Sunday, May 01, 2016

"My Story" by Peter O'Leary

Cover Art by Jack Yeats, brother of W.B. Yeats

Canon O'Leary's "Mo Scéal Fein" (My Story) was first published in 1915, but did not see print in English until 1970. At that time, the addition of generous notes and appendices allowed a context for his memories, giving those of us with a weak grasp on Irish history and issues of moment a better understanding of what he is describing.

This highly readable autobiography offers glimpses of the Great Hunger, the launching of efforts to rescue Irish from extinction, and the successful resistance of farmers against landlords at a time when rent was insisted upon despite the lack of harvest and funds. From a poor background himself, Father O'Leary worked tirelessly to bring education to the boys and young men of rural Ireland, gathering books from The Poets and Poetry of Munster to Shakespeare and Milton, and teaching Irish, Latin, and Ancient Greek in exchange for their commitment to abstain from drink, the destructiveness of which raised him to a passion. He witnessed and frequently participated in much more besides, including the Easter Rising and the War of Independence, about which he had firm opinions—as he did about every other thing.

Though he only mentions her a few times, Canon O'Leary was deeply devoted to Saint Brigit, and his trust in her was complete. Whether we see things from his viewpoint or not is unimportant; that we are given the opportunity to see her, and their shared world, through his eyes is the wonderful thing.

"We put the entire business, ourselves and the library, under the protection of St. Brigid."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

BRIGIT Strikes a Blow for the Environment!..............(I Think.)

Well, here's an odd one. As you know, I often find ideas for my posts by simply entering the name "Brigit" in my search engine and seeing what pops up.

Till today I did not know, for instance, that since August 2012 a four year research and development project involving sixteen partners in the European Union has been operating under the name of BRIGIT.

But why? I mean, why the name? I have written them, and I hope I can report back to you. There is no obvious explanation on the site. It isn't an acronym, it has nothing to do with Ireland, but look at the logo. A sort of half-Celtic knot, half-pentacle thing, no? And look at what they are doing:

'New tailor-made biopolymers produced from lignocellulosic sugars waste for highly demanding fire-resistant applications'

BRIGIT aims to develop a cost-competitive and environmentally friendly continuous process to produce biopolymers (polyhydroxybutyrate, PHB, and succinate-based biopolyesters, PBS-Poly-Butylene-Succinate) from waste-derived lignocelullosic sugar feedstock liquor of wood sulphite pulping process based on “in-situ” fermentation process and new fermentation culture technology without alteration of the quality of current lignosulphonates (they have a high market demand as additive). Other non-wood plant waste, used nowadays in the pulp production, will be also considered as alternative sugar source in this project.

In comparison with previous projects to obtain biopolymers from different sources, the main innovation in BRIGIT is the use of an existing sugar-rich waste stream and the process integration with the existing industrial operation, that will permit an overall reduction in resource consumption and in greenhouse gas emissions and a dramatic reduction of operational costs due to the use of non-sterile steps, without the need of intermediate discontinuous bioreactors and avoiding waste transport.

Okay. So, like our Brigit, BRIGIT has a connection to fire, though in her case, she is resisting it, not igniting it. On the other hand, if we look back to Saint Brigit's vitae, when she was a baby flames were seen to be coming from her chamber while she herself was untouched. So maybe they are onto something here.

Taken further, BRIGIT is apparently concerned with the health of the land, as Saint Brigit and her goddess counterpart--and any self-respecting sovereign goddess would do. At least, the thrust seems to be to reduce the use of natural resources and decrease greenhouse gas emissions (besides saving investors a bucketload of cash, though I'm not sure our Brigit is too concerned about that).

Going a few steps further even still, notice that they are making polymers. It would not be too great a stretch to see the goddess Brigit's role as smith here. Where her devotees originally shaped metals, these modern day smiths shape plastics, bio-plastics, even--indeed, they are shaping molecules themselves. Which is pretty darn cool; the stuff of goddesses.

So I don't know if we have a hidden Brigidine in here, or if the woman who thought of the project named it after herself (or the man who thought of it named it after his mother) or what. But I like the parallels, and I like the logo, and for that matter, I like the project, from what I can understand of it.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. And if I hear back on the name, I'll post it here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Upcoming Events at Solas Bhríde

There are some tantalizing events coming up at Solas Bhríde, the home of the Brigidine Sisters in Kildare, Éire. The new centre and hermitages are up and running, so if you are going to be in Ireland over the next couple of months, you might want to try securing a place there and attending.

10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Spring Awakening  COMPLETED
Solas Bhride, Kildare Town Co. Kildare
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
A Celebration of Bealtaine
Solas Bhride, Kildare Town Co. Kildare
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
An Introduction to the Mystics
Solas Bhride, Kildare Town Co. Kildare
10:30 am - 12:30 pm
Sacred Dance
Solas Bhride, Kildare Town Co. Kildare
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
A Celebration of the Summer Solstice
Solas Bhride, Kildare Town Co. Kildare

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Brigid's Wayside Well: Kildare, with Erynn Laurie

I have lifted the bulk of the text (but not all the directions, and none of the photos) from Erynn Laurie's blog, Searching for Imbas: A Professional Madwoman's Search for Poetic Inspiration. The post is about finding Brigit's Wayside Well in Kildare. Please go to the original posting for the full directions and helpful photos.

One of the more challenging things I had to deal with in preparing for the 2012 Ireland pilgrimage was finding the original Brigid's Well in Kildare Town from five thousand miles away, with only vague hints on the web to go by. I looked for a couple of weeks, only able to find the occasional photo of the well itself, with very vague descriptions of its location that made little sense to me, having never been to Kildare before.

I've been told "oh, well, it wasn't that hard for me to find," by people who had found it when they were in Kildare. Truthfully, once you're in Kildare, you can ask about the Wayside Well and some of the people who live there can tell you where it is pretty easily, but I had a lot of trouble ahead of time. So if you want to go to Kildare and visit the older well, this is how you can find it without having to shanghai some stranger on a Kildare street corner.

Here is the little hand-drawn map from the book Rekindling the Flame: A Pilgrimage in the Footsteps of Brigid of Kildare by Rita Minehan, CSB. The book is small and sometimes not easy to find online, but I got a copy for about $17 from Amazon UK. If you look, you might be able to find one yourself. It has photos of the Brigid sites in Kildare, along with a pilgrimage route and some liturgical material primarily geared for a Catholic audience associated with some of the places. 

The Brigidine Sisters who live in Kildare sell the book at their home/shrine, but if you want to visit them, I highly recommend you contact them in advance and arrange for a visit with them. They are very kind and accepting of people of all paths and are well worth talking to. Their ceremony for gifting Brigid's flame to pilgrims is simple but moving, and they are willing to spend time telling stories of Brigid's life and her mission, as well as acknowledging Brigid as the goddess of poets, smiths, and healers.

From Kildare Town, on Bride Street, it's about 2km south of town. Bride Street turns into Tully Road about when it crosses the M7. You'll turn LEFT at the sign for The Curragh, which is the Irish National Stud Farm, and for the Japanese Gardens. Just a little up that road is an entrance for a parking lot. You'll enter and head back toward Tully Road from there. Park at the very end of the parking lot.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Book: "Pagan Portals - Brigid: Meeting the Celtic Goddess of Poetry, Forge, and Healing Well" by Morgan Daimler

This is an EXCELLENT book.

I have read it cover to cover, and have seen nothing else that comes close to it in clearly and briefly presenting the facts and confusions around the goddess Brigit. (Not the saint. Different book.)

I can't recommend it highly enough.

From the publisher's website:

Pagan Portals - Brigid is a basic introduction to the Goddess Brigid focusing on her history and myth as well as her modern devotion and worship. Primarily looking at the Irish Goddess but including a discussion of her Pan-Celtic appearances, particularly in Scotland. Her different appearances in mythology are discussed along with the conflation of the pagan Goddess with Catholic saint. Modern methods for neopagans to connect to and honor this popular Goddess include offerings and meditation, and personal anecdotes from the author's experiences are included as well.

Who was Brigid to the pre-Christian pagans? Who is she today to neopagans? How do we re-weave the threads of the old pagan Goddess and the new? Learn about Brigid's myths among the pagan Irish, the stories of Bride in Scotland, and the way that people today are finding and honoring this powerful and important deity to find the answer.

Morgan Daimler is an Irish Reconstructionist with Heathen tendencies who has been a polytheist since the early ’90′s. Morgan is a Druid in the Order of the White Oak and witch who follows a path inspired by the Irish Fairy Faith. A wandering cleric of Odin and dedicant of Macha, Morgan teaches classes on Irish myth and magical practices, fairies, and related subjects around the northeastern United States and has appeared as a guest on the podshows, the New Normal and Raven Radio. Morgan has been published in multiple anthologies as well as in Circle magazine, Witches and Pagans magazine, and the CR journal Air n-Aithesc. Besides the titles available through Moon Books Morgan has self-published By Land, Sea, and Sky, a book of Irish language translations called The Treasure of the Tuatha De Danann, and an urban fantasy/paranormal romance series called Between the Worlds and through Spero publishing a children's book called A Child's Eye View of the Fairy Faith. Connecticut, USA.

Course: Weaving the Protection of Brighid - A Goddess Activation Course with Jude Lally

Goddess Ink, publishers of Brigit: Sun of Womanhood, are offering a week-long Goddess Activation course with Jude Lally:

From the website:

This week long Goddess Activation course introduces several traditional ways of invoking Brighid's protection, from creating a Brighid's Wheels to casting the Caim. You will explore each of the six aspects, learning the history and then adapting and integrating them into your daily life. Each lesson is a journey in building and deepening your relationship with Brighid through study, altars, guided meditation and personal rituals...

... Jude Lally is an artist, a writer and holder of sacred space. She grew up a few miles from Loch Lomond, where the river Leven meets the mighty River Clyde, on the West Coast of Scotland.
She gained her masters degree (MSc) in Human Ecology at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland with her thesis "Fire in the Head, Heart and Hand: A Study of the Goddess Brigit as Goddess Archetype and her Relevance to Cultural Activists in Contemporary Scotland."

Find out more about the course and sign up at Weaving the Protection of Brighid.

Cost is $35 US.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Poem for Imbolc: "By Brigit's Day"

Please visit Stone on the Belly--the Brigit poetry blog--for this and other poems and prayers to and about Brigit and her cultus.

Blessings of (Almost) Imbolc! And Thoughts on Feast and Famine

Hello, dear Friends of Brigit!

Coming up is my favourite night of the year--Imbolc, and the beginning of the Celtic spring with all its quickening life and new promise. To those of you in the southern hemisphere comes Lughnasa, another rich moment in the calendar. 

I want to wish all my sisters and brothers in tending Brigit's flame, and all who simply love or simply are terribly curious about her, the brightest of blessings at this festive time. I hope your lives, and your flames, are shining brightly, and would love to hear from you if you would like to say hello.

One of the basic ways I celebrate Imbolc is to make some kind of Irish-related festive meal--usually involving a big pot of colcannon, made either with kale or, as is more common now, cabbage.

This year I've decided to pay homage to my pre-Famine ancestors and eat a potato with a dab of butter and some buttermilk, and nothing more. It is amazing the richness that diet provided, and the devastation of its loss. So to all I say, may we be deeply grateful for the blessings of our earth and on our plates, and may our health be the best that it can be.

I also look forward to making a bed for Brigit, an example of which you will see humbly depicted below, dashing some cream over the threshold, and inviting her in for another year.

Sweet blessings of Brigit on you all!

                                   Flame Offering 

In the name of the three Brigits
I light the candle of my heart

May I offer it to everyone
gentle and steady
warm and bright

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Lady Cara: a Gentle Telling of Brigit's Story (YouTube)

Part One of Lady Cara's telling of Saint Brigit's story:

And Part Two:

Children's Books about Saint Brigid

Fox Leaping Through a Hoop Made from Brigit's Skirt - by Caroline Cory

I will confess right off the top that I have found these links online but have not actually seen any of the books. What a plethora compared to just a few years ago! And the ones I knew (see my reviews in the pages links above) are not even among them.

Holy cow. (As it were.)

The Truth About St Brigid - By the pupils of Saint Brigid’s School for children with special needs in Mullingar. (There is a video of the book, and all proceeds go to buying a bus for the school. If they haven't got it already - it's been a year since the posting.

Holy Crocodile!: Taming Foxes -- The story of Brigit and two foxes feature in one chapter of Cory's book about saints and animals.

 Shower of Roses: Celebrating the Saints :: St. Brigid of Ireland -- This one is a blog posting that features different books and a personal story of her daughter's love for Saint Brigit.

Saint Brigid and the King's Wolf  -- by Rhode Island art educator and illustrator, Mary Kane Hendrickson.

Saint Brigid the Fearless - In a Nutshell -- from Poolbeg's "In A Nutshell" series.

The Story of Saint Brigid -- by Catriona Clarke