(Art Essay) Brigid, Goddess of Healing, Poetry, and Smithcraft by Judith Shaw

Brigid, the Celtic Goddess of Healing, Poetry, and Smithcraft, begins her reign on Imbolic, February 2, the midpoint between winter solstice and spring equinox. On this day the ancient Celts held their Fire Festival in honor of Brigid and the growing light. In Scotland, as recently as the mid-twentieth century, houses were cleaned and the hearth fires rekindled on February 2, to welcome in  Brigid.  Remnants of this festival are found in America today on Groundhog Day.

Like the Cailleach, She existed in many places and  was known by many names.  The Irish called her Brighde; she was Bride in Scotland,  Brigantia in Northern Britain, and Brigandu in France.  Some called her Brid, Brig or Brighid.  Later she was transformed by Christianity into Saint Bridget.  Her older name was BREO SAIGHEAD.   Her name has various interpretations, many relating to fire – “Power,” “Renown” “Fiery Arrow of Power ” “Bright Arrow”, “The Bright One”, “The Powerful One”, “The High One” and “The Exalted One”.

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As a triple goddess She reigns over three aspects of life, all united by fire.  Her  sacred flame is symbolic of the creative principle. In Kildare, Ireland, Brigid’s shrine had a continually burning sacred fire, even after the shrine became a Christian nunnery.  Finally in 1220 it was extinguished by the orders of Archbishop Henry of Dublin.

(Read the remainder of the essay in Feminism and Religion.)