Gods & Goddesses :: Brigit

Semele_Brighid.jpg (60336 bytes)

Name:  Brighid/ Brigit/ Bríd/ Brigid / Bride

Race:   Tuatha Dé Danann

Properties:  Healing, Fertility, Smithcraft & Poetry

Lesser Properties: Agriculture

Father:  The Dagda

Husband:  Bres Mac Elatha

Consort: Turenn son of Oghma

Half Brothers:  Aengus Mac Óg Cermat Coem Midhir

Sons:  Brian, Iuchar & Iucharba (Gods of Poetry) by Turenn

Grandson:  Ecne (God of Knowledge)

Associated Deities:  Danu

Festival:  Imbolc (1st February)

Season:  Spring

Element: Fire

image by John Duncan

Brigit was the goddess of fertility. She had three sons who collectively fathered one son, her grandson Ecne or Knowledge.   She was the mother goddess in the Celtic pantheon with only the Dagda above her in rank.  She is a triune Goddess and that is why she has the attributes, Poetess, Healer and Smith.

In her earliest incarnation, as Breo-Saighit, she was called the Flame of Ireland, she was a Goddess of the forge as well.

Legend says that when She was born, a tower of flame reached from the top of her head to the heavens. Her birth, which took place at sunrise, is said to have given the family house the appearance of being on fire.

The household fire is sacred to Brigit.
Each evening the woman of the household would smoor the fire, (cover it over to keep the fire overnight), asking for the protection of Brigit on all its occupants.  The word 'smoor' is scottish slang from the nineteenth century possibly derived from a scots gaeilic word.
 
Rites for Bride have been preserved to this day by the women of the Outer Hebrides off the Scottish coast. At Lá Fheill Brighid, the women gather and make an image of the Goddess as Maiden. They dress her in white and place a crystal over her heart and place her in a cradle-like basket. Bride is then invited into the house by the female head of the household with sacred song and with chanting.
 

Here is an extract from Cormac's Glossary :

Brighid - a poetess, daughter of the Dagda.  She is the female sage, woman of wisdom, or Brighid the Goddess whom poets venerated because very great and famous for her protecting care.  She was therefore called 'Goddess of the Poets'.  Her sisters were Brighid the female physician, and Brighid the female smith; among all Irishmen, a goddess was called 'Brighid'.  Brighid is from breo-aigit or 'fiery arrow'.

***

Later scholarship of etymology claims that Brighid comes from Sanskrit brahti 'exalted one'

The augury of Brighid was called the frith in which she would cup her hands and look into them to divine information about things lost, things to come, things happening afar.

There is also a Druidess named after her who had a temple in Kildare in the 5th century A.D.  This Brigit was the daughter of a druid called Dubhthact and they lived on the island of Iona off the Scottish Coast before moving to Ireland.

She had nineteen priestesses who kept the flames of a sacred fire perpetually burning.  Unfortunately as this Brigit was extremely outspoken against the invading christians she was murdered by them and her temple sacked, her priestesses murdered and the symbol of immortality: the fire, was put out.  Then to add insult to injury the christians later turned her into a christian saint to cash in on the veneration she and her namesake the Goddess Brigit were still held in by the ordinary Celtic people.

Associated Herbs: 

Fertility: - Mistletoe ;

Healing: - Angelica ; Balm ; Blackberry ; Cowslip ; Fennel ; Flax ; Garlic ; Goat's Rue ; Mugwort ; Nettle

Protection: - Ragwort

 

Associated Trees: 

Fertility: - Hawthorn ; Oak

Healing:  Elder ; Oak

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