Friday, January 31, 2020

President Michael D. Higgins St. Brigid's Day Letter

Tomorrow, 1 February, is St Brigid’s Feast Day, Lá Féile Bríde.

The day marks the start the pagan festival of spring, and celebrates Brigid, one of Ireland’s patron saints and also a fertility goddess in Celtic mythology.

Read the Message from President Michael D. Higgins:

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Washington DC: Saint Brigid and the Medieval Sacred Music of Ireland

I received an exciting email last night from Allison Mondel of the musical ensemble, Eya. She wrote of a "re-envisioning [of] the music in a 'contemporary matins' program, with music, poems, prayers, and stories (spoken in English) and a volunteer women’s ensemble, Brigid’s Circle, formed especially for this performance." The music, taken from two manuscripts at Trinity College Dublin, was first recorded in more traditional form by the Scottish vocal group Canty a number of years ago. (For more on the out-of-print CD and the music itself, see my 2008 blog post. For a taste of Eya's music, go here.) All of the events of the program are free of charge, and no reservations are necessary.

How I envy those of you living near enough to attend! Fingers crossed that this one day comes out on CD.

Eya is thrilled to partner with Georgetown University in presenting Saint Brigid and the Medieval Sacred Music of Ireland. This music festival will feature:
  •    Chant workshop led by Eya's music director, Allison Mondel
  •    Women's ensemble, Brigid's Circle, featured in performance with Eya
  •    Concert performance of new program, Brigid, presented by Eya with Brigid's Circle

This festival project is co-sponsored by several departments at Georgetown University, including Campus Ministries, Global Irish Studies, the Department of Theology, and the Department of Performing Arts. Eya is also thrilled to partner with The Amra Project, an international collaborative project centered at Trinity College Dublin and founded by Dr. Ann Buckley. As a performing ensemble associated with the project, we aim to bring this rare body of music to a wider audience in the United States.

​The Amra Project was founded in order to illuminate the medieval music and sources of Gregorian chant devoted to Irish saints, found in Irish sources and beyond. This presentation is a launching point for future collaborations with Eya, Trinity College Dublin, and Georgetown University, further exploring the connection of sacred medieval music and Ireland.

Cynthia Cathcart
clàrsach (wire-strung harp)

Saturday, February 1, 2020                          Led by Allison Mondel:
​McNeir Auditorium
(New North Building)

Dahlgren Chapel

​Concert Performance: Brigid
Eya with Brigid's Circle

All events take place at Georgetown University and are free of charge. No tickets or reservations required.

PHOTO: Saint Brigid's Cathedral, Kildare, Ireland (Allison Mondel)

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Brigit Classes with Mael Brigde

It is nearly Imbolc, and it is a time each year when I have been busy doing Brigit work for a couple of months. Readying the newsletter for the Daughters of the Flame 🔥 is a big part of that, and working with my flame sister, Nichole, to find out who is keeping her shift for another year and who is not. Assigning shifts to new members. And making contact with all manner of individuals on their journey with Brigit.

Some of the most rewarding of those contacts are with the folk who take my Brigit classes. There are many opportunities to reflect and build on our concept of and relationship to her in the classes, and I am moved by the depth of the reflections each student offers.

As the evenings draw nearer to Imbolc, many of us wish to deepen our connection with her. If you would benefit from some quiet contemplation of Brigit over the next days or weeks, my three Brigit courses may provide a safe place for you to do so.

The first two, Discovering Brigit and Stepping Into Brigit, focus on our ways of seeing and understanding her and exploring our connection with her. The third, an intensive and much longer course, immersed us in the reading and writing of poetry, under the mantle of Brigit, with an exploration of the poet in Ireland.

If you want to learn more about the classes, you may find them here. If you would like to learn more about me, go here. If you do take Discovering Brigit, remember that there is a coupon at the end for a substantial discount on the following class, Stepping Into Brigit.

May your Imbolc be a blessing, and may your gradually manifesting spring be a season of growth and insight.

Sweet blessings,

Mael Brigde

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Brigid's Cross Tutorial

The people at Creative Ardagh say this about the Brigit's cross tutorial they've posted on YouTube:

We are located in St. Brigid's parish in Ardagh. Each year locals and others walk down to her holy well near the village. Connections to the saint locally go even further back. As a daughter of the Dagda, the pre-Christian Brigid is a sister of Midir. St. Brigid's Day/Imbolc is celebrated the start of Spring each year in Ireland, 1st February. Rose Moran reads her poem Brigid Passes as we give step-by-step instructions to make your own cross. Thanks to Rose and to Martin Smyth and Dermot Farrell for sharing their cross making skills.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Retreat for Women Celebrates Imbolc in Scotland

Exciting news, though a bit short notice. Working for Recovery, based in Scotland, is leading an Imbolc retreat for women on the Isle of Lewis, including time at Tobar Bhrìghde (Brigit's Well) and the Callanish stones. 

I hadn't heard of these folk before but the little I've read just now I find very interesting. Aside from retreats for people in recovery, (which is defined as recovery from mental illness or mental distress) they train professionals and have a ten week online course. Formerly they had a house where people could take mental health breaks, but that has now closed.

About the retreat:

A Retreat for Women: Celebrate the Celtic Return of Spring (Imbolc) - 30 Jan - 2 Feb 2020, Isle of Lewis, Scotland

    Working to Recovery & Midwife of the Soul present: ARetreat with Women: Celebrate the Celtic Return of Spring (Imbolc)

    The retreat will start with dinner on Thursday 30th January and finish after lunch on Sunday 2nd February (in time for the afternoon ferry or flights home).  The retreat will be immersed in the land of the Isle of Women - Lewis & Harris. 
    FACILITATORS: Karen Taylor and Jane Eastwood (guest appeareance by Jill Smith)

    Imbolc, on the 1
    st February, is the time to celebrate the return of Spring in the Celtic calendar when the Callieach returns to sleep and Brighid reawakens.  Together we will explore this relationship between the old and the new, rebirth and letting go, cleansing and growing.

    The night before Imbolc we will go to the Callanish Standing Stones to celebrate “the sleeping beauty” and the ending of winter.

    On Imbolc, together we will go to “St Brides Well” at first light, where we will clean the well and offer her gifts and celebrate her coming.

    In my home we will explore what do we need to cleanse within ourselves, what we need to let go of, in order to grow into the women we wish to be.  We will use Celtic stories to guide us and explore our own stories.  Bringing us ready for a fresh new start.

                   "Callanish Standing Stones" by Marta Gutowska. CC 2.5.
                  "Tobar Bhrìghde on Lewis" by Peter Boyle. On the Mobile Megalithic Portal.