Forms of address for Brigid

It’s hard when starting out on a new path or transferring from one path to another to come to grips with how to address beings. I mean, people, we can usually figure out, but deities and such like – well, they don’t always bloody answer do they? And few people actively want to be disrespectful to a deity, no matter whether they have a relationship with them or not.

Add to that, many of Brigid’s followers have some form of Christianity in their backgrounds, so we’re used to addressing Our Father, which doesn’t work on all sorts of levels for Brigid. Just for info, I wouldn’t be risking Our Mother either… just to be on the safe side.

Starting off with her name is no bad thing. Except for non-Irish speakers, the name is a bit of an issue. I mean we have Brig in Caith Maighe Tuireadh; Brigit in the Lives, Brighid in later Irish, Brigid in even later Irish and Bríd in modern Irish. Not to mention those of us (ahem, point at myself here!) that use Brigid when speaking English and Bríd when speaking Irish. Now, the way I’d pronounce any and all of these words has little enough variation, but I’d say find a video on YouTube (I know Lora O’Brien of the Irish Pagan School has done at least one video on pronunciations of Irish deities) preferably from someone who speaks some level of Irish – hell, there’s even some videos up on Lora’s channel that she has me speaking on, I’m sure I say Brigid’s name a few times… The thing is – whether it’s Brigit, Brighid, Brigid or Bríd – it’s the same name, the spelling differences reflect changes in the language rather than the name. The reasons we pronounce them differently are to do with colonialism and the attempted eradication of the Irish language. But we won’t go into that here. Needless to say, addressing her in a respectful manner by name, you won’t go far.

The main thing to remember is, you’re addressing a deity here. So think of how you’d addressed any deity and work out from there. I’d not be calling her “Lady” or “Missus”, not unless she explicitly tells you you can – even Lady is a fair big step down for a deity. Calling her “Goddess” probably won’t land you in hot water, but it seems like a lot of syllables… (the lot of syllables bit is my own opinion now mind!) Brigid, Bríd, Brighid – all of these will be fine. In certain circumstances, “Daughter of the Dagda” might be appropriate, if you’re working on her relationship with her aul fella. “Mother of Ruadhán” might also be good. Personal gnosis here, but I think “Wife of Bres” might be touchy, because of the politics involved. I mean, Bres was not a good king and she was married to him, so she had to put up with him…

You will see me refer to her as “herself”. This is an Irish thing. It’s not a mark of disrespect, only someone who is worthy of respect might be referred to as “himself” or “herself”. (There are those who think using the capital H here is more respectful, so “Herself” rather than “herself”, I don’t subscribe to that idea, but I respect those who do.) There’s something important to realise about the Irish approach to people of respect. There’s people you respect and know well – an outsider might never realise just how respected someone is in a community, since as a race, we have a grand tradition of pulling the piss. And really, there’s a tendency to show our respect by the lack thereof in certain circumstances. Not all circumstances, mind, but certain ones.

For example, I had a manager when I was a baby engineer, who was amazingly helpful and supportive to me throughout the 4 yrs I worked for him, to the point that not only did he attend my wedding with his wife, but he was mentioned in my Dad’s speech as being a surrogate father to me while I was in England. I refer to this man as “boss” to this day and he hates it. But it’s how I show how high in my esteem he sits. If I stated calling him by his given name, he’d think I was angry at him. His wife, I will always call by her given name, not because of a lack of respect, but because of a lack of familiarity.

There are elements of Irish culture, such as the apparent lack of respect shown above, that is difficult to explain to outsiders, or people who have not lived in the culture for an extended period. As in decades. There’s nuance here and honestly, until you see it in action, you may struggle with it. In fact, you probably will. So stay on the safe side and stick with what you know until you learn it 🙂

We can always address Brigid by her professions or associations of course. Poet, Healer or Smith are all appellations I feel she connects with. The three titles come from Sanas Cormac (Cormac’s Glossary) and I suppose she could be addressed as a queen, seeing as how she was married to Bres and he was king. I’ve never addressed her as Majesty or anything like that, but it’s usually the Smith or the Healer I deal with, neither profession much given to rank or status beyond skill.

I would steer very far away from addressing her as maiden/mother/crone. It’s not Irish Brigid to be in that mould and I think it could be dangerous. She has a temper after all! I’ve heard of people addressing her as “Mistress” as well – again not something I understand, mistress being a fair long step below deity. “Holy One” might suit your spiritual beliefs and be safe enough as well, “Skilled One” is probably better, in my opinion. You could try “Great One”, but she’d probably be looking for the kick in the tail. She is an Irish deity after all – too much plámásery is suspect. (From teanglann: plámás, m. (gs. -áis). (Act of) flattering, flattery; soft talk, cajolery. ~ a dhéanamh le duine, to flatter, wheedle, s.o. Níl tú ach ag ~ liom, you are only trying to soft-sawder me. Cuir uait an ~! None of your palaver!)

It is, of course, highly respectful to learn how to address her as Gaeilge (in Irish). Bríd is Brigid in Irish (kinda pronounced “breedj”). Goddess is “bandia” (literally, female god – in Irish when you see the word “ban” at the beginning of the word it means it’s someone female). Duine Mór (literally big person) or Duine Uasail (person of respect) are two other phrases although both are very formal and would rarely be used in normal conversation. In fact, duine mór would rarely be used as an address, but more as a description of something.

Now, if you’re speaking Irish, you don’t just start off by saying “Bríd“. You say “A Bhríd“. The “A” denotes the fact that you’re talking to the person, a way of getting attention or directing the conversation. In a similar manner if you were using “bandia” as a form of address, you would say “A bhandia“. Now, it would be equally right to say “A dhia”, seeing as how the use of “ban” to indicate female gender is falling out of use in modern Ireland. And yeah – changing culture does change the langauge!

The Irish for Healer would be something like lia (and you wouldn’t add the “h” after an “l”, so you would say “A Lia”) The Irish for Smith is “Gabha”, so “A Ghabha” and of course, poet would be “File” or “A Fhile“. For anyone working with the saint, we say “Naomh Bhríd” and you don’t say “A Naomh Bhríd”, just “Naomh Bhríd”. Irish is a very simple language, with clear rules – until it isn’t 🙂

Addressing a deity in their own language would be a basic sign of respect, I’d say, no matter what deity you’re dealing with. Very few of them worked in English… certainly far fewer than the widespread use of English in dealing with matters spiritual would indicate.

As a summary then: calling her Brigid/Brighid/ Brigit is sensible, seeing as how that’s her name. Using her titles – Goddess, Poet, Healer, Smith, Queen / Your Majesty (although I have very ambivalent feelings about Queen to be honest). Remember titles like “Lady” might seem fine to us in the modern world, but it’s a fair steep step down from Deity. Those titles in Irish would be even better as outlined in the paragraphs directly above this one. And again, teanglann has great pronunciation help, and there’s also Abair (literally means “say” in Irish) which shows the three major dialects (or canúintí as Gaeilge – I was older than I want to admit before I realised there was an English word for canúintí!!)

Hope that helps people who are coming to Brigid or Irish deity from other traditions. I mean, if you make an honest mistake, Brigid isn’t recorded as blasting someone from the face of the planet. Yet. So be careful, little bit fearful but not necessarily terrified. Healthy respect, with a little tinge of fear – kind of like how I view the Other Crowd, but that’s another post!!

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