February 1st is the feast day of St. Brigid who once was a Pagan Goddess. Even after the Roman Catholic banned all Pagan ways, She was so firmly and permanently beloved, she was absorbed into Christianity as a saint.
But the Wheel turns and we once more give honor to the Sun Goddess Bride (pronounced “breed” or “breej”), Brigit, or Brighid. She is the Fire Goddess of Healing, Poetry, and Art. You can see Her embodied in the bright stars of the constellation we call Orion.
For millennia at Her temple at Kildare, Her priestesses, and later, the nuns of Her order, tended an eternal flame in Her honor. Although it was extinguished during the Burning Times (the Inquisition), Sister Mary Minehan boldly re-lit St. Brigid’s flame in 1993 in Kildare. It was lit again in 1997, in the square at Kildare by Ragny Skaisten, a member of the Norwegian Brigidine Sisters, at the opening of Her feast day, Feile Bhride.
Since then, despite reluctance from the Pope, each year on Brigid’s Feast Day, the Brigidine Sisters in Kildare have lit the flame in the town square for the day.
But as I said, the Wheel turns, my dears.
Last year (in 2006), in Kildare, on St. Brigid’s day, with much ceremony and celebration, Her eternal flame was lit once more, by the president of Ireland, Mary McAleese. The news reports describe the specially commissioned sculpture housing it as being “a twisted column, which flourishes at the top into large-scale oak leaves, nestled into which there is a bronze acorn cup holding the flame. The use of oak leaves symbolises both the Christian beliefs of St. Brigid and the earlier Druidic worship of the trees. Of course, the oak is also the namesake of Kildare, Cill Dara, Church of the Oak.”
Brigid presides over all transformations: birth and brewing, metal-smithing and poetry and the passage from Winter to Spring. Her name may be derived from Gaelic “breo aigit” meaning “fiery arrow.” Her name is noticeably similar to the Sanskrit derivation “Brahti” which means “exalted one.”
The gifts of Brigid transcend spiritual path and culture. Brigid inspires us to become more than we have ever been – to reach for the greatest potential that exists in each of us. Her Flame is given to us for inspiration. It lights the path from our dark Winter to the promise of Spring. It illuminates us to see and know our ancient, wise souls.
Hers is the purifying fire that heals our wounds, forges new strength, and weaves creativity and art into our lives. May Brigid the Shining One bless you on this great day of hope and power. May we, with our lives, ensure that Her holy fire burns forever more.