Friday, August 17, 2012

Animated Brigit!

AwesomeeHappyChappy posted this bouncy celebration of Brigit's acquisition of land for her monastery:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Brigit's Cloak & An Ancient Yew Forest

Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns wrote a year and a half ago about putting out a brat bhride for the first time, and also about her visit to an ancient yew forest in Killarney. (Also a lot of other things. For the full post, or to subscribe to her blog, go here.)
Monday, April 04, 2011

Of Brigit's Cloak, An Ancient Yew Forest, Bee Judgements and Bould Actors (excerpt)

I should have thought of it sooner, of course. Isn't it always the way, that you have studied something for years, and yet you never apply its practicalities to your own life? That back of mine wasn't getting any better, and I was still unable to sit at the computer - or anywhere else for that matter - for more than two minutes at a time without discomfort.

With time to think (a rare commodity), I remembered that the morrow was Feb 1, Brigit's Day, Candlemas, Imbolc, whatever you call it in your corner of the world. And that very day, a friendly woman who runs a great coffee house in Macroom town square, had said her family had always put out the 'Brat Bride' on the eve of her festival. I'd been checking for old customs and traditions as usual, for De Next Book, and noted this down carefully as evidence of the old ways still continuing in West Cork. Somewhere between twilight and dark, the rusty penny dropped in my own brain.

Why not put out the Brat Bride myself, and see would it help the back any? (It's pronounced 'brah breed-eh' by the way.) This is a length of ribbon or cloth placed on a friendly bush on Brigit's Eve where the dew or rain can fall on it, and Brigit herself can confer power upon it as she passes. Next day it is brought back into the house, dried, and kept carefully for the year ahead, to apply to anyone suffering from pain or injury. What better to use than the Advent Lace Shawl I'd knitted along on with Zemy during December? Just the right sort of thing to appeal to Brigit, I felt.

Outside the front door it went, to be carefully draped around the bay tree which stands there in a pot. Didn't dare to place it any further afield, as the wild winds would certainly blow it to Tir na n'Og and I'd never see it again. Brought it in duly on February 1, dried it, and laid it across my bed that night. Possibly it was going to happen anyway, especially with the physiotherapy I'd been getting, but my back started to improve right away.

Now it's in a place of honour on the spinning chair, ready for the next emergency. Old ways are good.

So much recovered did I feel that we headed down to Killarney in search of a very ancient yew forest, the only one remaining in Ireland, and one of just three in Europe overall. It has all kinds of official protective status now, but for me the important thing was that it had been there back in the mists of time, when trees were highly valued and believed to be the holders of considerable magical powers. Oh of course we know better these days. How could a tree be stronger or better for us than a computer chip, for heaven's sake? What benefit could a bush possibly bestow that modern technology cannot?

Here's just a glimpse of the edge of that ancient wood, which was old when the Tuatha de Danann walked this land. You'll get more when we go back in brighter spring weather to do a serious photoshoot. But let me share with you a very very venerable quotation which I discovered recently while researching De Next Book. The speaker is Fintan the seer, who claims to his hearers that he survived the Deluge and has lived in Ireland ever since, seeing kings come and go, landscapes change, while he lives ever on.

‘One day I passed through a wood of West Munster in the west. I took away with me a red yew berry and I planted it in the garden of my court and it grew up…’ Now you can't get more west Munster than Killarney, and I think that Fintan is surely speaking here of this selfsame ancient yew wood of Reenadinna, now within Killarney National Park. It gives you a strange feeling to stand silently amid those trees and moss-covered rocks, and think how long this forest has been here. Of course the individual trees grow and die (though yew has a very long life, sometimes a thousand years), but new ones spring up from their roots or their fruit, and the forest continues in an unbroken tradition.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Song and Image: A Beautiful Rendition of "Song to Brighid"

Shaman Light by Amanda Clark

A lovely circumambulation:

I was doing a "Brigit" search a few minutes ago and found a YouTube video of Lisa Thiel's "Song to Brighid", from her album Invocation of the Graces. I wasn't mad about the video portion but I wanted to add the video to Brigit's Sparkling Flame, realizing I had listed it before but never shown it. So I went searching for a version I liked better.

Before I tell you what I found, a bit about Lisa from her

Brighid by Lisa Thiel
"Lisa is a priestess of Brighid and Kuan Yin in the Fellowship of Isis and honors the old Celtic Wheel of the year. She is also an accomplished astrologer, tarot reader and interpreter of dreams. 'My work is inspired by my dreams and visions that come from my spirit, my sacred dreams. My music and art are the gifts of the encounters with my soul.'"

I am happy to share her Brighid song with you.

To my delight Boudicca17368 had put together the song with some amazing imagery, all by the same woman: one Amanda Clark.

I must see more of this Amanda's art, said I! A quick search (Brigit bless the internet), and I was at her blog: earth angels art. (See also her website.)

According to her Fine Art America profile, "Amanda Clark lives in a country village in England UK. She is mainly a self-taught artist and comes from an artist family. She...gained a National Diploma in ceramics and surface pattern in the early 1990's...and is inspired by folklore and myths and the peacefulness of beautiful landscapes with a twist of fairytale and magic. She paints in acrylic and watercolour creating depth and pattern to the beautiful colours in her creations. She has also illustrated four books and is currently painting and line drawing for her 5th book about magical herbs."

There is a little surprise in all of this, though.

When I found Amanda's blog and went to see her pictures there, I discovered that an hour previously she had listed Brigit's Sparkling Flame, specifically the post "Goddess of Smithcraft (with emphasis on Blacksmithing)", on her own blog! Round and round the garden with our teddy bears! And she had done this only moments after I posted it.

A little more digging around revealed that Amanda is a follower of this blog. (Hi, Amanda!) And interestingly, when doing my Amanda search, I discovered another Amanda Clark in my own country of Canada who is...a metalsmith. (I'm getting a little dizzy now.)

So! On to the video.

Goddess of Smithcraft (with emphasis on Blacksmithing)

Blacksmith Woman

For the smiths among us, and those Brigidines interested in knowing more about the smith side of the goddess, there is available online BLACKSMITH PRACTICE: EM 862 (War Department Education Manual).

Metal Web News provides the manual with links to the various chapter. Or you can download it from scribd, sans links.
I draw your attention to this one piece, but in fact Metal Web News has a host of other articles branching out from their Blacksmithing page, as well as a Forge-Foundry-Casting page with lots of pictures and how-to information.

For chat about blacksmithing, go to the John C. Campbell Folk School Blog's "Blacksmith Shop" and get in on the conversation.

Wander over to, the website of Lorelei Sims (Artist and Blacksmith) for a look at her work, her farm (Pasture Prime Commune!), her book (The Backyard Blacksmith), her dogs...Heck, she even has blacksmithing t-shirts, including my favourite, the Fire Goddess T-Shirt:

For those who like video, go to (a rich site and host of three smith-related blog rings) and check out their in-depth review of the Forge and Anvil TV series and books hosted by Alan Rogers in 1995. Good news! The series is now available on DVD.. You can catch lots of blacksmithing videos on YouTube as well, from the amateur, like christopher5361's homemade forge video, to the professional, such as the previews of Bob Rupert's TV shows (Blacksmithing with Bob Rupert). Check out "Let's Make a Nail." If you like what you see you can buy the DVDs from the makers here.

Maybe you are really interested and want to take a course. There are lots of places to do that now, though the craft nearly died out at one point in North America. How about rounding your knowledge out nicely at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina? Besides basic blacksmithing the school "provides experiences in non-competitive learning and community life that are joyful and enlivening. Located in scenic Brasstown, North Carolina, the Folk School offers year-round weeklong and weekend classes for adults in craft, art, music, dance, cooking, gardening, nature studies, photography and writing."

Renaissance Lady Blacksmith by Francesa Miller
You have to snoop around a bit to get a lead on all the smithing courses, depending on where you live. There are a couple of lists online (eg here) but they aren't exhaustive. You might do best to search "blacksmith" "school" and the name of your area, or you may miss something small but good nearby, as all the larger ones crowd to the top of the search results. If you love horses, you can get a diploma as a farrier at Olds College in Olds, Alberta (a really lovely area to squirrel away for two years, I should think). Another is the Maritime Farrier School in Truro, Nova Scotia, which also is a beautiful spot to be. Or if you want something that will take you from basic blacksmithing to wildly creative art- and armour-making, try Thak Ironworks in Floradale, Ontario.

And once you've got a start on your craft, you may want to join a blacksmithing association, such as the Vancouver Island Blacksmith Association. ("VIBA a non-profit society formed for the sole purpose of keeping blacksmithing alive in British Columbia. Members demonstrate at various local events including major annual events at the Fairgrounds, and at other local country fairs, Heritage Festivals, and schools. VIBA also hosts workshops featuring professional smiths.")

Of course, Brigit is not only a goddess of blacksmiths. There are whitesmiths, bronzesmiths, silversmiths, and so on. I leave it to you to search out some good contacts (and perhaps provide us with links).

Finally, you may just want to admire or purchase metalcraft, new or antique. Or how about new but modelled on antiques? Mark Shier of Gaukler Medieval Wares is one smith who delights in talking about his wares, and who takes great care in creating copies of ancient handicrafts, as well as selling antiques--coins, belt buckles, and so on. And yes, you could afford a lot of them. Why, I bought a handmade (and perfect!) bronze sewing needle from him for 7$.

Mark's creations
In his words, "Gaukler Medieval Wares makes jewellery and metalwork in ancient and medieval styles, using the methods and materials of the past. I do custom work, as long as the design is medieval or earlier. We also sell authentic ancient and medieval antiquities. All antiquities pictures have a white background, and all of my work has a black background."

Versatile Blogger Nomination

Oops. I just knocked over a vial of water from Brigit's well in Kildare, grabbing it instead of the mouse. Worry not--it's capped.

This is an interesting thing. Yesterday I received a note from Runningwave, one of the Daughters of the Flame.

Dearest Mael,

Since I admire your blog and want to support your spread of Brigit's flame of inspiration around the world, I have you nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award.

You are one of the writers whose creativity inspires me and has encouraged me to see the world in new ways. Being a part of the Daughters of the Flame for a long time now has given me a community of women who want the Peace and Awen of Brigit to be known and adored.

My own blog post and all the nominations are posted here:

I've posted a link to your blog on my own, but you are truly not under any obligation to post back. I just wanted to honor all of the creativity you share on this space.

Very sincerely,

Thanks to you, runningwave, for your appreciation of Brigit's Sparkling Flame. It occurs to me, too, that the sloshed over holy water was a tiny runningwave all its own. A nod to you, as it were.

Sweet blessings of Brigit on you, this day and every day, this night and every night.