans. We have no idea that we walk over this complex network of tunnels.
For man to live, he needs strength and energy to live, to go one with his mundane life and activities. He gets that from nature, from what he eats, what he drinks, what he breathes in. He uses up this energy and what is left behind is his waste, which he discards back into nature. This is how it has been for as long as man has existed. Over time, man found different ways to discard this waste: he dug deep pits, he dug pits of different shapes, changed lakes and rivers and ever so often used the heaving tides of the sea. Form point of view of the ancient civilizations; the dead disappear in graves dug in the ground. Pagans believed in building houses for the dead under the ground. If man has done such practises since the dawn of time then there must be references to the "Dead world" in myths.
I always knew Hindu myths but I started reading Celtic & Aztec myths as well. I found this "Other" world in other mythologies as well. I found it in varied, new forms but it is there. There was much more than a mere reference to this "Other" world. This "Other" world was as real, complete and important as the world that we see around us; so important in fact that without this underground "World of the Dead", the world of the living would be incomplete. Cultures that have died away and cultures that exist have prayed and built places of worship in catacombs and caves deep underground.
Tunnels dug deep underground, pre-dating Christ has been found on Crete. For the ancient Greeks, Cerberus the headed dog guarded this underground world. For the Egyptians, the jackal headed Anubis was the god guarding the "Holy land" under ground. The Fomorions ruled the ground beneath the Celts. For the Hindus, the existence of the Underworld (Patala Loka) was just as important as the existence of the heavens (Swarg Loka).
In the modern world, resources buried deep underground have made our lives prosperous. The underground natural water fountains and source of the rivers has shaped up the early civilizations. The gold and diamonds found in the deep under ground are the cultural and social symbols of immense wealth and prosperity. The natural energy sources of oil, coal and gas sources have changed the face of the world politics. Magma buried deep under ground exploded to the surfaces and created the Indian peninsula. Discovering gravity- the pull to the centre of the Earth- led to the birth of modern sciences.
Our "Clean" world over the ground is dependent on this world underground. The moist, warm darkness, filth and the pollution under the ground has made it ever more mysterious. The mythological stories shows a very exciting world underground where laws and values are entirely different from the world above the ground. The Sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Above the ground the directions and forms were very clear but deep below the ground there are no directions and no forms or shapes. There is a simple clear division: we live on the ground, the unseen world of dead below the ground and the unseen world of immense new possibilities in space.
In man's long history, we can never tell who told the first story. However, we do get to read myths of every civilisation and religion. These stories have been passed down several generation- sometimes as legends, at times as folk-tales. They are so deeply ingrained in the social psyche that it is at times impossible to separate the stories and their context from the society.
Superficially, mythological stories reveal the lives of the characters, their gamut emotions and their dramatic relationships. However, if one were to study these myths, the spectrum of emotions and relations take on a symbolic form and point us to the harmonious relationship between the world where we live and the unseen underground world. These myths are a glimpse into man's spiritual power.
Balor - The Fomorians King
Mag Mell II
In Irish Mythology Mag Mell was a mythical realm achievable through death. Unlike the underworld in some mythologies, Mag Mell was a pleasurable paradise, identified as a kingdom beneath the ocean.
Mag Mell I
Fomorians and Tuatha Dé Danann
Birth of Budha - 'The Lugh' II
Birth of Budha - 'The Lugh' I
The Salmon II
A Fish God Leviathan
Da Derga - The Red Goddess