BRIGID (BRIGIT, BRIDE)
Celtic goddess of fire, poetry, blacksmithing, house and hearth. She was the daughter of Dagda, the High King of Tuatha Dé Danann and an unknown poet, the wife of Bres of the Fomorians and the mother of his son Ruadán. Her name means The Exalted One (Breo-saighit – ‘A Fiery Arrow’).
Brigid was involved in the war between her native tribe and the Fomorians, the tribe which had lived in Ireland before their arrival (according to the Irish legends Tuatha Dé Danann was the fifth tribe to arrive in the island). Traditionally the Fomorians are considered to represent chaos and wild forces of nature while Tuatha Dé Danann were the ones who built the civilization. Brigit’s son died in the war between the two tribes and this tragedy made her invent keening, a kind of mourning song.
Brigid is connected with the sun and everything which is considered high both literally (high-raising flames, highlands and upland areas) and metaphorically (wisdom, perfection, intelligence, creativity, eloquence, poetry, warcraft, healing, divination, druidic knowledge and crafts especially blacksmithing). Similarly to the Hellenic goddess Athena, Brigid was inventing various helpful objects such as a whistle used during night journeys and ogham, the Celtic alphabet. According to some beliefs she was also the goddess of fertility and the women during their labour. Wells have been dedicated to Brigid and in fact the custom of decorating healing wells with clooties is still present in many places in the British Isles.
It is interesting that the pagan Celtic goddess is often identified with her Christian saint namesake who was the abbess in Kildare. Kildare was the area of Ireland where the cult of the goddess was very strong in pagan times and according to the legends the custom of maintaining Brigid’s sacred flame remained there even in the Christian era. The hearth was surrounded by the hedge which no man had right to cross and those who tried to do it against the prohibition were said to die, go insane or have their penises withered. Each of the nineteen priestesses (and then nuns) was watching over the flame for one hour and it is said that for the twentieth hour the goddess herself was protecting the hearth. It was not until 1220 when Henry Bishop of Dublin ordered to extinguish the flame (however I found the note here that in 1993 the Brigidine sisters of Ireland rekindled her flame at Kildare). Pay attention to the fact that the protection of hearth just by female members of the house is the custom which makes Brigid similar to the Hellenic goddess Hestia and Roman Vesta.
I suppose that Christianity was helpless against strong pagan beliefs. The pope Gregory I himself stated in the letter to St. Augustine of Hippo that the cult of goddess should be incorporated to Christian faith rather than fought with. I suppose that it resulted in the legend of Brigid being the midwife of St.Mary when she was giving birth to Jesus. St. Brigid’s Day is celebrated in the Christian churches on Feb, 1st probably as one of the remains of the Celtic holiday Imbolc (Oimelc). It was the holiday dedicated to Brigid and people were celebrating the spring coming up, days getting longer and longer and the time of birthing and freshening of sheep (animals attributed to her). The Christians changed the name of the holiday into Candlemas but kept the ritual of blessing the sheep. Brigid was worshipped in the whole Celtic world and many cities and towns took their names after her e.g. Braga and Bragança (Portugal), Bregenz (Austria), Brigindo (Switzerland) etc. She was considered to be the Triple Goddess* thanks to her three aspects: the first one was inspiration and creation, the second one was blacksmithing and the third one – the art of healing and medicine. Legend says that in 722 she appeared to the Irish army hovering in the sky before they routed the forces of Tara similarly to the cross which had appeared to the Roman Emperor Constantine in 312.
IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS
The most important symbol associated with her is Brigid’s cross made of rush, one of the symbols of the Republic of Ireland which among others was used as the logo of the public television.
Brigid’s number is nineteen because according to druid’s knowledge the new moon needed 19 years to appear in exactly the same time as winter solstice.
The animals attributed to her were an ox (she had two: Fe and Men which graze on a plain named Femen after them), a boar, a sheep and a swan (an animal which unites the forms of a bird and a serpent).
Cauldron was attributed to Brigid as the patron of craft and both spear and arrow were her symbols as the mentor of the warcraft.
Brigid was often presented wearing a green coat although it has to be said that not many images of her survived the introduction of Christianity.
Beacuse Brigid is a very versatile goddess, her oracle card also carries a lot of meanings. Most of all because of her clear connection to the element of fire, her cards presents all the features traditionally attributed to it.
Positive: energy, activity, courage, being go-getting, ambition, creativity, eagerness, initiative, dynamics, passion, enthusiasm, leading skills, success, extrovertism, optimism
Negative: anger, lack of control, risk, imprudence, carelessness, acting without thinking, inability to finish what was started, impatience, obsession, narcissism, tendency to exaggerate, distress, capriciousness
Woman shown by this card is versatile, intelligent and passionate, she often has manual and creative skills and is good at making strategies. She definitely is strong, ambitious, talented and creative but she also takes great care of her family and she fulfils herself in many areas of life. In negative it presents the woman who tries to kill too many birds with one stone or is torn apart between fulfilling the needs of others and her own.
This cars also represents artists, artisans, doctors, officers, firefighters, teachers, philosophers, midwives, farmers and fortune tellers.
Be assertive and do not back down even if you are under pressure. Express yourself clearly and do not think that showing your strength will scare people away from you. If you are unclear about your intentions, you lessen your own force and it will not help you to achieve your goal. You cannot satisfy everyone so it is better not to ponder what others may think. It is time to act, not to hesitate.
Try to express yourself in writing, reciting, singing, designing, creating in metal, clay etc and all the kinds of craft.
Think deeply of the problem which drenches you. The solution is already in your mind, you only have to bring it up on the surface like water is taken upwards from a well.
If you are in a relationship: This is the time of attraction and passion, a good moment to show your partner love. In negative meaning it can signify anger and quarrels which in the end should not last long anyway. If surrounded by other card(s) presenting the goddess of house and family, it suggests marriage or strengthening the already existing relationship.
If you are single: Do not sit and wait until Prince Charming comes to save you. Start searching for him yourself but do not concentrate on finding Mr Perfect. Instead surround yourself with people with whom you are connected by work, hobby or volunteering, the more people you meet, the bigger chance of finding someone who will suit you. If you have already crush on someone, this card suggests making the first step.
Positive: possible promotion or pay rise, negative: more work or duties. Often signifies your boss or someone who has power over you. It is a good moment to think about a new project or starting your own firm, Brigid says, ‘Think carefully about the plan and consider all the possible options and when you are ready, act immediately and do not hesitate’.
A visit to doctor or a hospital is necessary. You need to take better care of your health, if you delay consulting a specialist, the problem will be growing. Possible fever or inflammation of one of the body’s organs. Injuries caused by speed or sport may happen to you. Also problems with overactivity may affect your mind (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder etc) and that is the right time to diagnose them. If accompanied by the goddesses of earth, this cards may suggest a visit to spa&health centre. If it appears at the end of spread in questions concerning health problems, it usually suggests recovery especially if it is accompanied by the goddess of wealth, well-being or fertility.
Brigid in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky
This beautiful and very Art Nouveau image of Brigid comes from Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews.
Brigid in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason
Brigid in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé
Brigid in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr
Brigid in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took
Brigid in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton
Brigid in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc
The card from the deck of Doreen Virtue brings the message which is consitent with the element of Fire, Don’t back down. Stand up for what you believe is right. Speak your truth. Stick to your opinions.
Brigid in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton
Brigid in The Goddess Power deck by Cordelia Brabbs
And this is a very adequate assignment of Brigid as King of Staves from the Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano (Staves=Fire, King=the most progressed and advanced in development of the court figures). As you can see there is the sign of triquerta over the goddess’ head which may be some kind of overinterpretation but it definitely pays attention to Brigid’s triple nature.
Based on English Wikipedia and the following pages: http://www.realmagick.com/6807/brigid-the-goddess-of-imbolc-and-celtic-europe/, http://www.inanna.virtualave.net/brigit.html and http://www.andrewcollins.com/page/articles/thecygnusmystery_swan.htm.
* I will publish a separate post explaining the notion of Triple Goddess because it is definitely worth to study it deeper.