Brigid of Kildare, Saint or Goddess


Kildare, Ireland is the home of Brigid. She has always had a relationship with the land of this town. Kildare is one of the oldest towns in Ireland, it was first a shrine to Brigid when she was a Celtic Goddess, and re-established this connection again through christianity as Saint Brigid when she founded her monastery in Kildare. The ability to transfer from one religion to another does suggest that Brigid might be one of the Ancient watchers discussed in the Christian book of Enoch. This blog is to discuss the similarities and transition from one religion to another.

I want to first begin by saying that this blog is a bit more personal, as I was fortunate to have traveled on a pilgrimage to Kildare with my church in high school. So Brigid is a guide who has always been with me, no matter where my path has taken me. Brigid has personally helped me to see that there is one true god that is above all that man can create and personify. This is a smaller piece to a larger piece that I am working on, which does ironically still personify God or the Goddess ideals.




Cill Dara, the Church of the Oak Tree, is closer to the origin of the name of modern Kildare, Ireland. The landscape of Kildare that has many advantages for protection and food growth. During the time Brigid was seen as a Goddess, society was organized by 5 major Chiefdoms, and Wizards held great power, particularly during times of war. Her Identity varies from Ireland to continental celtic cultures. In Ireland specifically she was the daughter of the Pagan God Dagda, the main Pagan God that watched over Ireland. She married a royal figure of an enemy and was able to establish diplomacy and peace between the two realms. Peace between rivals is where her main power resides. “Bread Before Arms”.

Brigid inspired peace and prosperity to those to whom looked to her for guidance. She also became the goddess of the spring because of her ability to create such prosperity in her followers. Her ability to establish peace between rivals may also be a reason for her transition from Paganism to Christianity. Tales of her birth are even of a state mystical transformation.

St. Brigid was born in the year of 451 Ad, this is during the time Saint Patrick was casting snakes out of Ireland. The snakes that Saint Patrick cast out is the Dark Magic Druids that helped to empower the Magicians that the old Chiefdoms employed. The legends say that Saint Brigid was also born midnight, the door between times, when it is not yet yesterday, nor tomorrow. Symbolizing that Brigid is neither and yet both Pagan and Christian.

When we look at St.Brigid we often still see the main traits of her Goddess identity as well. Particularly when we study the Tree, the Well, an the Fire.

Today the Saint Brigid’s Cathedral resides on top of where an old magical Oak Tree once lived. This old Oak Tree is what gave the name, Cill Dara, some pagan tales relate Brigid directly to the oak Goddess Dara who is the mother of the universe. This is also where the idea of the three crones comes into the picture. Some speculate that this identity was a side effect of the Gaul and Roman influences moving up into the area prior to christianity. When Saint Brigid started her convent it was under the shadows of the Old Tree which was several centuries old. And we see that it existed as late as the 12th century.

Not only was the tree sacred and magical, but the water than ran below the earth also hold magical abilities, and there are many wells and springs blessed by Brigid. The water is said to give healing abilities, and abilities to “rise up” in life. Again symbolizing prosperity that was related to the goddess image.

As in all the old ways of magic, elements play a large bring in bringing in the larger part of spirit. And this land is no different, in the covent there was also a sacred Fire as well. Lit to represent the “eternal flame” in which could only be cared for by women. Even when I was visiting the site they still warned men not to enter the old fire pit for risk to their own well being, not a single guy in our group was willing to test that warning.

Traditionally the fire was watched by 19 women and also Brigid making it 20. Each woman took a night to watch and tend the fire. One Saint Brigid passed the fire would remain unintended and the woman on the 19th evening would say at the end of her shift “Brigid, guard your fire, this is your night”.

From time to time bishops would demand the old fire be extinguished, claiming it was a sign of the old pagan ways. But the nuns would always disregard them and continue to light it any way. When King Henry VIII came into power the fire was put out for many centuries to come, only to be relight again in 1992.


Saint Brigid of Ireland

Not only was the tree sacred and magical, but the water than ran below the earth also hold magical abilities, and there are many wells and springs blessed by Brigid. The water is said to give healing abilities, and abilities to “rise up” in life. Again symbolizing prosperity that was related to the goddess image.

As in all the old ways of magic, elements play a large bring in bringing in the larger part of spirit. And this land is no different, in the covent there was also a sacred Fire as well. Lit to represent the “eternal flame” in which could only be cared for by women. Even when I was visiting the site they still warned men not to enter the old fire pit for risk to their own well being, not a single guy in our group was willing to test that warning.

Traditionally the fire was watched by 19 women and also Brigid making it 20. Each woman took a night to watch and tend the fire. One Saint Brigid passed the fire would remain unintended and the woman on the 19th evening would say at the end of her shift “Brigid, guard your fire, this is your night”.

From time to time bishops would demand the old fire be extinguished, claiming it was a sign of the old pagan ways. But the nuns would always disregard them and continue to light it any way. When King Henry VIII came into power the fire was put out for many centuries to come, only to be relight again in 1992.


Triple Godess Brigid

Many people today will ask for Saint / Goddess Brigid to continue to visit and guide them with her wisdom. The best action one can take in doing this is to simply light a candle and to bring the eternal flame into their homes. ( please keep in mind that this idea of burning a candle being the eternal flame is a cross cultural idea and can be found in other ancient beliefs such as Tao).

When calling in Brigid in this way you become a “flame keeper”, to signify Brigid specially light it every 20 days to represent her dedication to keeping the eternal flame alive.






Work Cited Page:

Websites

https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=453

http://www.kildare.ie/aboutus/aboutKildare.asp

http://kildarelocalhistory.ie/kildare/history-of-kildare-town/

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/saint/st-brigid-of-ireland-134

https://www.historicmysteries.com/celtic-goddess-brigid-saint-irish-myth/


Books:

Celtic Gods and Heroes by: Marie-Louise Sjoestedt

Magic of the Celtic Gods, and Goddesses: A Guide to Their Spiritual Power, Healing Energies, and Mystical Joy by: Carl McColman and Kathryn Hinds

Witta, An Irish Pagan Tradition by: Edain McCoy

Celtic Myth and Legend, An A- Z of people and places by: Mike Dixon- Kennedy




Photos from my pilgrimage at Saint Brigid’s Fire Pit and Church.

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