Thanks for joining us for another Families Deity! We’re exploring deities that tie into families and family values, or who are important to the family unit or children in some way. This month, we are exploring the enigmatic goddess Brigid.
Who is Brigid?
Brigid or Brighid is primarily seen as an Irish Celtic goddess although she also appears as Bride in Scottish culture and Ffraid in Welsh culture. She is the daughter of the Dagda, and sometimes seen as a trio of goddesses each associated with a different aspect: poetry, healing, and crafting (specifically smithing).
Why is Brigid one of our Family Deities?
Brigid is associated with protection and, as a mother, of the parental instinct to protect one’s children. She is also associated with fertility, although this tends to be in terms of the land coming to life in the spring, and crops starting to grow.
Brigid’s sons all die violent deaths, so tragically, she is also associated with loss and particularly the loss of a child. Brigid also may be the goddess to have invented keening, a type of vocalisation and noise uttered to mourn the death of a loved or honoured one. So, she is keenly associated with the cycle of life and its end; death, and the rituals we follow to remember and honour those who have passed.
Imbolc is our Families Festival, and in Celtic Ireland, it’s likely that Imbolc was also a family-friendly affair, with children joining in with various activities including carrying a doll of Brigid or a Brideog (little Brigid) from home to home to impart Brigid’s blessing upon the visited families. Gifts might be given to the little Brigid, and the children might receive a treat – almost reminiscent of the modern practice of trick or treating, but without the trick! Older members of the family might create a cradle for the doll, known as a Brigid’s Bed. Brigid seems to have been successfully bringing families together in her honour for many, many centuries.
Brigid is honoured in a multitude of ways across a variety of faiths and cultures. Christians may pay homage to St Brigid of Kildare, an Irish saint often considered to be a Christian counterpart to the older goddess Brigid. The feast of St Brigid is on February the 1st, around the time of Imbolc. St Brigid is associated with sacred flames and fires, so would probably appreciate a candle being lit in her honour.
Brigid, as a goddess, can feel like a powerful force of nature or a gentle breeze blowing through your life. You can meditate on any of the themes or images associated with her, or honour her by leaving offerings in your sacred space or on your altar. As always, if you leave offerings outdoors do make sure they are not potentially harmful and completely biodegradable. Always remove ribbons, candles, and anything else human-made from any outdoor setting.
The following items and images have been associated with the goddess both in Irish mythology and modern practice. Of course, as you build your relationship with Her, you may find other items become more appropriate.
Kids (baby goats)
A bowl or bottle of water
An image or statue of Her
Mortar and Pestle
The blacksmith’s forge
A writer’s desk
A springtime scene
A healer’s room or apothecary
Oats or oatmeal
A poem or song created for Her
A handcrafted item, particularly something metal
What are your experiences with this fascinating goddess? Will you include her in your Imbolc celebrations? Pop over to our Facebook group and let us know.
Many of my facts on Brigid come from Pagan Portals: Brigid by Morgan Daimler.