Brighid is one of the deities I came to a bit later in my studies and practices, only really getting involved and focusing on learning about her particular mysteries when I first began studying with a particular tradition in 2007. I was familiar with her before then; she’s one of the most popular goddesses in Paganism, especially those with a Celtic or Irish bent. However, even when I began with that tradition and had put several months into it, I was still not very involved with her for a while. But, she stuck around in any case and I am very glad she continues to put up with me.
I find her to be very understanding, but not necessarily quiet and patient. She has a definite agenda she wants you to follow if you work with her and will spur you on to achieve results. She does not abide laziness. I really respect her a lot.
Traditionally, Brighid is one of the triple goddesses, not in the typical ‘maiden-mother-crone’ triad of Wiccan thought, but as three that are one-in-the-same, of the same age and appearance. One is the healer, one is the poet, one is the smith. She is closely associated with fire. Flames of the hearth for healing and health, fire in the head which is familiar to those studying bardcraft or similar ways, and the blaze of the smith’s forge.
Fire is an element of transformation. Whatever enters into fire changes to something else. Either it evaporates and becomes steam, it burns to ash, or it melts, changing its shape and texture. Raw food becomes cooked, items heated in a pot of water over a fire release their contents and qualities, turning a pile of roots and leaves into tea or something to be prepared as a poultice for healing. So Brighid is a lady of changes.
She is also very strongly associated with water, but not necessarily rivers and streams like some of the other goddesses in Celtic mythology. Brighid, I have found, is more closely related to wells and springs, waters that rise up from deep within the earth.
Brighid is a very interesting lady. When Christianity came to Ireland, it arrived later than some other regions of Europe (much like the Celts themselves did, but that’s another history lesson/blog entry). Ireland was also Christianized relatively peacefully, compared to what was going on elsewhere, with a large amount of blending and syncretizing between Pagan beliefs and practices and the Christian ones. Because of this, or perhaps as an example of this, Brighid was able to keep a very strong hold on the hearts and minds of the Irish people, who simply refused to give her up entirely even after conversion. So, she became a part of Christian hagiography and was renamed “Saint Brigid”. She still kept her symbols and most attributes, but now instead of being a goddess of healing, she became a saint that could be prayed to, especially for the relief of headaches and had particular ties to midwifery, as she was adopted as the midwife for Christ’s birth. Even now in Ireland, she’s on basically equal footing with St. Patrick.
She is honored in modern Wicca and Pagan traditions most often at Imbolc, which takes place February 1st-2nd.
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