It’s SPRING in Ireland!!!!!!
I love the Irish saints, especially the female ones. They all seem to derive from pagan gods and goddesses. February 1st is St Brigid’s Day (or maybe Sunday is……..it’s Ireland, you know). I’m reposting 3 articles from Irish Central.com that I really enjoyed reading and many thanks to the authors of them. The photo here is my St Brigid’s Cross that hangs on my kitchen wall. It was made by a wonderful artist named Ciaran in Connemara. It is said to protect against kitchen fires and ensure harmony in the home. Working very well so far!!!!
And February 3 is Saint Caoilfhinne’s Day ….very special to me as it is my daughter’s (Keelin) “saint’s day” and my Irish granny’s, Winifred Spellman Clark, birthday (RIP).
Spring in Ireland officially starts on St Brigid’s Day which is February 1st in our calendar. However, this may not be accurate as this is a celebration that has its roots along way back in pre-Christian times, some 6,000 years ago actually when there was no written tradition.
Like many other cultures around the world female deities ruled supreme, the similarities between Egyptian mythology and Irish mythology being quite remarkable. For example, most people will be familiar with Egyptian ritual from “The Book of the Dead”, of Isis breathing life into the mummified corpse but many may not many know that the same scene is depicted in stone at the foot of a high cross in Ireland.
Similarly our Goddess had a sacred cow that suckled a king, the same as Queen Hatshepsut in Egypt. India, and many other cultures, rever the cow as a symbol of nurturing. In fact up until the 12th century children were baptized with milk in Ireland.
Fascinating or obvious, these ancient races relied on the land so it is no wonder they revered the female Goddesses that embodied and symbolized mother earth for them. She had to be appeased and celebrated to insure the fertility of the land, animals and people.
Celtic mythology holds that the chieftains slept with the goddesses in a mating ritual that crossed the boundaries of physical and metaphysical as these Goddesses could shape shift into birds and other mythical creatures. She could be ‘an old hag’ in human form standing at a crossroads, or the triple goddesses ‘Moriggan’ in the tale of the Tain or the ‘banshee’ in latter years foretelling death in a family.
Having infused tradition in Ireland with a mixture of reverence and fear, for thousands of years prior to Christianity creeping into Ireland, its highly understandable that our ancestors would have been a tad reluctant to banish her completely, which coincidentally is about the time she seems to have morphed into the Christian St Brigid we know about today? Although the signs were there from the start that this was no ordinary mortal woman?
Apparently or so the story goes and we Irish never let the truth get in the way of a good story, when St Brigid was trying to wrestle enough land on which to build her monastery in Kildare from the high king of Leinster, he said that she could have as much land as her cloak would cover. Where upon Brigid laid down her cloak and it magically spread out to cover several hundred acres….!
Beannachtaí na feile Bride
St. Brigid is the female equivalent of St. Patrick in Ireland, but there are no parades in her honor, and apart from the St. Brigid’s Cross, her name is hardly known.
That really should change.
St. Brigid was a woman who was well ahead of her time. Born around 453, she was the daughter of a slave and a chieftain. Her feast day is celebrated on February 1.
She became one of the most-powerful women in Ireland. After refusing an arranged marriage, she went on to found many convents whose schools provided an education for thousands of young women who otherwise would have had none.
She was the lone female figure whose voice was heard in a male-dominated Church, but the stories of her good deeds and extraordinary acts ensured she was canonized well before most of her contemporaries.
She stands today as an example of an Irish woman who followed her heart and took on the powers-that-be in a male-dominated world. She was certainly a figure as extraordinary as Patrick himself.
Originally published 2011.
Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/irish-women-should-follow-st-brigid-not-just-st-patrick-189219961-237561981.html#ixzz2s106iEqt
Follow us: @IrishCentral on Twitter | IrishCentral on Facebook
The St Brigid’s cross invokes the North Star and the pattern that the Big Dipper makes in the sky over the course off a year.Photo by: Photocall
Brighid means the “Exalted One” in Irish, and “the Woman” is a figure of intense power in Irish mythological and religious imagination.
February 1st or 2nd is a day claimed by Celtic seasonal thinkers, who called the holiday Imbolc to celebrate Bríd in the form of cailleach-becoming-maiden who collects kindling to make fire in the winter that will warm the spring and make her young again.
This holiday then is understood through the stories of the incredible Brighid. She was the inventor of the mourning songs called caoineadh “keening.” In the story, she keens to mourn the death of her son Ruadán and so invents the artform. Brighid’s is like the Tibetan ritual of ushering souls to nirvana in the Book of the Dead.
The Irish tradition of making crosses on Imbolc or Lá Fhéile Bhríde is remembered as a Christian ritual and has become that for most Irish people. The spiral of the Brighid cross invokes the North Star and the pattern that the Big Dipper makes in the sky over the course off a year. As the night sky turns around the North Star, the Big Dipper turns through the seasonal year like the hand of a clock.
Brigid is the fire-keeper of that flame of life that mothers tend to so that we don’t die in the winter, and so the lines of family are not broken by the trauma of the cold months. In the winter Brighid becomes the cailleach, the woman in agedness, and on Imbolc she collected the kindling of the fires that get her to the spring of regeneration.
Christian interpretation in Ireland makes Brighid into a nun, and children occupy themselves by taking bits of straw and weaving this potential-kindling into the shape of spiraling Brigid’s crosses.
Taking up the tradition in its many forms focuses the mind in the meditation of craft, and connects our winter minds mad at the cold to the great wheel that turns and is slowly bringing us into the spring of renewal.
Here’s a simple guide on how to make a traditional Brigid’s cross: