The infinitely cool Neil Starman http://neilstarman.blogspot.com/ writes about a talk to the South East London Folklore Society, on ‘Subterranean Worlds and Underground Civilisations. I’d have liked to go to this if I was in London. “As Justin observed, in a world where everything visible has been mapped and accounted for, what lies beneath our feet retains some mystery, a dark space into which fears, fantasies and hopes can be projected.”
well yeah. But the quest for the underworld is IMO less about some pastoralist / expansionist quest for new territory to conquer (which is a direct implication of the proposition that there is a desire to go BEYOND what has been mapped and therefore possessed). It’s the natural “polar” linkage between the mundane world and the Abyss, and the heavens. John Michel writes about this very well in The Centre of the World (which is, on reflection, probably his best book — he spends his time doing gnostic geometrical drawings these days, don’t you know) and Nigel Pennick does a good summary of this in The Celtic Landscape.
I have BTW just picked up The Celtic Landscape — four quid second hand from Amazon! It’s been on the list quite a while so I’m glad I got it, and it’s a corker. I thought it was going to be a coffee-table book, but it’s quite deep. Boog bibliography too but no footnotes, so you don’t quite know the source of each point he makes, which is a shame.