Today, 1 February, is the Feast of Saint Brigid, an Irish saint who is second in popularity only to Saint Patrick in Ireland. She founded and was the abbess of the first Irish female monastery at Cill-Dare, the Church of the Oak (Kildare).
Though not much is known about her life, she is supposed to have been the daughter of Irish farmers. Her parents hailed from Dundalk and were supposedly baptised by Saint Patrick himself. Brigid was born circa 451 and died circa 525.
To the Irish, Brigid is seen as a fierce protectress and a second Mary, a.k.a ‘The Mary of the Gael.’
Two Patrons, One Purpose
Saint Brigid’s feast day on 1 February, which coincides with the Pagan Feast Imbolc that was celebrated in honour of the Goddess Brigid, is an obvious theft by the Church. The Pagan Goddess Brigid was (and still is to many) the Goddess of Spring, and of the hearth, fertility, healing (especially with water/sacred wells), poetry, inspiration, and blacksmithing.
Not surprisingly, there is an overlap in Patronage for Saint Brigid: babies, blacksmiths, boatmen, brewers, cattle, chicken farmers, children whose parents are not married, children with abusive fathers, children born into abusive unions, dairymaids, dairy workers, fugitives, infants, mariners, midwives, milkmaids, nuns, poets, poor, poultry farmers, printers, sailors, scholars, and travellers.
Saint Brigid is commonly depicted holding a light or a flame, which is also how Brigid, Goddess of the Hearth, was most commonly depicted.
Some of the miracles Saint Brigid is famous for:
- turning water into beer
- healing two mute sisters with her own blood
- making water spring forth from the ground
- making the eyes of a man who taunted her pop out (!)
- a miraculously expanding cloak that covered a large area of land (the Curragh of Kildare). she’d been promised this land by a stingy chieftain who agreed to give her only the piece of land that she could cover with her cloak
- able to still storms with her prayers etc etc
One and the Same?
Many people do feel that Saint Brigid actually is another representation of the Goddess Brigid. Did a church borrow a person’s identity (presumably by the name of Brigid) so as to not lose any converts? It was a bit of a popularity contest back in the day… Hey, wait, it still is!
I don’t know, and to be honest, I don’t really care – Myth is often more real than real life anyway. We are dealing with archetypal forces of Nature here, one way or another. If Brigid was a Saint with superpowers (why do modern saints not have any?) then she seems to have been an embodiment of the ancient Goddess anyway.
On Imbolc, I have no problem with celebrating both. I see the Goddess Brigid as a representation of Nature and Saint Brigid, the second Mary, as an embodiment of the Christed Divine Feminine.
Tomorrow is Candlemas, aka the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This too is an overlap with the worship of the Goddess Brigid since candles and fires were lit in the honour of Brigid, much in the same manner they are to Mary.
I pray that my Tarot Spread in honour of Saint Brigid will help you tune into the Magick of the Season. The focus is on initiation and new beginnings since Imbolc is traditionally the season of initiation into the mysteries.
The Saint Brigid Tarot Spread
If you like to say a prayer before you begin, I invite you to light a candle to Saint Brigid and say the following prayer:
Oh Brigid, Mary of the Gael,
may your protection never fail.
Spread your mantle over me,
where ‘ere I am, where ‘ere I be.
Cover me with God’s joy and peace,
let my faith and hope never cease.
Shine your light where there is darkness,
strengthen me in any weakness.
Heal all within that may be ill,
give me the desire each day to do God’s will.
‘Till I rest, my journey o’er,
with God and you forevermore.
St. Brigid, pray for us.
- 1. Initiation – What you are being initiated into as another cycle of growth begins
- 2. Support in Spirit – Use an oracle deck for this position, such as an angel or animal oracle that you feel guided to work with. This card represents one of your main spirit allies for the initiation that you are now undergoing. Spend some time in meditation with them and ask them to help you with the rest of the reading.
- 3. Creative gift or talent that you are being invited to use/give birth to through this process of initiation
- 4. How to create a firm foundation for the use of this gift/talent
- 5. How this gift/talent will benefit the Highest Good
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