Growing up in Scotland, five miles as the crow flies from Loch Lomond, we regularly waked around the surrounding hills. Even as a child I was aware of the presence of the old ones whose voices became clearer the deeper we moved into silence of the hilltops.
The same voices still speak to me and now decades later I know their names and stories. To me Brighid is one of the ancient mothers of Scotland who also include the Cailleach, the Deer Goddess and Clutha (Goddess of the Clyde).
In this four part series we will explore the four Ancient Mothers of Scotland: The Cailleach, the Deer Goddess, Clutha and Brighid.
Ancient Mothers of Scotland
Brighid is a triple goddess made up of Brighid and her two sisters (also called Brighid). Together they weave powerful energies rooted in three main areas.
First is healing – from midwifery to herbalism and the wise women ways. Brighid is patron to midwives of those of souls into this world and also the death midwives who guide souls at the end of their life as the move onto the next world. Secondly is creativity represented by the blacksmith who takes natural materials and turns them into metals. The anvil the symbols of this magical transformation. Thirdly is justice for there are many tales of Brighid going against the law of the day and helping out those in need. She is a fitting figure as an inspiration for those who work in environmental and social justice as Brighid is said to have created several traditions for women which include the creation of a rape whistle for women as well as creating the women’s shamanic tradition of Keening which lament the death of a person but is also a ceremony which guides the community through their collective grief. She is also said to have created keening – the lamenting a death and guiding the soul onto the otherworld.
Over the ages Brighid has morphed and changed along with changing beliefs of the people. As a mother Goddess figure in Scotland and Ireland her traditions are wide and varying. The fact that they were practiced for so long means they have survived in the folk memory.
From her eternal flame to ancient theories of her related to bear cults, from her snake association to her cross possibly stretching back to a symbol born in the Neolithic there are so many fascinating aspects about Brighid which invites us to build our own and unique relationship with her.
Mary of the Gael
In the West coast of Scotland a Celtic Christianity, a blending of Pagan and Christian traditions was practiced for hundreds of years. Brighid was invoked alongside Mary and Jesus. Life was tightly woven with prayers and charms from walking in the morning to smooring the fire, to baking of bread, blessing the tools you worked with to the protection of your neighbor in childbirth to your cow in labor. The otherworld wasn’t some far away place as your ancestors were as close to you as the winter cloak you wrapped around you on a cold morning.
Our Need for Her Protection
In today’s political climate we need as much protection as we can pull around us. Brighids traditions offer many rituals we can incorporate into our daily lives throughout the year. One aspects of the protection she offers in creating a Caim around us, a protective prayer physically acted out in order to set a boundary of safety and a feeling of comfort, protection and love.
Creating your own Caim
There are times in life when we need some extra help, such as knowing we’re going to be facing something difficult in our day so we may wish to perform the Caim that morning so as to surround ourselves with extra protection. Then there are also times where we quite suddenly and unexpectedly feel unsafe and, in such instances we can quickly create the Caim, concentrating on the visualization rather than the physical, yet still creating the same feeling.
The Essence of the Caim
I see the very heart of the Caim as being similar to a prayer; it’s the intention and the feeling you hold as you create the protective circle. The uniqueness of the Caim is that it is a traveling prayer, as you create it is encompasses you, stretching out above, below and around you, like a bubble of protection surrounding you throughout your day.
Imagery & Inspiration
From the traditional Caim prayers I wrote my own Caim invoking Brighid’s protection and stating what elements I wished to be protected from. Below is a version of the Caim I wrote for myself.
Creating Your Caim
Once you have written your Caim, which can be as long or as short as you wish, decide what imagery you would like as you physically create that circle. You may wish to imagine that your finger is drawing Brighid’s protective flame around you, a sacred fire that doesn’t burn. Maybe you imagine a comforting hug or a cloak being pulled around your shoulders and body, adding a layer of safety and protection. Maybe you wish to imagine that the circle itself acts like a shield where all unwanted words or feelings from others can’t enter into your circle, but instead they simply bounce back to the owner and so can’t affect you.
Putting it all Together
- Draw on your image of Brighid in your minds eye, recite your Caim asking for her protection by stating your intention for protection.
- Stretch out your right hand, forefinger pointing out, create your circle by turning on the spot in a sun wise (clockwise) direction, imagining that as you turn the tip of your finger is drawing the circle.
- As your draw the circle, add in your own personal imagery – such as fire, a shield or a cloak.
- Feel the essence of your intention, feel Brighid’s love and protection surrounding you, knowing and acknowledging that you are safe and loved. Your prayer goes out to the universe, your intention the catalyst that allows the universe and Brighid to respond.
- Consider that if you should find yourself unexpectedly and suddenly feeling unsafe how you might create the Caim quickly because you need to do this fast there is no need to create physical gestures. By feeling into your intention, you may connect to Brighid imagining the circle of flames (or your chosen imagery) surrounding you.
- Finally, make time to give thanks and gratitude using your own personal way of honoring Brighid.
- In times of immediate danger we can quickly create the Caim, a few words to Brighid asking for protection. If your not able to move and draw the circle you can do it in your mind, using your imagination to ignite your Caim as protective flames around you keeping you safe.
Part 2 in this Ancient Mothers of Scotland Series will explore the Deer Goddess. See all of Jude’s Posts here
More Brighid resources:
Making and Using Brighid’s crosses (or wheels) – https://celticsoulcraft.com/2017/01/20/brighids-wheels-ritual-and-snakes/
Imbolc Traditions, Creating Ceremony & House Blessing – https://celticsoulcraft.com/2016/01/24/imbolc-traditions-creating-ceremony-house-blessing/
The online course ‘Weaving the Protection of Brighid’ is an online course covering several modes of protection Brighid offers from Brighid’s wheels (or crosses) to Smooring the Fire, the Caim as well as writing traditional charms and the practice of Augury.