The Goddess Brigid: Invocation

The Goddess Brigid

Lady Brigid, the “exalted one” as your name says, I’m afraid I’m a few days late. Your feast-day’s just past. But I’ll probably be late for my own wake, so let me start Mythprint on Imbolc — or thereabouts — with your blessing.

Caesar called you Minerva, assuming you were the same goddess worshiped under a different name. After the Romans divided Gaul, the Celts used Minerva too, or sometimes Sulis. Caesar said they worshiped you as the goddess of arts and crafts, and that’s true enough. St. Eligius scolded his flock for invoking you to bless their weaving (Mac Cana p. 33). But craft is more than the weaver’s or blacksmith’s art, unless we include word-smiths and song-weavers too. Cormac’s Glossary of Irish lore, written about 1100 years ago, makes you a triple goddess with your two sisters: you inspire bards, and they inspire healers and makers.

On February 1st, one of the four great holidays of the Celtic calendar along with Beltane (May Day), Lammas, Samhain (Hallowe’en), the Celts celebrated your day as a beginning. They looked to the future, sometimes watching for the first hedgehogs to pop out of their burrows as a sign that spring was on its way. Irish Catholics couldn’t bear to let you go and still honor St. Brigid of Kildare, a legendary abbess who conveniently assumed most of your attributes as well as your holiday. In Ireland, she’s still second in popularity only to St. Patrick.

Long ago Kildare had a sanctuary in your honor where a perpetual fire burned, attended by priestesses. The Sisters of St. Brigid of Kildare kept your sacred fire alive in a new church built on your old sanctuary, rechristening your flame as the light of Christianity. The Reformation extinguished that tradition. Now that flame has been rekindled, and women have made pilgrimages there to light candles and carry your flame worldwide. May you continue to inspire poetry, healing, and the arts among all your sisters, whichever name they hail you by: Brigid, Brighid, or Brigit, the triple goddess.

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