When I was on the Isle of Iona in 2007, Brigid was one of the goddesses that we talked about in terms of the Divine Feminine. Like a number of the other Celtic saints, Brigid didn't start out Catholic - Christianity sort of superimposed itself over the existing pagan culture in Ireland. There are two Brigids - the ancient goddess and the christian saint. There are a number of websites that talk about Brigid and her history. She's called Brigid, Brigit, Bride, and I'm not Catholic, so I don't really know much about saints, but Brigid is probably the most famous, after St. Patrick (she and Patrick are the patron saints of Ireland). She is buried with St. Columba and St. Patrick at Downpatrick.
I pulled some bits and pieces about her flame from the Web . . .
This, from Anamspirit.com
At the Brigid's Eve ceremonies in Kildare on Brigid's Eve night (31 January) the event starts round a small fire in the car park of the Japanese Gardens with a beautiful chant to the Goddess Brigid, such as the one originally composed by Daniel Maher. The event brings us on a powerful candle lit journey of contemplation with the great goddess and the christian saint and the spirit that weaves between them. We travel through the two spaces, the two wells and the pathways laid between them. The celebration of Oiche Bride in Kildare goes back to very ancient times. It is a very special gathering each year celebrating the return of spring and the power of woman ancient and modern. As Sister Mary, one of the Brigidine Sisters who tends the Flame in Kildare puts it: 'there's inspiration, peace and healing under Brigid's cloak for all traditions and peoples and all denominations'This from Azodnem.com
The Sacred Flame of Brigid continues to burn brightly at Kildare, Ireland. For thousands of years prior, it had burned in honor of the Goddess Brigid, tended by nineteen priestesses dedicated to her. Each priestess tended the flame for a day, and on the twentieth day, the flame was tended by the Goddess Brigid herself. Many layers of separate traditions have intertwined, making her story and impact complicated, but allowing her to successfully move effortlessly down through the centuries. She has traveled intact through countless generations, fulfilling different roles. With the coming of Christianity, the church suppressed the worship of the Goddess Brigid, but in fine Irish fashion, the people simply worshiped her as St. Brigid and her sacred flames continued to burn in her honor. Today, nineteen nuns tend Brigid's sacred flame and on the twentieth day, Brigid herself still watches over her sacred fire. She was, and continues to be known by many names, including Bride, Bridey, Brighid, Brigit, Briggidda, and Brigantia.
But I like this site the best: The Wheel of the Celtic Year
It's worth a few minutes of your time to read what they have to say. We're leaving Samhain (pronounced sow'-en (sow like a pig)) and coming into Imbolc (pronounced im'-bowlk) and celebrate the return of the light. For surely every evening now as I leave the office, the days are getting longer - it's no longer dark when I leave and dark when I return home :-)
I have a candle that was lit through another candle by Brigid's flame in Kildare. Thank you Dolores, I treasure it. So - how did we pick February 1st to start our St. Brigid KAL? I'd like to say we planned it, but truly it was serendipitous. I think it planned us ;-)
Here's the yarn that's destined to be my St. Brigid sweater. A little dark, but I'm loving making the St. Patrick sweater out of it in green - It's Kathmandu Aran.
And here's a prayer to St. Brigid:
You were a woman of Peace,
You brought Harmony where there was conflict.
You brought light to the darkness
You brought Hope to the downcast
May the mantle of your peace
cover those who are troubled and anxious
and May peace be firmly rooted in our hearts
and in the World
Inspire us to act justly and
to reverence all that God has made.
Brigid you were a voice for the wounded and the weary
Strengthen what is weak within us.
Calm us into a quietness that heals and listens
May we grow in mind, body and spirit.
I'd like to leave you with this, also from chalicecentre.net. The emphasis is mine :-)
Once again, it is time to welcome in the early Spring and the festival of Bride, the Goddess who brings Light and Life to the land. The ancient Celts called it Imbolc, the time when the new lambs were born and the Earth is beginning to thaw, and new, impossibly fragile-looking green shoots start to emerge through the bare soil. This miraculous emergence into light is one of the major themes of the holiday, which later came to be known as Candlemas, the Feast of Candles. An old Scottish rhyme tells us that this is the time when Bride emerges from the Earth, just as in the Greek myth, enacted at this time of year as part of the Eleusinian mysteries, the goddess Persephone came out of the underworld and Spring returned once more.
These myths are not only about the return of Spring to the land, but also the return of the Soul – traditionally depicted as feminine – from its dwelling in the obscurity of the subconscious mind. In the western world, we tend to get so caught up in material pursuits that the soul is forgotten most of the time – even though we never feel truly at home to ourselves without that connection. At the dawn of the modern age, a poet wrote that “affairs are now soul size.” His words are even more true today: with the escalating crises in the world from wars to global warming, now is the time to fully awaken into what each of us has been called to do during our time on Earth, to emerge into a life that catches fire from the soul-flame within each of us.
Now is the time to ponder your creativity, and it's different for each of us. Find what inspires you - now is the time to let your spirit shine . . . :-)