St Brigid’s monastery at Kildare, Eire was originally founded in the 5th century by Saint Brigid. It is one of the earliest examples of Christian worship in Ireland.
Although Brigid was originally a Celtic goddess – about which little was originally recorded, she was transposed as a religious figure into the much later form of Saint Brigid in which she predominantly remained until her more modern translation back into a goddess.
For many Goddess worshipers today, Brigid and her associated sacred, and eternal flame, that still burns in her honor at Kildare monastery, represents her light and power as a quintessential form of female deity.
Lunaea Wetherstone writes in her book ‘Tending Brigid’s Flame that
…Saint Brigid was venerated for having the qualities of, well, Brigid. Saint Brigid was and remains a very goddess-y saint.
The Life of Brigid
The story of Saint Brigid, as related by the author, tells of how as a young woman Brigid refused marriage and the domestic life in order to follow a path of service.
Along with eight other women Brigid took her vows and formed the monastery on its current site at Kildare with herself acting as abbess.
The monastery, which rather uncharacteristically accepted devotees of both sexes, became a center for scholarship as well as a school for art.
During her time heading the monastery Brigid was said to have performed many acts of magick all geared towards aiding the poor, dow-trodden and needy.
She is also said to have performed domestic types of miracles in which broken vessels were mended by breathing on them, cows were enchanted in such a way that they produced more milk and stone was turned into salt.
Above all else, though, Brigid is specifically known for the aid that she gave to lepers.
The Welcoming Flame
In ‘Tending Brigid’s Flame’ its author specifically associates Brigid with the home, and, more specifically, with the hearth-fire – that place from which, she believes, Brigid extends her glowing center of warmth and comfort.
Weatherstone offers a specific sequence of practices in her book for celebrating the sacredness of the home as well as ways in which to perfect the sacred art of hospitality.
These revolve around the inclusion of the invocation of the four elements, protective prayers and the crafting of what are called ‘Brigid’s Cross’ – totem items that represent the Sun returning at Imbolc.
She also offers specific advice on creating special places for the veneration of Brigid both in and outside of the home along with recipes based around foods that are central to the Goddess.
The Triple Brigid
Later on in the book the author explains how it is that the number three appears so frequently in Celtic mythology.
She describes how, as a goddess, Brigid can also be understood within the same trifold concept by reference to the traditional Maiden, Mother and Crone stages of her life.
She sees these qualities as being expressed through the popular Triskele symbol as well as the triquetra or trinity knot.
It is a subject which Jen Delyth, one of the contributors to this book, talks about in greater depth in the relevant section of Weatherstone’s book.
Brigid’s Earthly Journey
The author also traces the influence of Brigid through the seasons and festivals of the year. This begins at Imbolc and continues in a variety of contexts throughout the next twelve months.
She reveals the specific influence of the goddess in the lives of those who follow her and how the energy of Brigid specifically expresses itself at different times.
The author includes specific advice and invocations that can be used on these ocassions in order to strengthen a personal connection to Brigid. It also includes advice on following the ancient Lunar calendar of Celtic tradition.
Further advice on how to connect to the sacred spirituality of Brigid is offered via the mediums of worship, devotion and prayer.
The Transforming Flame
In Tending Brigid’s Flame Luneae Wetherstone reveals the symbol of the forge as the place where
…we are tested by fire, soul-strengthened and challenged to become our most authentic selves.
Here she refers to Brigid the Creatrix as a process that initiates creativity and inspiration in the followers of the goddess.
She suggests that all art and crafts are blessed by Brigid three times – once in the initial stage of inspiration, then during the process of creation and finally, at its competition.
This process of forging is also symbolic as well as literal for, as the author explains, the real work that takes place at the forge is that of soul development and spiritual growth with forged weaponry being used to represent various facets to the journey.
In concluding this rich and varied exposition of one of our most popular and enduring Pagan deities, the author encapsulates the innate characteristics of this goddess by stating that;
Brigid needs you to stand up for yourself and stand up for others. Speak out for the downtrodden – and for Goddesses’s sake, that certainly includes you.
Our Review of Tending Brigid’s Flame by Lunaea Weatherspoon
All of the really good books on Pagan magick focus upon the practical veneration of the chosen deity – which is why ‘Tending Brigid’s Flame’, in fact, simply a great book.
Whilst it deals with the historical and religious roots to Brigid, to the theories behind her veneration, where it really excels is in its description of how the dynamics of the goddess work in ordinary life.
As a book Tending Brigid’s Flame is not a solitary production for it includes contributions from other Pagan priestesses, Brigid followers and workers who are operating within the Celtic tradition in one way or another.
These largely feature personal accounts and their additional commentaries – which are interspersed throughout the book, add slightly different perspectives on how Brigid can be experienced through a variety of spiritual practices.
Not only is it beautifully written with a non-flowery and insightful style but it is also sympathetically illustrated with a wealth of additional resources for those readers wanting to find out more for themselves.
This is, quite simply, a book that no one who has come across the influence of Brigid in their lives will want to miss.
Tending Brigid’s Flame is a book which continues a tradition of great Pagan and Goddess-inspired commentaries. Celtic magick has never appeared more personal, alive; and contemporaneous with modern spiritual ideas, than it does in Lunaea Weatherstone’s delightful and inspiring book!