Observations placeholder

St Oran



Type of Spiritual Experience


I have grouped this under saint Columba because it applies to his Abbey.  There is a great deal of conflict surrounding the meaning of this story, especially since St Oran was supposed to be a friend of St Columba. 

The first burial was probably part of an Initiation ceremony, as being imprisoned in a tomb was the standard way to provoke a rebirth experience in most Celtic and other Mystery religions.

The second part of the story seems to be an addition that does not ring true, but I've left it in anyway as it is part of the legend.

A description of the experience

from Internet site

St. Oran was a druid living on the Island of Iona in Scotland's Inner Hebrides. He became a follower of St. Columba, who brought Christianity to Iona from Ireland in 563 AD.

When St. Columba had repeated problems building the original Iona Abbey, St. Oran offered himself as a human sacrifice and was buried alive.

He was later dug up and found to be still alive, and had clearly had many spiritual experiences.  He described the afterlife he had seen, but rather embarrassingly for the churchmen of the time he said it  involved no heaven or hell. 

So embarrassing were his visions that he he was ordered to be covered up again. The building of the Abbey went ahead, and St. Oran's chapel marks the spot where the saint was buried - alive.

The source of the experience

Saint Columba

Concepts, symbols and science items





Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Controlled breathing
Sensory deprivation