Brigid or Bríg (/ˈbrɪdʒɪd, ˈbriːɪd/; meaning 'exalted
one') was a goddess of pre-Christian Ireland. She appears in Irish
mythology as a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the daughter of the
Dagda and wife of Bres, with whom she had a son named Ruadán.
It has been suggested that
Brigid is a continuation of the
Indo-European dawn goddess. She is associated with the spring
season, fertility, healing, poetry and smithcraft. Cormac's Glossary,
written in the 10th century by Christian monks, says that
"the goddess whom poets adored" and that she had two sisters: Brigid
the healer and
Brigid the smith. This suggests she may have been
a triple deity.
Saint Brigid shares many of the goddess's attributes and her feast day
was originally a pagan festival (Imbolc) marking the beginning of
spring. It has thus been argued that the saint is a Christianization
of the goddess.
1 Familial relations
Brigid and Saint Brigid
5 Neo-Pagan revival
6 Other names and etymology
7 See also
10 External links
She is identified in
Lebor Gabála Érenn
Lebor Gabála Érenn as a daughter of the Dagda
and a poet. The same passage mentions that she has two oxen, Fe and
Men, that graze on a plain named after them, Femen. She also possessed
the king of boars, Torc Triath, and Cirb, king of wethers (sheep),
from whom Mag Cirb is named. The animals were said to cry out a
warning and thus
Brigid is considered the guardian of domesticated
animals. As the daughter of Dagda, she is also the half sister of
Midir and Bodb Derg.
In Cath Maige Tuireadh, Bríg invents keening, a combination of
weeping and singing, while mourning for her son Ruadán, after he is
slain while fighting for the Fomorians. She is credited in the same
passage with inventing a whistle used for night travel.
Brigid is considered the patroness of poetry, smithing, medicine, arts
and crafts, cattle and other livestock, sacred wells, serpents (in
Scotland) and the arrival of early spring. In the Christian
era, nineteen nuns at
Kildare tended a perpetual flame for the Saint,
which is widely believed to be a continuation of a pre-Christian
practice of women tending a flame in her honour. Her festival
Imbolc is traditionally a time for weather prognostication:
Thig an nathair as an toll
Là donn Brìde,
Ged robh trì troighean dhen t-sneachd
Air leac an làir.
The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bríde,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground.
In her English retellings of Irish myth, Lady Augusta Gregory
describes Brigit as "a woman of poetry, and poets worshipped her, for
her sway was very great and very noble. And she was a woman of healing
along with that, and a woman of smith's work, and it was she first
made the whistle for calling one to another through the night."
A possible British and continental counterpart Brigantia[citation
needed] seems to have been the Celtic equivalent of the Roman Minerva
and the Greek
Athena  goddesses with very similar functions and
apparently embodying the same concept of elevated state, whether
physical or psychological.
She is the goddess of all things perceived to be of relatively high
dimensions such as high-rising flames, highlands, hill-forts and
upland areas; and of activities and states conceived as
psychologically lofty and elevated, such as wisdom, excellence,
perfection, high intelligence, poetic eloquence, craftsmanship
(especially blacksmithing), healing ability, druidic knowledge and
skill in warfare. In the living traditions, whether seen as goddess or
saint, she is largely associated with the home and hearth and is a
favorite of both Polytheists and Catholics. A number of these
associations are attested in Cormac's Glossary.
Brigid and Saint Brigid
In the Middle Ages, the goddess
Brigid was syncretized with the
Christian saint of the same name. According to medievalist Pamela
Berger, Christian "monks took the ancient figure of the mother goddess
and grafted her name and functions onto her Christian counterpart,"
Brigid of Kildare.
Brigid is associated with perpetual, sacred flames, such as the
one maintained by 19 nuns at her sanctuary in Kildare, Ireland. The
sacred flame at
Kildare was said by
Giraldus Cambrensis and other
chroniclers to have been surrounded by a hedge, which no man could
cross. Men who attempted to cross the hedge were said to have been
cursed to go insane, die or be crippled.
The tradition of female priestesses tending sacred, naturally
occurring eternal flames is a feature of ancient Indo-European
pre-Christian spirituality. Other examples include the Roman goddess
Vesta, and other hearth-goddesses, such as Hestia.
Both the goddess and saint are associated with holy wells, at Kildare
and many other sites in the Celtic lands. Well dressing, the tying of
clooties to the trees next to healing wells, and other methods of
petitioning or honoring
Brigid still take place in some of the Celtic
lands and the diaspora.
Saint Brigid's feast day is on 1 February celebrated as St Brigid's
Day in the Roman Catholic Church, the
Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church and by
the Anglican Communion. The Gaelic festival coincides with Imbolc,
which is a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brigid.
Brigid is an important figure for modern pagans, who emphasize her
triple aspect. She is sometimes worshipped in conjunction with
Other names and etymology
Old Irish Brigit [ˈbʲɾʲiʝidʲ] came to be spelled Briġid and
Brighid [bʲɾʲiːdʲ] by the modern Irish period. Since the spelling
reform of 1948, this has been spelled Bríd [bʲɾʲiːdʲ]. The
earlier form gave rise to various forms in the languages of Europe,
starting from the Medieval Latin Brigit /ˈbriʒit/, suggested by the
written form, and from there to various modern forms, such as English
Bridget and Bridgit (now commonly seen as Brigid), French Brigitte,
Swedish Birgitta, Italian Brigida and Finnish Piritta.
The name is derived from Proto-Celtic *Brigantī and means "The High
One", cognate with the name of the ancient British goddess Brigantia
Old High German
Old High German personal name Burgunt, and the Sanskrit
word Bṛhatī (बृहती) "high", an epithet of the
goddess Ushas. The ultimate source is Proto-Indo-European
*bʰr̥ǵʰéntih₂ (feminine form of *bʰérǵʰonts, “high”),
derived from the root *bʰerǵʰ- (“to rise”).
Ffraid (Wales) (also Braint, alt. Breint, the name of a river in
Anglesey. Because of Welsh pronunciation mutations and accompanying
devoicing after "t" in Sant, the original mutated form of her name,
*Fraid (< *Braid), changes to Ffraid in some place names such as
Llansanffraid = Saint Bride's Village and
Breo Saighead (the fiery arrow – a folk etymology found in Sanas
Cormaic, but considered very unlikely by etymologists)
Brigid of Ireland
List of Irish-language given names
^ a b Campbell, Mike Behind the Name. See also Xavier Delamarre,
brigantion / brigant-, in Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise
(Éditions Errance, 2003) pp. 87–88: "Le nom de la sainte irlandaise
Brigit est un adjectif de forme *brigenti… 'l'Eminente'." Delamarre
cites E. Campanile, in Langues indo-européennes ("The name of the
Saint Brigid is an adjective of the form *brigenti… 'the
Eminent'"), edited by Françoise Bader (Paris, 1994), pp. 34–40,
Brigid is a continuation of the Indo-European goddess of the dawn
^ Ó hÓgáin, Dáithí. Myth, Legend & Romance: An encyclopaedia
of the Irish folk tradition. Prentice Hall Press, 1991. p.60
^ Wright, Brian. Brigid: Goddess, Druidess and Saint. The History
Press, 2011. pp.26-27
^ Sjoestedt, Marie-Louise. Celtic Gods and Heroes. Dover Publications.
pp. 21, 25. ISBN 0-486-41441-8.
^ a b Berger, Pamela (1985). The Goddess Obscured: Transformation of
the Grain Protectress from Goddess to Saint. Boston: Beacon Press.
^ Macalister, R. A. Stewart. Lebor Gabála Érenn. Part IV. Irish
Texts Society, Dublin, 1941. § VII, First Redaction, ¶ 317.
^ Ellis, Peter Berresford. "Celtic Women." Wm. B. Erdmans Publishing,
Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, p. 28.
Cath Maige Tuired
Cath Maige Tuired (The Second Battle of Mag Tuired), translated by
Elizabeth A. Gray. ¶ 125
^ a b Carmichael, Alexander (1900) Carmina Gadelica: Hymns and
Incantations, Ortha Nan Gaidheal, Volume I, p. 169 The Sacred
^ Jones, Mary. "Brigit". Jones' Celtic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14
^ a b "Saint Brigid: St Brigid's Fire". Cill Dara Historical Society.
Retrieved 28 December 2012.
^ a b Cambrensis, Giraldus. "The Topography of Ireland" (PDF). York
University. pp. 54, 59. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
^ Gregory, Isabella Augusta (1904). Gods and fighting men : the
story of the Tuatha de Danaan and the Fiana of Ireland. Yeats, W. B.
[Lexington, KY]: [publisher not identified]. p. 24.
ISBN 9781495385148. OCLC 907958219. CS1 maint: Date and
^ Encyclopædia Britannica: Celtic Religion
^ Healy, Elizabeth (2002) In Search of Ireland's Holy Wells. Dublin,
Wolfhound Press ISBN 0-86327-865-5 pp. 12–19, 27, 56–7, 66,
^ Logan, Patrick (1980) The Holy Wells of Ireland. Buckinghamshire,
Colin Smythe Limited. ISBN 0-86140-046-1. pp. 22–3, 95.
^ John T. Koch (2006). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia.
ABC-CLIO. p. 287. ISBN 978-1-85109-440-0. Retrieved 14 March
^ Magliocco, Sabina (2001-01-28). Neo-pagan sacred art and
altars : making things whole. Jackson: University Press of
Mississippi. p. 30. ISBN 9781578063918.
OCLC 46573490. CS1 maint: Date and year (link)
^ Matasović, Ranko, Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic (Leiden
Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series no. 9), Brill, 2009, pp.
^ Mallory, J. P. and Adams, Douglas Q. (eds.), Encyclopedia of
Indo-European Culture, Taylor & Francis, 1997, p. 269
^ Hilaire Wood. "Brigit's Forge". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
Bitel, Lisa M. 2001. St. Brigit of Ireland: From Virgin Saint to
MacKillop, James. 1998. Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. (Oxford:
Oxford University Press) ISBN 0-19-280120-1
The Slaney Press. 1994. Lady Gregory's Complete Irish Mythology.
(London: The Slaney Press)
Brighid: What do we really know? by Francine Nicholson // broken link
Brighid Goddess and Saint
Mary Jones's entry on Brigid
Sloinntireachd Bhride (Genealogy of Bride) from the Carmina Gadelica
Irish mythology: the Mythological Cycle
Mac Gréine-Mac Cuill-Mac Cecht
Tuan mac Cairill
Aengus mac Umor
Eochaid mac Eirc
Lúin of Celtchar
Tír na nÓg
Brú na Bóinne
Lebor Gabála Érenn
Cath Maige Tuired
Aided Chlainne Lir
Aided Chlainne Tuirenn
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