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.

Ongoing tiredness

So this coronavirus thing has been going on for a while now and honestly, I can say, the most overwhelming effect on me has been tiredness. I feel tired. Really tired.

Even just looking at the news right now has this wave of exhaustion rolling over me. It’s just depressing, depressing, depressing. There’s nothing really positive coming out of the official news, the reports of people recovering are few and far between, even though people ARE recovering, all we see is the numbers infected and the numbers passed on rising and rising every day.

It’s horrible.

So, what to do? Well this week, I’m back in work. My first morning right now in fact. I’m struggling. I had big anxiety about leaving the house (this isn’t necessarily virus related, I tend to want to be in the house where it’s safe in general…) I had a worry about being stopped by the guards on the way to work. I had a worry about not passing the temperature checks at the gate. I was worried.

But I made it through all that. And so my anxiety is being soothed somewhat. I’m also making sure I have a substantial lunch with me (quiche, apple tart, apple, banana) as well as decent breakfast (granola). I went to bed at 9:30 last night, even after a 2 hr nap in the afternoon, cos I was tired. I had a nice relaxing shoulder rub from the darling husband before going to bed, which was lovely. I ate a small dinner because I really didn’t want to eat. I spent most of the afternoon baking so I’d have food for lunches this week.

I made cookies!

I started this morning with my attempts at a sun salutation (it’s entirely possible a highly experienced yogi might recognise some elements of it, but most people probably wouldn’t, my skill level is low) and some meditation.

I am taking into account right now that at this time, my usual activities and attitudes may not be helping and I need to be more proactive about my self care. (This may or may not have come from a slap upside the head from herself over the weekend!) And let’s face it – yoga and meditation are no bad practices to have in general. They will help and assist me in general once I get the habit re-formed.

It’s so easy right now to look at the world and think, “OK, I’ve got all this time now, I’ll write that book or train to run a marathon” but sometimes that doesn’t help at all. Sometimes, it’s ok to sit on the couch for a few days, with or without the kids, watch crap TV and eat comfort food. Sometimes it’s ok to look at what would help you feel better and take small steps to doing that. Sometimes it’s ok to just to nothing.

We all cope with anxiety and trauma in different ways. My predominant symptom is tiredness, hence writing this post, but I’ve had a lot of practice with depression and anxiety so at least I’m starting to recognise that now. Some people -this is their first bout with this level of anxiety and it’s scary.

Honestly? There’s so many different ways to deal with this, only you will know what works for you. You can experiment. Try yoga for a few days, see how you get on. Try pilates. Try jumping jacks or skipping rope or walking around the kitchen table. Try step ups on the stairs. Try sitting on the couch and thinking about moving. Trying eating ice cream from the tub and watching someone else moving.

For me -coming back into work was important cos a) it’s food industry and well we all need food! and b) for myself, I left the house and overcame that fear. For you, the big step might be something completely different.

And for anyone saying well if I can work from home, I should – yes, sometimes I can work from home, but I’m an engineer my darlins, I need to see shit in person as well sometimes!

What is deity?

On the last session of my recent 5 week course, I challenged people to think about what they mean and understand by the word “deity”. I thought it might be a good idea to formulate my ideas around this topic for myself as well. This is one of those things that’s not a bad idea to do in general on a regular basis – now, I don’t mean once a week or so, but even annually is no bad idea. Our thoughts and understanding change over time. Our relationship with deity changes over time. It’s important to reconsider and reflect, given our new learnings and personal development. And so, here we go…

To me, there is a single divine force in this world, but we as humans can’t comprehend or cope with the whole of that force. So we filter down this force to what we can comprehend and cope with. And this changes over time. If you think about it, the deity or divine a young child can deal with and comprehend is very very different to an elderly person.

And so, my current appreciation of deity is Brigid, fairly obviously from this blog, I’d say. But there’s so many depictions of Brigid out there, I’d best explain a bit more.

There is an element of supporting the community. What point is there of deity if they don’t work with the community and have communities working with them? What are these communities made of? What type of people are attracted to what aspects of deity?

For Brigid, the healing aspect is all-important. Not just healing of illness, but energetic healing, environmental healing, relationships healing, community healing. There is so so much there in terms of healing to look at and what we can all do to support that.

There is also the aspect of creation and destruction. What do we need to destroy to create more? What needs to be cut away as deadwood to allow new growth? This can apply on a personal level as well as a community level. What anchors to the past are still useful, relevant and valuable and what anchors are now irrelevant, hurtful, and needing to be discarded. Learned from, but discarded.

Finally, there is the element of social justice. Who else but the gods will support us in our pursuit for social justice, looking to help those who don’t have the resources to help themselves. Of course, not all the gods look at this level of society, but Brigid does. Just read up on Brig Ambue to see how much…

Brigid also uses us as her tools to get what she needs done, done. With consent, with acknowledgement, preferably as part of a bargain rather than just her dictating orders, but still… as her tools. She will forge her tools sometimes. She will break and re-forge when needed. She is not an easy deity to follow at times. However…

She’s worth it. There is value, there is joy, there is worth in working with her (she may use the term working for her, but y’know, whatever term suits you!) And while your idea or appreciation of deity may be very different to mine, that’s ok. We all need to do our own work, our own understanding, our own energy to develop our own ideas.

So, what’s your idea of deity? What does deity mean to you?

Happy things

I used to think that ” laughter is the best medicine” was a useless piece of claptrap my parents used to spout to stop us from feeling sad as kids. As I’ve grown up and dealt with depression, illness, life in general, I’ve realised that actually, thinking of things that make us happy and things that make us laugh is invaluable. Particularly with the current pandemic situation. So here’s a list of things that made me happy today.

  1. I had toast with avocado and egg today for lunch and the avocado was perfectly ripe – just at that perfectly ripe point of creaminess and loveliness. (OK I’m feeling proud as well as happy here, it’s so rare I get it that right!!)
  2. My darling husband and I found occasion to degenerate into a complete fit of helpless giggles earlier. I can’t share the details, but sometimes, even after 7yrs of marriage, that man surprises me with his reactions and it just made us both collapse today.
  3. I did some sun salutations today – not many and probably not the best form ever, but it’s been a long time since I did some yoga and sun salutations are my starting point for getting back into a practice.
  4. I’m wearing clean jammies – had my Sunday shower early today and I’m now in fresh jammies. Seriously, fresh jammies is an unbelievably good source of happy for me.
  5. We decided on takeaway tonight and darling husband agreed to go get it – and he’s just arrived home with perfect timing. All the takeaways in our town have put in place procedures to try and help people get food but also minimise contact which is great.

It may seem silly, but when the world is such a scary place and there’s no control over any of it – look to the small things to see what makes you happy. I didn’t even get a chance to get into the birds outside, the sun shine, the crisp feel of a frosty morning, the joy of revisiting old books…… Look for your happy, it’s there and it is a form of medicine!!!


Well, it’s a scary time in this world right now, isn’t it? We’re so used to the notion that modern medicine can cure all ills, or most of them, that something new comes along, is highly contagious and we all struggle.

So far, my life is similar to what it was before. I work in the food industry, so I still need to come to work every day. But measures are being taken – rather than sharing an office, I’m on my own. Anyone who can work from home, is working from home. Production lines have been rejigged and manipulated to allow the recommended 2m of distance between people. We have an obligation to continue supplying food, but at the same time to keep ourselves safe.

And so… what can we do for ourselves? Physical health is one thing, but mental and emotional health is another. If you are in isolation, consider putting together routines and strategies so that you can manage your life. Technology is our friend here – maybe you can’t go meet friends face to face, but can you arrange a dinner via Skype or Zoom or some other platform? I’ve arranged with some friends that we’re going to do a games night this Saturday over Skype. It’s hard having our freedoms limited – and if it was long term, I’d be out on the streets protesting alright! But this is for our protection, and more importantly to protect the vulnerable in our society.

In this time, Brigid is a good person to have on your side. If you have the brat Bhríde at home – use it!! It will give comfort, support and a snuggle if nothing else. If you have the time and the resources, saying a prayer and asking for help/ guidance rarely causes harm. If you can, offer to help those around you – are there people in your community who are afraid to leave their homes because of suppressed immune systems or other worried? Maybe communicate through doors and windows, pick up some things from the shops when you go out yourself and leave them on the step.

If you can leave the house, remember the 2m rule and remember that hoarding will help nobody in the long term. I’ll admit to picking up an extra bag of lentils at the weekend, but I wasn’t stocking up for a six month siege. Pick up the extra to make youself feel happier and leave plenty of the rest of the community. We’re only going to get through this together.

And, if you can, limit your exposure to the media -social or otherwise. Just at the minute there’s a whole rake of bad news and scaremongering being thrown at us. Expose yourself to sources you trust – here in Ireland I’m limiting myself to about a half hour on Facebook while looking at the 9pm news on RTE (our national broadcaster). It helps me keep on top of what’s happening while not overwhelming myself. Of course, this doesn’t save me from the constant meetings and discussions at work, but it is helping me manage my own mental health.

I know my husband, who is now working from home, is struggling with being in the house all day alone, so he’s going for walks, keeping in touch with friends and family and engaging his brain in different ways (you wouldn’t believe the amount of little projects he’s getting through!!)

If you need help and support, reach out. Talking helps, especially if it’s someone you trust. Listen to the advice given by your national/regional authorities and the WHO.

And remember – if you’re reading this blog, you at least have an interest in Brigid – use her. Pray, light candles, maybe do a little ritual if you like. Ask for help – we’re not alone.

Brigid and fertility

Last week, I wrote about my ideas on Brigid and war. Another aspect of Brigid, to me, is her link to fertility, of both land and people.

This again is a personal link, since my husband and I have been trying to have a family for some years now and some of my work with Brigid is linked to this. Unfortunately, currently, any fertility going through my body appears to be in the teaching and producing areas rather than the family one.

But there are some more solid links to fertility than there are with war. The most prominent for me is the story in the Latin Life of Brigit (Cogitosus is the author here, Google is your friend for more details!) where she caused the foetus of a fellow nun to disappear. Now it makes sense to me that to know how to make a foetus disappear, you have to have some knowledge of the process of procreation and childbearing, as well as the activities, plants, herbs etc that either promote or suppress it. Indeed, in the lists of penances in medieval Ireland, the penance for abortion was a relatively mild one, being one third the length of the one for actual childbirth (one wonders what activities the clerical leaders were trying to promote here)

As well, there are multiple accounts of Brigid healing the sick, which is standard fare for the early saints, to be fair, but also of causing the recently healed to be re-infected if they didn’t react appropriately! To either heal or re-infect suggests a knowledge of how health and the body works. To know how the body works, especially seeing as how she was a woman herself, makes it seem unlikely she didn’t have an understanding of the reproductive systems – from the female side anyway!

To me, the links to human fertility are strong. I personally extend this to other forms of fertility as well – whether the land, the arts, the crafts, the sciences… all need some element of fertility to produce anew, whether in cycles or in one-off endeavours. Brigid has strong links to the arts and humanities through her being a file (poet in direct translation), and equally strong links to healing through the sheer number of healing wells devoted to her in Ireland. But modern medicine is very different to the traditional ways people tried to keep healthy don’t forget. Very often, the wise woman knowing which herbs in the forest helped keep teeth in your head would save more lives than a doctor giving out medicine – especially if you look at some of the “medicines” that were touted in recent centuries.

A wise woman in many cultures give rise to fear – while priests rarely if ever showed interest in the process of childbirth, they were sometimes resentful of the power of the women who did. (please note: not all priests!) A woman who had some control over the mysteries of life and death, birth and death, would have power in the community, especially when that woman might also be, saints preserve us, independent of men!!

In Ireland though, because for many centuries, women were left alone for a variety of reasons and the bean feasa or wise woman was a regular and valued member of the community, being the only source of medicine for the poor. When you have a rebellion every generation or so, a famine every generation or so, are severely oppressed and downtrodden… well you don’t antagonise the woman who can help with life’s troubles.

Where does this bring us with Brigid and fertility? Well, I still have hopes. Technically, it’s still possible for me to bear a child, although there is that imaginary clock ticking. Brigid will support me in becoming who I need to be become – hopefully without a trip back to her forge for re-tempering! – and I believe in her.

What does this look like in my daily life? I take my folic acid. I work with my darlin husband to ensure sex is enjoyable, varied, and try and make an effort around ovulation time. We prepare mentally, physically and emotionally for children entering our lives.

And I pray. I meditate. I read. I research. I work on past traumas. I work on new traumas. I do all I can do. And I wait. She’ll make it happen when it’s right. And if it isn’t right… well, we’ll have to live with that. But there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth on the day we agree all hope is lost!!

When it comes to the land – things are a bit different. Ireland is still a breadbasket and modern advances in agriculture help us get more out of our land without exhausting it. But for centuries, the farmers, the fishermen, all had their rituals to ensure the fertility of the land on Imbolc or St. Brigid’s Day. Whether it was the sheaf of oats outside the door for her to bless on her path over the land or the shellfish scattered in the four corners of the house, there were many households busy to ensure the fertility of the coming year around the 1st February. There were customs too about no wheels to be turned before noon, and how to manage the butter and the dairy on this day as well. I’d strongly suggest Seán Ó Dúinn’s book on Brigid for a very detailed account of this folklore.

It may be personal because of the difficulties in my own life, but for me, Brigid is intrinsically linked with fertility. Whether creating or destroying, as in my last post, she is there, she has power and she will use it.

Brigid and war

I’m currently teaching a class with the Irish Pagan School on Brigid in Ireland, going back into the lore and seeing what we can and can’t extrapolate from the stories our ancestors told. Last night we were dealing with Brigid as Goddess of Smithcraft and the aspect of Brigid and war came up.

It seems only fair to mention at this point that I have, at best, ambivalent feelings about the idea of war, killing, destruction. However, a fight engaged in righteousness is a holy thing, in my opinion… but this has been used as the excuse for every war, ever, pretty much. So what I’m going to talk about now is war as a destructive force. I’ll leave my rant on the modern military industrial complex for another time and focus on what war might, can and does achieve.

First off, of course, is destruction. Destruction of lives, families, livelihoods, land, buildings, monuments, knowledge, society… War destroys. It’s what it does. And – this is rarely an unadulterated Good Thing. Even World War 2, which many would agree is a good thing to have destroyed the power of the Nazis and their reign of terror, led to millions of deaths, a massive refugee crisis, destruction of economies… There are still scars from that war visible over most of the world and it’s almost 75 years since the ceasefire was declared.

If that war can have such massive effects more than 7 decades later, can we really say it was a good thing? I say no. Yes, finishing the power of the Nazis was a good thing, but a better thing would have been to prevent their policies being implemented at all. And we must remember, they were voted into power by a democratic process. (How they retained that power is another story…)

I cannot look at any war and say, yes that was a worthwhile and good war. It was worth the destruction and loss of life. Even the War of Independence here in Ireland (1921-1922) – yes, it brought us freedom from our oppressors, but I can’t help looking at the attempts to gain such a thing through peaceful means and despair.

So, ultimately, I have to agree there is a time for violence. I may regret it and pray I never need take part in it, but there is a time for violence. Peaceful protest gets us so far… but I’ve not seen peaceful process finish any of the great liberation movements of the last century: civil rights activities in the US, Europe, etc all involved violence, the current (admittedly unstable,with the advent of Brexit) situation in the North of Ireland was only brought about because of a violent campaign and I’m sure you can think of examples in your own community.

So where does this leave us with Brigid? Well, she was there in the army camp in Caith Maighe Tuiread 2 (as is sometimes referred to as The Rebellion 🙂 ) so I think we can say she sees the need for war in some cases. But I don’t think I see her on the front lines unless things get very bad and everyone’s called out to raise weapons. I see her more in the supportive roles: making sure the injured get care and attention, everyone gets fed at regular intervals, damaged or lost weapons are replaced and repaired. I see her standing in from of her home, ready to defend it from invaders, but not taking the fight to the invaders home. I see her in between an attacker and their victim, protecting those who need protecting rather than attacking herself. I see her protecting the land from whoever wishes to destroy it.

She is not a pacifist, no more than I am myself, but she sees fighting as a last resort, as the last defense, as something not to be glorified, but just another job that needs to get done on occasion and a less than pleasant one at that.

Of course, this is UPG. This isn’t verified in any way shape or form. These are my thoughts and how I interpret her stories and actions as I see them. You may differ. I can’t see her as a war goddess. If you think – the smith creates weapons of creation and destruction. No farm could survive without the smith’s arts, yet no war would be fought without them either.

And here we come to the crux of it: the powers of creation and destruction. Sometimes, things must be destroyed so that other things can be created and grow. Sometimes we must take up our weapons and defend our homes against invaders, whether of abhorrent ideology or physical force, no matter how much we despair of the waste.

Sometimes in the forge, when things go wrong, you have to toss the lump back into the fire, remelt it and start again. She’s got experience in the forge. She knows this. It just doesn’t mean she revels in or enjoys it.

Apologies and an explanation

So it’s not usual to start a blog and then disappear for a while and consider it a serious ongoing concern. My sincere apologies for that.

The major issue is – well, work is going ballistic at the minute and I’m not getting much time for things not work-related. You know, sleeping, eating, showering…. I’m pared back to essentials only right now and it’s a struggle.

However, this blog is important to me and here and now I’m committing to a post a week at least for the next six weeks. It was originally going to be linked to Lent, but I’m a week late starting so…. (Not that writing a post is a penance, more just to give me a framework to work with)

So, from tomorrow, ye should be seeing a post a week for six weeks to set in the habit with me. Exciting isn’t it? If there are any Brigid related topics you’d like to hear from me on, please shout up!

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