Friday, July 15, 2016

Book Review: Pagan Portals - Brigid by Morgan Daimler

Daimler, Morgan. Pagan Portals—Brigid: Meeting the Celtic Goddess of Poetry, Forge, and Healing Well, Moon Book (2016). 112 pages.

  • Paperback £4.99 || $9.95Mar 25, 2016
  • e-book £2.99 || $3.99Mar 25, 2016

AVAILABLE ONLINE FROM: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Hive, Indiebound.


An excellent primer, and the best available for getting a a handle on the sources, ancient and modern, for our understanding of Brigit. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Morgan Daimler is the author of a number of books and shorter works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and is gaining a reputation for clearly written, well researched, and extremely useful handbooks such as this one on Brigit.

Brigit is the spiritual being to whom I have devoted decades of my life, in study and devotion and in supporting others in their journeys on Brigit’s path. I discovered in Pagan Portals—Brigid, to my joy, a book that wastes no words—it is a slim volume indeed—but packs into those pages more clear and illusion-lifting information than I have ever seen set out about Brigit.

The reason is this: Daimler has gone straight to the medieval texts, finding references to Brigit and explaining them lucidly—indeed, clarifying for the reader which text treats her in which way, rather than allowing them to blur together in our minds; she tackles the early geography of goddesses-who-may-be-Brigit; she takes the complex blend of ancient, folk, and modern conceptions of Brigit and sorts them deftly out so the reader can see where commonly heard assertions come from and make up her own mind about where to follow and where not.

Daimler explores animal and plant associations and symbols commonly associated with Brigit, such as triplicity, touches on her holidays, prayers, chants, and charms, and looks at the rise of  modern Brigidine myths and flame-tending, as well as providing hints for honouring Brigit today and supplying a diverse resource list and bibliography.

She ends each chapter with a short essay on her personal connection to Brigit, thus grounding the theory in personal practice. Indeed, although emphasis is put on making assertions supported by solid academic material and distinguishing these from our personal beliefs, she is careful to point out that she does not believe that “the religious framework we use to connect to the Gods matters as much as the effort to honor the old Gods itself. I think we can all do this respectfully and with an appreciation for history without the need for any particular religion. Whether we are Reconstructionists, Wiccans, or Celtic pagans all that really matter is that we are approaching our faith with sincerity and a genuine intention.” I would add that this book would be useful to anyone interested in Brigit, goddess or saint, be they NeoPagan, Christian, or secular scholar, for the information is so well laid out that any further studies or devotions would only be enhanced by the reading of this book.


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.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Saint Brigid Press

Well, you can see why this item caught my eye. Apart from the name, unexplained on the website, I see nothing directly referring to Brigit. BUT, I can easily see the associations.

Saint Brigit's monastery was said to have produced fine books; a not uncommon feature of Irish monasteries was the scriptorium. The goddess Brigit was said to be patron of poets, and although they were not then scribbling down their words, we scribble as much as possible now. What finer way to present words than in finely crafted books and broadsheets?

Saint Brigid Press creates these the old-fashioned way. No, not by quill and squinting, but by setting gorgeous typefaces on gorgeous paper and then gluing and sewing and making splendid.

In their own words:

St Brigid Press is a letterpress print shop in the Blue Ridge Mountains of central Virginia. Emily Hancock is proprietor and printer.
We are dedicated to learning, practicing, and passing-on the art and craft of letterpress printing with hand-set type, hand-carved illustrations, foot-powered presses, and hand-sewn books...

Working with language on an intimate level, from the first ephemeral thoughts of a poem, to the physical sculpture of the letters themselves —
all collaborating to render beauty from experience to expression.”

— Emily Hancock

Monday, June 06, 2016

Brat agus teagasc Bhríde - Seán Ó Colláin

A tale of Brigit, in Irish, with English translation, by Seán Ó Colláin. "Saint Brigit's mantle and teaching" was recorded in 1930 in Co. Galway by Karl Tempel. You can download a copy of the file at the site.

The time when Saint Bridget was in this life, she was the daughter of a poor person. She had spent all of her father's wealth on God's poor. The father did not know what he would do with her. He brought her to the province of Leinster to sell her to (...). He left her outside at the gate. He had a sword and scabbard. He left it with her to keep until he came out...

From the website:

The Doegen Records Web Project

Irish Dialect Sound Recordings 1928-31
Welcome! This archive of Irish dialect sound recordings made during 1928-31 contains folktales, songs and other material recited by native Irish speakers from 17 counties. Crucially, it includes examples of dialects that are now extinct. The collection also includes a speech in English by W.T. Cosgrave, who was head of the Irish government that funded the recording scheme.
  • Browse by countyspeaker or title using the links on the left, or by clicking a county on the map.
  • Information on the speakers’ background, together with a Google Map link, may be found by clicking on the ‘Speakers’ link on the left.
  • You can also enter keywords in the search field on the left, e.g. ‘Fionn’, ‘Róisín Dubh’.
We hope that you will enjoy engaging with these songs, stories and speakers and that you will find the experience an enriching one. We welcome further information from you on the speakers or on the data. To send further information for the site please use the feedback facility.
This multi-media archive is a project of the Royal Irish Academy Library in collaboration with the Digital Humanities Observatory.

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."