The Paradise of Birds

While there doesn’t appear to be an earlier parallel of the Paradise of Birds in Irish mythology and folklore, it appears in the imrama of St Brendan and Máel Dúin, and is described to Bran. In these pieces, the Paradise is an island with a large number of birds, usually white, who sing as birds normally do but can also speak and sing psalms or hymns.

There are parallels in Welsh mythology and folklore in the birds of Rhiannon (Adar Rhiannon), which appear in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi, in a number of Triads and in Culhwch ac Olwen. These three birds have a song that can “wake the dead and lull the living to sleep”.

From the explorations of Tim Severin, who used the Navigatio sancti Brendani abbatis (The Voyage of St Brendan) as a guide to sail through our reality from Ireland to Newfoundland between 1976 and 1978, the Paradise of Birds is the Fairey island of Mykines. In modern times, Mykines has a tradition of being a paradise for birdwatching – particularly sea birds that use the cliffs and trees for roosting. While this identification may be true based on Brendan’s destination, the elements of flocks of birds talking and singing as humans do reflects the spirit forms of the Otherworld flocks.

The modern Paradise of Birds is a cliff face in the Otherworld analogous with the coast of the Isle of Man that borders, in Otherworld geography, the great plain that also contains the Isle of Apples. This spot appears to be a flocking and roosting spot for many species of seabird when the plain is in its flooded or marsh phases. The arrival and singing of the birds indicates that torrential rain is coming – and the Manx Ranger service monitor the cliff for several weeks when there are Expeditions or local reconnaissance into the plain.

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