Brigid

Brigid – Fiery Arrow; The Bright One; Lady of the Shores; The Ashless Flame; Moon Crowned Queen of the Undying Flame

Brigid is a great goddess of healing, music, poetry, prophecy, and smithcraft. She is the matron of artisans, artists, and livestock. Brigid presides over the production of ale. She protects women in childbirth and may be petitioned for fertility. Brigid has dominion over wisdom, education, and learning. She is associated with sacred fires and holy wells.

Brigid is the daughter of the Dagda and thus a member of the Tuatha Dé Danaan, but she transcends classification. She is a symbol of Ireland, emblematic of the modern Celtic revival, among the most beloved spirits of the twenty-first century.

Brigid is a master shape-shifter. Not only is she able to change the physical form in which she manifests, she is able to transform herself to meet the needs of devotees. Thus Brigid was never forgotten or suppressed, nor was she demoted to the status of Fairy Queen or tragic heroine as were so many of her fellow goddesses. Instead, Brigid made the transition to Christianity, evolving into Saint Brigid. When Scots and Irish indentured servants were transported to the Caribbean, she further evolved into Madame Brigitte, Vodou lwa.

Brigid is the mother of invention. Among her other creations, she allegedly made the very first whistle intended as a nocturnal alarm to keep women safe from sexual assault, an early precursor of the “Take Back the Night” movement. Whistles may be blown during rituals to invoke Brigid’s aid.

ALSO KNOWN AS:

Bride

ORIGIN:

Ireland and Gaelic Scotland

Feast:

1 February

FAVOURED PEOPLE:

Brigid loves poets, writers, midwives, artisans, snake charmers, and especially smiths.

Manifestations:

Brigid may appear in any phase of womanhood: maiden, matron, or crone. She manifests as a column of fire or as a woman with a pillar of fire emerging from her head. Brigid may also manifest in the form of a snake.

ICONOGRAPHY:

She is sometimes depicted with a serpent wreathed around her head.

ATTRIBUTES:

Cauldron, spinning wheel, metal-working tools

Elements:

Fire, water

ANIMALS:

Pure white bulls; a white cow with red ears; horses; wolves; pigs; and snakes

Brigid’s travelling companion is a milk-white cow. Her other familiars include a pair of sacred oxen and the King of Swine. These animals allegedly cry out in pain and protest whenever injustice is committed in Ireland.

BIRDS:

Swan, vulture

Tree:

Oak

Number:

9 (3X3)

Time:

Imbolc, celebrated on 1 February, is the festival of new beginnings and Brigid’s birthday. Brigid is also venerated in other parts of the Celtic world on 13 February.

Places:

• Brigid possessed an ancient temple with an eternal flame and a miraculous healing well at Kildare. Some scholars speculate that it was originally a snake shrine. It was later transformed into a convent where nuns maintained her perpetual flame.

• A Temple of Fire was once located on the sacred island, InishMurray, off the coast of Sligo.

• Among the rivers believed named in her honour are the Brighid (Ireland), the Braint (Wales), and the Brent (England).

• Many healing wells are dedicated to Brigid.

OFFERINGS:

Blackberries; works of creative inspiration; eggs; ale; coins; light candles in her honour. In some parts of Ireland and Scotland, it was traditional to leave offerings of food or grass on the doorstep for Brigid’s cow. A cake may be placed outside the window as an offering to Brigid on Imbolc Eve. A basket made from rushes known as Brigid’s Bed is placed near the hearth, often with a phallic-shaped wand placed inside.

In the pre-Christian era, the entire area around Kildare, Ireland, was known as the City of Brigid.

SEE ALSO:

  • Ailinn
  • Brigantia
  • Brigitte, Madame
  • Dagda, the
  • Fairy Queen
  • Lwa
  • Tuatha Dé Danaan

SOURCE:

Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.

BOOKS FOR YOU TO READ IN OUR LIBRARY:

Animals in Celtic Life and Myth - Miranda Green
Celtic Tree Rituals : Ceremonies for the Thirteen Moon Months and a Day - Sharlyn Hidalgo
Symbol and Image in Celtic Religious Art - Miranda Green
Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom - John O’Donohue
Celtic mythology  tales of gods, goddesses, and heroes - Philip Freeman
Cauldron of the Gods: a Manual of Celtic magick - Jan Fries
The Morrigan: Celtic Goddess of Magick and Might - Courtney Weber
The Sidhe: Wisdom from the Celtic Otherworld - John Matthews
Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess - Courtney Weber
Celtic Myth and Religion: A Study of Traditional Belief, with Newly Translated Prayers, Poems and Songs -  Sharon Paice Macleod
Water From an Ancient Well: Celtic Spirituality for Modern Life - Kenneth McIntosh

Related Articles

Ailinn

Ailinn ALSO KNOWN AS: Ailinne; Ailenn ORIGIN: Ireland Ailinn is best known today as the female half of what is called the “Irish Romeo and…

Brigantia

Brigantia was the presiding spirit of the Brigantes, the most populous Celtic tribe of Britain. They ruled a broad swathe of Northern England and the…

The Bethen

The Bethen are a triad of female spirits associated with fertility, birth, and good fortune. They remedy childlessness, if desired. After a baby is born,…

The Dagda

The Dagda : The Good God Chief of the Tuatha Dé Danaan, oldest of the Celtic deities, Dagda literally means “the good god.” What is…