Sky (nem; The Otherworld) the Upper Realm
Land (talem; this world) the Middle Realm
Sea (muir; The Underworld) the Lower Realm
Celtic cosmology consists of the Three Realms. These realms are ever present and are the physical and cosmological model of the world the ancient Celts inhabited. They are kingdoms in and of themselves and exist within the same space in the universe; they overlap and flow into each other; yet at the same time they are separate and distinct places. Each of the realms has certain attributes that denote their particular area of influence or primal states of existence; the Realm of Sky deals with the spiritual, Land with the physical, and Sea with the mental and emotional.
All of these are inhabited by different beings. The Sky, which is related to Fire, is where our deities are believed to dwell and represents our future and all that we desire to become. These are the gods of culture, light/environment, order, permanence, purity and the skills. (The Tuatha De Danaan). It is through their power that the destrive powers and chaos are kept in check. The Sea, Which is, which is the realm of the watery Underworld and a place where ancestors and the forces of chaos exist, is associated with chaos, decay, fertility and the forces of life and death through with comes renewal and rebirth (the Fomori). Between these is Land, where humans belong, sharing this realm with other creatures and "spirits".
Acnestors swore their oaths by the Three Realms, and acknowleding and connecting them at the beginning of a Celtic ritual is a way to center yourself before beginning maical work. Through ritual we seek to bridge the realms and believe that we can walk among the ancestors and converse with the Gods. The Three Realms form the center of our ritual, for they embody all the attributes of where we are, where we have been and where we are going. They exist inside of each of us; we are refelctions of the world around us and those worlds that exist above and below. We bring these realms into our ritual practice because we want to remember that like the Three Realms, which combine to make the whole of existence, we as individuals are also composed of three distinct parts - the mental, physical, and spiritual. When we are able to unite all three aspects of ourselves into one being, we will be closer to nature and the creative forces of the universe.
The Realm of the Sea (the Underworld)
This is the realm of the Ancestors and the Fomorians. Here the cycle of life, death and rebirth is granted. This is the relam 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 Manannan Mac Lir, whose cloak of mist and gof 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 Realm of the Land (Our world/the Middle world)
The Green World or the realm of the Physical. Here upon the land dwell the creatures of nature and the beings and Gods and Goddesses who are responsible for fertility of the Land. We share this realm with these beings and here the web of life exists in its most intricate weave. The five sacred directions are found in this realm and from them we receive many gifts and lessons that aid us along hte path oflife. The Realm of Land is the sacred center of the three worlds; the other two realms of the Sea and Sky join within the realm of land at each shore and horizon. This is the relm where humankind live our their countless lives; this is the realm of the present.
The Realm of the sky (the Otherworld)
The future; the realm of the spiritual. Here exists the realization of our goals and dreams. The Realm of the sky is all that we aspire to become .Within the shifting landscape of clouds and shimmering stars dwell the Gods and Goddesses who are responsible for the weather, the Sun, the Moon and the Winds. This realm is known as the "Great Plain" and within this realm there are countless smaller plains, each responsible for a different aspect of spiritual being. The ancients looked to this realm to help them reckon the proper times to plant and harvest; they watched the heavenly bodies and celebrated as the sun and moon grew in strength and prayed for the retun of the light and warmth when the sun seemed to be weakening. The realm of the sky is responsible for granting what are termed "spiritual wonders" for the inspiration and creativity are transferred to man by the sacred flame.