Monday, January 31, 2011

Myths, Folklore & Symbolism: Brighid

Brigid is particularly important to me; I hope you enjoy this information on the eve of her celebration!

Brighid (Brigid, Bridget, Brid, Bride)

"An Irish goddess, the daughter of the Daghdha. Brighid may originally have been a goddess of sovereignty: her name is derived from the Celtic root brig ('exalted') and she may be related to the British tribal god Brigantina. She was the patron of poetry and arcane lore, especially divination and prophecy, and the protector of women in childbirth. Brighid was sometimes said to have two sisters of the same name who were associated with healing and crafts. However, following the common Celtic pattern of triplication, the three Brighids were often treated as aspects of a single deity.

"In Christian times, St. Bride or Bridget of Kildare, Ireland's most important female saint and the founder, according to tradition, of the first Irish nunnery at Kildare, assumed many functions and legends of the goddess Brighid. She even took over Brighid's feast day, 1 February, the old Celtic festival of Imbolc." (Tresidder)

And from the ever-popular Wikipedia:

In her English translation of Irish myth, Lady Augusta Gregory (Gods and Fighting Men, 1904), describes Brigit as "a woman of poetry, and poets worshipped her, for her sway was very great and very noble. And she was a woman of healing along with that, and a woman of smith's work, and it was she first made the whistle for calling one to another through the night. And the one side of her face was ugly, but the other side was very comely. And the meaning of her name was Breo-saighit, a fiery arrow."

Her British and continental counterpart Brigantia seems to have been the Celtic equivalent of the Roman Minerva and the Greek Athena (Encyclopedia Britannica: Celtic Religion), goddesses with very similar functions and apparently embodying the same concept of 'elevated state', whether physical or psychological.

She is the goddess of all things perceived to be of relatively high dimensions such as high-rising flames, highlands, hill-forts and upland areas; and of activities and states conceived as psychologically lofty and elevated, such as wisdom, excellence, perfection, high intelligence, poetic eloquence, craftsmanship (especially blacksmithing), healing ability, druidic knowledge and skill in warfare. In the living traditions, whether seen as goddess or saint, she is largely associated with the home and hearth and is a favorite of both Pagans and Christians. A number of these associations are attested in Cormac's Glossary.

Image by Jessica Oyhenart, Tattered Dreams, on DeviantArt

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