Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Friday, December 17, 2004

Here to There

By the eight century, the peregrini had been replaced by the navigatini as Christian superheroes. Travel by water was regarded as the ultimate ordeal, adding to voyagers’ reputation for having special qualities. The pagan Celts had their shamans whose spiritual visits to otherworldly islands were told in stories called echtraa. By the eighth century these were displaced by another kind of voyaging tale, the immram, in which the destination was no longer supernatural. They featured heroic men “rowing about” in a real sea filled with islands that belonged to this world rather than to the nexts. In the Christianized version of the immram saints replaced warriors as central figures. They went to sea in search of God rather than glory, but they encountered many of hte same monsters and demons that had tested their pagan prececessors.

-- Gillis, Islands of the Imagination


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