St. Brigid, the Grain Goddess

February 1st is the feast day of St. Brigid. She began her life as a pagan goddess and ended up a Christian saint. She was a fire and fertility goddess. In her temple at Kildare, vestal virgins tended an eternal fire. On her feast day, her statue was washed in the sea (purification) and then carried in a cart through the fields surrounded by candles. 

Thus Brigid was a woman, a Goddess, a Saint. Her influence blanketed over miles, warmed thousands, and her spirited flame still lives in people today.

She is the goddess of Poetry, Creativity, Inspiration, Prophecy, Healing, Midwifery, Smithcraft, Arts and Crafts, and Keeper of the Hearth - Fire-keeper.

She is also the Patron Saint of babies, blacksmiths, people who work on boats or on the water, people who make their living from the water, cattle, children whose parents are not married, dairymaids, dairy workers, fugitives, infants, Ireland, mariners, midwives, newborn, babies, poets, sailors, scholars, and travellers.

Triple Aspects

  • Goddess of Inspiration - poets, poetry, creativity, prophecy, arts
  • Goddess of Smithcraft - blacksmiths, goldsmiths, household crafts
  • Goddess of Healing - healers, medicine, spiritual healing, fertility (crops, land, cattle)

Thus she is the Triple Goddess embodying Maiden - of purity and innocence, Mother - of comfort and fruitfulness, and Crone - of wisdom and healing. In prehistoric times, (and still now) the name, "Bhrigid" or "Bhride" was used synonymously with the word "Goddess".

The following are some name variations: Brighid; Bride (Scotland), Brid, Brigit, Bridget, Briganta (England), Brigan, Brigindo (Gaul), Berecyntia, Brigandu (France)

Some other meanings ascribed to Brigid are Bright One, High One, Bright Arrow, Power.

Christianized forms include St. Brigit (Irish), St. Ffraid (Welsh), St. Bridget (Swedish), Queen of Heaven, Prophetess of Christ, Mary.

Her symbols include:

  • Fire - flames, candle crown, hearth
  • Water - cauldron, springs, wells
  • Grain - Brigid wheels, corn/oat sheaf Goddess effigy, Brigid's Bed
  • Creatures - white cow with red ears, wolf, snake, swan and vulture
  • Talismans - Shining Mirror to Otherworld, Spinning Wheel andHoly Grail

There is much to say about Brigid the Goddess/Brigid the Saint. Most believe the two are one in the same. The Saint, who came to this earth in human form embodied the qualities of the Goddess - much in the same way people describe Jesus the man, embodying the qualities of Christ God.

To celebrate St. Brigid's day, people put out a loaf of bread on the windowsill for the Saint and an ear of corn for her white cow, offerings for the grain goddess like the loaf buried in the first furrow. A small quantity of special seeds are mixed with those to be sown. Wheat stalks are woven into X-shaped crosses to serve as charms to protect home from fire and lightning.

In the HIghlands, women dress the corn doll or last sheaf (from Lammas or the autumn equinox) in a bridal gown and put her in a basket, which is called the Bride's bed. A wand, candle or other phallic object is laid across her and Bride is invited to come, for her bed is ready.

One of the many things people love about Brigid is she seems to be able to bridge the apparently vast chasm between Christianity and Paganism. 

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