It’s a dreary, miserable, filthy day out today. When I think about how many of our winter festivals are associated with light – it’s really easy to see why this morning. And I know, Brigid’s main festival is associated with the start of spring in Ireland, but Brigid and light are interlinked in our minds.
And I think this has a very direct link to our mental health. There are stories on the internet that the Norwegian government pays for winter holidays for retirees to help with mental health issues. It would make sense! Tromsø in the north of Norway, has about 3.5hrs of sunlight a day right now… For comparison (and from the same website!) Ireland has approx. 8.5hrs. Technically speaking.
All in all, it makes sense that we think about Brigid and light at this time of the year.
Brigid’s links to light
Whether the saint or the deity, Brigid has strong associations with light.
Plenty of saints have a link to a crown of candles, aside from Brigid. St Lucia is the one most often quoted, in my experience. Brigid herself is mentioned a few times to be distracting people from the Holy Family by this means.
But we also have the links to her birth. The house light up with a pillar of fire as she was born. There are a few legends with her playing about with light and fire throughout her life. She hung her cloak on a sunbeam once, and the sunbeam didn’t have the temerity to tell her it wasn’t a branch!
So we have many, many connections to Brigid and light.
Brigid and mental health
Brigid as healer is fairly well known. I can, and have, spoken for hours on this! And one important element of health is mental health.
Those who have heard me speak about health know that I consider health to be personal. As in – it is up to you to define what health means to you. And especially so with mental health.
But since Brigid is a healer and cares about holistic health. And there are distinct links between light and depression/mental health. Yes, that is Google Scholar. It’s much better for academic articles.
So, it makes sense that there would be a link between light and Brigid and mental health. In my head anyway!
Bringing more light into our lives
It’s no surprise that many of our winter festivals in northern Europe revolve around creating light. How many traditional celebrations across many of the cultures in the region involve fire and light?
Usually, I’m a firm believer in Christmas decorations going up as late as possible. But there’s one area I relinquish this abhorrence. I have fairy lights up all year round. I have candles lighting all year round. But more so in this dark part of the year. I love a stove or an open fire at this time of year. Somehow, a real flame just works better at beating back the damp than a radiator…
I’ve been looking into sunlight lamps for years, but haven’t yet taken the plunge. If anyone has any experience with this, please let me know how you got on?
I make sure to get outside on the days when the sun does appear. It’s usually a day per week and there’s something about being outside in the fresh air that helps my mood anyway. Now, I’m not talking severe mental illnesses here. I mean, with my husband, a daily dose of fresh air helps, but doesn’t replace his medical regime. And I’m the same.
But the point is – it helps. So, if you want to add more light to your Brigid practice right now, go right ahead. Our spiritual practice should support our lives not make them harder!!