Saturday, April 26, 2014

Brigit & Her Sister

To my surprise my nonreligious mother last week requested that I get her a statue of Brigit because she likes mine so much. So here she is.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dance of Bride - Jana Runnalls

I have mentioned before the CD "Songs of Bride" which was produced by the Friends of Bride's Mound as a fund-raiser. Here is one of the tracks, an instrumental by Jana Runnalls called 'Dance of Bride'. The image used in the video is by Kat Brown, and is from Jana's website.

You can learn more about Jana Runnalls at
To buy the CD, click here.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Daughters of the Flame: Shifts Available

 If you are a woman who is interested in tending Brigit's flame, there are a couple of shifts free with the Daughters of the Flame. Please comment below and I will contact you. (Comments are moderated so I will not publish your comment unless you want me to, but will just get your contact information from it.)

From our website:

On Imbolc, 1993, the Daughters of the Flame lit a fire in honour of the Goddess Brigit and the saint Bridget, modelled after the perpetual fire which once burned in Kildare. We share the task of tending the flame, on a twenty day rotation; each woman tends the fire in her own way, so that it is a solitary devotion linked to the devotions of a larger group. On the twentieth day the Goddess Herself keeps the flame alive. Instead of burning in one grove, temple, or monastery, it burns on personal altars, desks, and picnic tables in countries east and west, south and north.

The reasons for rekindling are many. It is a celebration in our own lives of Her triple aspects of poet, healer, and smith. It is one effort to address the need for a global network of magical prayer, with special emphasis on some of the traditional concerns of Brigit. These include peace and reconciliation, sharing of wealth so that all will flourish rather than protecting wealth for a few, guarding the land and the creatures which nourishes us and share our lives, being tender with and caring for ourselves and each other. It touches on the need of individual women for a focus and a community through which to develop our personal spiritual practice, to reduce isolation and aid in developing our thought and learning while maintaining the autonomy of working as a solitary, if that is what we prefer or how we find ourselves due to life circumstances. It is, however, very much a self-motivated discipline, both in terms of tending the flame and in connecting with others in the group.

Although members have primarily been Neo-Pagans, Daughters of the Flame is open to any woman who is called to light her flame.

Cill Badges for the Daughters of the Flame by Donna Amaral

Did Brigit Love Animals Like a Good Celt Should?

Drawing by Giraldus Cambrensis in his Topographia Hibernica. British Library, Royal MS 13 B VIII, fo. 10v
I'm reading an interesting article by Cristina Olsen, "Did Brigit love animals like a good Celt should? An inquiry into Cogitosus's 'Life of Saint Brigit'". It touches not only on Brigit but on our understanding of the Celtic (most particularly the medieval Irish) attitude toward animals and nature. I got the article through an interlibrary loan; innocent that I am, I only recently learned that I could access these buried-in-vaults articles this way, when I don't have direct access to a university library that carries the particular journal I need.

To give you a sense of what it's about, I will quote a few paragraphs. She begins:

"The analysis in this paper stems from an examination and critique of a genre of modern-day literature that makes broad claims concerning a universal Celtic appreciation of the natural world and a love of animals.* The term "love" itself is problematic. Today in the western world loving nature subsumes principles of aesthetic appreciation not necessarily shared by peoples from other times and places. Given the scarcity of information concerning Celtic societies, it is impossible to draw broad conclusions regarding how ancient Celtic people viewed nature.

"A perusal of the history of western thought concerning the natural world suggests that a burgeoning love of nature is a relatively new phenomenon in the development of western human conscience. While the ancient Greeks and Romans were interested in nature for agricultural as well as aesthetic reasons, it was not until the late eighteenth century that the educated elite, fleeing the spreading cloud of urban industrialization, discovered the "Delightful Horror" of the wilderness and the mountains...

"By the mid-twentieth century, as we awakened to the possibility of nature's annihilation, human imagination attached itself to the elusive Celts, hoping to find amongst the dim vestiges of the ancient people wise counsels concerning the proper stewardship of the natural environment. In other words, the notion that Celts (Pagan or Christian) loved nature is unlikely to be other than a romantic projection reading back into the distant past the present sense of nature's impending demise...

"It is true that there are depictions of nature in Irish literature that intrigue us. However, I am not so sure that we have a clear understanding of what constitutes the Irish or Celtic "approach to the natural world"...In this paper I critique these tendencies to romanticize the ancient Celts and suggest an alternative approach to understanding the Celtic sense of nature by analyzing three animal stories in Cogitosus's seventh-century Life of Saint Brigit. If we truly wish to understand the relationship of the ancient Celts to their natural environments, we need to set aside our mythmaking and return to the primary sources, in this case the text."

In her conclusion, Olsen writes:

"...the animal stories in the Life of Saint Brigit are not about the animals but about Brigit's power and authority over all aspects of rural life in the environments of Kildare and, if Cogitosus would have his way, over all of Ireland. The animals are merely pawns in Brigit's hands in order to demonstrate the strength of her God-given power, and nowhere is there any evidence that these animals elicited concern in their own right.

"That the Life of Saint Brigit is replete with animal stories indicates that they were important; the analysis presented above demonstrates in what sense they were important...they were the center of the Irish rural economy."

Of course there is much more than this but I shall have to leave it here. For those interested in hearing her arguments in full, the bibliographical information is all below.

Blessings on you and your animal friends!

* "A full bibliography of the genre is too vast for footnoting, but the trend is best represented by Caitlin Matthews, The Elements of the Celtic Tradition...and Peter Beresford Ellis, Celtic Inheritance..." She then lists a large number of "works with a specific Christian outlook" beginning with Esther de Waal's Every Earthly Blessing: Rediscovering the Celtic Tradition.

"Did Brigit love animals like a good Celt should? An inquiry into Cogitosus's 'Life of Saint Brigit'" by Cristina Olsen. COMITATUS--A JOURNAL OF MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE STUDIES  Vol/Issue: 33, Date: Jan 1, 2002, Pages: 1-17