Susan Morgaine February 1, 2015
As I sit here writing this column, it is only a handful of days until Imbolc, which makes it easy to choose Brigid as this month’s Goddess.
She is known today, by many, as St. Bridget of the Christian church. Oh, but she was and is so much more.
Brigit, pronounced “Breed” started at a triple goddess in Ireland and surrounding areas. In England, she was known as Brigantia; in Scotland, Bride; in Celtic France, Brigandu. Her name means “bright one” or “bright arrow”. A great flame went out from her head and into the sky on the day of Her birth. This flame, tended at a sacred shrine in Kildare by 19 maiden women, named the Daughters of the Flame, perpetually burned; and, it was said that it was tended by Brigit, herself, on the 20th day. This flame was looked on only by women so that its’ purity would be always protected.
As a triple goddess, Her aspects are linked by both fire and water.
Brigit is the Keeper of the flame, and is credited with the invention of smithcraft, She is the Goddess of the forge and of the Hearth in each home. She is the Poetess, the Goddess of storytelling and inspiration. She brings wisdom and guidance as the Goddess of prophecy and divination. She is a nurturer, the bringer of children as a mid-wife.
She is a Goddess of healing and well-being. Numerous healing wells are dedicated to her, many in the surrounding areas of Kildare.
As Christianity conquered the pagan people of old, the church found that Brigit was so loved and so revered, that they could not eradicate her worship. As they did with so many of of our ancient deities and customs, they co-opted her into the church, transforming her into St. Bridget, claiming that she was a Druid’s daughter and baptized by St. Patrick, he who allegedly drove the snakes (pagans) from Ireland.
Her sacred flames burned until 1220, when a Norman Bishop, angered by the fact that men were not allowed into the presence of the sacred flame, forced his way in with his men and had the flame put out, using its’ pagan beginnings as his reasoning. The flame was re-lit in 1993; it is now maintained by the Sisters of Bridget.
The Goddess Brigid has many symbols — the forge, the hearth, the wheel, the crossroads, which represent transformation, as they stand between light and dark. There is also Brigid’s cross, which is said to bring good luck and to protect a home from fire. There are many websites that can help you with instructions on how to make your own Brigid’s cross.
Brigid is celebrated on Imbolc, February 1st, which is a time of purification and cleansing. With her two opposite symbols of fire and water, it reminds us to always maintain a balance within our lives. This is a time of transformation, and new beginnings.
To celebrate Brigid, one of the first things that should be done is to set up your Imbolc altar. No matter the amount of space that you have available, a beautiful altar is yours for the making. A statue of Brigid is a lovely addition to the altar, as are candles (for the symbol of fire), and chalices, (for the symbol of water). Any spring-blooming plants would be appropriate. Of course, your Brigid’s cross, if you have made one, would be perfect. (The opening photo is the beginnings of my own Brigid/Imbolc altar.)
Before your ritual, knowing that this is a celebration of purification and cleansing, you should bath first with a mixture of sea salt, epsom salt, baking soda and lavender oil.
There are many rituals surrounding both Brigid and Imbolc. This is the perfect time to re-dedicate yourself to your path. For other ideas, please check out: http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/imbolcfebruary2/a/AllAbout_Imbolc.htm
“IRISH PRAYER TO BRIGID”
Brigid, gold-red woman
Brigid, flame and honeycomb
Brigid, sun of womanhood
Brigid, lead me home
You are a branch in blossom
You are a sheltering dome
You are my bright precious freedom
Brigid, lead me home
As always, I can be reached at MysticalShores@gmail.com
I wish you all a very blessed Imbolc and may Brigid watch over you.
Resources: The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines by Patricia Monaghan
Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood by Merlin Stone
Gathering for Goddess by B. Melusine Mihaltses
The Goddess Companion by Patricia Monaghan