by Carolanne Kennedy

The Carmina Gadelica is a collection of folklore songs and poems from the Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland. The collection includes prayers, hymns, charms, incantations, blessings, and runes. It was collected and translated by amateur folklorist Alexander Carmichael between 1855 and 1910.

The collection was originally published in six volumes. The first two volumes were edited by Carmichael and published in 1900. James Carmichael Watson (Alexander Carmichael's grandson) published volumes three and four in 1940 and 1941. Angus Matheson, edited and published the final two volumes in 1954 and 1971. In 1992 a one-volume edition was published.

At the time of its compilation it was praised as a monumental work in Scottish Folklore. Since that time Carmichael has been criticized for excessive editing of, and possibly even inventing some of the source material the source material. It rings true with my heart that there is a flow of truth to these says. I'm not certain we will ever know to what extent these poems, prayers and incantations are an accurate recording of what the people of Scotland truly used in their daily lives.

I noticed while reading the Carmina the influence of Christianity among the people had permeated into their prayers and I found the mention of Bridgit to indicate a much lesser role then I expected. It is fascinating to consider the position the Goddess Bridgit had before the imposition of Christianity into the British Isles and afterwards. To do this we must first look at the role the Goddess held among Her people for thousands of years.

The importance of the presence and role of Bridgit among the Celtic peoples of the British Isles before the spread of Christianity can be seen in the following quote.

Bridgit was one of the great Triple Goddesses of the Celtic people.

She appeared as Bridgit to the Irish, Brigantia in Northern England,

Bride in Scotland, and Brigandu in Britain.

Many legends are told about Bridgit.

Some say that there are three Brigitte:
one sister in charge of poetry and inspiration
who invented the Ogham alphabet, one in charge of healing and midwifery, and
the third in charge of the hearth fire, smithies and other crafts. This
actually indicates the separate aspects of Her three-fold nature and is a neat
division of labor for a hard-working Goddess.

Brigit was originally a Sun Goddess, and a charming story of Her birth is
that She was born at sunrise and a tower of flame burst from the forehead of
the newborn Goddess that reached from Earth to Heaven. It was likely She who
inspired the line in the famous Song of Amergin:

"I am a fire in the head."
Her penchant for smithcraft led to Her association by
the Romans with Minerva/Athena. As a warrior Goddess,
She favored the use of the spear and the arrow.
Indeed, various interpretations of Her name exist including,
"Bright Arrow," "The Bright One," "The Powerful One"
"The High One," depending upon the region and the dialect. (Pg. 1 Zell)

The overlay of Christian mythology had a great impact on the prayers of the Scottish people as can be seen in the Carmina Gadelica. Mary replace the primary role of Bridgit as the goddess. Although Mary is honoured as the mother of Jesus she is also prayer to in her own right and takes on the aspect and place of Bridgit in the prayers of the people. However, Bridgit is never extinguished entirely from the hearts of the people as can be seen in many of the prayers and incantations Carmichael recorded. Where the name Bridgit would have been Mary now stands. Bridgit is mainly relegated to the place of foster mother of Christ.

We see here in #70 Genealogy of Bride the role of Bride (Bridgit) clearly explained.


The genealogy of the holy maiden Bride Radiant flame of gold, noble foster-mother of Christ.
Bride the daughter of Dugall the brown,
Son of Aodh, son of Art, son of Conn,
Son of Crearar, son of Cis, son of Carmac, son of Carruin.
Every day and every night
That I say the genealogy of Bride,
I shall not be killed, I shall not be harried,
I shall not be put in cell, I shall not be wounded,
Neither shall Christ leave me in forgetfulness.
No fire, no sun, no moon shall burn me,
No lake, no water, nor sea shall drown me,
No arrow of fairy nor dart of fay shall wound me,
And I under the protection of my Holy Mary,
And my gentle foster-mother is my beloved Bride.

Bridgit still shines through the fog that Christianity cast over the minds and hearts of the people. Here we read the genealogy of Bridgit and see her described as the "radiant flame of gold". Her goddess qualities are still present in the prayers of the people. By reciting her genealogy "every day and every night" the person praying will be protected from many ills.

She still maintains her quality of fire. She is gentle, yet strong enough to protect them from many ills. She is a fierce protector of her people and they know it. How amazing it would be to have known the prayers of the Carmina Gadelica in its pre-Christian form. To recite the words in their full power and glory must have been a moving and powerful experience. Otherwise this oral tradition would not have been passed down so pervasively among the people.

There have been some attempts made to restore the writings to their pagan origins. Cited below are three examples from a work by Mike Nichols.

~to a Bride on her Handfasting~

I bathe thy palms
In showers of wine,
In the lustral fire,
In the five elements,
In the juice of the rasps,
In the milk of honey,
And I place the nine pure charms
In thy fair fond face,
The charm of form,
The charm of voice,
The charm of fortune,
The charm of goodness,
The charm of wisdom,
The charm of generosity,
The charm of choice maidenliness,
The charm of beauty,
The charm of fair speech.
Dark is yonder city,
Dark are those therein,
Thou art the brown swan,
Going in among them.
Their hearts are under thy control,
Their tongues are beneath thy sole,
Nor will they ever utter a word
To give thee offence.
A shade art thou in the heat,
A shelter art thou in the cold,
Eyes art thou to the blind,
A staff art thou to the pilgrim,
An island art thou at sea,
A fortress art thou on land,
A well art thou in the desert,
Health art thou to the ailing.
Thine is the skill of the Fairy Women,
Thine is the virtue of Brigit the calm,
Thine is the faith of Danu the mild,
Thine is the tact of the women of Kildare,
Thine is the beauty of Emir the fair,
Thine is the tenderness of Deirdre delightful,
Thine is the courage of Maebh the strong,
Thine is the charm of Binne-bheul.
Thou art the joy of all joyous things,
Thou art the light of the beam of the moon,
Thou art the door of hospitality,
Thou art the surpassing star of guidance,
Thou art the step of the deer on the hill,
Thou art the step of the mare on the plain,
Thou art the grace of the swan swimming,
Thou art the loveliness of all lovely desires.
The lovely likeness of the Lady
Is in thy fair face,
The loveliest likeness that
Ever was in the Three Worlds.
The best hour of the day be thine,
The best day of the month be thine,
The best month of the year be thine,
The best year of a lifetime be thine.
Ogma has come and Midir has come,
Lir has come and Manannan has come,
Morigan and Tailtu have come,
The Dagda, all-beneficent has come,
Angus the beauteousness of youth has come,
Amairgin the first of the Druids has come,
Lugh the prince of the valiant has come,
And Nuada the chief of the hosts has come,
And the Goddess of all has come,
And her spirit of guidance has come,
And her consort, the Horned One, has come,
To bestow on thee their affection and their love,
To bestow on thee their affection and their love.


Behold the Lightener of the stars,
On the crests of the clouds,
And the silver singers of the sky
Lauding him.
Coming down with acclaim
From the palaces above,
Harp and lyre of song
Sounding to him.
O Idris, bearer of my hope,
Why should I not raise thy fame!
Faeries and elves melodious
Singing to thee.
Thou son of the Goddess of Night
Of exceeding white purity of beauty,
Joy were it to me to play in the fields
Of thy tiny lanterns.
O Idris, my hope,
O Idris of the celestial houses,
At the dawn of eventide,
I will praise thee.


Thou Queen of the moon,
Thou Queen of the waters,
Thou Queen of the flowers,
Thou Queen of the stars,
Thou Queen of the earth,
Thou Queen of the night,
Oh! lovely Thy countenance,
Thou silvery Radiance.
Two loops of silk
Down by thy limbs,
Yellow jewels
And a handful
Out of every stock of them.

The Queen of the moon, waters, flowers, stars, earth and night is Bridgit! How very lovely it is to read these words. This has inspired me to attempt a Pagan interpretation of one of the prayers of the Carmina Gadelica myself.

The following table shows prayer #76 from the Carmina Gadelica. I have shown the original on the left and my interpretation of a Pagan form of the same on the right. This is merely my own thought on how to restore this prayer to its pre-Christian form.


On the feast day of Mary the fragrant On Imbolc the sacred day of Bride
Mother of the Shepherd of the flocks, Protector of the sheep and Shepherds
I cut me a handful of the new corn, I tore a handful of new corn
I dried it gently in the sun, And dried it in Bride’s light
I rubbed it sharply from the husk In my hands I rubbed it strongly
With mine own palms. I ground it in a quern on Friday
I ground it in a quern on Friday, And baked it on a fan of sheep-skin
I baked it on a fan of sheep-skin, I lit a rowan fire and toasted it
I toasted it to a fire of rowan, And shared it round my people
And I shared it round my people. Walking sunways round my dwelling
I went sunways round my dwelling, In the Name of Blessed Bride I spoke
In name of the Mary Mother, Bride preserve me in the morning
Who promised to preserve me, Bride preserve me in the noon time
Who did preserve me, Bride preserve me in the evening
And who will preserve me, Bride protect home in peace
In peace, in flocks, Bride protect my flocks
In righteousness of heart, Keep my heart in joy
In labour, in love, Aid my hands in work
In wisdom, in mercy, For Bride safe guards her children
For the sake of Thy Passion. She will always keep me safe!
Thou Christ of grace Until the day I go into the land of Faerie.
Who till the day of my death She will ever keep me safe!
Wilt never forsake me! She will ever keep me safe!
Oh, till the day of my death She will ever keep me safe!
Wilt never forsake me!  

Here is an Invocation to Bridgit based on inspiration from the Carmina Gadelica.

She is Queen of heaven and earth!
In fire was she born.
Her countenance so lovely it is joyfully painful to look upon her.
She is both gentle and fierce.
She is both peaceful and filled with war for those who harm her children.
She is love!
She is so very far beyond words.
It is a feeling like none other to stand in her presence!
Once you hear her voice sweep over you , you are changed, you are made anew.
You walk a very different path than you ever thought possible!
This is She who was before recorded time.
This is She who will be, long after religious system come and fall.
Whisper her name and the power of her love filled heart will sweep you up and
grant you that which you have long sought.
Be ware!
For all the love in her gaze there is also truthfulness.
Be prepared to know yourself!
Be ready to change!
Be ready to shift that which does not serve your Goddess well!
Be well ready when you whisper "Bridgit!"
But whisper do!
She is love and joy and peace and truth.
She awaits her daughter's calls.
She listens through the veil!
Take a step, speak her name, meet her gaze.
Feel the fiery arrow's golden glow fill your heart.
Feel the smile of love ease your fears.
Feel your Goddess bless you.
Bridgit save us in the night!
Bridgit strengthen us through the day!
Bridgit enlighten us to see your truth!



The Goddess Brigit by Morning Glory Zell

A Pagan Carmina Gadelica by Mike Nichols

Carmina Gadelica
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit

Carmina Gadelica Collected by Alexander Carmichael

Carolanne Kennedy was born eldest of seven children in a fishing village on the Avalon Peninsula off the Island of Newfoundland. From a young age she experienced a deep connection to the land and sea. She first learned of the Faery Folk from her Grandmother. When she was a teenager her family moved to Ontario.

She completed a diploma in Business in June 2000 and earns her living working in accounting. She received her certificate as a Faery Shaman from Society of Celtic Shamans in July 2000 and has walked with the Ancients ever since. She is also a Certified N.L.P. Practitioner. She is enrolled in studies with the University of Celtic Wisdom.

Throughout the year she holds Celtic Shaman workshops and on occasion does individual counseling sessions. She loves all things Celtic.

Anyone wishing to contact Carolanne can do so at her email address . Or visit her at: The Wisdom Tree - Celtic Learning Center

Brigit of the Carmina copyright © 2006 by Carolanne Kennedy, all rights reserved. Used with permission. Top of Page


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