Brigid by Sue Perryman
Brigid is the Celtic goddess of poetry, healing and the forge although she is also associated with the hearth, agriculture, inspiration, divination and prophecy, she is the patron of midwifery, dyeing, weaving and brewing, and is the guardian of children and farm animals, particularly cows and ewes. She is known by many names including: Brighde, Brighid, Bride, Brigit, St. Brigid, Brigh, Breeshy, Brigantia, Brittania, Ffraid and Brigandu, pronunciations vary according to local dialect. She was worshipped over the whole of the British Isles and in parts of Europe.
Brigid means either ' Fiery arrow', Bright One or High/ Exalted One in the ancient Celtic language. She was the daughter of the Dagda, the Good god and chief of Tuatha de Danaan, her Mother is not named. Brigid was born at daybreak and rose into the sky with the sun’s rays beaming from her head. Brigid is sometimes seen as a single deity and sometimes and three sister deities: Brigid of the Poets, Brigid of the Forge, and Brigid the Healer.
In mythology Brigid was said to have married Bres, in some stories she had three sons, Ruadan, Iachar and Lucharba who all grew up to become warriors and died tragically on the battlefield. After the death of her son Ruadan it is said that Brigid's wailing and keening was so loud that it was heard all over Ireland, which caused both sides to stop their battle and forge peace. This assured Brigid's role as a goddess of peace and unity.
Brigid rules the elements of water and fire. As a water deity, she is the patroness of many healing wells and Springs, and as a fire deity she is patroness of blacksmiths and goddess of the hearth. In her aspect of a goddess of sovereignty (Brigantia) she carries a spear, an orb of victory and wears a war crown as seen on the British 50 pence.
There are many tales of Brigid including - She owned an apple orchard in the Otherworld and her bees would bring their magical nectar to Earth. It is said that wherever she walked small flowers and shamrocks would appear.
One of the most popular tales involved two lepers who came to her sacred well in Kildare and asked to be healed. Brigid told them to bathe each other until their skin healed. After the first one was healed, he felt only revulsion for his friend and would not touch him. Angered, Brigid caused his leprosy to return, then placed her mantle around the other leper who was immediately healed.
There is a saying that Brigid rewards any offering made to her, so offerings of coins were often tossed into wells - the forerunner of the modern custom of throwing coins into a fountain or well to make a wish. Other suitable offerings for Brigid are healing herbs, butter, milk, bread, beer and honey.
Even today there are still many places named after Brigid including: Bride Cross, Bride Stones, Bride Stone Moor, Bidstone Hill, and Bridekirk all in Northern England; Bridestow, Bridford and Bridport in the South West and Bridewell in London; there are also hundreds of wells named after her and three rivers: the Brent in England, the Braint in Wales and Brighid in Ireland.
Brigid is also known as the Mistress of the Mantle. Her festival is Imbolc on February 1st. Her totem animals are cows and ewes, but she is also associated with the cockerel - the herald of the new day and the snake - a symbol of rebirth. her colours are red, white and black.
There is heaps more information about Brigid and this brief introduction does not do her justice.
You can find out more about her from the following books:
PaganPortals Brigid by Morgan Daimler
Tending Brigid's Flame by Lunea Weatherstone.
Image from Gods & Goddesses Colouring book by Rachel Patterson