Mary Magdalene Revealed by Meggan Watterson

This book on the surface may not seem like it has much to do with Brigid… but well, there’s a load of stuff in here that just spoke to me. Plus, Mary Magdalene gets a raw deal from the Catholic Church so I like to speak about her positively.

I will say, I didn’t realise the author is the same woman who developed the Divine Feminine Oracle, but she is. I find that oracle deck very interesting and useful. It also speaks to me in supporting the advance of the divine feminine, which Brigid ties into as well. Not that I necessarily agree with the notion that all goddesses are one goddess. But I do believe that Brigid has an interest in getting people used to the notion that female can be divine as well as male. Or indeed, any being on the spectrum of gender can be divine, without being either male or female…

Anyway, on to the book. This book is not a detailed discussion of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene. It does provide good insights into the gospel and discusses in detail the author’s responses to the contents. Essentially this book takes us through the seven demons that Mary Magdalene is said to have cast out.

Contents page of Mary Magdalene Revealed by Meggan Watterson
Mary Magdalene Revealed by Meggan Watterson: Contents page

I don’t think letting ye know the contents page is unreasonable since it gives an excellent overview of what’s in the book and saves me typing out the seven demons 🙂

There is an overarching message through this book. That message is of looking within and tuning in to that part of ourselves that we know to be true. Now (UPG alert) Brigid is always on at me about this: tuning into myself and sinking into that part of me that isn’t bothered with anything that isn’t me. It sounds selfish right? And sometimes it is, but sometimes we need that selfishness.

The most important part of this book (and it’s repeated a few times) is the quote from the Gospel of Mary Magdalene: The Saviour replied: “There is no such thing as sin.” This is a major departure from the teachings of modern Christianity, certainly the Catholic Church. I mean, the Catholic Church, as it stands today, was built on the notion that we must be saved from sin, original sin, our own sins, all sin. It’s groundbreaking.

Any yet, it shouldn’t be. Many of the sins the Church is most vocal and worried about are those to do with sex. And Jesus didn’t talk about sex. Neither does Mary Magdalene either, however often she is referred to as a sex worker by the Church. (We should note at this point that there are elements of sex, particularly nonconsensual sex that the Church stays quiet about or victim blames or forgives abusers on… I may at some point have more to say on this, but for now, I just want to acknowledge it and say this is shit.) But back to the book. These is some discussion on sin in this book: mainly due to defending against the modern Church views rather than content of the Gospel.

Mostly, what this book asks us to do is to be true to ourselves, authentic human beings. And Mary Magdalene comes across as this sort of human being as well – more accessible than a Divine Father Patricarchal Figure. And honestly, I can’t argue with that. Of course, we can always strive for improvement. We can always learn from mistakes and regrets, but we can also stay true to ourselves. To stay true to ourselves, we must know ourselves, we must recognise ourselves, we must spend time with ourselves to learn about ourselves.

And really, no book that asks us to do that will get a down vote from me. And that’s one of the first things Brigid will be asking you to do. If you don’t know yourself, you’ll be less useful to her. So… get on with it!

If you want to read it yourself, you can find the Mary Magdalene Revealed here for UK or here for US. And I know Mary Magdalene is a Catholic figure. If you’d like to learn more about how I combine Catholicism and Paganism, I have a few posts on it. the first one is here. Equally, if you want to read my thoughts on why intersectionality is hugely important in spirituality, have a read here.

Unless my spirituality is intersectional, it’s just oppression dressed in light

The quote above is taken from Meggan Watterson’s “Mary Magdalene Revealed”, a book I may do a book review on soon. But the quote hit me to the core this morning about 4am as I read it. (Yes, I had one of my sleepless nights, so I finished off my last Benedict Jacka novel and started on Mary Magdalene).

The quote is obviously a play on Flavia Dzodan’s “My Feminism Will Be Intersectional Or It Will Be Bullshit.” (Please see her original post here: )

But the quote on spirituality is also important. Layla F. Saad (here: addressed her remarks on the topic directly to white women claiming to be spiritual. A small group of friends I have ongoingly comment on the “light and love” crowd in modern spiritual circles – you know the ones, all is light and love, you get what you attract, raising your vibrations will help you escape anything. Which is decent good advice… as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go far enough.

And this is where I come back to Watterson’s quote above. Spirituality and social justice have been taking an increased portion of my life in recent years. As readers of this blog and any of my other work around the place will know (I say that as if I’m published all over the place, but here, if you have listened to any of my talks over at the Irish Pagan School, or seen what I write about on Facebook, you will be familiar with the following): I’m an Irish Catholic. I mostly call myself a Pagan Catholic these days to acknowledge I also reach back to pre-Christianity for my spiritual life. I work primarily with/for Brigid out of the Irish pantheon, but I also have relationships with the Virgin Mary and St Therese of Lisieux. It seems I’m going to be developing something with Mary Magdalene as well, but that’s another story.

Social justice is an important part of my spirituality. My mother calls it a “social conscience”, and claims it’s an essential part of Christianity, and Catholicism in particular. (all practical evidence to the contrary, Catholics are called on in both the Bible and in the Church teachings to help those less well off, or who are in need of help). And part of that social justice is recognising that we’re not all starting on a level playing field. There is a large part of the spiritual community that seems focused on the energy you attract, the vibrations you resonate to, the people and actions you attract through your own thoughts, feelings, prayers etc. This ignores some of the more basic issues at hand.

If you and your family don’t have enough to eat, no amount of meditation or vision boarding is going to solve that. If you and your family have no place to live and no money to buy or rent someplace to live, no amount of visualisation is going to actually get you that roof over your head. If you and your family have no clothes, no transport, no work, praying is useful, but more practical steps are probably going to help more.

As a Catholic, of whatever flavour, and a follower of Brigid, and an Irish person, helping those who need it is bred into my bones. Generations of oppression, abuse, rape and pillage are bred into my DNA. My ancestors knew oppression (although they were NOT slaves, feck off with that bullshit now!) and that memory has been passed on to me. How can I, as a modern, mostly unoppressed, independent person not help those in need then? As satisfying as it can be to give money to help someone directly, do I not also have a duty to work to eliminate the systems of oppression keeping people poor, cold and hungry?

Recognising that we’re not on a level playing field is step one. Then comes seeing how uneven that playing field is, and what forces are maintaining that unevenness. Then, we look to dismantle those forces and systems and replace them with better. For example, technically in Ireland, we have free education up to age 18, or the Leaving Cert. (Technically, the primary degree in 3rd level is free as well, but since registration fees are now up to 3k euro, I don’t think that can realistically count as “free”) And the vast majority of kids stay in school til they’re 18 these days as well. (>80% people take the Leaving Cert these days). However, any parent will tell you between uniforms, books, outings, exam fees…. education is not free. And that assumes that the child can get to school as well. While our schools are much smaller in general than in the UK for example, outside of urban areas, there can be a long travel time each way for a child to get to school at all. And that’s before we consider those children currently under direct provision and the extra stress and strain this puts on education.

So already, we have travel times, availability of transport, availability of subjects in schools, teacher/ student ratio… and all of this before we consider if the child in question has a safe home environment, enough food to satisfy them and be pleasant to eat, heating, facilities for clothes washing… there are so many ways our “free education” still doesn’t ensure a level playing field.

And that’s just one area to look at. For a child stuck in poverty, telling them to raise their vibrations to improve their lot is cruel. But working to improve the systems that led to their family’s poverty and making sure the path out of poverty is available to each individual and the family as a whole? That’s important spiritual work.

It’s also dirty work. It’s political, campaigning, developing new systems and structures, working within and without the frameworks we already have. It doesn’t allow us to take a step back, maintain our separateness, our detachment. It’s having arguments and disagreements with people, it’s saying outright “This is wrong and we must change!” It’s being emotional and using that emotion to good purpose. It’s not necessarily serenity, it’s not yoga in inspirational places, it’s not yoni eggs, or mandalas, or white clothing. All the prayer in the world must be backed up with action to make changes. It’s that simple.

There’s nothing wrong with being serene, with practicing yoga in gorgeous locations, using yoni eggs or whatever. These are all pretty cool things and have a role to play in life. But they don’t help the kid shuffling to school in ill fitting clothing, with no breakfast, no books, yet another day of being berated for things outside their control… and it doesn’t stop the next generation going down the same path.

If our spirituality is intersectional, it means we’re looking out for one another, even and especially those that don’t have the same background and outlook on life as we do. What is the point of being spiritual if we don’t leave this world a better place than it was before we came into it?

The nature of beauty

I know, beauty and Brigid? it’s not my usual style. But things have come up in recent weeks that has me thinking about this. It stemmed originally from a comment that Brigid has a beautiful energy that can be experienced in many ways. Now, on the surface of it, yeah, sure, energy can be beautiful. But it got me thinking on the nature of beauty and how it’s used by subsections of the population to minimise or control things. Bear with me here.

I practice energy work. A few different kinds and a few things that aren’t really part of any training at all. And yes, it can be beautiful. But it can also be messy, dark, bloody, sweaty and hard. Just because it’s energy, doesn’t mean it’s serene or calm or wise or whatever other word you want to use. Sometimes it’s screaming and yelling and dancing in a storm and forcing sound through your throat so hard you end up hoarse and exhausted. It’s not gentile. It really isn’t.

As well, I see a lot of “spiritual people”, mainly white women, comfortable in themselves and looking for positivity rather than hard work. I jokingly refer to them as the “light and love” crowd when speaking to friends. Not that there’s anything wrong with either light or love, but it can be used to keep people silent and oppressed. Have a look online for toxic positivity for the negative side of it. Essentially, this to me says someone is looking for spirituality which won’t challenge her ways of thinking, won’t change her life too dramatically, won’t cause any hurt or upset. I mean, she’s doing her best, can’t I accept that?

Sure I can – if I think someone is really doing the work. But often they’re not. Often, they’re using the motions, language of spirituality to cocoon themselves in a pleasant world with little challenge or disruption. This is not necessarily the way we grow. And very often, the thought that “Brigid has a beautiful energy that can be experienced in many different ways” comes from here. Why? Ok….

Beauty has been a way to control and oppress women for centuries. While we’re worried about appearing beautiful, we’re also often encouraged to focus our energies on this, looking acceptable and staying that way. Remaining still and stagnant in many ways. Static even. Beauty by itself is not a bad thing, but as a means to tie up energy and time and money and thoughts…. yeah, it can be a great way to keep control over women in particular.

Beauty is by default peaceful, quiet, non-disruptive, accepting… Brigid is not these things. She is fire and water, she is fight and protection, she is law and story and words. She is not peaceful. Even the Christian monks writing her Bethu Brigte couldn’t portray her as the ideal, passive Christian woman, they had to show her fire, her temper, her fight. Don’t diminish her by reducing her to beauty.

She can appear as beautiful, sure, no bother, but she can appear as anything she wants really. If she’s working in a forge, while accepting that deity isn’t subject to the same anatomical rules as humanity, she’s still likely to have strong muscles and a bit of weight behind her to handle the weight she’s dealing with in the metal. If she’s working for equality and rights of the cowless, she’s going to need to be loud and capable of dealing with conflict as it’s presented to her. Any performer, whether the bards of the Iron Age or modern comics, need to be able to deal actively with heckling, judgement, etc. She is no passive beauty, but an active force in this world.

And so, calling her a beautiful energy, to me, is a way to minimise and control her in ways not really suitable to her lore and stories. She is listed among the demons in the Dindshenchas. She is listed as have the king of boars, the king of rams working with her. She is listed as restoring leprosy to the leper who enraged her. She will not be minimised and will not be passive about the things she cares about. Don’t try to make her so.

Learning to dance… and other things

This is my usual pre-fiction warning that while this story is based on experiences and UPG of my own, it’s important to note, it’s not based on lore, or general gnosis. It’s personal, unverified, etc, etc. So, please – don’t go saying this is canonical, it’s fiction….

She loved the skirt. She wasn’t usually one for skirts much, leggings were far more practical to her way of thinking, but this skirt was lovely. It was made of light fabric and swirled around her legs, making her feel special and unique. Surely no one else would have a skirt like this? She twirled as she went down the road to meet her friends, delighting in the feel of the fabric and the weighlessness of the whole thing. As she met her friends, there was giggling and laughing and admiration of outfits – all as was usual for a big night like this.

It wasn’t often the place had musicians like this come to play and anyone over the age of 14 (or able to convince parents and guardians that they were mentally if not chronologically old enough to attend) was there. The old grannies and grandads lining the walls where, hopefully, the music wouldn’t be too loud, the youngsters at the front waiting for the music to start and the lepping and dancing to begin.

It started quiet enough, with the usually group dances, and they were fun, but there was energy building in the room, and the hairs at the back of her neck were rising, rising with the energy. After the break, there was an announcement that they were going to try some new stuff, some new tunes. “tell us if you like them” was the call and everyone rushed the floor to begin.

There were drums, she thought, beating in time to her pulse, causing her legs and arms to move almost of their own volition with no conscious thought at all. These weren’t the carefully learned steps of the set dances, this was individual dances, no set steps, no control over body or mind. She found herself with the group of lads everyone agreed were the ones to watch. They were the sportsmen, the ones that were going places, the ones that would be the leaders of the community in years to come. Normally she wouldn’t have belonged there, but tonight, with her special skirt and the thumping music, she belonged anywhere. One in particular, he caught her and threw her, up and up in the air til she was flying and laughing and singing in time with the drums.

But indeed all things come to an end and most people there had crops to tend to and animals to feed come the morning, neither of which would wait a sleepy man or woman with patience. And so the music ended and although there were calls for more, most agreed there was time to be finished now. And as the people on the dancefloor drifted away, the boy she had been dancing with, the one who had been laughing and flying with her, rubbed the back of his neck and ducked his head so that he was looking up at her through hair long lost of any style.

“Well, um, are you dancing so?” he said and she laughed some more.

“I could walk you home”, he said, “for fear you might be weak after all the dancing. Hate to think of you not getting there safely.”

“Sure”, she agreed, for he lived out her way anyway, “but Da will be coming along the road to meet me anyway”.

“No worries, sure there’ll be a crowd of us anyway in that direction”. So he tousled his hair some more and she fixed her lovely new skirt, so light it was like wings of air around her on the floor, but a bit less new now than it had been at the start of the night. Still, it was special, and the moon was out and the stars were out.

She popped over to the water to get a drink, passing by the female equivalent of the lads she’d been dancing with, hearing snatches of conversation as she went by. “did you see her?” “slut… showing her legs” “shame on her to be bucklepping like that” “no decorum” “that skirt”

She slowed as she realised who they were talking about – to be fair they made it easy for her, stopping silent and staring at her as she paused by them. She looked them all in the face, seeing the judgement, the sneering, the superiority lingering there. She plucked at her skirt, her lovely new fancy skirt, almost seeing the lustre drain out of it with their comments. She was no slut, even if she didn’t understand what they meant by it, it was a word she knew meant something she was not. Her skirt was lovely.

Her eyes hot now and burning with the need to release these feelings of shame and fear, even if she didn’t fully understand why, she went back to the boy she’d, but with feet dragging in the dirt now, rather than lightly floating over it.

“What happened?” he said, then looked over to the other group. “Don’t mind them, whatever they said, jealous bitches the lot of them.”

Easy for him to say, she thought, stroking her skirt almost frantically.

“It’s a gorgeous skirt”, he offered, “I know my sis is dying to get one like it after seeing you tonight”.

“Oh, Mam made it for me, got the fabric from the trader last week”.

“Sis will be so jealous so, it’s unique for here!”

So saying, he linked arms with her and turned in the direction of home. And she focused on one foot in front of the other and smiling and hiding her true feelings and her hurt.

Her Da did indeed come out the road to meet her, smiling and waiting by the turn up to the house. The boy came right over to him as well, as if to make sure she’d not get lost crossing the road, or maybe to protect her from that group coming up behind.

“All ok lass?” her Da rumbled.

“Yeah, it was fun” she said, although she knew her Da would hear something wrong. She could feel him tensing up and starting to glare at the boy. “not him, Da, other people2.

Her Da looked at the young lad, waiting.

“There’s a crowd of jealous bitches in town that don’t have the courage to dance like your daughter, but then judge her for it and put her down. She was like an angel tonight, floating and dancing with the best of us. And that skirt is brilliant, I know my Ma will be down to ask about it in the week.” So saying he hugged her a goodnight and wandered further up the road home, falling in with his brother as he went.

“So, not a total success then?” She looked up at her Da and struggled to keep the tears in.

“No” came out in a whisper.

“Well you can tell me about it on the quiet road home, love, no one there to hear only ourselves and the foxes”.

And so it came out, the joy and the giggling and the laughter and the dancing and the drums and the beat and the whirl and the flying… and then the aftermath and the crushing feeling and the sadness and having to hold it all in so no one would see…

“I can see that was tough alright, love, but you don’t need to hold it in now. Let it all out”

And she did, weeping and wailing to the moon, standing with her Da’s arms around her, safe and secure. And then her Ma came out, ready to defend her young, until Da talked her out of it. Still, she had no doubt her tormenters would be having bad dreams tonight anyway. Her Ma wasn’t over-keen on unwarranted forgiveness and when one of her babies was threatened…

“So who’s this young lad then? He seemed decent.”

“Oh Da. He was one of the ones I was dancing with, remember I told you?”

“Oh yes, do I need to do my scary routine then?”

“You mean that oldy dancing you do?”

“Cheeky…. but yes… do you remember the steps?”

And so the three of them made their own music, under the stars, using the horrible, horrible movements her Da was convinced was dancing. And the family love surrounded her and helped to heal just a little the damage done earlier in the night.

And the next morning, the young lad came with his Ma, so she could find out more about the skirt…

The one with the fox

Please note this is a work of fiction based on a story of the saint with a fox and how I imagine it might have happened. This is UPG, fictional, NOT REAL.

We were worried, it’s true. The auld Fox, him that caused the phrase comh glic le sionnach (clever as a fox) to be coined in the first place, had been killed. Out on the hunt he was and a spear took him down. No one admitted to it of course, but there he was all the same, bleeding out on the ground, and nothing any of us could do to save him. And then of course, someone had to tell Himself that the Fox was gone, and to be fair it was a brave woman that did it in the end. Well, she was married to him, we thought she’d be safe enough, but even so it was a worry. Himself did love his auld Fox.

But now the Fox was gone from us. And we were left with Himself in a mood, an ongoing, ever lasting mood. Nothing could life him. We tried. We retold the stories the Fox used to tell. We re-sang the songs he used to sing. We had tumblers and dancers and musicians and entertainers galore in to try and life him and nothing worked.

And at the same time, there was a man kept confined. It was not our way usually, but really, we couldn’t trust Himself to give right judgement and blast it, there’s times you have to manage them above us. The man was likely to be killed if he went for judgement in that time and he hadn’t done anything worthy of that – or so we thought anyway, those of us who had hidden him away. Stolen a sheep from what I remember, for a youthful joke and the sheep given back the next day, but worry was given to the auld farmer who owned said sheep, the sheep being part of the family. So usually that would lead to a season’s work on the farm for the young lad or hiring someone to do it for him, if such could be found, but prices jumped when it was a judgement hire to be sure.

In the end, the Lady from Kildare was due a visit anyway. So we waited and kept him fed and tried to keep Himself from doing anything he’d really regret. And when she came walking up, she was maybe a bit surprised at the level of welcome she got. But the first thing she did was to throw Himself off someone he was yelling at. So that was a great start. Now Himself and the Lady were old friends, but you’d never think it from the row that followed. I won’t repeat the language used at all for fear someone might read it and think of using it, but they yelled each other up and down every wall in the place. And we had tall walls! It went on for hours. Hounds ran from them. Children were hiding behind their mothers’ skirts and some of them were taller than said mother! We were running interference as they moved through the place, moving any weapons we could see, leaving them blankets and rugs to fall on and throw at each other.

Well, the pair of them had tempers and Himself had been brewing a while and herself could never abide wallowing. In the end, she stopped and looked at him and said “Are you feeling better now, do you think?” And he laughed and we all heaved a sigh of relief.

Then while we were all at dinner, she left early to go say her prayers – her thoughts were always with God, you know, from the time she first heard of Him – and we thought nothing of it. And the next morning, she went off work a walk and we went to feed the young lad we had waiting for judgement only to find him gone. So we had to go chasing him. And the trail was easy enough to find, the lad had headed straight home and sure we could see him tearing along ahead of us. But he was on foot, and tired and we were on horses, so anyone could see how that was going to end. But the Fear must have been on the lad, because he was determined to escape us, he was scrambling on all fours to escape us, pulling himself up a hill, through brambles, squirming and twisting, dammit the horses couldn’t catch him.

So we went through the brambles on foot, with thorns as long as swords digging into us with every step. and hearing him ripping ahead of us. And we broke through the last barrier and there was the Lady standing in front of us, staring us down. And so we asked her had she seen the young lad, explaining what was going on and she said no, she had only seen a fox that had run under her skirts and weren’t we to be shamed for scaring the poor thing so. And we looked and thought it must be one big fox she had hidden, but she stared us down again and asked were we thinking that she, the holy lady that she was, would be lying about such a thing? And sure what could we do but say that no, of course we wouldn’t be accusing her of lying, didn’t everyone know she was brutally honest… And we stood there, scruffing our toes off the dirt, trying not to make it look like we were trying to see under her skirts, cos it wasn’t a fox, but the lady wouldn’t lie to us, but still…

In the end, she took pity on us. She laughed and took pity on us and shook out her skirts and sure enough, there was yet man, bold as brass. Well not so much bold, as shaking and shivering, hunkered down on the ground, trying to hide even now. And explained to us that the young lad would be no good for the season on the farm, but as a Fox, now, as a Fox, he might work out very well. And wouldn’t we get great praise from Himself for finding him a Fox as cunning and entertaining as the last one. Now she couldn’t be seen to be passing him over, seeing as how she had just torn strips off him the day before, but couldn’t we present him with his new Fox as a new entertainer tonight.

And what of the poor farmer and his recompense? Well of course she’d thought of that. The poor farmer was going to get help as well, with the young lad gone from home, there was trouble there somehow, but she wouldn’t give the details and the poor young lad was speechless, anyway, with the young lad gone from home, there was someone else that could leave as well and they’d be well pleased to help out the farmer for a season or maybe more. And even better the farm was close enough to the places the Fox was likely to be anyway, so they could still be family, even if not the same as before.

Well, we weren’t going to say her nay, now were we? Sure he was worth a try as a new Fox and if we threw him in with the other entertainers, he’d be safe enough. The Lady would take care of the help for the farmer she said, but laid a clear obligation on the young lad that he was to visit the farmer in 9 days time and not to miss it, because it was important. None of our business as to why, of course, but he nodded and looked a bit relieved. And we were told to make sure this happened as well, that he wasn’t caught in a hunt or such on that day.

And so the young lad performed that night and he proved a success. He kept Himself entertained and although he had a different way about him, he reminded more than a few of us of the way the auld Fox had about him. He could tell the stories, make Himself laugh, ended up pulling him out of a few moods as well… He was too old to be the auld Fox come back to us, so we just figured the Lady knew something we didn’t and left it at that.

Now he wasn’t tied to Himself in any way, it was a job, the same as most of the rest of us had. He could leave anytime he wanted, but he really seemed to enjoy coming up with the riddles and the tales and the songs – silly things, nothing a bard or file would contemplate most of the time, but he made a fine Fox for us all the same. And kept Himself happy, which really, was all we wanted. Life was a lot easier when Himself was happy.

Is Brigid calling me?

“Is Brigid calling me?” “How do I know if Brigid is calling me?” Questions that come 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.

Well that’s nice and vague

I know! But explaining what that realisation was like is a bit more difficult. 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. I still identify as Pagan Catholic. (And really, Irish Catholicism in the traditional pre-20th century sense, was really only skin deep. There were 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!)

The saint… but sanitised…

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!

But the notion of any deity, even one as accessible as Brigid, calling me? How would I be important enough to be getting that sort of attention?

What changed?

So, mid-30’s things began to change. And I suppose you could consider this as Brigid calling me. Or calling louder. Or more insistently. 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.

Spreading my wings

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. And, eventually, 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….

A picture of Brigid, with red hair, 2 x Brigid's crosses in the background, holding a flame in her hand, wearing a white tunic, green outlines of Celtic knotwork in the background. Is Brigid calling you?
A picture of Brigid, with red hair, 2 x Brigid’s crosses in the background, holding a flame in her hand, wearing a white tunic, green outlines of Celtic knotwork in the background. Is Brigid calling you?
Back to the calling Orlagh.

I started to do work on myself. I realise now, this was under instruction. It could be considered Brigid calling me. Or yelling at me. 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 higher-weight people as getting eating disorders for some reason). I was desperately unhappy, drinking miles too much… Really and truly, I was not in a good place.

Where to turn

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.

So is Brigid calling me?

I found a need in my to do some energy training and specifically training aimed at the womb and menstruality. I started myself writing again, fiction, after years or not doing so. As part of my work life, 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).

What do I suggest?

I’m a strong supporter of study and learning for deepening our relationship with deity. Learn about the being your interested in. Investigate 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.

There are loads of places out there that allow free access to original texts (virtually I mean!). (And I also have a free course on Brigid Lore here) 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!!