Thursday, October 07, 2021

A Brigit of Ireland Devotional - Sun Among Stars by Mael Brigde


This post gives an overview of the book, quotes from readers (including Orlagh Costello and Morgan Daimler, who contributed a foreword and afterword), and links to buy it.

Book Review: Becoming Brigid by Lisa Shafer


Becoming Brigid by Lisa Shafer (2013)


Confession: covers matter to me. They are the first thing about a book that catches my attention, either by their wonderfulness, their horribleness, or their unnoticeableness. They tell me the genre, often, what sort of publisher is handling them (don’t assume I gravitate to the ones from big publishers, because I don’t), and, if I’m lucky, something of the subject of the book. They are my first opportunity to assess whether I might be interested enough to stay a moment and find out a little more.


Given all that, I approached this book, which I found by chance online, cautiously. The cover appeared homemade, which usually means the book is self-published. I know that many self-published books are awesome, but a whole lot of them are not. So, I approach, but with slightly lowered expectations.


To my delight, the blurb told me that this was a novel not just about a girl and a fellow, but also a missing goddess named Brigid. Yes!! There are not enough novels about Brigit, from where I sit, and I am always looking for ones I will love. With Becoming Brigid I was looking at one that moved out of the more serious territory of the others I have read* and into a fond sub-genre, paranormal fantasy. I ordered it, and soon it arrived.


My first impressions were good. The writing was professional and engaging, the genre familiar and comfortable (North American Y.A. urban fantasy), and I quickly got a sense of the main character and her cheeky, adventurous spirit. Her father is a ghost hunter who never finds anything, but she, it seems, sees ghosts. And one, at least, sees her.


And we’re off.


The long and the short of it is, I really like this book. The plot is appealing and carried me along, with enough surprises that I was pleased but not so many I was exhausted. The main and secondary characters are convincing and interesting (I really like Pepper’s sidekick, though I wish her female friends had featured more in the book). The dialogue, and in fact the writing overall, is excellent. The story’s main setting (Utah) remains tangible in my memory, though I have hazier recollection of other settings. And the author’s humour shines through on a number of occasions, giving me some good, unexpected laughs, which I appreciate in a book that is not attempting to be funny on every page. I was absolutely in my reading element to have added to all of that the intrigue of my real life favourite goddess playing a major part here.


Did I have criticisms flickering in my brain at any points as I read along? Of course. I always do – even when I am the person who did the writing.


There were a couple of moments where a person of size was referred to in a humourously pejorative way, which really bothers me. (I felt somewhat better when I discovered that the author herself is heavy. Not that it makes it great, but it is likely internalised oppression rather than skinny-person prejudice. I can live with that.)


I did feel uncomfortable with the sexual vibe between a teenager and a grown man, even though it is never acted on beyond a brief kiss. Why could he not have been a teenager, too? On the other hand, handled as it is, it’s saying to girls, “You can say no even to a guy you really like; there is no hurry or even any need to act on those feelings,” without shaming the protagonist’s sexual sensations and desires. That is pretty cool, if you ask me, and a whole lot different than the messages in the books I read as a teen.


In fact, there is a whole lot of girl power happening in this story, a lot of rejection of controlling males, and the protagonist finding her way through her fears and self-perceptions: but not in a heavy handed, info dump kind of way. Really well done.


For those among us who are attached to certain stories about the goddess Brigit, I will say that the backstory here is not from the Irish tales and traditions. It is based instead on a much more recent tale of Brigit and Lugh in Scotland, along with what my limited understanding believes is a Wiccan or similar Neo-Pagan perspective. Brigit’s triple goddess nature is said by one character to be linked to the maiden-mother-crone modality, which in origin, in fact, it is not. This is again a modern framework superimposed on an ancient goddess.


But you know what? That’s okay. If we aren’t coming to this novel to learn mythology or history, but to enjoy fictional magic, a character’s growing self-awareness, and plain good writing, then there is no need to worry about those things. And you know how much time I do spend worrying about them, in my free time.


Now, I may have to seek out Lisa Shafer’s other books, starting with the first, Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire.





* You can read my reviews of them on my blog, Brigit’s Sparkling Flame:

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Solas Bhríde - Online Meditation, Sacred Dance Class


Last chance to book!   Autumn Meditation Series (Online) 
Autumn heralds a season filled with change, celebrates harvest and ushers in the brilliant beauty of letting go. This is a calling for us to pause, to reflect and to practice gratitude and thankfulness as a way of reaping our own inner harvest.
Join us online for our Autumn meditation series which celebrates the Season of Creation and reflects in particular on the concepts of 'letting go' and 'time to rest' as we seek to mirror the rhythm of nature at this time of year.

Book your place for Thursday 7th October     7.30pm - 8.00pm 

Book your place for Thursday 14th October   7.30pm - 8.00pm
Cost €5

Sacred Dance Returns to Solas Bhride
Have you every wondered what 'sacred dance' is? Curious?
Sacred dancing is an ancient tradition for marking special occasions, rituals, strengthening community and encouraging togetherness.
Come along to Solas Bhride in Kildare Town and experience the joy and peace of dancing together in a harmonious circle through gentle movement.
No experience is necessary as Terry and Betty will expertly guide us into each danced prayer to carefully chosen music from around the globe.
This is a perfect time to reconnect with our inner self, each other and the Earth. 

BOOK NOW  to secure your place for this very special event on Wednesday 20th October (7.30pm - 9.00pm)
Cost €15

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Book: The Brigidine Sisters in Ireland...


Look what landed in my mailbox yesterday.

The Brigidine Sisters in Ireland, America, Australia and New Zealand, 1807–1922, by Ann Powers (Four Courts Press, 2018) fresh from the Ballyroan Library. Well, not quite fresh. I bought it on eBay.


From the publisher's site:

The history of the Brigidines, formally known as the Sisters of St Brigid, provides a detailed and fascinating account of the congregation and its mission to the rural communities of Ireland, America, Australia and New Zealand. It compares the religious order to similar female congregations, and throws new light on Bishop Daniel Delany of Kildare and Leighlin who founded the Brigidines in 1807. His motto – strength and gentleness – became the hallmark of Brigidine practice and service.

The book highlights the lives, courage and spirit of adventure of many sisters, the hardships they endured, hidden from the public eye, and their significant achievements in education. It contributes not only to a greater understanding of the religious life but also is an appreciation of the role and adaptability of female religious in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It also contains a prosopography of around 700 nuns (1807–1922).

Ann Power holds a PhD in history from Trinity College Dublin, and a BA and an MA from Carlow College, St Patrick’s.

Image: unclear photo of book titled as above, with blurry humans seated on benches among trees.


Thursday, September 09, 2021

Upcoming Anthology: Brigid's Light - Tending the Ancestral Flame of the Beloved Celtic Goddess


Art by Stuart Littlejohn

An interesting new project is coming to light, an anthology of Brigit writings taken from outside her traditional homelands. It is the brainchild of Cairelle Crow and Laura Louella of the Sanctuary of Brigid.

It's an unusual idea, which began with the intention of exploring Brigit in the lives of the "Celtic" diaspora, and has evolved to include those with no ethnic or cultural connection to Brigit, but who have met and loved her through others. I am pleased to report that I have two poems in it, having caught wind of the submissions call just before the closing date. I haven't seen the manuscript, nor do I know whose work is included, but I am looking forward to exploring this offering when the time comes.

Brigid's Light: Tending the Ancestral Flame of the Beloved Celtic Goddess by Cairelle Crow (Editor), Laura Louella (Editor), and Judika Illes (Foreword). Release date: 1 March 2022. Pre-Order: here

Stories, spells, rituals, and recipes celebrating the worldwide influence of this beloved Celtic goddess, with contributions from Amy Blackthorn, Laura Tempest Zakroff, Courtney Weber, and many others

This anthology celebrates Brigid, an ancient and mysterious Celtic spirit who ranks among today’s most popular modern goddesses. Venerated in many forms including as a saint and a goddess, Brigid has traveled the globe alongside the Celtic diaspora. Once a goddess with a narrow territory, she is now an internationally beloved presence. While acknowledging her origins, this book also explores Brigid from the perspective of those outside her original Celtic homeland.

Editors Cairelle Crow and Laura Louella have gathered art, poetry, stories, spells, rituals, recipes, and traditions as an homage to the worldwide influence of Brigid’s magic and lore, especially among the descendants of immigrants to the Americas. In compiling these individual works, Cairelle and Laura have given voice to those traveling ancestors by showcasing a rich and beautiful heritage manifested through embodiments of devotion by their descendants, as well as others touched by Brigid.

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Elaine Ní Chiardha's "Brigid of the Flame"

 Elaine Ní Chiardha of Singing the Land has a beautiful song to Brigit, called "Brigid of the Flame." You can listen to the full version on YouTube or learn the chant derived from it on SoundCloud.

If you would like to learn more about Elaine and "Songs for St. Brigid and St. Patrick," listen to her interview with Amy Panetta on The Celtic Feminine Podcast.

Image: "Tara Hill, Tarahill, County Wexford, Ireland" by James Butterly (@jamesbutterly) on Unsplash.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Many Voices - Book Launch & Celebration of Brigit


What a beautiful event that was. I am very happy that I took a leaf from Geraldine Moorkens Byrne's book and turned my launch into a community celebration. I briefly introduced the launch, then read four short poems before sitting back to watch and listen as friends from Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Italy, and the United States read and sang from their hearts to and about Brigit. It was very moving. A joyful and precious time.

The launch was held on Zoom (with ticketing help from the wonderful Ticket Tailor) and livestreamed to Facebook Live. I am happy to say that we can watch it (or rewatch it!) any time on Facebook at Brigit's Portal (my Page) or on YouTube.

Image: Mael Brigde, a white woman in a red dress, wearing black earphones, smiles as she speaks to her computer.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Rachel Patterson's Little Video

To my surprise and delight, I discovered today that the wonderful Rachel Patterson, Kitchen Witch and fellow Moon Books author, made a teensy video about my book, A Brigit of Ireland Devotional - Sun Among Stars. You can find it here.