Goddess Lore: Brighid

From Sage Goddess:

By all appearances, the Northern Hemisphere is deep in winter slumber. The air is chilly, the ground is cold and frozen. Living creatures remain in hibernation. But beneath the ice and snow, Mother Earth is coming to life. The season of dormancy and rest is ending and tomorrow, we honor the official halfway point between winter and spring: Imbolc. This ancient Celtic sabbat is one of my favorite to celebrate. It marks the return of warmth and growth, the lifecycle churning into a period of activity yet again. Trees will soon bear fruit, seeds will blossom into flowers, animals will give birth to new young. And we, too, will enter a season of productivity.

The goddess Brigid reigns over this time. She is goddess of the Eternal Flame. She is with us, our guide in this new phase of the Great Wheel. And she is also within us, emboldening us to start stoking our inner fire. By honoring her with your springtime rituals, you also honor yourself, and the work you are about to do.

So gather your strength. Prepare to kindle that spark of creativity and confidence. I am excited to see what flourishes for you this year.

May your fire burn bright, this season and always,

Athena

Brigid

Brigid is the Celtic goddess of fire, the hearth and home, poetry, healing, childbirth, midwifery, unity, and the protectress of all children. She is a triple-goddess, and is also recognized by many Christians as St. Brigid, who is perhaps the most powerful female in all of Irish history.

She was born at dawn, and ascended into the sky towards the sun, with great beams of firelight coming from her head. Her father was Dagda, the father-god of Ireland. Early Druidic myths about her infancy and childhood recall her being fed by the milk of a magical cow from the Otherworld, tending to her livestock, and harvesting the apples from her orchard in the Otherworld.

Brigid above all else was a bringer of peace to the lands. Her husband, Bres, was the king of a rival tribe who was at war with Brigid’s tribe. Their marriage was part of a Divine plan to bring unity to the lands, however, their son, Ruandan, was killed in battle. This caused Brigid to experience immense heartbreak, and her grief was so profound it ceased the war on both ends. The people’s love for Brigid was so great that it created unity between all the Celts across Europe.

Once, two lepers appeared at Brigid’s sacred well at Kildare and asked her to heal them. She directed them to bathe each other in the water until they were healed. The first man was healed, but after was disgusted by the other man and refused to help him. This angered the goddess, and she caused the first man’s leprosy to return. Then, she gently placed her cloak around the other man, instantly healing him. Brigid presides over many springs and wells of water across Ireland. Water is one of our portals to the Otherworld, and represents infinite knowledge and healing.

Brigid is one goddess who always rewards offerings made to her; so many people would throw money into her sacred pools of water to entreat her. This is where the custom of throwing pennies into wells and fountains comes from! And at Imbolc, offerings of clothes, food, and money are often left out, inspiring the goddess to protect and bless the homes of those families.

At her shrine near Kildare, by an ancient and powerful Oak tree, Brigid shared her knowledge of healing plants and herbs with humans. She also taught them proper livestock care, and metalsmithing. This shrine is believed to have once been the site of an ancient gathering of priestesses. These priestesses there learned the sacred art of tending to Brigid’s eternal flame.

Brigid is most widely known for the devotion shown to her at Imbolc, the Pagan festival of mid-winter that honors her spirit. This feast day exalts Brigid’s reign over the warm days on the horizon. Imbolc falls on February 2nd this year, and in the Northern Hemisphere, this is our unofficial return of Spring. My Imbolc Ritual Kit is a powerful offering for this holiday, and my February Full Moon Kit honors Brigid’s Divine Femininity.

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