Brigid is the Celtic triple goddess ruling healing, poetry, and smithcraft. She is one of the great mothers of the Celts. Brigid is best known for her associations with healing, poetry, and smithcraft. As a healing goddess, she governs childbirth and the birthing time. As a goddess of poetry, she governs not only the inspiration and writing of poetry, but also divination and prophecy. As a goddess of smithcraft, she governs the forge’s fire. It is for these reasons that she is considered the “Bright Goddess” and is associated with the element of fire. In all her forms, she brings to one inspiration (a fire quality) and provides the spark for motivation. She is also the goddess of the hearth-fire, the fire of the home, since she contains the mother and fire aspects.
The festival of Imbolc on February 1 is dedicated to Brigid. Imbolc is associated with the lactation of ewes (Imbolc meaning “in the belly” and Oimelc meaning “ewe’s milk”) and is one of the four major Celtic festivals (Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh also known as the greater Sabbats).
Over this past week I was encouraged, in preparation for Imbolc, to do a detailed study of Brigid. I have to admit that my knowledge of her was a basic one. I had only ever known her as the Goddess of the hearth fire. In my mind, I guess I always pictured her as the quiet little house-witch ever-diligently tending the fire of the hearth where sustenance was being prepared as a strengthener for that weary witch who called on her. Let me just say…I was so wrong. I guess I should have honestly known better. I have never known the Celts to have “settled in and comfortable” goddesses. The ones I have studied in the past have all been powerful, strong battle-strong goddesses. I ask the forgiveness of the Lady Brigid for my desperate misinterpretation of her.
As I began studying, the first aspect of Brigid to show itself was the healing goddess. It was not surprising that birth and the anticipation of the birthing time came forth. As we come into Imbolc, it is in anticipation and preparation of spring. It is shortly after this Sabbat that we begin to see the tell-tale signs that spring is around the corner. Hibernation ends in February and March for those animals that do and they begin making babies. It was always such a wonderful time in the spring on the farm when all the animals would start having little ones. I remember vividly helping many a mama goat deliver twins or listening as the first faint peeps could be heard under the setting hens. All of these memories stirred helped me to see Brigid as a goddess of beginnings. As the darkness of winter starts to fade, she brings the light of new possibilities. It is in that time that we come out of our own darkness…blinking constantly as we adjust to the sunlight of a new day blazing down on us, finally absorbing the warmth that floods us with hope.
This led me to the second aspect of her personality: Poetry. This took me to a study of the word. Back in my time as a minister, I studied Greek and Hebrew…..for far too many years. In Greek, the word poiema means “a work” or “that which has been made.” So this shows Brigid as a goddess of action. She is considered to be the goddess of inspiration, divination and prophecy. All of these traits combine in the form of a Creatrix…once again bringing forth the mothering part of her nature but that part that is very much ever-moving and ever-changing. As I meditated on this part of her nature, I sat in front of my cauldron with flames licking forth from the belly and I called on her to awaken in me the things that are to born out of my heart and spirit in the coming year. It was in that time that I felt an excitement and stirring deep within my own belly….much like those flames reaching higher and purposefully out of my own cauldron. I know what visions and dreams were given and shown to me in those moments, and I look forward to sharing them with you as I watch them unfold.
The next aspect of her personality that came forth to me was the goddess of the forge’s fire. Brigid is the goddess of smithcraft. If you look into the history of smithcraft, it is only in the direct heat of the fire that metal is made maleable. It is in that heat that impurities are burned off and the metal is able to be shaped into what the smith has need of. It is that same thing that Brigid offers. In the light of spring, we are given the chance to start over…to become anything we desire to become. In those days, we are given the chance to fly again. It is only in the light of spring that plants reach higher and higher, face to the sun, becoming all that nature intended for them to be. Brigid offers us that same option. Our potential is limitless. We are built to grow, to change, to become. We are one large compilation of energies….our energy is designed to work with and play upon other energies.
In the midst of this study time, I was forced to look eye to eye with myself. Am I sitting on my broadest part waiting for life to come to me? Brigid has awakened that part of me that may have actually been a little afraid to dream, to visualize. She also stirred the wild man inside again. For some reason, whenever I tend to become far too civilized, the horned one and a fiery goddess begin whispering in my ear. When I get too busy to listen, I get a louder call to get back to that wild part of myself. As I sat in front of the fire of my cauldron, I swear I could hear the flames laughing….urging me to laugh along with them in anticipation of the newness that life was about to take on……the dance of the wild man welled up inside and I couldn’t help myself. The excitement of the Fire Goddess called me to dance and sing and move….always forward.
Anticipation. Inspiration. Motivation. Sounds like a hell of year is about to unfold.