The Celtic Goddess Brighid  

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The Celtic Goddess Brighid Image
I'm sharing today a transcript of a talk about the Celtic Goddess Brighid given by Wrenn O'Neil. Enjoy!

Thank you everyone. My story is about the great Celtic goddess Brighid. I say Celtic because she is part of what many people call the "Old Religion" of western Europe, including Great Britain and Northern Europe. In Ireland she is called Brighde, in Scotland, Bride; in Northern Europe, Brigantia; in France, Brigandu; and the modern day name Bridget is the Christian name for her. And there are also different ways of spelling "Bridget" as well! As you see, worship of our Mother Goddess is widespread throughout Northern Europe and it continues to this very day.

Just as there are many names for her, so are there many tales about her. What I will tell you today are the most popular aspects of the mythos of Brighid. Before the beginning of the world, there existed only one being, and her name was Danu, which means "Waters from Heaven."

She flowed down from the sky onto the dry, unfinished earth and created the oceans and rivers that flow all over the world. She finished her work by creating the Danuvius River (now called the Danube). Along her river, a tree grew up named B'ile, and through their union, they had a son named Dagda, which means, "The Good God." After that, Danu had more children who became good gods known as Tuatha D'e Danaan- the Children of Danu.

Then, continuing the legacy, the Tuatha D'e Danaan had descendants who became the Celtic people, who, in turn, dispersed throughout Europe and into the British Isles. As one legend goes, Brighid was the daughter of Dagda and Danu, and when she was born, there was a tower of fire over her head that reached to the sky. This is one reason why Brighid's element is fire. However, many times Brighid is seen as one aspect of Danu, instead of being Danu's daughter.

Brighid has been so popular in Ireland, that there was no way for Christianity to suppress her. Instead, the earliest missionaries to Ireland made up a story about a girl named Brigit who was the daughter of a Christian slave and a Druid, but she soon converted to Christianity. She did numerous good deeds so she became canonized as Saint Brigit. Essentially, all of her virtues, attributes and life events were the same as the goddess Brighid. It was merely a way of converting the Celts to Christianity.

Brighid is known as the Triple Goddess, having both three forms and three specific attributes. Her three forms are of the three forms of women: first, the maiden or virgin; second, the mother; and third, the old woman or hag. This is where Brighid is seen as the Earth Mother because her three forms are inextricably related to the cycle of crops in relation to the seasons. She takes her role as a Maiden on February 1st during the Imbolc rituals, where she represents the virgin earth that has not yet been planted with crops. During the ritual a little corn doll, called the Corn Maiden, is dressed in a white wedding dress and wears a crystal around her neck. She is set in a little basket as her bridal bed, and a wand with ribbons and flowers is laid on top of her representing her husband Bress. Brighid then becomes impregnated and during Summer and Fall, she is the Mother, giving birth to the crops and ushering in the Harvest.

Then, on August 1st, the Corn Maiden (now Corn Mother) is placed in a little trunk where she can rejuvenate herself to become the Corn Maiden on Imbolc the following year. Soon, winter comes and Brighid becomes the old crone, representing a land that is barren and in the process of death. But this time of barrenness must take place in order for the old crone to complete the cycle and once again become the Maiden. Thus, all three forms of women are important, even as a crone, she is still a vital and valuable aspect of womanhood.

As for her three specific attributes, she is the Goddess of Poetry (also seen as a Muse), Smith craft, and Healing/Fertility. In one British legend, Merlin came in contact with Brigantia and she gave him visions of the history of Britain and then extended his vision into the cosmos and beyond. She gave the art of Smith craft to the Celtic people, which was a trade held in high esteem, as it was necessary for their everyday life.

Brighid is also the goddess of healing and she has wells all across Ireland known for their healing attributes. Once, two lepers came to Brighid to ask for healing. She instructed them to go into one of her healing wells and for one to wash the other. As he did, the leprosy on the other was healed. However, when it was the healed one's turn to wash the other leper, he was repulsed by the leprosy and tried to run away. Brighid stopped him and struck him with leprosy once again, for his selfishness. She cleansed the leper who had not been cleansed and he was healed.

Brighid has close ties with fire and especially the fire of the house- the hearth. It is a place for the family to warm themselves, cook food and stay alive during the winter. She also has close ties to sheep and cows and is said that she watches the animals when they are out in the pasture. One story I read, told by an old Irish man, tells of how "Biddy takes care of her own" by watching over the sheep and cows during rain and mists. Biddy is a type of alteration to Brighid, so if anyone ever calls you an "old Biddy" take it as a compliment! I think it is interesting that these words have negative connotations in modern day society, but back when they were originally used, Biddy, hag and crone were simply names for old women, and not in a disrespectful or derogatory sense.

I see that my time is up, so I leave you with this thought: scholars have estimated that Brighid and her mother or other aspect, Danu, are quite possibly the oldest known goddesses who have been worshipped continuously, with no break, to this day.

Speaker: Wrenn O'Neil

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This entry was posted on 16 July 2009 at Thursday, July 16, 2009 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the .