Sunday, May 22, 2016

Song: Chronilus “Brigid”

About a year ago the band Chronilus played Seattle's Pocket Theater, with the belly-dancing troupe Rags Nocturna. Here is their song “Brigid”, written by Caera Aislingeach.

You can download the song (and hear the words more clearly) at the band's CD Baby page.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Cure for Headache...

This was actually number 13. in the list of headache cures on the page

Old Cures

from Firoda National School in Castlecomer, between Portlaoise and Kilkenny.

  1. Wrap “Brat Bride” around the forehead. This is a scarf placed on the outer door handle on the eve of St. Bridgid to be blessed by the saint as she passes around Ireland.

From blindness to childblains to "a child with wind", you will find the cure for what ails you here.

Remember, though, not all headaches look alike. If it's a migraine you're plagued with, these are the tried and tested cures:

  1. Lie down in a dark room.
  2. Put a wet towel on your head.
  3. Drink the tea made from the leaves of the feverfew plant.
  4. Take two teaspoons of walnut shells steeped in water.
  5. Find a tree whose trunk has the same circumference as the person’s head. Leave a rag on the tree; don’t speak to anyone on the way home.

Image: by Mael Brigde (2006)

Monday, May 09, 2016

Story Archaeologists Revisit Brigit

Sculpture by Annette McCormack

Last July I posted about Chris Thompson and Isolde Carmody and the Brigit-related entries on their excellent site, Story Archaeology . The site combines well-informed and good-natured podcasts, blog entries, and images. This link will take you to my original posting, and through that to their original postings. But they have recently revisited Brigit and her world, and I want to share those new links with you as well. I very much enjoyed the new podcast (as Facebook has no doubt noticed, since I posted links to it in every group I belong to). Here is a link to it, and to the blog postings.

Revisiting Mythical Women 05: 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.)

The clip below (which looks like video but is actually audio stuck on a picture of Saint Brigit's Well at Faughart) is from the original podcast.

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

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.