Today we tend to take for granted the many highly sophisticated technical tools that we use in our daily lives. So, we can hardly imagine the awe in which the smith was held in ancient times. Smithcraft was seen as the epitome of magic, for only through such power could a mortal take the unassuming ore from the earth and fashion it into tools, weapons and jewellery that shone with patent beauty.
The smith's craft was an intrinsic part of every aspect of life. Tools, agricultural implements, weapons for protection, clasps and jewellery for adornment, shining metal mirrors to see not only the living but to glimpse the otherworld and divine the future.
Smithcraft is associated with creation and re-creation myths. Brighid's fire is the fire at the heart of creation. The fire responsible for the re-creation of the year each Spring. The fire that forges the sword of sovereignty, the fire that shines in all that is beautiful. The fire that illuminates and smelts our hearts bringing wisdom.
Today we have access to an unlimited amount of written information and can carry thousands of songs in our iPod. Good stories, music, and art have long opened us to wonder, magic and awe. Before there was any written word or musical notation every story and song had to be committed to memory. Those who could recount tales of wisdom, history, and mythology were held in high regard as were those who could sing us alive and lead us to ecstasy with their drumming and dance.
Brighid is the Goddess of the creative arts, ancestral memory and the oral tradition. The “Leabhar Ghabala” refers to Brighid as, “The Poet”. It is through her that the hidden insights of the otherworld rise from our unconscious minds to form story and song.
In many cultures wise fools carry small bells that chime as they walk and in Ireland poets once carried bells in honour of Brighid. The snowdrop, which is sacred to Brighid, is sometimes called “The Candlemas Bell”. A reminder that thisbeautiful bell like flower heralds Imbolc.
Brighid is the Goddess of sacred wells and springs. The female body is held in special reverence because of the mystery of transformation from water to blood to milk to new life. The cow is sacred to Brighid and this association passes to St. Brighid. She was reared on the milk of a white cow with red ears. She later owned twelve of them and is often depicted with a cow by her side. In the Hebrides she is known as, “Golden haired Bride of the kine”. Brighid's feast is heralded by the flowering of the milk white snowdrop and the first lactation of ewes.
In Scotland “Latha Féill' Brighde” was heralded by the emergence of snakes from their winter holes. Snakes are ancient symbols of the mysteries of birth, growth, decay and renewal. They have an obvious association with flowing water.
Brighid is the Goddess of the fertility of Spring. It is natural that childbirth should also be one of her prime concerns. She is said to lean over the cradle of every newborn child. In the Hebrides she would be invited into any home where a woman was in labour. She is the Goddess of prosperity because her abundant milk, fertile land and nourishing ale provide a feast for her people.
Cows and ewes, domesticated for their milk, are sacred to Brighid as is the snake which is noted for its connection with the mysteries of regeneration.
The wolf is also sacred to Brighid. This wild animal is believed to be extremely wise and in Celtic tradition it rules over the dark time of the year, from Samhain to Imbolc, when all sleeps awaiting the regeneration of Spring. It is interesting that Brighid has a place in Voodoo as Mamam Brigitte, the Loa of the underworld, death, resurrection and protector of children. St. Brighid is sometimes depicted with a wolf by her side.
Some birds are sacred to Brighid. She is known as, “The White Swan”. The swan is one of the most beautiful of birds. It is considered a royal bird and is noted for its longevity. It is fierce when threatened. Swans are associated with shape shifting and there are many stories of humans turning into swans. Swans also link the waters and the heavens. Other birds that are sacred to Brighid include the Lark, the Linnet and the Oyster Catcher known in Ireland as “Giolla Bride”, Bride's Page.
Rekindling the Flame at Bride's Mound, Lammas 2004
Glastonbury, Imbolc 2006
Kildare Imbolc 2008 Album