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Brittany - Ys



Type of Spiritual Experience


Ys, also spelled Is or Ker-Is in Breton, and Ker-Ys in French (ker means city in Breton), is a mythical city that was built on the coast of Brittany and later swallowed by the ocean.  The city is symbolic of corruption and evil.

Ys was built ‘below sea level’ meaning symbolically it was of the underworld or hell,  by Gradlon (Gralon in Breton), King of Cornouaille (Kerne in Breton), upon the request of his daughter Dahut (also called Ahes.

Ys was a beautiful and impressive city, but quickly became a city of ‘sin’ [evil] .Dahut  organized orgies and had the habit of killing her lovers when morning broke. Saint Winwaloe decried the corruption of Ys and warned of the god's wrath and punishment, but was ignored by Dahut and the populace.

One day, a knight dressed in red came to Ys. Dahut asked him to come with her, and one night, he agreed. A storm broke out in the middle of the night and the waves could be heard smashing against the gate and the bronze walls. Dahut said to the knight:

"Let the storm rage. The gates of the city are strong, and it is King Gradlon, my father, who owns the only key, attached to his neck." The knight replied: "Your father the king sleeps. You can now easily take his key." Dahut stole the key from her father and gave it to the knight, who was none other than the devil. The devil then opened the gate.

Because the gate was open during storm and at high tide, a wave as high as a mountain collapsed on Ys and it was destroyed.


A description of the experience

Flight of King Gradlon, by E. V. Luminais, 1884 (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Quimper)

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps