I often refer to Brigid as a “gateway deity” of sorts. Recently, though, I’ve been reading some disturbing trends online and in communities that almost put her in a “lesser bracket” because of this straddling of realms. Now, I’ve written previously on Brigid and Liminality. My views there are widely know, but today I want to explore this idea of Brigid as a gateway.
What do I mean by gateway?
The term “gateway deity” is a play on the messages from my youth of the dangers of “gateway drugs”. The thought was that drugs like hash/marijuana/cannabis , were technically low risk in and of themselves. (My names could date me immensely!) However, they , were dangerous in that they lead on to more dangerous substances.
I can’t find any studies to back this thought up. But even back in the 90’s, the notion that hash wasn’t over dangerous in itself. It is still a regular conversation in drug addiction prevention, as far as I can see, from conversations with more modern teenagers!
What has Brigid got to do with gateways?
Well, this ties into Brigid’s role as a liminal deity. Primarily, people are more comfortable move slightly outside the known rather than completely outside their known arenas. With that, Brigid’s role as both pagan deity and Catholic saint offers a means to learn more about a being that is both pagan and Catholic. (I’m not sure about other Christian denominations’ positions regarding saints, although I believe the Church of England reveres her as saint as well?)
She offers a route to explore, firstly, an alternative Christianity to the more fundamentalist sects, and then on to alternative religious structures altogether. She offers a more gentle change than the abrupt change that might occur with other deities.
Added to which, she is one who looks to include rather than exclude people. This isn’t a license to say/teach anything you like now, about Brigid. Lore exists, folklore exists, established practices from generations and centuries of ancestors exist. We can base our practices on these foundations. Separating personal gnosis from general gnosis is still really important.
What bothered me about what I’ve read recently?
Well, honestly, what bothered me was mainly the discussions, themes, threads that talked about Brigid as a gateway deity to more powerful deities. Or even to somehow “better”, “more authentic” deities.
Just because Brigid crosses boundaries that are largely human-created, in order to serve her people better, doesn’t make her a lesser deity than others who are strictly pagan, with no Christian connections. It annoys me, because I recognise just how powerful Brigid is and can be. She has an ability to pull people together and get shit done that is awesome. And I mean awesome there in the original sense, as in causes awe in observers. Well, in me anyway!!
Brigid is widely known and widely revered. She crosses national boundaries, religious boundaries, ecclesiastical boundaries. Even just by the pure numbers of her followers, she is powerful.
Having her viewed as some sort of “lesser deity” because she can serve as that gateway is abhorrent to me. She is not a stepping stone to “greater things” or “greater deities”. She is a a deity of great power, who covers a fairly large breadth of the modern human experience.
OK, so what does Brigid cover then?
I’ve said before that if you look at the Healer, Poet and Smith, there really isn’t that much left in the human experience that isn’t covered. Seriously – I won’t go into full details here, since there is already a 5 week course on those aspects, from me, over at the Irish Pagan School.
But here’s a brief overview:
The Healer: health, healing, physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental, health promotion, ill-health correction, fertility, conception, childbirth, health sciences, anything at all in the health and healing realm. Also, vetinary work. (The medical and vetinary areas of a modern university)
The Poet: law, justice, words, poetry, activism, campaigning, government, history, literature, stories, finance, social issues, business … (The Arts and Humanities area of a modern university)
The Smith: engineering, science, construction, IT, maths, architecture, housing, sustainability, computers (the science and engineering parts of a modern university)
And yes, I know using the construct of the modern university might be off-putting to some people. I am sorry about that – it’s the easiest way for my brain to compile the information.
Brigid is powerful. Brigid is available. Brigid crosses boundaries. She is not a second-class deity!!