I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately on how to start off a relationship with Brigid. Now, as ye know, I’m working for/with Irish Brigid, so while anything I say here can be used more generally for any Brigid, show some sense as well – Gaeilge is less useful with Scottish Brigid or Welsh Brigid than it is with Irish Brigid. (cos yeah, the Scots and the Welsh have their own languages… although to be fair, Scottish Gaedlig is reasonably similar to Irish) Anyway, here we go. How to get started with Brigid in Ireland:
- Read her lore. Seriously – within Irish lore, outside her hagiographies and folk tales, there are four mentioned of Brig/Brigid. There’s a few more if you include the Brigs in Ulster, they get some brief mentions on the Seanchas Mór (the law texts) but really, the core of our Brigidine lore comes from 4 mentions. I have a free course here on these if you want to have a look. You can also graba copy of Morgan Daimler’s book “Pagan Portals – Brigid: Meeting The Celtic Goddess Of Poetry, Forge, And Healing Well” which contains a lot more than Irish lore, but is a really great primer for anyone starting out with Brigid (and no, sadly, not an affiliate link!)
- Check out the Irish folklore around Brigid, Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day etc. Dúchas is a wonderful site and what you’re mainly looking at here is the School’s Collection. Way back in the 1930’s, Irish schoolchildren were sent out into their areas to collect folk tales, lore and any stories their elders saw fit to tell them. From the website: Approximately 740,000 pages (288,000 pages in the pupils’ original exercise books; 451,000 pages in bound volumes) of folklore and local tradition were compiled by pupils from 5,000 primary schools in the Irish Free State between 1937 and 1939. This collecting scheme was initiated by the Irish Folklore Commission, under the direction of Séamus Ó Duilearga and Séan Ó Súilleabháin, Honorary Director and Registrar of the Commission respectively, and was heavily dependent on the cooperation of the Department of Education and the Irish National Teachers’ Organization. It was originally to run from 1937 to 1938 but was extended to 1939 in specific cases. For the duration of the project, more than 50,000 schoolchildren from 5,000 schools in the 26 counties of the Irish Free State were enlisted to collect folklore in their home districts. This included oral history, topographical information, folktales and legends, riddles and proverbs, games and pastimes, trades and crafts. The children recorded this material from their parents, grandparents and neighbours. We are so lucky to have this collection, but please remember, these were adults talking to children, in Ireland in the 1930’s – there’s no salacious tales here!! (not that you’d be expecting them really in relation to Brigid, but still)
- Start a daily practice with Brigid. Now I ran a “30 days with Brigid” in August to help people start off a daily practice and it was a huge success, so I’m likely to run it again, probably in January. If you’d like to hear more about that, click here and you’ll get some emails about it as it’s approaching. But, your daily practice can be as simple as lighting a candle, or even taking one deep breath. Really – spending a few seconds every day thinking about or talking to Brigid is the initial goal. You may expand further than that as time goes on – and I hate to break it to you, but if you’re useful to her, she will push you that way! – but to start with, commit to doing one thing daily. And then do it. (that’s the key bit – the doing bit)
- Pray! I know, it seems a bit twee sometimes, but really – either learning a previously written prayer or making up your own, or just talking to Brigid, is a great way to start a relationship with her. I do have a prayer in Irish here (free again) that you’re welcome to use as well.
- Learn a bit of Irish. Look, this can be contentious, but it’s a fact that the language we use helps shape the way we think, but also – it’s good manners to at least try to greet someone in their own language when you’re starting off a relationship with them. Here’s a few sample phrases to get you start, but you can use duolingo or any of the apps on line. Teanglann is also a great resource as an online dictionary and Abair gives pronunciations in all the dialects of Irish as well.
- Maidin mhaith agat – good morning – myy-gin wo ogut
- Tráthnóna mhaith agat – good afternoon – thraw noan-a wo ogut
- Oíche mhaith agat – good night – ee-ha wo ogut
- Learn about Irish culture and history. Things have changed here since the Great Famine of the 1840’s. They’ve even changed significantly since the foundation of the State. Irish history is an important part of who we are and how we got to where we are now and to understand our relationship with our saints, our spirituality, our deities, ourselves, you need to understand a bit about that as well. As for culture – yeah, we’re not all knocking pints of Guinness back on a Saturday night and singing rebel songs til the wee hours. Have a look at the things that shape us, the plays, literature that’s being written right now. Take a look at modern Irish writers – Louise O’Neill, Emma Donohue, Marian Keyes, Maeve Higgins, Sally Rooney. Please don’t use films like Far and Away or Wild Mountain Thyme as your touchstones. Please.
- Check out our newspapers. The Irish Times is our paper of record, but because of a transphobic slant they have (slant is being generous there) activists have asked us to boycott them. The Journal is an online newspaper. The Indo and the Examiner are online as well, although there are people who claim the Examiner is a Cork newspaper still, for all it claims to be national. No comment from me! I live too close to Cork to raise their ire 🙂
- Our native TV and radio stations are also online. Check our national broadcaster, RTE, and for those learning Irish, Radio na Gaeltachta broadcasts online as well. So you can see the kinda of programming we deal with in the country and learn a bit more about our social, cultural, life environments.
So there’s a starting point for anyone. I suppose, I could stretch it out for 10 points, but it was getting waffly enough really towards the end there. But the most important thing? Is to start. Do something. Pick something ridiculously easy and say you’ll do it today. And then do it tomorrow as well. I’m not talking signing up for a language course, or spending 30mins a day praying. I’m saying commit to one deep breath a day while thinking of Brigid. When I say start easy, I really do mean it! You can always expand and develop from there, don’t worry!