The seed of this blog began with Brigid (Exalted One). Brigid is the Celtic triple goddess of fire, poetry, metalwork, and medicine among other things. Brigid is also associated with the element of water and has a number of sacred wells and rivers named after her. Brigid is celebrated with gusto on the sabbat of Imbolc which is February 1st. Several years ago I attended my first public celebration of Imbolc and immediately fell in love with Brigid’s creative, fiery spirit that was evident all throughout the sabbat.
One of my favorite parts of our time together was a song one of the priestesses taught us:
Lighting your candle, we call to you, call to you.
Lighting your candle, we call you by name: Brigid.
Burn off our darkness, we call to you, call to you.
Burn off our darkness and heal with your flame.
My curiosity that night was peaked even further when I learned of Brigid’s ties to St. Brigid, one of Ireland’s most revered saints. According to medievalist Pamela Berger, Christian “monks took the ancient figure of the mother goddess and grafted her name and functions onto her Christian counterpart.” In her Christian incarnation, St. Brigid was known for her generosity to the poor, her healing miracles, and warm hospitality. Her feast day is also February 1st. Hmmm. I am inclined to believe that many of the qualities attributed to St, Brigid came from the goddess Brigid because the worship of this Celtic deity was so popular at the time.
Another interesting connection is that a perpetual flame to honor Brigid was kept in Kildaire until the 16th century. It was then relit by the Brigidine Sisters in 1993 to honor their beloved saint and became a perpetual flame again in 2006! The icing on the cake is that the monastery in Kildaire, which St. Brigid founded, was built on the site of an older pagan shrine to the Celtic goddess Brigid.
As the celebration of Imbolc ended on that fortuitous night, I left not only feeling warmly welcomed by my Pagan sisters and brothers; it also made me realize we have a lot more in common than I ever imagined. A bridge was built between us that set me on a journey to find more connections and help Pagans and Christians overcome their fear, suspicion and sometimes hostility toward each other.
If you’re interested in reading more, there are several books on the subject including the excellent Brigit: Sun of Womanhood by Patricia Monaghan and McDermott Michael and Brigid: History, Mystery and Magic of the Celtic Goddess by Courtney Weber. You can order both of them through Amazon.
Copyright ©2017 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com