Whispering Woods Coven
Our Sacred Mother Brighid
Brighid (pronounced Breed, Breet)
Brighid (Exalted One), (Brigantia, Brid, Bride, Briginda, Brigdu, and Brigit) is a member of the Tuatha De Danann. She is known as the Goddess of Healers, Poets, Smiths, Childbirth and Inspiration. In her earliest incarnation, she was known as "Breo-Saighit", the "Flame of Ireland or Fiery Arrow".
She is described in the Leabhar Gabhála Éireann (The Book of Invasions) as being the daughter of the Celtic God, Dagda. As the daughter of Dagda, she is also the half sister of Cermait, Aengus, Midir and Bodb Derg. Her mother is the Morrighan.
The same book mentions that she has two oxen, Fe and Men, that graze on a plain named after them, "Femen". She also has the King of Boars, "Torc Triath", as well as "Cirb", King of Wethers (sheep), from whom Mag Cirb is named. A poem by St Broccan about Saint Brighid describes her association with the boar.
“A wild boar frequented her herd,
To the north he hunted, the wild pig;
Brigit blessed him with her staff,
And he took up his stay with her swine.”
Possibly, the first mention of Brigit as a Goddess is in Cormac’s Glossary written in the 9th century. It is a glossary of Gods, Goddesses, practices and folklore gathered from written and spoken sources.
The name Brigit actually comes from old Celtic "briganti" which in turn derives from Indo-European "bhrghnti". Sanskrit has an exact cognate "brhati" which means "the exalted one".
Known as "The Mistress of the Mantle", She represents the sister or virgin aspect of the Great Goddess.
She is known as the Goddess of Fire and Hearth and a Patron of Warfare (in that she grieves for the fallen). In this personification she is known as "Briga". Her soldiers were called Brigands.
Known for her hospitality to poets, musicians, and scholars, she is also known as the Irish muse of poetry.
According to the Irish Text "The Book of Dunn Cow," Brighid's sacred number was nineteen, representing the nineteen year cycle of the Celtic Great Year, the time it took from one new moon to the next to coincide with the Winter Solstice.
Because of her huge popularity amongst pagan folks, the Christian church was unable to eradicate her from the land. And so circa 453 C.E. the Christian church assimilated her into one of their saints.
Saint Brighid is known as the patroness of farm work and cattle, and protector of the household from fire and calamity. To this day, one of her most common names in Gaelic is "Muime Chriosd", (Foster-Mother of Christ). St. Brighid was said to be the daughter of Dubthach, a Druid who brought her from Ireland to be raised on the Isle of Iona, sometimes called "The Druid's Isle."
As a Catholic saint, an eternal fire was kept at the ancient Convent of Kildaire. This perpetual fire at the monastic city was tended by nineteen nuns over a period of nineteen days. On the twentieth day, Brigid Herself is said to keep the fire burning. This shrine, near Kildare, was located near an ancient Oak that was considered to be sacred by the Druids, so sacred in fact that no one was allowed to bring a weapon there.
The word, Kildare, comes from "Cill Dara", the Church of the Oak. The entire area was known as "Civitas Brigitae", The City of Brigid.
The eternal fires were finally put out by King Henry VIII during the Reformation.
There are many tales surrounding Brighid.
In one version, Brighid is the wife of Bres, the half-Fomorian king who ruled briefly over the Tuatha De Danann. Their son, Ruadan, wounded the Smith God Giobhniu at the second battle of Magh Tuireadh. But Ruadan himself was slain in the combat. Brighid then went to the battlefield to mourn her son. This was said to be the first caoine (keening), or lament, heard in Ireland. Until recently, it was a tradition to hire women to caoine at every graveside.
In another story, Brighid was the wife of Tuireann and had three sons: Brian, Iuchar and Ircharba. In this tale, the Sons of Tuirean, killed the God, Cian, father of Lugh Lámhfhada when he was in the form of a pig.
One of the most popular tales of the Goddess Brighid involved two lepers who appeared at her sacred well at Kildare and asked to be healed. She told them that they were to bathe each other until the skin healed.
After the first one was healed, he felt a deep revulsion for the other and would not touch him to bathe him. Angered, Brigid caused his leprosy to return. Then she gently placed her mantle (cloak) around the other leper who was immediately healed.
On Imbolc, it is customary to make Bride's Cross. Brigit's cross is usually three-legged, a triskele, which has been identified as an ancient solar symbol. It is sometimes made as an even-armed cross woven of reeds. Rites for Bride have been preserved to this day by the women of the Outer Hebrides. At "La Fheill Brighid", (Imbolc) the women gather and make an image of the Goddess as Maiden. They dress her in white and place a crystal over her heart and place her in a cradle-like basket. Bride is then invited into the house by the female head of the household with sacred song and with chanting. Fire and purification are an important aspect of this festival. The lighting of candles and fires represents the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun. It is said that Brighid was born exactly at sunrise, thus making her a liminal Goddess. The word "limen" which comes from Latin, means, "a threshold, the state of being in between places and times". To the Celts this represents sacred space.
The Feast Day of Brighid, known as Imbolc ((im-molk), is celebrated at the start of February, midway through the winter. Imbolc is a word believed to be derived from the Old Irish "i mbolg" which translates as "In the belly", referring to the pregnancy of Ewes, an event which coincided with the onset of Spring. Imbolc is a festival of "waxing light", a time when the earth begins to see more sun and purification. Like the Goddess herself, it is meant to give us hope, to remind us that Spring is right around the corner. Imbolc is also a time for purification.
Brighid is often described as a Fire Goddess. She is also the goddess of Wells and springs, crossroads and midwifery. Her association with wells, crossroads and childbirth mark her as a Goddess of boundaries. These types of Goddess's assist at times of transition.
The following plants are associated with Brighid and Imbolc:
Dandelion, snowdrops, crocus, trillium, acorns and oak tree, corn, oats, sage, pumpkin seeds, heather, chamomile, broom, shamrock, rushes, straw, and all field flowers.
The following minerals and metals are associated with Brighid and Imbolc:
Gold, brass, silver, carnelian, agate, copper, amethyst, jasper, and rock crystal.
The following colors are associated with Brighid and Imbolc:
White, yellow, black, and red.
The following animals are associated with Brighid and Imbolc:
Lambs and ewes, dairy cows, bees, owls, serpents (especially two entwined), and all hibernating animals (snakes, badgers, groundhogs).
Three rivers are named for Her; Brigit, Braint and Brent in Ireland, Wales and England, respectively.
There are also many areas such as Breconshire in Wales, Brechin in Scotland and Bregenz in Austria, which was once the capital of the Brigantii tribe, which are named for Brighid. The Brigantii tribe was under the tutelage of the Goddess Brigantia, who is thought to be another aspect of Brigid.