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

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New Brigit Book - Courtney Weber’s Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess

Courtney Weber’s new book Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess (Weiser 2015) is freshly out and she was kind enough to give me a copy as thanks for using the prayer I wrote after the Newtown killings. I asked her if she would answer a few questions about the book and her connection to it so that I could pass that on to you along with the publishing information. Here are her answers to my probing queries.

My perspective: Progressive Wiccan/Pagan with strong Celtic influences.

Why did you write the book?
Several reasons! First of all (and I tell this story in the book), I made a promise to Brigid back in college that if She would help me finish a short story for my fiction class, I'd write a book for Her. She sent along the inspiration, but I did not complete my end of the bargain. I forgot about it completely and went about my life, wondering why my writing career could never launch beyond a MySpace blog with 20 followers. Eventually, people started asking me about book recommendations about Brigid. I would refer them to Irish prayer books and Celtic myths. Finally, it made sense to just put one together with all the things I was sending people around to find, scavenger-hunt style. It was also about that time that in ritual, I was reminded of a promise I'd made a decade before. I knew I needed to write the book to make good my word to Brigid, and also try to help people find the resources they were looking for. (Continued below.)

Courtney Weber
photo by Theresa Pridemore

Friday, May 15, 2015

Video: Lá Fhéile Bríde — The Festival Day of Bríd by Gaol Naofa

Gaol Naofa is a Gaelic Polytheist organization of which the excellent Celtic Reconstructionist blogger Tairis is current head. Best if I let them describe themselves. (They say a heck of a lot more than this; if you want to know more, check them out.)

From their website:

'Gaol Naofa is an Irish phrase that roughly translates to “sacred kinship” ... The purpose of Gaol Naofa is to take an active role in the preservation and revitalisation of the pre-Christian and other-than-Christian, earth-based spiritual traditions of our Gaelic ancestors. We do this by gathering people together and creating an environment for the exchange of resources, information, research and ideas, and by providing a medium for the propagation of knowledge.

Among their festival videos is this one,

Lá Fhéile Bríde — The Festival Day of Bríd

Leap here for info on the song used in this video.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

For Bealtaine: Highland Quarter Cakes

In honour of Bealtaine, just around the corner now, here is an excerpt from F. Marian McNeill's wonderful book on Scottish food and related lore. She mentions the now lost bannock made for Imbolc as well--how I wish we had the rituals related to that.

Blessings of the season! 

Oatcakes, prepared in a special way were used from time immemorial, in the rites of Beltane (May 1st, O.S.). Pennant (1769) writes: ‘Everyone takes a cake of oatmeal, upon which are raised nine square knobs, each dedicated to some particular being, the supposed preserver of their flocks and herds, or to some particular animal, the real destroyer of them. Each person turns his face to the fire, breaks off a knob, and flinging it over his shoulder, says: “This I give to thee, preserve thou my horses; this to thee, preserve thou my sheep,” and so on. After that, they use the same ceremony to the noxious animals: “This I give to thee, O Fox, spare thou my lambs; this to thee, O Hooded Crow, this to thee O Eagle!”

 ...In Badenoch, until recently, oatcakes marked on one side with a cross and on the other with a circle were rolled down the hillside on Beltane morning. (See The Silver Bough, Vol. II.)...

The Beltane bannock appears to be the last survivor of the old Highland Quarter Cakes; the bonnach Bride, St. Bride’s bannock, baked for the first day of spring; the bonnach Bealltain, Beltane bannock, baked for the first day of summer; the bonnach Lunastain, Lammas bannock, baked for the first day of autumn; and the bonnach Samhthain, Hallowmas bannock, baked for the first day of winter.

– F. Marian McNeill, The Scot’s Kitchen: Its Traditions and Lore with Old-Time Recipes, Mayflower Granada (1979) pg 232-233.
(First published 1929)