As some of ye know, I’ve been working on a book for Irish Brigid, investigating what we have in the lore, what we can extrapolate from that and a few other bits and pieces. (Yup, I am still working on it, it’s not been forgotten!) As part of that, I’ve been spending a lot of time on dil.ie looking at the various meanings of “brig”.
They have 4 (see the link here)
a) power, strength, force, authority; vigour, virtue
b) value, worth; advantage; validity, virtue, efficacy
c) meaning (of words, sayings)
d) In phrases with prepp. and verbs
Now a) and b) would be fairly well known I think generally – that brig would be linked to power, value, strength, etc. But I was surprised by c) meaning of words, sayings and I wanted to investigate that a bit. Because to me, that links Brigid to the meaning of words and sayings, to the power of words and sayings, which of course as a poet and protector of poets she’d be well aware of.
The website has 3 phrases that I want to talk about (bearing in mind that I’m not good with medieval Irish and some of the stuff I draw out here may be inaccurate. I’ve done the best I can, but with limited knowledge! So with that warning clear, I hope, on we go!)
brígh na cédlitre = tenour is the first phrase in the entry. (Truth to tell, I had to look up tenour for a meaning as well. wiktionary.com gives me: “The (primary) intended message or purpose of something. The tone or character of something; the tenor of something; the usual mode of life” Now I can’t find a meaning for “cédlitre” to be able to break this down further, but having “Brig” linked to the tenour of words, the intended message, the purpose to me gives us a further link to the poet and the power of words.
bríogh na guidhei-se comes without a direct English translation, but… I looked up various forms of guidhei, and anything that comes up with a guid in the root of it is linked to begging earnestly, praying, pleading, so I would say it’s linked to power of prayer, power of asking appropriately, that sort of thing. Again, something easily linked to the power of words and poetry for Brig I would say.
fios a bhríghe is the last one under this section and it adds in English “of a prov. saying” which I think means of a proverb or proverbial saying? Now, fios is the modern Irish word for knowledge and although I can’t find an entry for it in the eDIL, any time it’s mentioned it appears to be linked to some sort of knowledge. Here again so we have the power of knowledge, which to me again links Brigid strongly back to the poets, where the power of knowledge and the ability to use it was pretty much the root of their power – and the acknowledgement of that power by the general population of course!
Now, of course, I could be talking out of my ass here, gods know it wouldn’t be the first time I’d gone on a wrong train of thought, but the strong links in the dictionary between the root word brig and the power of words, the value of words is a reasonable jump for me to Brigid’s links with poets and poetry. Does it bring anything new to my practice? Well maybe a few new words for me, in both Irish and English, which is never any harm. A deeper understanding of the potential meanings of Brigid’s name? Maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe I’m unconsciously biased and I’ve missed something glaring here! Either way, I hope it’s interesting and it encourages people to do their own exploring through the meanings of words!
4 thoughts on “What’s in a name?”
Hear we out…this is 100% UPG and one of those wandering 2am thoughts. There is a portion of St Patrick’s lorica (or the purpose of the lorica) that is protection against smiths, women, and poets (druids). I have wondered more than once if this was directed at the cult of St Brigid in an attempt to make Patrick the hierarchical head. Since there was competition between the different settlements (after both were already deceased) I am also possibly reading too much into the words but it struck me as at least coincidence, and I have a hard time with coincidence. It would also serve to harken back past the Saint, to the Goddess as an attempt to link her (derogatory) to the pagan past. I find that the power of words is many times greater than physical power, and far more lasting. Do you think the words derived their meanings from Her lore or vice-versa? I know it’s a chicken and egg question….but seeing that the traditions were oral before the second century, and the oral tradition likely continued along side the written word for many centuries is it more likely the words derived their meanings as descriptors of Her? I find it all incredibly fascinating. Beannachtaí
Jenna, I could write a whole series of posts on Patrick and Brigid’s relationship or supposed relationship – and yes, entirely possible!! It’s all so fascinating!!!
The connection between the name definitions and poetry is fascinating
As long as we remember it’s from my own head and not necessarily having any basis in reality!! Well, possibly having some basis in reality, but I’ve found nothing to support it so let’s not accept it as fundamental gnosis yet 🙂