• Ellen E. Sutherland

Brigid, Goddess or Catholic saint?


Yes to both. If that surprises you, it shouldn’t. Let’s look at the history.

Brigid, or Brigit or Brig can she can be known, was originally a goddess in pre-Christian Ireland. She appears in Irish mythology as a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and is the daughter of the Dagda and Bres. (More on who these figures are in future blogs.)

She is associated with the spring season, fertility, poetry, and smithcraft. The Catholic saint has the same attributes which should come as no surprise. I’ll explain why in a moment.

There is a pagan festival in honor of Brigid. Imbolc which, per Celtic tradition, marks the beginning of the spring season. Imbolc is February 2. Catholics celebrate St. Bridget’s Day on February 1. The difference in dates is easy to explain. Celts, as many peoples do, begin festivals on the eve of the previous day.

Imbolc, or Imbolg, marks the middle between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It is celebrated in Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. It is one of four major Celtic seasonal festivals along with Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain. It is a season of light since the winter sun remains in the sky longer this time of year. Brigid was said to visit homes at Imbolc. People made crosses or dolls from straw of her image. To receive her blessing, a bed was made for her, and people left food and drink. Items like clothing were left for her to bless. She was invoked to protect homes and livestock. Holy wells were visited. It was a time of divination. While some of these beliefs have died out, some Celtic neopagans and Wiccans continue to observe Imbolc.

Additionally, these beliefs were maintained in some form within the Celtic Christian church during the middle ages. As with other “smaller” Christian churches, the Celtic Christian church later joined into the Catholic Church. Many of their beliefs were embraced into the Catholic tradition. This is why Brigid continues to be respected by Catholic people today, many of whom have no idea that once Brigid was a Celtic deity of high regard.

In the Jamie Poole literature, February 1, the Eve of Imbolc, is a key date for events surrounding Eliyana and her people. It marks the date the Eliyana’s people were killed when their island nation north of Scotland was destroyed by an active volcano. For more information on this event, check out the series.

Meanwhile, let the rays of everlasting peace, hope, and joy light up your soul on Imbolc.

#Imbolc #celtic #brigid

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