Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hot off the "Press": Under the Oak on Brigit, Daughter of Duffy

I've mentioned this blog before, and likely will again. Under the Oak is dedicated to postings on the Irish Saints, in particular Brigit of Kildare. Here is a snippet from her latest post:

Brigid, the Daughter of Duffy

A few days ago we looked at the feastday of Saint Dubhthach. I remarked then that this is a name borne by both Irish pagans and Christians, and suggested that perhaps the most famous of its pagan bearers was Dubhthach, the father of Saint Brigid of Kildare. It is also claimed that this name has been anglicized as the modern Irish surname Duffy, and it is in this form that Irish-American poet, Denis A. McCarthy (1870-1931), presents Saint Brigid as the champion of the poor and generous to a fault, something which provokes a culture clash with her pagan father...

The author of the post includes the poem by McCarthy, which begins thus:



BRIGID, the daughter of Duffy, she wasn't like other young things,
Dreaming of lads for her lovers, and twirling her bracelets and rings;
Combing and coiling and curling her hair that was black as the sloes,
Painting her lips and her cheeks that were ruddy and fresh as the rose.
Ah, 'twasn't Brigid would waste all her days in such follies as these -
Christ was the Lover she worshipped for hour after hour on her knees;
Christ and His Church and His poor, - and 'twas many a mile that she trod
Serving the loathsomest lepers that ever were stricken by God...

To see the whole post, and go through the archives which contain many a gem, please go to:

Unfortunately, Blogger is misbehaving and I can't hyperlink that for you, but I'm sure you know what to do!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Mara Freeman Talks Brigit

Mara Freeman is "an author and teacher of Western Esoteric tradition, specifically the Celtic and British branches. She lives in a wooded valley in west Wales not far from the sea." She is the author of Kindling the Celtic Spirit, Harper San Francisco, 2001. In October of 2004 we linked to her Beliefnet guided meditation, Fire at the Forge.

Mara recently contacted me about two Brigit-related postings on her blog, which I would like now to share with you. I'll present here a snippet of each, and then provide a link to the full posting on her blog.

Freeing the Waters – Two Rediscovered Holy Wells of Wales

An age-old tradition links women with wells. In the ancient world

sacred springs were regarded as the entrance to the Underworld

where the spirits dwelled. Pilgrims visited them to receive oracular

utterances from the priestess who was guardian of the shrine – a

practice that was still alive not two hundred years ago in Cornwall.

A mediaeval Grail text tells us of the “Voices of the Wells,” which

were silenced when the Well Maidens were defiled by an evil king

and his followers. Because of this the Holy Grail was withdrawn

from the kingdom and its blessings no longer poured freely out

into our world. This last weekend I visited two wells in mid Wales

that were once lost but recently found again. Strangely enough, the

stories of their rediscovery all involve women....

Ffynnon Ffraid

Winding up through the Cambrian mountains in the hazy heat of early

July, I went in search of one of the few holy wells in Wales dedicated

to St Bridget. The Irish holy woman who was once the Celtic goddess

Brigit is known here as St. Ffraid (pronounced Fride), and a mediaeval

Ffynnon Ffraid had been rediscovered not long ago by a woman living

in a remote upland farm in these parts. According to tradition, when

Bridget was young her duties involved milking cows and making butter in

thehafod, the country people's summer home in the high pastures.

Brigit of the red kites,

Brigit of the moorland,

Brigit of the meadowsweet,

Brigit of the dragonflies . . .

The well was entirely unique in Wales, being covered by stones in the

shape of a beehive, but was in a bad state of repair. Annwen Davies

and her mother worked for years to get funding for its restoration,

but in the end had to use their own savings to get the job done...

To read the full text of this entry, please scoot over to the original posting on Mara's blog.

And from Mara's posting


What the Druids Knew

Bees were considered so important to early Irish society that there
were special bee laws designed to protect them, called the 'bech
tha.' A 7th century holy woman called Gobnait, who founded a
women's community in southwest Ireland, had a close relationship
with bees and used their honey for healing illnesses and treating
wounds. She was said to be one of three sisters who had power
over fire, and is clearly a Christianised version of the triple fire-
goddess, Brighid, with whom she shares the same feast-day in
early February. When a band of thieves attempted to steal the
community cattle, Gobnait let loose a swarm of bees on the
rustlers and sent them fleeing in terror. At her shrine in Bally-
vourney, Co. Cork, a statue depicts her standing on top of a hive,
surrounded by bees.

For the full posting, please follow this link.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Imbolc Down Under

It just occurred to me to mention that when those of us in the northern hemisphere are celebrating Lughnasadh, a Celtic summer harvest festival, many NeoPagan folk in southern realms are celebrating its opposite, which is Imbolc. So a belated call of Joyous Imbolc! to our antipodean kin.

For those who would like to learn more about this North/South flip, from an Australian perspective, look no farther. Daughter of the Flame Roxanne Bodsworth is the author of:

Sunwyse: Celebrating the Sacred Wheel of the Year in Australia

Roxanne Bodsworth.
Hihorse Publishing, 2003 - 96 pages
Sunwyse celebrates the sacred Wheel of the Year in Australia. Following the Wheel is a way of developing a greater awareness of the natural cycles governing life on Earth and having fun in the process. Drawing from many traditions, Sunwyse explores eight festivals associated with the Wheel: two equinoxes, two solstices and four between these points - known as the cross-quarter festivals. Each festival is explained and its theme is explored through mythology. Related holidays and events are listed and there are suggestions for ways of celebrating each festival. Sunwyse is about honouring all aspects of our multicultural heritage and celebrating them in a truly Australian context.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

More from Tairis : Making a Dealbh Bride

I am lifting this entire short article from Seren's site to give a taste of what she has on offer (and because it's a cool posting for Brigidines!):

Making a Dealbh Bride
One of the central celebrations to Là Fhèill Brìghde is the making of the brideag or dealbh Bride – the 'Little Bride', or 'icon of Bride' as it is called in Scotland, or the brideóg as it called in Ireland. The brideag or brideóg was usually made by girls (although in parts of Ireland, boys also made and then paraded them), where as in Scotland, the dealbh Bride was made by the older (married) women of the house.1

In a modern context, this can be an ideal activity for a group, a family, or even on your own, as part of your celebrations. The icons were originally made from sheaves of corn, saved from the harvest, although larger effigies that were to be paraded around the village (in Ireland, specifically) were often made using a churn dash which was then dressed and padded out to make it more lifelike.2 In more recent times, corn might not have been used at all3 (sometimes a child's doll was specially decorated for the occasion, if a dolly wasn't made from scratch), so using modern materials to make the icon can easily be seen as being within the continuum of practise. For many, corn can be hard to come by and the more modern materials available could be said to be more relevant to their circumstances as well.

The icon can be as large or small as you want, and as simple or as complicated as you like. You can use natural or manmade materials, and be as garish or tasteful as you like, and there are any number of different ways you make the doll itself – wire and beads, pipe cleaners, clothes pegs, papier machè, modelling clay, marzipan or icing (for something that's easily biodegradable, if that's a concern), sew it, or knit it. If you decide to sew or knit a brideag then you can easily stuff it with herbs to make it smell nice.

Most art and craft stores have kits you can buy if you're not feeling too confident in making something from scratch, but these can be expensive. Glitter and sparkles tend to be cheaper in toy shops that have an art and craft section, and will always appeal to younger children if you want to make it a joint effort. Alternatively, small shells, pebbles, sticks, bark and anything else you can find outside would make cheaper, more natural decorations.

In decorating the dealbh Bride, I tend to take into account the area I live in (which is coastal), so I often use beads in the shape of starfish, shells, fish and so on for decoration. Since the act of making the icon itself is essentially devotional, personalising it in this way helps me to visualise her making her visits in the area for the night.

As you make the icon – especially in a group – you can set the scene with music and traditional songs, stories or poems and some good food and drink (if you haven't already eaten). There are plenty of songs, stories and poems to choose from that would be appropriate for the day. As much as it can be seen as a devotional, it should be a festive occasion, too.

In the past I've made the dealbh Bride a day or two before I celebrate Là Fhèill Brìghde because with a young family I find it a bit much to fit everything in in just one day. It makes it easier to get the children involved too.

Finally, here are some examples of the dealbh Bride that I've made in the past (some have been more successful than others):
This one I made from scratch. The next one I made using a doll-making kit from a toy shop to get the general doll shape, which I then dressed and decorated myself:
Last year's effort, made from a kit I bought:
This year's efforts, from myself and the kids (age three and five), using a different kit:
Dealbh Bride, 2011
1 Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica, 1992, p582; Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p24.
2 Danaher, The Year in Ireland, 1972, p24.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 February 2011 11:08

Gods as Ancestors : Brigit

Scotland-based Celtic Reconstructionist Seren maintains an excellent website on the topic. In her posting "Gods as Ancestor" she investigates the evidence of local connections between particular deities and areas of Ireland. Of Wexford she writes:

In what is now County Wexford, there were the Benntraige, who traced their descent from Benta, son of Mál, all the way back to Lug son of Ethnenn (Ethne).24 James MacKillop makes Lug the god of the Laigin, being of the opinion that Lug is who they derived their name from; this is linguistically unlikely,25 however, and looking at the names of septs in the area – the Uí Brigte, for example, and possibly the Bairrche (though less likely to derive their name from Brigit),26 along with the foundation of Brigid's monastery in Kildare – all suggests that Brigit was very much the goddess associated with the area.27

Have a look at the whole article, and explore others on this fascinating site. Visit Tairis.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Iron Age Celts Home Education

Brigit, it will come as no surprise to you, arises at least in part from Celtic culture, and some understanding of that culture is useful to those who are attracted to learning more about her. I stumbled across a site which has an interactive educational module on Celtic life, in particular Welsh, designed for youngsters. (Do we still use that word?) Not terribly young myself, I nevertheless enjoyed exploring the site.

Thanks to the BBC for this!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Brighid Oracle

"From a young age Ceri Norman's love of mythology and history has inspired her. After gaining a degree studying History and English, Ceri worked in libraries and museums sharing this love with the people she met. Seeing the pleasure that books and history gave, Ceri started writing fiction that people of all ages could enjoy and relate to. As a deeply spiritual person she prefers her writing to have a spiritual and mystical flavour."

Ceri is the author of Celtic Maidens, "a powerful and supernatural tale of love, lives and obsession set against the dramatic scenery of the Welsh Mountains". She writes for various magazines and contributed to Holly Swann's booklet, "Brighid and Me", mentioned elsewhere in this blog.

The Brighid Oracle, by Ceri Norman

From Ceri's site:

The Brighid Oracle by Ceri Norman will be released later this year by the Tarot Media Company.

The Brighid Oracle is a 33 card deck, with companion book, bringing the divine energy and wisdom of Brighid into daily life. Brighid is known to and loved by many people from a variety of backgrounds and paths as Celtic Goddess, Christian Saint, or Faerie Queen. The cards explore the mythical landscapes, sacred creatures, ancient rites, and rich treasures of creativity which Brighid provides. Many of Her myths and magical symbols are represented in the cards, such as Brighid's cross, swans, fire and Kildare.

I've been working with Brighid for many years and I am her Priestess, Flame Keeper and much more. I've not only written this Oracle for Brighid, I also had a go at illustrating it. Brighid is the light that guides my way in life, she is my guiding star . Brighid's inspiration is a constant source of strength and wisdom, and through this Oracle I share the experience of working with Brighid with others, to inspire them on their own path.

Whether you have a little bit of Irish in your genes, are fascinated by all things Celtic, or are looking to connect with a Goddess who will guide and inspire you, this Oracle has something that appeals to everyone.

The press release for The Brighid Oracle.

I will add more details to this page, such as the release date, as soon as I have more information.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

St Bridget of Skenfrith, Wales

St. Bridget's Church in the village of Skenfrith in the Welsh Marches turned 800 years old in 2007.

According to Filbee, whose Flickr photos of this church are worth a look, St. Bridget's is a "13th century church with squat tower and huge buttress. The interior has a Jacobean pew, 15th century embroidery, and the tomb of the last governor of the Three Castles (Grosmont, Skenfrith, and White).

"St Bridget’s Church was founded in 1207 by Hugh de Burgh who was also responsible for building Skenfrith castle. The tower is unusual. It belongs to the period when the Welsh border was subject to sudden raids and the villagers might need to seek refuge at any time. The tower has five feet thick walls and is capped with a 'Dovecote' which in times of scarcity or danger could have housed pigeons as well as bells. The clock was installed in 1926."

He provides a link to Mark Collins' Roughwood site, with its page on St Bridget's. There are some excellent pictures here. The interior shot above comes from his page.

The UKAttraction site has this to add:

"The church, dedicated to the Irish Abbess Bridget, was built in the 13th Century in Early English and Perpendicular styles. It has a wooden dovecote-topped tower with an open wood lantern containing 6 bells. There is medieval glass in the East window, fragments of wall paintings and an ancient tomb chest with Elizabethan figures depicting the wife and eight children of John Morgan dated 1557. A rare pre-Reformation cope (a cape-like garment worn by Bishops) is preserved in a glass-fronted case."

This handy page provides links to attractions in the area of the church, places to stay, and so on.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"The Giveaway" (from The Love Letters of Phyllis McGinley)

"The Giveaway"

Saint Bridget was

A problem child.

Although a lass

Demure and mild,

And one who strove

To please her dad,

Saint Bridget drove

The family mad.

For here's the fault in Bridget lay:

She would give everything away.

To any soul

Whose luck was out

She'd give her bowl

Of stirabout;

She'd give her shawl,

Divide her purse

With one or all.

And what was worse,

When she ran out of things to give

She'd borrow from a relative.

Her father's gold,

Her grandsire's dinner,

She'd hand to cold

and hungry sinner;

Give wine, give meat,

No matter whose;

Take from her feet

The very shoes,

And when her shoes had gone to others,

Fetch forth her sister's and her mother's.

She could not quit.

She had to share;

Gave bit by bit

The silverware,

The barnyard geese,

The parlor rug,

Her little

niece's christening mug,

Even her bed to those in want,

And then the mattress of her aunt.

An easy touch

For poor and lowly,

She gave so much

And grew so holy

That when she died

Of years and fame,

The countryside

Put on her name,

And still the Isles of Erin fidget

With generous girls named Bride or Bridget.

Well, one must love her.


In thinking of her


There's no denial

She must have been

A sort of trial

Unto her kin.

The moral, too, seems rather quaint.

Who had the patience of a saint,

From evidence presented here?

Saint Bridget? Or her near and dear?

(from The Love Letters of Phyllis McGinley, New York, Viking Press, 1957) Thank you to Oremus.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Proclaim an Holy Year for Nuns!

I received a comment on the last posting from St Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association asking that we help promote a Holy Year for Nuns. Sounds like a great idea to me. Here is the posting the link took me to (posted on St Brigit's Day):

Tuesday 1 February 2011
Proclaim an Holy Year for Nuns!

Following the Holy Year for Priests, it is surely time to pray for consecrated women. Therefore, dear reader, we urge you to ask Ecclesiastical Authorities to dedicate a special year to give thanks to God for Nuns and to pray for Nuns and for more Nuns. What better way to do honour to St. Brigid?

Please proclaim an Holy Year for Nuns!

Ora pro populo, interveni pro clero, intercede pro devoto femineo sexu!

Who are the St Conleth's group?

Friday 6 June 2008
St. Conleth’s Catholic Heritage Association aims at safeguarding the rich liturgical heritage of the Catholic Church and promoting its use in the sacramental life of the Church in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. In effect, this means that we seek the full implementation of Summorum Pontificum throughout the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, wherever there is a genuine pastoral need.

This blog will keep you informed of the activities of St. Conleth’s Catholic Heritage Association, and of progress made in implementing Summorum Pontificum, particularly throughout the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Poetry: 'Brighid's Runes'

I have just received a copy of 'Brighid's Runes', edited by Rachel Mica McCann.

"'Brighid's Runes' is a collection of around 40 poems by over twenty women from various parts of Scotland, Wales, England and Ireland. The poems celebrate the sacred in every day life and our relationship with the earth. They are funny, poignant, eloquent and passionate! Some of the poets are well published, others are new to print. The money raised from the sale of the book will go towards supporting Women's and Earth healing projects, especially the Green Belt Movement in Kenya established by nobel prize winner Wangari Maatthai which has empowered women through planting trees and community development."

'Brighid's Runes' can be purchased from Rachel, e-mail rmicamc AT for costs.