Saturday, November 27, 2021

A Different Kind of Catholic Church: Saint Brigid of Kildare Catholic Faith Community of Calgary

There is a Catholic Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada that looks very inviting to me. Led by two Roman Catholic Womanpriests, Saint Brigid of Kildare Catholic Faith Community of Calgary looks to the past and present as well as to the possibilities for the Church and society in the future. Ecumenical in nature, inclusive of all genders, it sounds like a wonderful place to explore Christian spirituality guided by the inspiration of Saint Brigit.

"Our community members are warm, welcoming people with a passion for the healing and renewal of the church and society."

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Goddess Brigid - Professor Ronald Hutton Zoom Lecture


So, there is a lecture coming up online by Professor Ronald Hutton, which looks in part at why the saint and the goddess seem so dissimilar. It is hosted by The Viktor Wynd Museum & The Last Tuesday Society, and will happen on the 23rd of February, so lots of lead time.

From the website:

This talk is designed to look at the evidence for both goddess and saint, and the possible relationships between them.

About this event:

a recording of this lecture will be available to ticket holders for two weeks after the event

Brigid (or Bridget, or Bride) is the most popular Irish goddess in the modern world. This is partly because of her bountiful and gentle nature, as a patroness of handicrafts (especially smithwork), poetry and healing, and partly because she is also revered as a major Christian saint, the patroness of Ireland, with a rich heritage of stories attached to her. She thus acts a a connecting point between the religions. The general supposition is that the goddess had an equal importance in pre-Christian times, and evolved into the saint. If that is so, however, why are the pagan and Christian figures so different, and why are there so few actual references to the goddess in medieval texts? This talk is designed to look at the evidence for both goddess and saint, and the possible relationships between them.


Professor Ronald Hutton is a Professor of History at the University of Bristol. He is a leading authority on history of the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on ancient and medieval paganism and magic, and on the global context of witchcraft beliefs.

Date and time:

Wed, February 23, 2022

7:30 PM - 9:00 PM GMT (11:30 AM – 1:00 PM PST)


£5.82 – £11.04

Tickets may be purchased here.

Image: Uncredited, from the website.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Brigit and the Buddha, Sharing an Altar

 A month or two ago, I felt the need to combine my two main altars, my Brigit altar and my Buddha altar.

It feels right this way, for now at least Brigit has my heart and the Buddha has my mind. When I sit with Brigit now I am reminded to welcome everything. Considering that "Everything" has recently included the death of my beloved younger brother, welcoming it is both a challenge and a gift. Sitting here, I read my poetry to Brigit and I remind myself of the Buddha's teachings and how they have helped me to shape a practice that is based on growth through self reflection and compassion.

I can mourn here, in stillness and the security of Brigit's protection and my own clarity and strength. I can yield to my sorrow and in yielding to it free it and come tear by tear word by word moment by moment closer and closer to peace.

I practice yoga in this tiny room, too. I have to be careful not to kick the altar when we do a leg raise in downward facing dog. The practice of asanas and of pranayama breathing help me to feel my body more completely than I do in my normal, vaguely unaware state. This practice brings me to a place where I can sit at the altar and connect, meditate, contemplate, or pour out my feelings in a far more grounded state.

When I moved here from my bachelor apartment of thirty years, I decided not to use the little bedroom for my bed, but to create a sanctuary for yoga, meditation, and prayer. This has made the room a magical place. If I am out there in the living room where my bed is or in the nook where the table is (with computer, eg work space, on it), or generally wandering around with a feeling of stress, if I walk into this room where all that loving work is done, I feel peace. Maybe just for a second and maybe only a particle of it, but it’s here. All those moments, they are here, waiting to greet me when I have the need. The love I have for Brigit, the gratitude I have for her and for the Buddha, the moments of strength in my body or release of pain or tension, the times when I’ve been able to open my mind to a different way of thinking or my heart to a different way of being. They’re all here.

I am infinitely lucky to have this room, to have the teachings of these two culturally disparate wisdom paths, to have the support of communities, to have a disability pension and a place in a wonderfully conceived subsidised housing development. I am lucky to have had my brother for the 50 some years that I did. I am lucky in so many ways and I am so grateful.

When I visited Kildare in 1997, I took my various life strands to her well and talked with her about them. I wondered if I should give up some of the things that I loved and devoted time to so I could focus more generously on some of the others. What I realised there, through her guidance, I am sure, was that even though they were seemingly unrelated they all supported each other in me and that I didn’t need to give any of them up. That in drawing on all of them I understood each of them a little better. Similarly, I used to worry about being a Pagan and a Buddhist at the same time. I wondered if I was being insincere or inauthentic or somehow letting down the team. But they served such different purposes in my life, although they blend together beautifully. My Buddhism is stronger and broader because of Brigit, and my service to and connection with Brigit is stronger and broader because of the Buddha. I guess that’s why combining my two altars feels so right for me. There is no contradiction here. And I am so so lucky to have found them both.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me on these interweaving paths. Blessings on us all.

Image: Photo of my quiet place.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Monday, November 08, 2021

At Last! Saint Brigit's Got Her Own Official Holiday in Ireland


A time to celebrate, indeed. It has been decided to give Saint Brigit her own official (bank) holiday in Ireland. She joins Saint Patrick and Saint Stephen in being so honoured.

"Ireland's new Bank Holiday set to fall on St Brigid's Day" by Dave Hanratty

Briefly, the bank holiday will begin this coming February, and will be celebrated on the Monday closest to 1 February.

Image: Photo by Dmitry Shamis on Unsplash

Thursday, October 07, 2021

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