Saturday, July 25, 2015

Blessings of Lughnasa and the Well at Liscannor

Blessings of (almost) Lughnasa!

Saint Brigit's Well at Liscannor in Co. Clare is a traditional site for Lughnasa celebrations, as described in Máire MacNeill's The Festival of Lughnasa. That festival, held there on the last Sunday in July (Garland Sunday, called by some Garlic Sunday), and her own feast day at Imbolc were the two major days of pilgrimage to the site. At one time the Aran Islanders paddled over in their curraghs and walked the five miles inland to her well, where they spent the night singing to the spellbound locals.

Blessings of Lugh and Brigit on the harvest.

Sitting in drought-kissed British Columbia, where the fires have been raging for weeks and now the air is sweet with one day's rain, I am very aware of the delicate balance of plenty and famine. I pray for rain in healthful quantities in all our countries, for food and nourishment of every kind for all, for the wisdom to steward this planet challenged by our numbers and our ways of life.

Blessings of Lughnasa on you and your families.

 George Petrie (1790-1866), Pilgrims at Saint Brigid's Well, Liscannor, Co. Clare, c.1829-1830, NGI.2381

George Petrie (1790-1866)
Watercolour on paper, 18.5 x 26 cm.
Bequeathed, Miss M. Stokes, 1900.
St Brigid’s Well at Liscannor, Co. Clare is one of a number of Irish holy wells associated with St Brigid of Kildare, one of Ireland’s patron saints.
The well is a popular site of pilgrimage with great numbers travelling from across Clare and the Aran Islands to participate in the traditional Lughnasa festival on the last Sunday of July (or first Sunday in August).
Petrie shows the well from across a narrow stream. A number of pilgrims perform the various stages of the Rites associated with the well; some kneel in prayer while others circle the well, which is marked by a standing stone inscribed with a cross. The well is depicted in its original location before being moved to a more convenient site in 1853, where it remains today.
Petrie was one of a circle of scholars, antiquarians and artists who, fascinated by Irish history and folklore, toured the country studying and documenting its scenery and antiquities. This is one of his many watercolours depicting locations of Irish cultural significance and is a typical example of his approach to painting. Although romantic and sentimental in style, his work was accurate in its representation of the subject matter. 


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Broccan's Hymn

I record these so I can listen to them in peaceful moments. My pronunciation leaves something to be desired but if you aren't too fussy, you may also get something out of the contemplative nature of a reading.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Story Archaeologists Search for Brigid

St Brigid's Well at Faughart

I'm very fond of the podcasts (and blog posts) put together by the Wonderful and Talented Chris Thompson and Isolde Carmody on their site Story Archaeology. With well wrought stories, thorough examinations of texts, and a good dose of humour, they present fresh thinking on old stories from Irish mythology.

Follow this link to explore the posts tagged "Brig", or listen (I have pasted a small excerpt below) to "Mythical Women" episode 5 "The Search for Brigid". They provide downloadable files of all their podcasts (mp3s), or you may subscribe to them through iTunes. (Hint: I have found with iTunes in this particular case that I need to download the podcasts one at a time. Can't just click on them all and walk away.)

Hear also (of course!) the podcast on Brig's husband Bres in the Cath Maige Tuired, and read the associated blog postings.

Bres by Jim Fitzpatrick

Monday, June 22, 2015

News Flash! Two Easters Celebrated at Kildare, Says Bethu Brigte!

from Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum.
An interesting little tidbit, this.
I noticed in rerereading Bethu Brigte the other day (The Irish Life of Saint Brigit--so called because it was written in Irish, not Latin) that Bishop Mel, and therefore his flock, was celebrating both Easters. 
"24 - On the following day, Monday, Mel came to Brigit to preach and say Mass for her between the two Easters."
Bethu Brigte was written down in the Book of Leinster c.800–850 CE--nearly two hundred years after the Synod of Whitby. It was at Whitby that King Oswiu ruled Northumbria would go with the Romans on the date of Easter and on monastic tonsures, rather than the Irish monastic practices followed at Iona, etc. (Synod of Whitby, 664 CE).
According to Wikipedia The Infallible (and allegedly to Haddan and Stubbs), South Ireland adopted the Roman dates circa 626-8 and North Ireland in 692. This means that Kildare itself had likely been celebrating Easter on the Roman date since a hundred years or so after St Brigit's death, and long before the BB was written. Which gives a wonderful sense of verisimilitude to the detail, that at one time, in order to hedge (if you'll pardon the pun) their bets, monasteries such as Kildare were celebrating not one nor the other, but both.
You can find the Bethu Brigte here:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Brighid: Song by CoolMasala


I can't find out much about coolMasala, the band which produced this song, but follow this link for the song itself and several others on their AllMusic page. I found it on Miriam Carl Bölük's YouTube channel, with the credits she supplied below. All I can tell you is that they are from Berlin, and that they do indeed look cool:

Miriam, by the way, is one of the members of this interesting band. For more photos, check out their MySpace page.

Published on 1 Feb 2015

by Christopher Daams,
by Ayrtha,
by Wendy Andrew
and by Ruth Sanderson
by Jodine Cognato Turner

background candles and

Sunday, May 31, 2015

‘Cogitosus's "Life of St Brigit" Content and Value’ Sean Connolly and J.-M. Picard

It took me an age to get this article and translation of Cogitosus's Vita Brigitae. When possible I will get a copy up on the Daughters of the Flame site along with the Liam de Paor translation that is now there. Look for the brilliant yellow button below to download the pdf. For now, I will just jot a couple of notes and give you the citation so you can track it down yourself.

By the way, in the introduction Connolly says they are preparing a longer work on the VB. Anyone know if this was ever done? A quick search has yielded nothing.


‘Cogitosus's "Life of St Brigit" Content and Value’ Sean Connolly and J.-M. Picard The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. 117 (1987), pp. 5-27

In his preface to a translation of Cogitosus’s Vita Brigitae, the author briefly discusses Cogitosus and his relationship to Brigit and to Kildare, and his presumed era of writing. Only three other works of this nature are available from the 7th c (Tirechan, Collectanea, Muirchu, Vita Patricii, both re St Patrick; Adomnan, Vita Columbae), with Cogitosus’s likely the earliest. VB is of particular interest to historians because it shows that in the 7th c Kildare was claiming for itself primacy over all the monasteries in Ireland, and because of what it tells about monastic life. It is of interest to archaeologists because of its references to continental trade, road-building practices, the construction of mills, and the physical layout of Brigit’s church.

Reminding us that the Irish Church was only two centuries old at the time of writing, Connolly examines the work’s “catechetical aim” of teaching religious values, particularly of faith and charity, to Irish Christians.

Repeatedly Brigit’s great faith enables her to perform miracles (all attributable to God’s power, not her own). Other recurring values are chastity and obedience, and her faith is shown in her devotion to prayer—the secret of her ability to intercede with God being her ceaseless, single-minded prayer—and to evangelism. This emphasis on preaching is supported in Vita I  (Vita prima Sanctae Brigitae) as well. (VI apparently written nearly a century later).

The second main value emphasised is charity, which expresses itself in numerous miracles, many of which are modelled on Biblical stories, which show “her concern for the poor, the oppressed or the embarrassed, or simply her guests, whether friends or strangers” (pg 9).

The language of the article is easily accessible to non-expert readers, and the ideas simple, with plenty of examples (mostly brief notations of where they can be found in the text, some with fuller explanation). He lays out with clarity his argument that Cogitosus in his Life has not simply “just strung together at random a series of miracles of folkloric interest to entertain his readers” (pg 6), but is purposefully directing his audience to a fuller understanding of and commitment to specific monastic virtues. Without familiarity with the Life itself some of the references, not being fully explained, lose some of their impact. It might be preferred to read the Life first, or to reread the introductory material once having read the Life.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Question For Brigit Lovers

I know that there is a vastness of kinds of folk who love Brigit. I'd like to get a clearer sense of the sorts of people and perspectives are involved--not all of us write books or even blog posts about her.

So I ask you,and encourage you to spread the question either through sharing this post or a similar one on Facebook--who are we?

What draws you to her? What is your background--Christian, Wiccan, Celtic Reconstructionist, Environmentalist, Feminist, Poet, Healer, Smith?

Donna's Cross
Mael Brigde