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Celtic Gods and Goddesses - St. Brigid, Goddess of Doulas, Midwives, Childbirth, and Healers

Painting of Brigid, in her saint form, by Patrick Joseph Tuohy (HughLane.ie) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Painting of Brigid, in her saint form, by Patrick Joseph Tuohy (HughLane.ie) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Brigid is the goddess of many things, including but not limited to: fire, livestock, spring, medicine, blacksmiths, poets, love, protection, childbirth, and healers; Brigid, also referred to as Brigit. The daughter of the Dagda, she is a child of the Tuatha De Danann (the people of the goddess Danu). She has two sisters, all with the same name as she, whom together make up the triple goddess. She was wed to one from a divine race, the Fomorians, whose name was Bres. Together, she and Bres had a son named Ruadan (Brian).

When her son Ruadan was killed during a battle against the Fomorians, she wailed and shrieked. These cries of maternal agony were the first sounds of shrieking and mourning Ireland had ever heard across it's lands.

The tale of the goddess and saint Brigid has been an issue of great confusion, due to there being several variations of her story. However, Brigid lives on today as a mighty goddess for modern-day Pagans, a great legend for the Celts, and a revered saint for the Catholics. She is both a goddess to Pagans and a saint to Christians, with many Christo-Pagans (Christians with Pagan views/Pagans with Christian views) observing her as both a saint and a goddess.


A Celtic Cross, by Nheyob (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A Celtic Cross, by Nheyob (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Brigit the Goddess and Brigit the Saint

With the arrival of Christianity to Ireland, the stories of Brigid the Goddess and Brigid the Saint became intermingled. The Christians tried to incorporate the Pagan goddess to help aid their need to spread the message of Jesus to the Pagans. However, this worked in the Pagans' favor, as it helped to keep the story of their goddess alive, despite altering her appearance and perception. As has been the case with many Pagan deities across the world.

It was said that Brigid was present for the birth of Jesus, being his midwife and nurse. She is said to have protected the baby Jesus from the killing of male children. This is one of the reasons as to why she is a matron goddess for midwives, doulas, and childbirth workers. It is also said that she was baptized by Saint Patrick.

The saint aspect of Brigid was known for always keeping a shrine in Kildare, Ireland that had an everlasting flame maintained by 19 virgins. The flame was maintained for 19 days by the 19 virgins. On the 20th day, Brigid herself maintained the flame.

The flame was maintained for over 1000 years, until 1220, when a bishop became angered over the entirely female host and had the shrine change. The flame ceased to exist after the bishop's intervention.


How to Make a St. Brigid's Cross

St. Brigid's Cross

Saint Brigid's Cross is a symbol associated with Saint Brigid and is often made on February 1st by many Pagans and non-Pagans alike in honor of the goddess saint. For some Pagans, the cross is also a representation for the beginning of spring. The cross, when placed on the door of the house, is believed to help ward off evil spirits and fire from entering the residence. It can also be used by expecting mothers, midwives, and doulas, as Brigid is a goddess of healers and childbirth.

If you are pregnant, or work as a midwife or doula, you can craft a simple necklace of Saint Brigid's Cross to wear when attending births. You can also display a birth altar and place a handmade cross on it to help bring protection, love, and healing in the sacred time of birth.

Crafting a Saint Brigid's Cross and decorating your Imbolc (Feb 1st.) altar with it is traditional amongst many modern-day Pagans, as it symbolizes the beginning of spring and birth.


This stained glass, by Andreas F. Borchert, depicts St. Brigid's Cross.

This stained glass, by Andreas F. Borchert, depicts St. Brigid's Cross.

Symbols Associated with Brigit

  • St. Brigit's Cross
  • Fire
  • Cattle
  • Spear
  • Candles
  • Birth
  • Babies
  • Anvil
  • Fae
  • Celtic Cross
  • Oxen
  • Spring
  • Serpents
  • Weeping
  • Whistling
  • Holy/Healing Wells


Known Names

  • Brigid
  • Brigit
  • Brighid (Scottish)
  • Brid, Bridget (English)
  • Brigan (Gaul)
  • Saint Brigid (Roman Catholic)
  • Braga (Portugal)
  • Bride/Brighde (Scotland)


Fun Facts

  • She, along with her sisters, are one of the most popular triple goddess aspects.
  • She was celebrated on February 1st with festivities known as Oimlec (or Imbolc). Many Pagans today continue to celebrate this day.
  • She is often associated with the goddess Minerva and the goddess Athena.
  • She is closely tied with the goddess Danu and the Tuatha de Dannan.
  • Brigid is said to have been the inventor of whistling.
  • The Roman Catholics celebrate "St. Brigid's Day" on February 1st, the same day Pagans celebrate Imbolc.


Gods and Goddesses Articles by Danielle Lopez

Working with Brigid

Brigid has been a popular deity to work with amongst Pagans who practice Christo-Paganism, as well as Celtic Paganism. She is also a wonderful deity to incorporate into your craft if you are pregnant or work closely with pregnant women. Brigid can also be called upon by those who work actively around fire, such as firefighters or cooks, but especially blacksmiths.

While this is not traditionally written about her, she can also be called upon when one suffers the loss of a child, as she too has suffered through the death of her child. If you have miscarried, gone through a stillbirth, or any other child-loss related sufferings, Brigid may be open to working with you and helping you through your grief.

Again, while this is not traditionally written about her, she may possibly be called upon by mothers with children in the military, as her son was in battle when he passed. She understands the worry and grief a mother goes through when her child is away at war, so she may be able to assist those who are dealing with that kind of pain.

If you are interested in working with her, first consult with her. Ask her if she is willing to work with you, too. A great way to connect with this goddess is by handcrafting the symbol of her cross. While you're crafting the cross, meditate on it and try to contact her. It would also be wise to have a flame nearby, since she is so drawn to fire.

One of the best ways to begin working with Brigid is by observing Imbolc, or Saint Brigid's Day, on February 1st. The sabbat Imbolc marks the beginning of spring, but it also honors Brigid.

Once you are actively working with her, do be aware that you may need to work with fire quite regularly, as that is the element that she is most fond of being around.

As with any deity you work with, remember that she is fair. Work fairly with her and she will work fairly with you.

Lastly, do not forget to provide her with an offering. Fire is always a reasonable offering for her, especially in the form of candles. She may also be fond of you leaving gifts to the fae, since she is so closely related to them. Consult with her on what would be appropriate, as she knows what she likes and the offerings she prefers vary from person-to-person.


Comments

rafken from The worlds my oyster on June 07, 2011:

Thanks for an enlightening hub, i'll watch out for more.

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