|As a nurse and writer, I feel a closeness with the Goddess Brigid. When I began on this path, as a Christian Witch, I was alone, a little scared and a lot concerned. I did a lot of reading and finding Brigid was exactly what I needed to help me to understand the path I was on. Let me introduce you to the Goddess Brigid and Saint Brigid.
Brigid, the Celtic goddess of fire (the forge and the hearth), poetry, healing, childbirth, and unity, is celebrated in many European countries. She is known by many names, including that of Saint Brigid who is, perhaps, the most powerful religious figure in Irish history, second only to Saint Patrick.
It is said Brigid is the daughter of Dagda, the great ‘father-god’ of Ireland, and Boann, the goddess of fertility. The story goes that She was born at the exact moment of daybreak. She then rose into the sky with the sun, with rays of fire beaming from her head. She was nourished, when she was a baby, on the milk of a sacred cow and it is said that wherever She walks, flowers and shamrocks spring up in Her footsteps. She had two sisters who were also named Brigid. Taken together, they were called the ‘Three Mothers’, ‘Three Sisters’, or simply the Goddess Brigid. How is that for a trinity? She is not what we generally think of as a trinity of Maiden, Mother, and Crone.
She and her sisters were all of the same generation and the distinctions between them were based on their respective responsibilities.
Brigid, the ‘Fire of the Hearth’, was the goddess of fertility, family, childbirth and healing.
Brigid, the ‘”Fire of the Forge’, was like the Greek goddess Athena, a patroness of the crafts (especially weaving, embroidery, and metalsmithing), and a goddess who was concerned with justice and law and order.
Brigid, the ‘Fire of Inspiration’, was the muse of poetry, song history and the protector of all cultural learning.
She is also associated with the season of Spring, fertility, healing, poetry and smith craft.
There is a saying that the goddess Brigid rewards any offering to her. Before the Middle Ages, offerings of coins were often tossed into her wells as people would anxiously await their rewards. This is where we get the custom of throwing a penny into a fountain while you make a wish.
Goddess Brigid taught humans how to gather and use herbs for their healing properties. She taught them how to care for their livestock, and how to forge iron into tools. As a goddess of childbirth and protector of all children, she is known as the patroness of midwifery.
The goddess Brigid was also admired as the Irish goddess of poetry and song. She was well known for her hospitality to poets, musicians, and scholars. It is Brigid who is credited with the invention of whistling. It is said she used whistling to summon her friends to her side when she needed them. Brigid is also known as the Irish muse of poetry.
The goddess Brigid was combined with the Christian Saint Brigid around the Middle Ages. Saint Brigid shares many of the goddess’s attributes and her feast day was originally a pagan festival (Imbolc)marking the beginning of Spring. It has also been said that the saint is nothing more than a Christianization of the goddess. Some scholars allude to evidence that Saint Brigid was an actual woman, 451 to 525, and was the daughter of a Druid king and his Christian wife.
Although St. Brigid is associated with perpetual, sacred flames, such as the one that was maintained by 19 nuns at her sanctuary in Kildare, Ireland, keep in mind that the flame at Kildare was said to have been burning in pre-Christian times, to invoke the Goddess Brigid to protect the herds and provide a fruitful harvest. Scholars suggest that priestesses used to gather to tend their ritual fires. The sacred flame at Kildare was said to have been surrounded by a hedge, which no man could cross. Those men who were brave enough to attempt to cross the hedge were said to have been cursed to go insane, die or be crippled. When St. Brigid built her monastery and church in Kildare, it was she who continued the custom of keeping the fires burning. The fire was extinguished in 16th century and relit in 1993 by the Brigidine Sisters and still burns to this day.
Both the goddess and saint are associated with holy wells, at Kildare, and many other Celtic sites. Many other methods of honoring Brigid still take place in some of the Celtic lands. The Celtic goddess Brigid lends us her creativity and inspiration, but also reminds us to keep our traditions alive and whole for these are gifts.
Consider Brigid as a mentor and protector. When you light a fire or a candle, call upon her to keep the fire lit, keep it safe, and to bring light, inspiration and protection into your life.
Peace, Love, and Blessings!