Day 12 —Brighid (Fire, Wells, Healing, poetry, prophecy and blacksmithing )
In Celtic mythology, Brigit is the daughter of the Morrighan and the Dagda, the Good God and Chief of the Tuatha de Danaan, the ancient fairy race of Ireland, and the sister of Ogma, who invented the Ogham alphabet. She was the wife of Bres, King of the Fomorians (who were at war with the Tuatha de Danaan). Her two sisters were also called Brighid, and were associated with healing and crafts. The three Brighids were typically treated as three aspects of a single deity, making her a classic triple goddess.
Brighid is the patron of poets and bards, as well as healers and magicians. She was especially honored when it came to matters of prophecy and divination. She was honored with a sacred flame maintained by a group of priestesses, and her sanctuary at Kildare, Ireland, later became the home of the Christian variant of Brighid, St. Brigid of Kildare. Kildare is also the location of one of several sacred wells which are connected to Brighid. Even today, it’s not uncommon to see ribbons and other offerings tied to trees near a well as a petition to this healing goddess.
In addition to her position as a goddess of magic, Brighid was known to watch over women in childbirth, and thus evolved into a goddess of hearth and home. Today, many Pagans honor her on February 2, which has become known as Imbolc or Candlemas.
One commonly found symbol of Brighid is her green mantle, or cloak. Many people believe that if you place a piece of cloth out upon your hearth at Imbolc, Brighid will bless it in the night. Use the same cloth as your mantle each year, and it will gain strength and power each time Brighid passes by.
To make a Brighid’s mantle of your own, find a piece of green cloth long enough to comfortably wrap around your shoulders. Leave it on your doorstep on the night of Imbolc, and Brighid will bless it for you. In the morning, wrap yourself in her healing energy. You can also make a Brighid’s cross or a Bride’s Bed to celebrate her this time of year.
As one of the Irish Gods, she is associated with the Earraigh, the Spring (and particularly the Pagan Festival of Imbolg or Imbolc), and with fertility, and through her fire she brings healing, poetry and smithcraft.
The name ‘Britain’ is a derivation of Brigit’s name. Britain was named for an ancient Celtic tribe, the Brigantes, who worshipped Brigit and were the largest Celtic tribe to occupy the British Isles in pre-Roman times.
There are many variations, pronunciations, and spellings of Her name, including:
Scotland: Bhrìghde, Brighid, Bride
Ireland: Brigid, Brigit, Brighid, Brìd, Brígh
England: Brigantia, Brittania
She is also said to be the patron of travellers, sailors, and fugitives. She is specifically a patroness to the Druids in her aspects of poetry (Bards), healing and prophecy (Ovates) and blacksmithing (Druids).
The form of divination Brigit used is called ‘frìth Bhrighde (augury of Brigid)’, where she curled her hand into a ‘seeing tube’. Looking through this ‘hand-made tube’, she could find lost people or animals, report on the well-being of distant people, etc. In Scots Gaelic, frìth means ‘an incantation to find whether people at a great distance or at sea be in life’. Frìthir is another word for seer or diviner in Gaelic.
As Water deity, Brigit is the patroness of healers, with many healing springs and wells dedicated to Her throughout the British Isles. Water is also associated with psychic ability, music, and poetry.
Natural bodies of water were also sacred to her, particularly where three streams joined together. As a Fire deity, she is the patroness of blacksmiths and poets (a poet’s ‘fire in the head’). The hearth is sacred to her in every home. Another name for her feast day is Candlemas, in which all the candles for the coming year are made and blessed.
Brighid is the Triple Goddess of Fire — the fire of poetic inspiration and divination, the fire of health and fertility, and the fire of metal working and crafts.
Water and Fire were important elements to the early Celtic civilization long before they reached the British Isles. The elements were especially venerated at the end of a long harsh winter — fire was welcomed as the returning warmth of the sun, and water was celebrated as the ice and snow melted
As a saint, there were many prayers of protection invoking Brigit, which have been collected by Alexander Carmichael.
Prayer of Protection
Thou Brigit of the kine,
Thou Brigit of the mantles,
Shield me from the ban
of the fairies of the knolls,
The faeiries of the knolls.
One of her symbols is a white snake that spirals upon a wand. ‘La Bride breith an earaich, thig an dearrais as an tom.’ (The Day of Bride, the Birthday of Spring, the Serpent emerges from the knoll.
19 is her sacred number. There were nineteen virgins who kept her perpetual flame in the monastery at Kildare. Spells invoking Brigit take 19 days. For instance, lighting a special candle dedicated to her for 19 days along with prayers of supplication. 3 is also a sacred number, as Brighid is a ‘Triple Goddess’.
White (geal) is her colour, and symbolizes purity. It is also the colour of her sacred food — milk and milk products. White also brings to mind the pristine snowy landscape during her festival in early February.
Red (ruadh) is also her colour, the colour of the hearth fire.
Blue (gorm). In Christian tradition, her mantle is blue, which is also associated with the Virgin Mary.
Green (glas). Her mantle is also said to be green, a colour associating her with faeries. Ireland is sometimes described as her green mantle.
The Goddess Brigid was such an immensely powerful force in Ireland, that when the Church began to convert the Celts to Christianity, it realized that it would be impossible to stop many of the people from worshipping her. To that end, the Church came up with a solution, and it then proceeded to absorb Brigid into the Church. It was then that Brigid the Goddess, suddenly became Brigid the Saint. Brigid represents, perhaps, the best example of how a Goddess was able to survive into Christian times. The Catholic Church cannonized her as Saint Brigid, and then proclaimed that she had been the foster mother of Jesus Christ. The Church’s official story stated that Brigid, who was the daughter of a Druid, predicted Christianity and then, in approximately 453 C.E., was baptized by Saint Patrick. Brigid then went on to become a nun, and later an Abbess, and it was she who founded the Abbey at Kildare. Saint Brigid was known as the patroness of farm work and cattle, as well as the protectress of households from fires and other tragedies.
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