Why has the Goddess Brigit become so popular, and with so many different kinds of people?
Apart from a lull in her popularity in the last century*, Brigit has always been beloved, especially among the Irish and Scots—and where they have migrated churches bearing the name “Saint Brigit’s” or “Saint Bride’s” have popped up with great regularity. So many Irish girls were baptized with her name that its diminutive—Biddy—came to apply to Irish women generally (not in the most flattering way, at all times, but that’s another story), just as their men became known as Paddies, after Saint Patrick.
Brigit’s fortune seems ever on the rise. Her appeal has spilled out beyond the pews and holy wells. Irish social justice and peace activists have adopted her**, feminists, Celtic revivalists, and environmental activists look to her for inspiration, scholars are penning tomes and journal articles about her, Orthodox iconographers are painting her, Wiccan priestesses are making room for her on their altars and in their rituals, and Celtic Reconstructionist NeoPagans are exploring her literature and myth and offering their insights to the world. Indeed, interfaith orders like the Daughters of the Flame are dedicated solely to devotion to Brigit.
The diversity of Brigit’s traditions and lore are part of the explanation. In the fleeting mentions of the goddess, wisdom, poetry, healing, smithcraft, motherhood, grief, lamentation and other vocal expressions are touched on. These alone encompass vast portions of life, and their symbolism may be applied to much more again. The stories of the saint range from those of female independence to miraculous abundance, peacemaking, and generosity—and so on and on. Coming from a background of bondage, as reported in her later Lives, her understanding of and tolerance for oppression speak to those who themselves have experienced or witnessed oppression.
Brigit has both antiquity and modern cultus on her side. Goddess and saint, fire and water, bird and fish, wild and cultivated life are all a part of her tapestry. She frees captives and listens to the mad and the lost. If once her flame was kept only by women, today it is tended by men as well; the LGBTQ communities find sympathy with her in her gender-challenging life choices and her friendship with a nun named Darlughdacha; Catholics cherish her commitment to the protection and guidance of her people; pro-choice activists point to the story of St Brigit causing a foetus to disappear *** as for support for their stance.
Brigit is not all things to all people—she is distinctly and utterly herself (her selves?)—but she offers immense scope to those who seek her out.
To learn more about Brigit, please explore Mael Brigde’s Courses on Mystery School of the Goddess
* A recent article in Irish Central reminds us of this, saying, “St. Brigid is the female equivalent of St. Patrick in Ireland, but there are no parades in her honor, and apart from the St. Brigid’s Cross, her name is hardly known…Growing up in Ireland we were all told about St.Brigid’s cross made of rushes which became in many ways a national symbol, used by RTÉ, the national broadcasting company, for one. But we learned little about Brigid herself.” From “Why Irish women should follow St. Brigid, not just St. Patrick”, Niall O’Dowd.
** From the website of Action From Ireland (AFRI): “Féile Bride happens annually in Kildare around the start of Spring in February. The first Féile Bríde was organized in 1993. It is a time for celebration and reflection in spirit of Brigid’s message of justice, peace and hope which remains as vibrant and as relevant today as it was more than a thousand years ago.” http://www.afri.ie/key-events/
*** Cogitosus wrote, “Brigid, exercising the most potent strength of her ineffable faith, blessed her, causing the foetus to disappear, without coming to birth, and without pain”. Another might point to the next line, “She faithfully returned the woman to health and to penance” as less than complete support for the issue.
Action From Ireland (AFRI). http://www.afri.ie/key-events/
Liam de Paor, translation and commentaries. “Cogitosus’s Life of St Brigid the Virgin”, Saint Patrick’s World: The Christian Culture of Ireland’s Apostolic Age (1993) pg 211.
O’Dowd, Niall. “Why Irish women should follow St. Brigid, not just St. Patrick”, Irish Central. @niallodowdFebruary 01,2016 01:00 AM. http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/irish-women-should-follow-st-brigid-not-just-st-patrick-189219961-237561981.html