Is Brigid calling me?

It’s a question that comes up a fair bit, in relation to many deities, but lately, I’ve been getting a fair few questions along these lines myself. And the answer is both extremely simple and extremely complicated.

For me, I didn’t necessarily feel ‘called’, as in, she didn’t appear in a flash of light and thunderous music, saying, “Right, it’s time, come on, get your arse in gear”. I mean, that might be the way she does it for some people but not for me. For me it was more a realisation that I was doing the work she wanted done anyway, so I might as well do it with her help as without it.

Explaining what that realisation was like is a bit more difficult though. If you’ve read the blog, or taken any of my classes over at the Irish Pagan School or are a member of the Brigid’s Forge group on Facebook, you’ll know I grew up Irish Catholic, and still identify as Pagan Catholic (and really, Irish Catholicism in the traditional pre-20th century sense, was really only skin deep with all sorts of pagan practices still trundling along nicely thank you very much. Just try asking most of us if we’d go so far as to disturb a fairy ring….) Growing up Irish Catholic, Brigid (as in St. Brigid) was always there, one of our three patron saints, a strong female holy figure, someone who promoted education, learning, justice…. Plus a decent excuse for at least a day a year of making Brigid’s crosses to take home to the Mammy and Daddy. (usually only in primary school that last bit!)

So, I knew the stories of St. Brigid. I also, I thought, knew the myths and legends fairly well. (As it turned out, I didn’t, those tales are heavily sanitised in schools!) But in my late 30’s, things began to change a bit for me. Now the Catholic Church I’d pretty much given up on as an institution at this point. It has done a lot of good in Ireland and elsewhere over the years, but it’s also done a lot of harm at the same time. Individual members of that church are a different story, but the institution itself… well I could be here for a while typing on that!

So, mid-30’s things began to change. From the time I graduated as an engineer, I got involved in getting more women into engineering (most companies want to use female engineers for promotional purposes anyway tbh, to maximise their image) I had always thought of myself as a feminist, even if I did proudly proclaim for many years that “I wasn’t like those other girls”. I rejected for a long time any pretense of liking or wanting traditional “female” concerns – boyfriends (although I was more than willing to have sex, just not any sort of commitment), looking pretty (my thoughts were that I was fat and ugly, so what was the point?), marriage (tying myself down and actually trusting a man????)… this list could go on for a while. I was pretending I was male while insisting I was female (not trans in any way, just didn’t want to be seen as less and I saw being female as being less). As far as I was concerned I could out-drink, out-shag and out-work any man.

Then I hit my late 20’s and met someone special (ended up marrying him). I started researching different areas of study – hitting the arts and humanities as well as STEM subjects. I saw the value in literature, stories, in creating a better world. I started thinking on a wider scale, not just my own life. It was suddenly not enough that my own life was getting better, I needed to do something about the world.

Sounds fierce grandiose, doesn’t it? This is what I mean about her sneaking up on me….

I started to do work on myself. I realised things were very wrong with me – I was showing all the signs of anorexia, except I was fat (and doctors don’t see fat people as getting eating disorders for some reason), I was desperately unhappy, drinking miles too much… I was not in a good place. The Church, my upbringing was telling me, should by my place of comfort, but frankly, it appeared to think that getting married to a fine, upstanding Catholic would solve all my issues (but I’d met a lot of those fine, upstanding Catholics as young men and frankly, an awful lot of them weren’t and aren’t…) So I started looking into women’s spirituality, menstrual spirituality. I went on some “reclaiming your power” retreats. I went into some dark places.

And then I realised there were “presences” in my life, especially when I was doing this inner work. Now I was still based in the UK at this point, so when they appeared, the old Irish deities were not first on my mind, especially since lot of the inner work practices I was taking part in were drawing on classical Greco-Roman structures and deities. It didn’t fit properly and it was hard to absorb some of what was happening. Plus two of the “presences” were strongly related to both the Virgin Mary and St. Therese of Lisieux. Both strongly Catholic images, rather than pagan.

And then I came home. And I started listening to the land I was born in again. I started listening to Irish podcasts, Irish telly, Irish radio, Irish stories. I realised how cut off I had been from the land of my home. (“Home” is probably worth another post all on it’s own!) I firmly remember going back to England at this point for a self-development weekend and standing in the closing circle, bare feet on the ground and declaring that “this is not my home. This is not my land. I have no deep roots here. My roots are elsewhere.”

Now I’m lucky to have that root system in the land of my birth. Many don’t. But it was part of my call. I started meditating, studying the old lore, seeing what elements of what I was being called towards. And by called, I mean I could read through the entire text of the Caith Maighe Tuireadh and return over and over and over again to that single paragraph that names Brig. I returned to the parts of the various glossaries dealing with Brigid. I found myself learning about how the poet, the smith and the healer operated in the world they inhabited. Most importantly, I learned how the work I was feeling interested in, feeling called to do, linked in to those stories and scriptures.

I found a need in my to do some energy training and specifically training aimed at the womb and menstruality. I found myself writing again, fiction, after years or not doing so. I found myself promoting and forcing myself into various spotlights to highlight engineering as a career for women and speaking out about the barriers to that.

I see many people out there questioning “Is Brigid calling me to do this?” My answer is “Why is it important? Is this work worthwhile and a positive force in the world? Does it lead the world to a better please? Is it making things better?” If the answer to any or all of those is “yes”, then why wait for the bolt of lightening to JFDI?

But the backing of a deity is a comfort, I know that. And if you want a relationship with Brigid, then you need to put some work in as well. Meditate, use guided meditations to meet her, develop your own. Look into her lore (and I’d strongly encourage you to read up on the saint as well as the deity), see what sort of person she is. Light a candle occasionally. Pray – we underestimate this in the modern world. (Prayer for me tends to be extemporaneous now, rather than the formula of my youth, but there is a comfort in repeating prayers as well).

I’m a strong supporter of study and learning for deepening our relationship with deity. Learn about the being your interested in. Learn what others experience with them, learn with tends to be general gnosis and what appears to be more restricted. Learn the lore – we are lucky to have so much of our original lore still intact (ish) in Ireland and there are loads of places out there that allow free access to original texts (virtually I mean!) I’d recommend UCC Celt website for starters and you can move on from there. Spend time meditating and praying on your chosen deity on a regular basis.

Finally, if Brigid does call you, or you think she does – talk to people. Don’t just take one point of confirmation as a definite response, take your time. And for the love of whatever god you currently support, don’t go making lifelong or further promises without really serious care over wording, intent, content etc.

Brigid is a good deity to work for/with. (The very fact that she and I are actually arguing over the preposition there is a sign of this!) She uses tools, she’s not always great at remembering tools need rest and TLC as well as work, but she will listen when you point this out. She can and will also force a rest on you if she feels it’s needed. For me, she has a close link to the Dagda (her Da), as well as links to Airmid (herb healing) and some others in the Irish pantheon. But she is a being with a non-human outlook, non-human perspective, non-human priorities. It’s important to remember that. It’s always important to remember that!


I’m currently working on a post exploring how you can tell if Brigid is calling you, but that’s taking a while to percolate. And in the meantime, “honesty” came up as a topic to explore. I’m hoping this will take a bit less time than the call post to be honest, but we’ll see how it goes.

A few years ago, being honest became very important to me. I had just done some work on how I want to be seen in this world and honest was high up on the list, as was someone who can be trusted. Now, the “trust” aspect I may have to address elsewhere, but the “honest” one I’ll address here.

I started off by looking at myself in the mirror and examining what I thought about my life. In many ways, I was living a very dishonest life. I was working for a place that I didn’t approve of, I was dealing with people on a daily basis who had very different opinions and views on world than I did, I was pretending major parts of myself didn’t exist. I was working for managers that didn’t tie in with what I thought ethical management was about.

So, I started exploring what I would like life to be. I started job searches that, yeah, ok, still included companies that I didn’t feel aligned with my values and principles, but were better than the ones I was currently looking for. I did some therapy on my past and admitted to myself that many major moves in my life, I viewed as a chance to start over and forget the person that existed in me previously. Assimilating all that was difficult.

These days with other people, I’m pretty honest. Other than answering “I’m grand” when I’m blatantly not, I mostly tell the truth. (OK there are occasions when I answer “yeah, we’re working on that right now” when we really weren’t up until the question was asked, but hey, I’m an engineer…)

Where I find it most difficult to be honest, is with myself. When I look at some of what’s happening in the world today, admitting to myself how this makes me feel, what emotions, thoughts and feelings are coming up for me, how I initially react versus how I think I should react… all these things are difficult. On less weighty matters as well -when my husband does something that really annoys or upsets me and I try to brush it under the carpet, swallowing down my feelings instead of addressing them, even if only to myself.

Admitting how I truly feel is a big deal to me. For much of my life there were only certain feelings that were acceptable and it’s taking a long long time to educate and practice my way out of that mindset. Equally, I’m conscious that I want to be viewed a certain way by this world and don’t want to be attacked for my views – sometimes this makes it harder to voice those views and opinions, even among family and friends.

But honesty, like charity, starts at home. And I am not living an honest life, if I don’t be honest with myself. You know all those films where the protagonist has to go through a series of trials and then in the last trial, they have to face themselves? Well there’s a reason for that. Sometimes ourselves can be our hardest critics, enemies, etc. Being able to look at ourselves in the mirror is a gift that is probably hugely underrated. Being able to look at ourselves in the mirror and like what we see – even more so.

I know I am still not being 100% honest with myself about certain areas of my life. There I things I wish were different, but are not so easy to change, so I try to persuade myself I am happy as they are. I’ve mastered the ability to be honest in work, even when the outcome of that honesty is less than pleasant, but I’ve not mastered the same ability in my own head.

So it’s a work in progress and it’s probably some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. But it’s important. Brigid doesn’t ask us to stay the same forever – in fact she asks the opposite. Yes, there might be years or decades when growth might be measured in millimetres, but that’s ok, as long as there’s growth. Lack of change leads to stagnation. None of us (I hope!) would be completely happy to still be the person we were 10 yrs ago, or 5 yrs ago, although there may be aspects of those people that are still very valuable.

Brigid wields the hammer but she expects us to do a lot of the work ourselves. Cos if she has to do the work, it gets a lot less pleasant. Here’s an exercise to try: look into a mirror. See how long you can last, just looking at yourself. What thoughts come up for you? What feelings and emotions come up for you? How long can you look at yourself? Spend a few mins recording what comes up as well – this may not be as easy as you think. And remember to think of good things as well as areas for improvement. Now what do you want to do about that? How honest can you be with just yourself as judge and jury?

When you want to do the work but…

So it’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon here in Ireland. It’s about 20C outside (which is bloody warm for this country!), the birds are singing, there’s isn’t a cloud in the sky. And I’m sitting in a dodgy portacabin, dealing with numerous minor and not so minor catastrophes, while maintaining spend, uplifting morale and generally being a Pollyanna figure for anyone who isn’t as chirpy. In short – I’m an engineer running a shutdown.

Now, shutdowns for engineers are what we live for – we get to do all the stuff we wanted to do for the last X years, get things back to right, make things look good, etc, etc, etc. It’s a wonderful, manic, stressful, energising, hectic, action-packed time. And that’s before something goes wrong 🙂

It’s also part of doing the work -the people working for me during this shutdown may not work with me full time, but they are my community during this time and it’s up to me to set the tone. There are things I will not compromise on, of course -safety is also first, the quality of the work is important, communication (respectful communication) is key. (Those who work with Brigid may recognise some of the above as part of her mission statement as well.) But there’s no need to be a slave driver, treating people like animals. I try to assume that people are doing their best and work with that.

It means when things go wrong, people tend to be honest with me -those who work with me anyway, those who don’t know me so well, might be a bit more cautious. I can look very snarly at times from afar…

And now on a Sunday afternoon, I only have 2 contractors on site, so I have a bit of downtime. Well, I’m still here in work in case something goes wrong with those two contractors, but still, it’s not as hectic. And I got to thinking back to a comment I made of a conversation I had a while ago, about Brig’s role in Caith Maith Tuired. We don’t get much detail on what she’s doing but I can imagine. Now fair warning: HERE BE DRAGONS (or at least, what follows is pure UPG, not lore!!)

I can imagine as the king’s wife, the link to sovereignity, the Dagda’s daughter, she’s able to fight, but she’s not in the front lines. I can see her in the organisation side. She’s making sure people get fed, people are healed, weapons are made and distributed, the support workers are organised, etc, etc, etc. She’s supply chain and engineering and finance and all the other support functions that come along to make the front line look good. It’s ridiculously similar to an engineer running a shutdown. Ok if there’s a part we need urgently, I’m unlikely to run off and get it, but I’ll be coordinating the people getting the part, the people needing the part and the people paying for the part. (Yup, usually at least 3 different groups there!)

Brig is there making sure the drinking water is safe and clean, she’s keeping the food good, she’s lifting the spirits and giving people heart. OK, a shutdown, not the same as the major conflict (part 2) that is CMT, but you’d be amazed at the similarities.

So I’m doing the work. And I’m looking at other people doing the work as well. The contract owner who’s bringing in snacks and chocolate for his team every day. The team leader running around at 6pm to make sure the night shift has the capability to make themselves a cuppa at 2am, even with the power out. The factory manager checking in with key people to make sure they’re ok and they have the support they need. If I asked any of those people about doing the work in the context I talk about on this blog, they wouldn’t have a clue about what I was talking. But they still do it.

it’s interesting to look around you. I’ve been in before 5am yesterday, by 5:30 this morning. It’d be easy to start feeling like I was doing something special or better than others, but other people were here too. I’ve been in a lot of pain this week – my period finally arrived after 63 days and it’s pretty bad pain wise -but so are other people. I’m not the only one to be popping painkillers to get through this week. (Not heavy duty ones though, we are at work!!) I could look at the hours I’ve clocked up and the salary I get and start questioning the balance, but then I look around at the people here working with me, all pretty much working towards the same objectives, working as a team and it becomes more than all that.

I like to link my work to aspects of Brigid. It helps me be a better person ( or what I consider a better person) and it helps me feel part of something bigger -that I’m not waging a futile existence that will have no impact on this world at all. It makes me feel that I can make a difference in this world, even if it’s only a tiny, miniscule difference, and leave the world a better place.

There are a lot of people who do that sort of work without the assistance of deity and fair play to them. I do it better with that assistance, or moral support or whatever you want to call it. So I’m taking time this afternoon, in a bit of quiet time at work, where I can spend some time with her in a place I usually don’t have this peace to do it and I’m appreciating these people I see around me. I appreciate these people doing this work and just getting on with it. I appreciate these people who come to work, even in these scary times, to help the rest of us do our jobs.

Most of all, I appreciate her for helping me see this and appreciate it.

When you don’t want to do the work

This morning, I don’t want to do the work. This morning, I want to curl up and forget the world and pretend it’s all not happening. This morning, I want things to magically, effortlessly change without me having to put in the work. So what do we do then? How does our deity (and it’s Brigid I’m relating to here) react when such a thing happens?

Well here’s the thing. I’ve committed to her that this blog will get written. It’s a struggle this week, for reasons I’ll explain in a minute, but I’m still posting something this morning. It’s personal ramblings rather than anything more profound or revealing but I’m still posting. So I’m maintaining that side of things. There’s very little else right at this point in time that I’m committed to on a regular, ongoing basis other than remembering her. But there is other work that I need to do.

Now this work is personal, it’s usually private, it’s not something I tend to speak publicly about in general. It’s working on healing my past trauma, my past pain, my past in general (my past, like many others, is not a pretty, pleasant place). And that’s the work I’m struggling with right now. I don’t want to do it any more. What good is it doing me???

Intellectually, I know it’s doing me some good. I know it’s helping me understand myself more, heal a bit better, deal with the past in ways that are etched into my flesh and bone. But it’s also hard, ongoing, relentless and neverending. It is unlikely I will ever reach a point where I’m saying, “That’s it now, I’m fixed, I can stop doing this” because life is… well life. New trauma, new pain, new wounds happen all the time. Sometimes even the joyous times cause effects that need to be dealt with.

But right now, I’m on day 49 of my menstrual cycle and I’m not pregnant. I know this is likely as a result of stress and the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 virus, but it’s still hard to take. And I feel it deep in my womb that this hurts.

So, just for today, I’m taking a step back.

Just for today, I’m deliberately not working on myself (which is different from just not doing something by default lol)

Just for today, I’m going to be, in my now, as I currently am.

I may end up taking stock, making an assessment, seeing where exactly is here and now for me, but in terms of the healing, the repairing, the learning… I’m taking the day off.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back on it, but for now, I’m doing nothing.


No, I don’t mean the play by Brian Friel (although if you do get the chance to ever see/read that play, please do. Or indeed anything by Brian Friel) I mean translating language, words, from one language to another. And specifically, from English to Irish.

Speaking to the gods in their own language, or at least in the language you think is theirs, can be an offering in and of itself. For those of us following the Irish deities, this means Irish. And there’s a lot of us that started out speaking English. Even those of us who are Irish generally start out with English most of the time as well. And there’s differences in the language. There’s differences in thinking, in philosophy, in syntax, in grammar… Things that aren’t necessarily obvious when you’re learning a language. And I’m going to use some examples I’ve seen around the place (and by place I meant internet) over the years and explain why double checking is important.

So, I think the one that has come around so so often in the last few years is the time someone decided to translate Blue Lives Matter as “Gorm Chónaí Ábhar”. Now technically in Irish, blue = gorm; conaí = lives; ábhar = matter. but…..

In Irish, in preceding generations, an fear dubh (technically translates as the black man) was used for the devil. (Or at least this was my experience with my grandparents) So those words were taken plus there’s a rumour/ thought/ hypothesis coming from linguists that actually it comes from the Viking words for black people (which mean blue people because the first ones they met wore a lot of blue clothing. Either way, the Irish for black man is fear gorm (technically meaning blue man). So there’s the first problem.

The second word “chónaí” does mean lives, but it means lives as in I live here. Táim i mo chónaí in Éireann means I live in Ireland. Lives in this context (blue lives matter) would be saol. Equally, as ye may have noticed in the previous paragraph, in Irish the noun comes first and the adjective second. So, it would need to be saol gorm not gorm saol.

Finally we come to “ábhar”. Ábhar means matter as in stuff. Things. Subject. That sort of matter. As in “Cén ábhar a thóg tú ar scoil?” (which subjects did you study at school?) That sort of thing. Matters as in ” blue lives matter” is an entirely different concept in Irish. The closest concept would be “important” or “of worth”.

Coming from all that, one way of saying “blue lives matter” in Irish would be is fiú iad saolta gorma. Now, ye’ll notice that the words “saol” and “gorm” have changed there and that’s cos in Irish, words change according to case and number. So because we’re saying lives, plural, saol goes to saolta and that forces gorm to gorma.

Now for someone of my politics (which would be fairly liberal and left wing to say the least) the irony of someone trying to say “blue lives matter”, a phrase that came up to support the police in opposition to the black lives matter movement, and coming up with something as twisted and backwards as this is fairly amusing. It’s not so bad on a T-shirt, but I’ve seen tattoos of this.

The second one I’m looking at is from a Yasmine Galenorn books where she translates Land of Brilliant Apples as Talamh Lonrach Oll. OK, she never claims it’s Irish, so I’m not really going for her here. It’s just being used as an example. First off, “talamh” does mean land, but it’s land as in ground, or earth. Land as in country, area is tír. Again we come to the whole adjectives changing spelling with cases and being in the reverse order (plus the Irish for apple is úll, not oll) So Land of the Brilliant Apples would be more like Tír na hÚlla Lonracha rather than Talamch Lonrach oll.

Now here’s the thing. No one, deities included, can expect you to become fluent overnight in any language. And frankly, if they do, they can bloody well teach you overnight 🙂 That’s not what I’m about here, not about shaming. This is about raising awareness that using Google Translate or other online translators for spiritual or tattoos or anything permanent or important – double check it. Triple check. Tie in with a native speaker or someone who is at least on their way to fluent. Use Google Translate and then translate what they give you back into the original language. Try each word on it’s own and again as a phrase. Run the answers you get by someone who knows the language.

For the record, I don’t consider myself fluent in Irish. I learned Irish in school, as do most people going through the Irish school system. I love the language so I use it as much as I can and I had parents who could afford to send me to Irish college for 3 weeks in the summer (for 5 years on the trot!) I got to use and speak the language as a living language and learn to appreciate the differences and things to think about. There’s nothing quite as surprising the first time you realised you dreamt in different language to what you’re used to 🙂

But, there are many topics I can’t converse with as Gaeilge. I’m an engineer, I don’t have the Irish terms for much of my daily business conversation. Speaking about politics, world affairs, etc is probably beyond my comfortable Irish. But I use what I have.

And that’s important. The gods appreciate whatever our best is. But if it’s something important, if it’s something permanent – remember, the syntax, grammar and structure is NOT the same as in English. (and possibly not whatever your native language is). Learning Irish is a great way to honour the Irish pantheon, and they will appreciate it, but remember our magic is a magic of language and poetry and words – be careful what you say!!

Brigid as support in time of pandemic

So, Brigid as a healer is a fairly well established entity. So she seems an obvious choice to ask for support in time of pandemic. But what support and how to ask? Well, ok, right now, a lot of my prayers and requests are somewhat gibberish ranting some version of “please keep me and mine safe in this time of plague and pestilence”. Sometimes it’s “please give me the patience to survive this crap”.

But that’s personal and not really looking out for the world. I’m going to be honest, I’ve not asked for any help on a worldwide or pandemic wide basis. I hadn’t thought of doing it until earlier this week and I get a feeling of “yeah, doing what I can” when the thought comes into my head, so I’m leaving it alone for now. Plus, I tend to be big on the practical and the deity helps those who help themselves side of things…. Here’s what I’m thinking:

What helps you, supports you, mentally, physically, emotionally right now? What can you do on the daily, weekly, monthly basis to help yourself? What food do you enjoy eating that feels good and gives you what you need right now? What movement can you do with the resources available to you? Will meditation help? Will just taking time to get a deep breath help? What do you need to do for you, to keep yourself in one piece?

Who around you can you ask for help? Is there governmental assistance in your area? Have you family you can ask for help? Sometimes just having a listening ear at the end of the phone is such a massive help. Are there organisation in your area offering help with shopping/ meds collection?

If you’ve done all that you can do and you still need help – reach out to Brigid. See what you need, just be aware that she may not agree with you with what’s best for you. Ask – however formally or informally you feel best suits. I mean, I wouldn’t go asking her for stuff straight off the bat, maybe see what kind of relationship you already have there, but if you’ve already had a few conversations, contacts, etc, then reach out. Have a chat, do a meditation, create the thoughts…

Now a lot of the above is obviously UPG. These are thoughts based on my relationship with Brigid and my experiences with her. But I think from my experiences, she’s going to be looking at the community support, the food, the mental support, the balance between supporting ourselves and supporting our communities. Right now, she’s not asking me to do a lot of in-person work because my husband is sick and we’re isolating. But she is asking for virtual support, sharing of experiences, letting people know they’re not alone.

Not all healing is medicine based, plant based, etc. Sometimes healing involves a listening ear, a hug, a sleep, or just being able to read the random ramblings on a blog of someone just saying – it’s ok. Whatever you’re doing right now to support yourself, to maintain yourself, it’s ok. (well you know if it’s going to actively hurt someone else, maybe rethink it… maybe… depending)

You’re presumably an adult, if you’re reading this blog. (If you’re not an adult, check with your parents ok, I do discuss adult themes here!) You are probably on a journey to know yourself (to me this is the first step in any spiritual journey), and so you may do things at this time that you will look back at with a sense of shame or disappointment in yourself. That’s ok, learn from them, make what reparations you can. But right now, be very clear about all the asks on you, whether from yourself, family, work and deity. Prioritise, see what you have time for and look at what’s most important to you.

She is here but not necessarily to help us… She has her own things to do and she will see them done. But she will support where she can, especially if you already have a relationship with her. Right now, she’s saving me a space in a quiet meditation space, she’s allowing me space to give my brain a break every now and then. But I’m also keeping going in the virtual support I offer and trying to offer that space further on. It’s not a completely transactional relationship, but it has elements of the transaction about it. I do my bit, she does her bit, those two things are not necessarily equal over time but as long as we’re both happy with it…. we’re ok.

See what you can do for yourself. See what support you can find for yourself. See where the gaps are and where you think she can help fill them in. And of course, if you wish to do a formal ritual, prayer circle, etc that’s always useful. I grew up with and still adhere to the belief that a true, heartfelt prayer is always useful. Just… don’t necessarily expect her to solve all your problems, or at least not in the way you expect 🙂

Community while distancing

I used a planner called the Full Focus Planner to help me organise my life. I like it because it contains a range of features, and makes me think about conscientiously planning my life. One of the things I like about it is that there’s a weekly review that includes space to outline how I will support myself that week. It has various headings included in this section including sleep, move, eat and more but the one I want to talk about this week is “Connect”.

I have to admit, this is a tough one for me. I’m notoriously bad at keeping in touch with people, especially when I don’t see them for a while. It means friendships drift sometimes and I don’t like that. However, one upside of the COVID-19 virus is that I’m getting more and more used to checking in with friends virtually. I’m organising and taking part in virtual games nights. I’m looking at how to keep in touch with friends with kids whose lives aren’t always plannable (cos even if the kids do go to sleep on time, parents are often heading to bed at that time themselves just to try and catch up!) I’m having hour long talks with my parents on the phone, instead of the usual weekly duty call (and I’m stretching the weekly there!!)

So now I’m consciously listing out the people I want to connect with each week. It’s not exactly a rota, it’s not on a formal, regular basis, but I am looking at who I’ve not spoken to in a while and depending on their circumstances, make a task to call them, message them or set something with them. It’s a conscious decision rather than leave it to see when it pops up in my brain again and it’s working pretty well. Which leads me to community in this time.

I’m a member of several communities, many of which have developed through a mixture of online and in person events, conversations, etc. I had thought that the communities that were used to conversing and mingling on line would be easier to manage during this time and yet there’s been a definite mix of community response in this time. Equally, with all the social distancing, it’s hard to figure out what’s permitted in our in-person communities.

So I’m coming to some conclusions. One of the most important things I can do for any of my communities right now is just to check in. Ask a genuine “How are you?” or “How’s things?” Give people space to talk and be genuine about their responses. Support the charities who are feeding those who are struggling, who are offering life lines, phone lines etc for those who are in increased danger right now, those who are working to heal those who are ill…. We can support out communities through indirect action as well as direct action. It’s not always appropriate to step out of the house to go do something right now.

And of course there’s the long term actions we can take. Remember that post on energy and money a few weeks back? Well here’s another drip into that – remember when the next election comes around in your area, who do you want to be shaping policies on health, social care, etc? What companies supported the community and which didn’t? Who around you stepped up and supported the community and how will that affect your relationships from here on out?

Now of course there is no call for everyone to step up. Some of us are doing just about ok, or less well, by surviving. Some of us are managing ourselves and our families just about and the energy or spare brain space to take on community work just isn’t there. That’s absolutely fine. And it’s to be commended. If all we can do is lie curled up under a blanket and breathe, that’s fine. We all have different levels of capabilities in all sorts of different areas.

I will say that with a full time job in the food industry, supporting my communities is hard right now. And I look at some of the community leaders out there who have revamped, adjusted, changed their businesses and ways of working to accommodate these times we’re living in and beat myself up over not doing more. But there’s only so many hours in the day and only so much energy available.

So – that part of my planner that allows me to reach out and connect with people, with friends, with family as best I can. And because it’s there in my planner I can consciously make those choices. There are things I’m doing on a weekly basis right now and they’re on a specific list, but there are other things that come up because of something I see in the community, or because of a story I hear, or because of a passing remark.

Our communities are changing shape, changing form, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable. And community is so important in the modern world where despite all our technology, it’s really easy to remain alone, be lonely, not actually make a connection with people. So – what can you do? What steps can you take? (And remember, if the answer to that is “exactly what I’m doing right now, no more and preferably less” that’s perfectly fine!!)

A visit

A few nights ago, as I was just finishing up work, cos in this new world we’re living in, I work from home for now, I heard an almighty ferocious roaring outside the window. It sounded like a cow stuck in labour. After frantically wandering around the inside of the house for a few mins, I saw a beast outside the window.

Not a cow, but one very upset bullock. (For those who are not familiar with the nomenclature, a bullock is a bull who’s had the snip) The poor thing was pawing the ground, shaking his head (with a fairly decent set of horns on him for Ireland now….) rubbing up against the house, generally upset. So naturally, I withdrew from the room and told my husband to do the same. The last thing I wanted was for the bullock to see us through the window and try to come through the wall.

Our house is well built but still….

Anyway, I started ringing round, cos while I know of the names of the farmers around us, I don’t have contact details. No luck at all. The bullock at this point was doing laps of the house, not in any sort of focussed way, mind, just meandering around the house, still letting his displeasure be known. (A bullock making his displeasure known is LOUD!!)

So I rang my Ma, who reminded me it’s been more than 5 decades since she had to deal with any breed of bovine creature, but mainly, once she was satisfied it wasn’t a cow in labour, said to leave it alone. It was entertaining once I stopped worrying the poor thing would hurt itself. It inspected our cars, nibbled a bit of grass, gave us a bit of fertiliser in exchange and after about an hour moseyed out the gate. At which point my darlin husband went out to close the gate.

Why am I writing about this? Well very often, people speak of signs and symbols in paganism (and in other belief systems as well). With Brigid’s association with cows, or lack thereof, I could look at this as a sign of something, couldn’t I? But well… what would it be? A bit of company for the evening? I was going nowhere near the animal knowing as little as I do about cattle and not knowing how used said animal was to humans) An attention getting tactic? She usually manages that all on her own. A sign I should go out and buy some cattle? Highly unlikely -we have no land, no space and most importantly, no experience.

Now, if I had just done some working or some prayer or something, possibly I might be looking at this differently. but the most I’d be taking from this is that she hasn’t forgotten me. She’s still here in this time of crisis and pain and woe. She’s still looking out for us, still keeping her eye on us, still being herself.

Sometimes, a bullock in the garden is just a bullock in the garden. It happens in rural Ireland, with the best farmer in the world, animals escape (and bullocks aren’t near as bad as goats….) But for all that, it was a nice break from the ongoing horribleness in the world right now, and sure just maybe, that was her intent all along…

Brig’s story

So time for some more fiction. I’ve been thinking and working on this for a while now and there’s probably more to it than there is on this page. (As in I can feel a further story coming up!) But I need to confirm here at the start: this is NOT historically accurate, this is chock full of UPG, it is not not not real or Brig’s thoughts or anything like that. This is my version of this story and should not be used as lore or the basis of a practice!!

Of course I married him willingly! You’ve met my Da right? Do you think he’d force me into something?

I mean, ok, love wasn’t exactly foremost in my mind. He was Formorian, we thought, as a nation, as a people, we thought it might help ease some of the burdens we were dealing with. If they were dealing with one of their own, maybe they’d look at things differently. It didn’t work out that way though.

Oh he was fine to look at, but sure they all look the same in the dark. Still, I had the children to make up for the disappointment in their making. Yes, children. Ruadhán might be the most famous, but there were others. Look, it’s best I start at the beginning here, otherwise you’re going to have the story as tangled and confused as everyone else. 

It was a fine spring day when I first saw him. Doubtless, I’d seen him before, there aren’t that many people around, but that was the first time I’d noticed him. Da had warned me he was coming and said he wouldn’t oppose it, if I chose to marry him. Of course, with his rank, and mine, it would need to be a full marriage. You can’t half-marry a land. Full or nothing with a land. He needed me to be king, and he knew it. It poisoned the match in ways I didn’t realise until much later, but at the start, he was courteous, he was well-mannered, he carried himself well. In  the circumstances, there was no reason not to. 

It wasn’t as if there was a line of suitors looking for my hand. Between Ma, and Da, and myself, we’d managed to scare them off pretty well. Anyway, like I said, he wasn’t offensive and some good came of it all in the end….

We married at Bealtaine. Bright, sunny, warm. People were happy, it was a grand feast all the same. Da laid on a good spread. (Well he kinda had to really, with being who he is). He called the sun, spoke to the moon and the stars, he called the cattle, called the pigs, called the fruits and the green things. All in all, it was a grand feast. Oh, yes, there was wine. And ale. Plenty of both. The big man wouldn’t have guests without feeding and wetting them. There were bards, and file, and harps, and songs, dancing and fighting, contests and wagers. People had a time of it. 

That night, I got the first taste. He was fairly domineering. Now, I was no shy virgin, but sure why would I be? It appeared he thought I might be and was disappointed. That’s what he said. He’s lucky I was reared as well as I was – any timid woman being greeted like that might have shook in her shoes. I, on the other hand… well he learned a few things that night himself. In public, he managed to keep himself in check and he was never violent towards me – he knew better. Sure I was better with a spear than he was! I made the things, he merely used them! 

But I saw how he treated the land, and it was as he treated me. Poor judgement? Oh yes, Da played him well that time, good advice he got there, but my poor land was suffering under him, no more than her people were. I saw it all, watched and remembered. 

The children arrived, as children do. They spent time with their grandparents on both sides, it was important to me that they knew all that they were. My Ruadhán was the eldest, and ended up being the most famous, bad cess to them that persuaded him to that course of action. But my girls, oh my girls, were my joy. Their father didn’t think much to them, at least not until he thought they were marriageable. And thankfully by that stage, he was occupied with other things. 

Boy or girl, I taught them as I’d been taught: courtesy and manners, words first, fists as a last resort, how to hunt, how to grow, how to tend the land and its people. As a young boy, Ruadhán loved to spend time with us, his Ma and his sisters. We could wander as we liked near to home, since the little ones’ legs didn’t take them too far really and I couldn’t carry all 5 of them together! I did remember the tricks Da used to use on us as children though and the folds in the land got a bit shorter sometimes for tired legs on the way home. “There’s no point in completely discouraging the children, pet”, he’d say to me, “They might as well grow thinking they’re capable of more than they are, that way it’ll be harder to persuade them otherwise.”

I mean, he was right, telling my daughters they couldn’t do something is still a sure fire way to ensure they will do it, regardless of cost. I sometimes worry about that, maybe we should’ve given them a bit more sense of what’s possible rather than giving them the assumption they can do anything. They’re happy though, and fierce fighters, although mostly with words, thankfully, rather than weapons, one child lost to violence is enough for any parent. I’ve lost track of the genealogy now of course, but there are folk in the modern world I’d like to think are related to them. They certainly show some of the same traits…

I spent my days split between teaching the children and working in the forge when they were small. Even Ruadhán loved to spend time in the forge, so many bright colours, and let’s face it, on a dreary, miserable day, only in the forge could we get warm. Bres was always on at me to turn my mind to more feminine pursuits. The first time he suggested it, I laughed in his face. Not the most diplomatic of moves, I have to admit, but I honestly thought he was joking. I worked in the dairy, I worked with the cattle, I kept the hearth fires going – how much more feminine could I be? But of course, he meant giving up the forge. I told him eventually it would mean giving up life to give up the forge. 

I don’t think he ever understood how true that was. Fire is in my blood, same as water, but it’s not always the tame fire and the tame water. The forge heats a part of my soul he never touched, so he couldn’t understand it. He only knew that once again, I defied his wishes. We were a marriage of equals though – he had no right to rule over me. In fact without me, he was no king. 

On the day of the battle, I was working with the wounded in the back. The three older girls were with me, the youngest one was with her grandmother with the herds. I think we had to bribe her with a new boar pup to get her to stay behind! When Da saw that, he did some muttering I can tell you. Da and boars never really got on…

Still, if I had known what was happening, I would’ve spoken to my son, spoken to him about the course of action and the likely outcomes. But I didn’t. He was growing away from me then, seeing the superiority of his father’s people, seeing the advantages of moving to that side of the conflict. He was too young yet to make the choice, but we could all see the way he was leaning. Still a child though, which was why he could move between the camps so easily. I heard the commotion, and heard my boy’s cry as the spear entered his body. I ran of course, but we were all too late. Goibhniú was devastated – killing a child is no small thing – but nothing could reach me that day. They say I invented keening and the whistle. I don’t know what I did, all I knew was the pain inside me had to come out. 

He was my Ruadhán, my bright and shining boy. He couldn’t speak and I held his head as the light faded from his eyes. A part of me went with him. It was like a giant hand clutched my heart and squeezed and the pain had to come out – sound was the only way. The girls were there with me, screaming with me – people forget that, that they saw their brother die. After, I was so glad I’d sent the youngest away. 

No, their names are their own and not for me to share. If they wish it, they will make them known to people. 

To lose any child is a tragedy; to lose one still not grown is worse, I think. Although, what parent ever 100% thinks their child is grown? (I know Da surely doesn’t!)

Well after that, I wasn’t going to stay there. One child lost to that war was enough. I picked up the girls and got back home. Da knew, Ma knew, they understood. They were parents too, even if we were all grown at that stage. I got all my girls home. Oh, some of his men may have tried to stop me, but my own people got me through. No deaths on that score, but it was a struggle. Some rubbish about supporting my husband as I should. Christianity didn’t invent misogyny y’know. 

We got home, I was in a panic, I wanted to run, fast and far as I could, but wiser heads than mine prevailed over me. We had some horses, we packed up food and clothes and things we needed to bring with us. There were a number of dolls included in the essentials as I recall, but they were important too. The girls and I left the war, left the conflict behind us. Da had long ago made sure there were places I could bring them that were easily defended and protected. Even with the small band of my own people we could spare from the fight, we had enough and loyal warriors all. Plus, enough women in the group to ensure my girls grew up thinking of hunting and fighting as they did cleaning and cooking – something that was needful, with varying regularity, part of life. 

They were well-trained in the end and popped up all over the place when they were needed. They knew their father, knew their history, but most importantly they survived and they grew. And in the end, what else does a mother need. 

But this is meant to be my story, is it? Well, the marriage was over – eventually. It was definitely over by the time he was ended, but by then, I’d say he’d forgotten about it anyway, having been dethroned so to speak. Me? Well, I had the girls of course and I didn’t turn into a Christian nun for many centuries afterwards, sure. I lived my life. I suggest you do the same.

Ethics, energy and Brigid

As part of my work with/for Brigid, honesty and integrity have become very important to me. Not necessarily in the sense of telling lies (I’m as prone to an “I’m grand” when I’m really not as the next person) but more in the sense of being true and honest with myself. And this to me spreads out to my actions, my energy and my intent in this world.

It’s come up for me because I had to write a difficult email to someone explaining things I didn’t really want to explain. But here’s my thoughts.

Either we think that our intentions, our energy, our magic, our prayers in this world make a difference… or we don’t. And if we don’t, why bother? To make ourselves feel better? If we do, we need to be conscious and aware of our actions and our energy and how they affect not just our own world, but the worlds of those around us and in the vicinity of where we work our energy and magic. This is really important.

It also comes into money. Where we spend money, we also give support, no matter how peripherally or tangentially. Where we spend our time, where we spend our money, where we spend our energy – these are the things that will grow and grow. We all know this deep down. If everyone in Ireland decided tomorrow they were never going to eat a spud again, and stuck to it, then we’d need to be looking for other crops to provide all the vitamins, minerals and energy the humble spud still provides us with. It would cause farmers to produce other crops. It would have a massive knock on effect.

We don’t of course. It may be a symbol of great torment and pain in this country, but also a symbol of a bloody tasty food and an easy way to feed multitudes. And so we live with our own internal inconsistencies for a few generations more anyway.

For me, Brigid hasn’t specifically asked me to stop spending money with certain companies ,to stop spending time with certain people, to stop supporting certain causes. But she has asked me to be clear with myself about what my intentions are and where my energy is going. I’ll give you an example. I usually very rarely shop in tesco. It’s usually for Cadbury’s chocolate, Green & Black’s chocolate and fresh guacamole. That’s usually it. Occasionally the odd bottle of wine. This isn’t because I have an issue per se with Tesco. It’s more because of things I’ve heard about the way they treat their supplier and because they are a symbol of how insidiously British companies have taken over the Irish market. We may be politically a separate entity, but commercially, many of our towns are populated with foreign companies. Now part of this is a wider trend of globalisation, but with Ireland, the encroachment of British entities is a bit of an alarming trend.

So where I can, I choose to spend my time and energy supporting local Irish businesses. Of course, I also do most of my weekly shop in Lidl, liking as I do the Irish meat, dairy and vegetables they provide. It’s not possible for me usually to shop entirely locally in greengrocers, butchers, etc, for a number of reasons. So Lidl is my compromise. Many can say Tesco also source meat and other produce from Ireland – it’s true, they do – but not enough and they are quintessentially British.

Of course, in recent times, with the virus restricting movement, I’ve been getting more than those products in Tesco, to limit my exposure to the outside world. Tesco has implemented clearer arrangements for people management than Lidl has, the aisles are wider, there’s just more space, so it’s easier to pop in there and steer clear of people. For the short term, I’m overriding my ethics on supporting a foreign entity to keep myself and my family as safe as I can make it.

But for all of us, pagan, Christian, Buddhist, Muslem…. whatever religion or none you ascribe to, remember, where the money goes, the energy go. What are you supporting in where you do your shopping? Where you buy your clothes? Where you go for a pint? Are you happy with those choices? If you are, great! Brilliant in fact!

But if you’re not, then maybe it’s time to take a step back and consider a few things again. Maybe it’s time to look at the practices and energies you are supporting and providing more energy for. Maybe it’s time to look at what kind of world you want to live in and how you can spend money, time and energy to see that world come about.

Brigid really doesn’t care where I do my shopping. But she sure as hell cares what kind of world I’m working towards.

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