BRIGHID THE GREAT ©
by Rhiannon

W

BRIGID, BRIGHDE, BRIDE, BRIDEY,

BRIGANTIA, BRIGANDU, BRIGGIDDA,

 BRIG, BRIGHID, BRIGIT,

BRIDGE,  BRIGITTE

 

Celtic sun Goddess

Great mother, maiden and crone

All encompassing fire

 

 

by Rhiannon

 Imbolc 2005

 

 

I am walking on the edge of a river, the water is shining.  Floating on the river there is hazelnut, a salmon leaps and eats one of the them.  Slowly I enter the water and easily catch the salmon.  I return on the river side and place it in the grass.  There is a small clearing in the forest, a circle surrounded by trees. In the middle a place ready to make a fire.  I gather some branches and light a fire.  I wait at the fire side until the flames subside to cook the salmon.   Everything is quiet around me and there is a presence coming, from the wood there comes Brighid.   She sits beside me and for a while we don’t talk.  She is young and old at the same time, she has a presence difficult to describe, she is like all that is and pure and simple.  When she talks her voice is soft and she tells me that I will need patience to bring to fruition my work.  Like waiting for the fire to be at the right strength before cooking the salmon.  She tells me that is now time to put the salmon on the fire which I do.  The weather is perfect, like a spring day.  There is no flower yet, but a promise that soon there will be.  I feel at peace.  There is also the patience to wait until the right time for the salmon to cook, there is also the attention needed to watch the work developing and for interacting at the right time.  When it is ready we share the salmon and in the first mouthful I got a hazelnut, as I eat it I become the tree itself, the sap going into the branch, into the leaves, into the fruit, the fruit hanging from the tree, the earth beneath me solid and nourishing.  Then I become the salmon, in the river, sometimes flowing with the river and sometimes going against the flow with hardship, like when we work in daily life, sometimes it is smooth, sometimes it is not.  I am back, the fire is almost extinguished, I am alone, I close my eyes and came back to daily life.

 

I was in the bus when I did this meditation but when I open my eyes I saw a church and in front there was a lady with a blue mantle, her back to me and then I understand why the title of Brighid is also "Mary of the Gael". In fact, it seems to me that Mary took the personality of Brigit, she is the virgin and she is the mother.


Brighit was also known under her older name : BREO SAIGHEAD (which means the fiery arrow or power).  Various interpretation of her name included  "Bright Arrow", "The Bright One", "The Powerful One", "The High One" and "The Exalted One".  "Because she exists in so many different cultures, Brighid has literally a never ending list of names.”[1]  She encompasses all things.  In the correspondence of elements, she is of air (the maiden, the beginning (she is born in the morning at the moment between day and night), the muse, the Goddess of poetry and inspiration), she is of earth (the mother, the muse, the goddess of smithcraft and of making, the crossroad) and she is of water (the crone, the goddess of healing, the well)  and finally she is of fire (the sacred flame, the creative principle).[2]

« Bríg: the Root of the Name - The syllable bríg has a variety of meanings. It is used in many Celtic placenames where it means "high" or "exalted." The root also incorporates a sense of power, force, or vigor, as well as flame. All these attributes have been associated with both goddesses and saints whose names incorporate bríg. It may be that the names incorporating this root are titles rather than proper names. »[3]

Her name is pronounced two different ways : BRIJJ-ITT (English and French version) or BREE-deh (Irish). According to many sources, she possesses an unusual status as a Sun Goddess.  "Who hangs Her Cloak upon the rays of the Sun and Whose dwelling-place radiates light as if on fire. As a solar deity her attributes are all skills associated with fire, the benefactress of inner healing and vital energy."[4] 

 

She is also one of the oldest goddess of Celtic Europe, she may even pre-date the Celtic period, being a remembrance of a more ancient seasonal goddess of Ireland and Scotland.  There is a legend which tells how the Cailleach kept a maiden named Bride imprisoned in the high mountains of Ben Nevis.  "But Cailleach’s own son fell in love with Bride and they eloped at winter’s end.  They were chased by the angry hag, the Cailleach who caused many a fierce storm.  Finally the Cailleach turned to stone and the couple was free. This type of story, which may date back to 2000 or 3000 BCE, recognizes Brigid as a spring and summer goddess who alternates her rule with a fall and winter hag. Also, the monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury are constructed of massive sandstones (called sarsens).  These stones are also known as Bridestones, suggesting that Brigid may have been a primary goddess used in the area in the Neolithic, the late Stone Age.”[5]

 

ASPECT :  Triple goddess and solar deity, her attributes are :

 

1                    Fire of Inspiration : Poetess, muse, goddess of inspiration, learning, poetry, divinitation, witchcraft, occult knowledge, prophecy

2                    Fire of the Forge : Smithcraft, carrying and forging a famous cauldron, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, and housecraft

3                    Fire of the Hearth : Healer, medicine, spiritual healing and fertility, midwifery, inner healing and vital energy

 

These aspects are united by association with fire and the sun.  She is also in charge of water as well as fire as a Goddess of Healing.  Wells are considered to be sacred because they arose from oimbelc (literally "in the belly" or womb of the Mother earth.)[6]  She is also known for the martial arts. As a warrior goddess she favoured the use of the spear or the arrow.  Themes relating to milk, fire, Sun and serpent follow her.  She is also known as the two-faced one : "In the legends she is described as having one side of her face black and ugly, and the other white and beautiful.  The Mystery of Bride is to be found in the annual transformation of the cailleach, the hag of winter, into the fair maiden of Spring."[7]

 

Identified with changing moon, ox, boar and ram, cow and serpent.  Her number is 19, which represent the Celtic great year since it is the number of years it takes for the new moon to coincide with the Sun’s winter solstice.

 

Known as "the Mistress of the Mantle" – "In the legend of Saint Brigit’s Cloak or Mantle, she found the perfect spot to found her abbey in Leinster, in a place called Kildare.  There was an old oak, sacred to the Druids on the premises, making it a holy site.  She went to the King of Leinster with four of her maidens and asked him to donate the land for an abbey.  The King refused to give her the land.  Brigid prayed to God for help, then asked if she could have just the amount of land that her mantle would cover.  Laughing in derision, the king agreed.  Each of the four maidens took a corner of the cloak, and walked East, North, West and South, the cloak stretching as they walked until it encompassed the parcel of land she desired for her abbey.  [8]

 

Daughter of Dagda and the Morrighan and sister to Ogma, a Sun God and the creator of Ogham, another source specifies she is the daughter of the Dagda and Boann (from whom the river Boyne was named).  Or she may be the Dagda’s sister, and daughter of Danu and Bel.  In some lore, she is the Dagda’s wife.[9]

 

Here is an ancient invocation to Her, used as a Morning or Evening Prayer, or in times of danger:

 

            The Genealogy of Brighid

 

            Every day and every night

            That I say the genealogy of Brighid

            I shall not be killed

            I shall not be wounded

            I shall not be harried

            I shall not be put into a cell

            No fire, no sun, no moon will burn me

            No water, no lake, no sea will drown me

            For I am child of Poetry

            Poetry, child of Reflection

            Reflection, child of Meditation

            Meditation, child of Lore

            Lore, child of Research

            Research, child of Great Knowledge

            Great Knowledge, child of Intelligence

            Intelligence, child of Compréhension

            Comprehension, child of Wisdom

            Wisdom, child of Brighid.”[10]

 

 

RELATED PLACES

 

Ireland is related to Brigid, where She had an extensive female priesthood at Kildare, Ireland and an ever-burning sacred fire in her shrine… Some rivers in Ireland may be related to the name Brigit - there are two rivers called Bride, as well as a Breedoge and a Breda. [11]

 

Britain, where Brigid was known as Brigantia in Northern Britain, and also as The Three Blessed Ladies of Britain and the Three Mothers.   Worshipped especially in Yorkshire and her name still echoes in the names of rivers Briant in Anglesey and Brent in Middlesex.

 

 

Equivalent

 

Welsh : Ceridwen

Hindouism : Sarasvati

Greek : Athena

Roman : Minerva

Egyptian : Isis, Hathor

 

 

Christianity : Most of the places that I researchrd talked about St-Brigit…  she was said to be the daughter of a Druid, who was baptized by the great patriarch St. Patrick.  She was canonized by the Catholic church as St. Brighid.  "Her evolution from Goddess to saint linked Pagan Celtic and Christian traditions much the same way the Cauldron of Cerridwen and Holy Grail were combined in Arthurian legend."[12]

 

"Thus the cult of these great goddesses manifests its endurance.  Religions succeed one another, gods die and are forgotten, but the peasant of the Highlands still, after thousands of years, continues to honour with a humble ritual those powers more ancient than the gods."[13]

 

Festival : Her festival is held on February 1st or 2nd.  It corresponds to the ancient Celtic fire festival of Imbolc or Oimelc.  The Festival was Christianised as Candlemas or Lady Day and Her Feast Day or La Feill Bhride; and it was attended by tremendous local celebration and elaborate rituals.[14]  "Traces of the festival of the growing light can even be traced to modern America in the Groundhog Day custom on February 2.  If the groundhog sees his shadow on this morning, it means there will be six more weeks of winter.  The custom comes directly from Europe, and Scotland in particular, where an old couplet goes :              If Candlemas Day is bright and clear; There will be two winters in the year. In another versions it is a serpent that will emerge from a hole, an allusion which Professor Séamus Ó Cáthain has linked to Scandinavian customs regarding the reappearance of the hibernating bear.  For this is the time when the animal world begins to stir from its winter sleep in the depths of earth, and life and light is ushered in by Brigid, the Queen."[15]

 

Associated herbs :  Mistletoe for fertility; angelica, balm, blackberry, cowslip, fennel, flax, garlic, goat’s rue, mugwort, nettle for healing and ragwort for protection. Trillium and shamrock  for the three aspects of the goddess.

 

Associated trees : hawthorn and oak for fertility, elder and oak for healing, rowan, mountain laurel, ash, birch

 

In Magick : "Brid can aid you in virtually any endeavour you wish to undertake."  Call her for assistance, in fire magick, crafting, inspiration, animal magick, fertility, healing and childbirth.  Honor her at Imbolg.”[16]

 

« Pictish Pagan Roots - Bruide, the Pictish royal throne name, is said to derived from the Pagan Goddess Brigid. The Bruide name was given to each Pagan Pictish king who was viewed as the male manifestation of the spirit of the Goddess. The most sacred place of the Picts was Abernethy in Fife. It was dedicated to Brigid, in Pagan times, and to St. Brigid, in Christian times. Columban monks tended a Celtic abbey there and hereditary abbots were of the Earl of Fife branch of the Clan MacDuff, which survived to the present day as Clan Wemyss (Weems).  » [17]

 

“I am Brid, beloved of Erin, spirit of fire, healer of ills, warrioress of old, protector of life, woman of power, sovereign Mother of all creation. I create, I inspire, I make magick. I am old, I am young, I am eternal. I am the All-Power personified. I am me… Brid.”[18]


RECOMMENDED SITES AND READING

 

http://www.ordbrighideach.org - An Order of Flamekeepers engaged in devotional work to Brighid. Members tend Brigit's flame for 24 hours from sunset to sunset once every 20 days, following ancient practice. If She speaks to you - as poet, healer, smith, storyteller, musician, craftsperson, midwife, mother, hearth keeper, land steward, tender of herds, seer, woman of fire, lawgiver, deity of the home, lady of the sun, or simply as goddess or saint - you are welcome to walk among us.

 

http://homepages.nildram.co.uk/~fealcen/brigit.htm - This is a site dedicated to the goddess known as Brigit, Brighid or Bride. - © Pat Deegan

 

OXFORD Dictionary of Celtic Mythology by James MacKillop, Oxford University Press

 

A Druid’s herbal for the sacred year by Ellen Evert Hopman, Destiny Books

 

The Elements of Ritual  by Deborah Lipp, Llewellyn Worldwide

 

Celtic Gods and Heroes by Marie Louise Sjoestedt, Dover Publications

 

Celtic Traditions – Druids, Faeries and Wiccan Rituals by Sirona Knight, Citadel Press

 

Celtic Myth and Magic – Harnessing the power of the gods and goddesses by Edain McCoy, Llewellyn Worldwide

 

 



[1] From two sites (the exact same paragraph ) http://www.blueroebuck.com/brighid.htm and http://members.aol.com/Branwenn/page2.html

 

[2] Information taken from the site http://www.owlsdottir.com/goddess/brigid.html - Brighid by Leigh Ann Hussey ©

 

[3]  From the site http://www.applewarrior.com/celticwell/ejournal/imbolc/brighid.htm - by Francine Nicholson - Copyright (c) 2000 Celtic Well. All rights reserved (electronic version)

 

[4]  From the site http://myths.allinfoabout.com/deity2.html   -  « Brighid, Queen of Heaven » - copyright © 2003-2004 Susanna Duffy

 

[5]  From the site http://realmagick.com/articles/07/1807.html  - Brigid - The Goddess of Imbolc and Celtic Europe - Article by Gwydion - © copyright 2001, Gwydion.

 

[6] From the site : http://www.thefirespiral.com/altars/brighid.html - The Fire Spiral - © 1997-2004 RavenFire  

 

[7] From  the site http://www.blueroebuck.com/brighid.html - by Bendis

 

[8] From the site http://www.druidry.org/obod/deities/brigid.html - Article written by Winter Cymres, 1995 who took the information in « St. Brigid’s Cloak, » by Reg Keating

 

[9]  From the site http//www.fionabroome.com/history/brigid.htm – By Fiona Broome, © 2004

 

[10] From the site http://www.technoharp.com/Brighidsplace/ - Welcome to the Sanctuary of the Gracious Goddess Brighid, Mother of the Gael by Aisling (Máirín ní Dhubhthigh)

[11] From the site http://www.brigitsforge.co.uk/sarasvati4.htm  -  Essay on Brigit, Sarasvati and sacred sound - © Hilaire Wood 2001

[12] From the site http://druidry.org/obod/deities/brigid.html - Brighid, The Survival of a Goddess – By Winter Cymres, 1995

 

[13] From Celtic Gods and Heroes by Marie Louise Sjoestedt, page 25 – Dover Publications

[14]  From the site http://irelandsown.net/brighid.htm - Brighid, the Sun Goddess by DM Mould - Copyright © 2001 Ireland's OWN

[15]  From the site http://celticspirit.org/imbolc.htm - The Celtic Year - February 1 : Imbolc  - Site designed by Chalice Productions, © 2000

 

[16] Celtic Myth and magic – Harnessing the power of the gods and goddesses by Edain mc Coy – Llewellyn Worldwide, page 186.

 

[17] From the site http://www.circlesanctuary.org/pholidays/CandlemasCustomsLore.html - Imbolc Customs & Lore by Selena Fox

 

[18] Celtic Myth and Magic – Harnessing the Power of the Gods and Goddesses by Edain Mc Coy – Llewellyn Worldwide, page 65.

 






Rhiannon is the High Priestess of the Coven of High Oaks, in Montreal, Québec, Canada. This coven was found in 1986 and is following the tradition of Celtic Wicca. She is currently working toward the publication of a French Book of Shadows. She is also studying to become a naturopath. You can contact her at suzanne_ratelle@yahoo.ca.

Brighid the Great copyright © 2005 by Rhiannan Ratelle, all rights reserved. Used with permission. Top of Page


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