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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!

Book review: Brigid of Kildare by Heather Terrell

I came across this book on Amazon, thanks to a Christmas voucher from my baby brother (he knows me so well!!) Usually, I wouldn’t bother buying fiction about Brigid, because I’ve come across such rotten examples over the years, but I’m glad I picked this one up.

It is definitely a work of fiction, switching between modern Ireland and 5th century Ireland. The main focus of the work is the story of Brigid, a royal princess in Ireland and the story of how she was baptised, ordained as a bishop and how she set up her famous abbey in Kildare. The story also investigates a very demure and innocent “romance” between Brigid and a Roman monk, Decius, as well as a story in the modern day of a major historical find in Kildare.

Predominantly, the book reads historically accurate, if cleansed for modern eyes. A few mistakes crop up: Brigid was not ordained by Patrick, but by Mael, who afterwards claimed the mistake must have been organised by God. Also, Brigid’s mother is presented here as Broicsech, Dubthach’s wife, whereas usually in the hagiographies, Brigid’s mother is a slave. These details didn’t aggravate me too much though, since I enjoyed the story.

It’s a gentle, rolling story, rather than an action-fest. The characterisation is good, the pacing is consistent, the story is interesting. There is a lot that can’t be verified of course, and I would warn against taking this as historical record (I can be certain if there was a Brigidine relic found in Kildare in the last few decades such as is described in the book, we would have heard about it 🙂 ) Equally, the only even remotely romantic exploits ever even hinted at in any of Brigid’s stories is one with her anamchara, Darlughdach. It has been suggested elsewhere that this relationship was romantic in nature, but I think this may in part be to a misunderstanding of the term anamchara (literally: soul friend, but I will do another post on this soon). Hence the relationship with Decius didn’t ring true for me. I would encourage reading it though, for a pleasant afternoon’s reading.

It is written by an American, but she has managed to get the locations right anyway, something not always guaranteed in either fiction or non-fiction. The attention to details like Kildare not being in Dublin is important!

Overall – I’d say read this novel for the enjoyment of it. I wouldn’t depend on it for history, but for entertainment, it’s a lovely book. I was initially unsure if it was intended to be YA (young adult) but that could be just the lack of sex (which maybe says more about my usual reading materials than anything else!!)

Imbolc ritual

It’s buried in the “About Me” section somewhere, but I run a Facebook group called Brigid’s Forge. (Link: For Imbolc, I’m holding a short (roughly about an hour) ritual for the group members. It’s free, but it’s only for group members for now.

Joining the group is easy, if you’re already on Facebook. Click on the link above and click on the join link. I generally get to approve requests with a day or so at most. I will in the future look into the tech for doing this using WordPress or some other, non-Facebook technology 🙂

Hope I see ye there!!

Health and healing

Well, 2020 arrived with a bang for me. I set a goal to post here once a week and it’s gone beyond that. My apologies. The main reason has been health. I was struck down with an ear infection followed by a headache that lasted about a week. It was less than pleasant.

But on the other hand, it led me to examine my healing practices, particularly in relation to herself. Now, I practice energy work, reiki reflexology, but I will be the first to admit that before Christmas, I had let my own energy levels stagnate, drop, and leak from me. I was doing, doing, doing with little or no work to replenish that energy and allow myself to recover and renew myself. That was not the most sensible thing I’ve ever done.

So, over Christmas, I took a decision to plan something for myself that would allow me to replenish and renew. I should note that I subscribe to the school of thought that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, where it’s at all possible. So I keep myself hydrated and make sure I get plenty of fresh air to prevent headaches. It works… most of the time… but not this time. To be fair, my time in the fresh air has been limited of late. It’s winter in Ireland, which means damp, dreary, grey days – not conducive to venturing outside. But I need that outside time… This is where adulting is hard, making these decisions for ourselves and deciding what we need to do versus what we want to do.

I also agreed with myself and Brigid that I would go for a fancy Balneotherapy bath once a month in the local hotel spa. This fulfills a twofold purpose – it forces me to take a half hour where I can only lie back and relax. I can’t read, watch TV, look at Youtube, etc, I can only lie back, meditate possibly and enjoy the experience. The second purpose is that by doing this, taking a ritual bath, I can go back to reading the odd male author. This time last year (well, more like December 2018), I got this odd notion to only read female authors. It seemed like it was my own idea for a while, but after a few weeks, it became clear, this was an instruction and to be obeyed. It’s rare something like this comes up for me, so I stuck with it – besides, there are plenty of female authors out there to be reading, I didn’t really notice the loss. Until that is, I started looking for research on Brigid, life in Iron Age Ireland, and things like this. It seems in this area, the field is almost as dominated by men as the engineering field is. This posed a problem, because she wants this book written, but I needed to read male authors to do the research. While I’m grand with personal gnosis for personal practice, I don’t want to be passing off the results of my meditations and rituals as grounded fact. So, we compromised and agreed that this would serve the two-fold purpose of renewing my energy and “cleansing” me to allow me to recommence reading male authors.

My first bath was just after Christmas on the 27th December. Just know, I was empty at this point. I mean, if I was the fuel gauge on a car, I would no longer be flashing red, but I was still in the red… I wasn’t sure if this bath would allow me to read male authors again, or not, but I needed the renewal. And renewal I got. That bath felt like 8 hrs sleep in 25mins. The combination of water, lights, soothing music… it was a healing and powerful experience, probably because I was so empty, I soaked it all up like a sponge.

A few weeks later, I had signed up for a cacao (pronounced c’cow for those who, like me, had no idea how to pronounce it!), dance and sound gong experience. I knew no one going, had no idea what to expect, but I had experienced dance and sound gongs before and cacao is close to chocolate so how bad could it be??? It was amazing. The cacao tasted lovely and definitely gave an energetical boost to me. The dancing… oh the dancing…. I love to dance. I really love to dance, but I habitually convince myself it’s too much hassle to go along to events where I can dance as I wish (freeform, spiritual, trance, however you like to describe it – the kind where you move without steps or heed to orders!) I danced for at least 2 hours and I loved it. It was like an awakening of my body, a reaffirmation that this body of mine is here for enjoyment and love, not for just being a workhorse. As we lay down for the sound gong experience, I kept moving. My hips rolled, my backside lifting and lowering, my knees splaying and coming together again… I must have looked like someone on drugs, and I suppose it kind of felt like that, but it was more energy coming back to me. More of my tank being filled. And to be fair, I came home and jumped my husband (with his consent of course) so refilled my sexual energy as well.

What has this to do with Brigid? Well, here’s where the personal gnosis comes in. The energy work I do is closely related to Brigid the healer for me. And when I don’t have the energy, when I allow that energy to run down and be diminished as I have been, I don’t have the energy to facilitate healing for either myself or others. I believe that Brigid’s rituals must have included rituals to replenish this energy for her healers and workers. Healers also need healing. And dance is such a free and easy way to replenish this energy. I know that there are parts of the world where dancing is frowned upon or outlawed completely, but here in Ireland, thankfully it’s not. And so, this needs to become part of my spiritual practice. Dance as healing – it’s something Gabrielle Roth links to in her 5 Rhythms dancing (which was my first exposure to dancing other than prescribed steps. The instruction to just move my body as I felt like was a shock to this Irish dancer!) But this can’t be new. Dance has been part of the human experience for millenia (personal feeling there, I don’t have a reference for that) although throughout history, certainly in the Common Era, there have been plenty of times and places where it has been restricted, outlawed, frowned upon and otherwise controlled.

I don’t have a brat Bhríde right now, but this January 31st, I will be leaving out a red ribbon or two to serve in that capacity in the future. (it doesn’t need to be a red ribbon, it just needs to be a piece of cloth, it’s only that I happen to have two pieces of red ribbon that I can use for this purpose this year) I will be using this ribbon in my new practices of energy renewal and replenishment throughout the year. I don’t know the firm outlines of these practices as yet, but I’m working on them. I’m also looking at ways to improve the foundations of my life: sleep, food, water, movement.

I will share some of these practices with you as I come across them, but for now, the monthly spa bath and regular dancing are forming a major part of it!! As for herself – she’s happy I’m paying attention again and is in agreement with what I’ve decided on so far. Of course there’s a payback as well, but we’ll get into that another time!

Do the work

In a small group of my friends, there is a potentially unusual compliment or encouragement we pay each other. “Well done for doing the thing”. Doesn’t sound like much does it? But it acknowledges that “the thing” can be big or small, complicated or simple, big work or little work. None of that matters. What matters is that there was a thing that needed to be done and you did it. Because no matter how small the action, sometimes it leads to a big reward.

There’s a corollary to this of course: just do the thing. Whatever “the thing! is, JFDI* is an approach to take, in fact the smaller the thing, the more appropriate JFDI probably is. And it needs saying that what one person might think is a very small thing, another might think is huge (this is why my husband does most of our take-away ordering, I hate ringing people up and asking for food, while I do more of our banking, since he hates dealing with banks).

What I didn’t expect this morning was my deity to throw “do the thing” in my face though. I have committed to myself that I will write a post in this blog at least once a week. Not too often compared to other blogs, I know, but with a full time job, plus the bits on the side I do, once a week is achievable while being a stretch. I had aimed to write this weekend, but I needed to rest. During meditation this morning, she was definitely yelling “do the thing” at me. Interesting experience given the nature of this morning’s meditation (more on that another time).

During meditation, sometimes I wonder if it’s herself at all that’s communicating with me or if it’s just my own sub conscious mind throwing things up at me. There are times I wonder if what I’m coming back with is useful or just the wanderings of my own mind and heart. I’ve come to the conclusion that discernment is important here. If I come back with a message to kill someone, I’m probably going to ignore that. But coming back with a message to “do the thing” – that’s a bit of a slap upside the head to get moving on something. If it’s something that’s important to her AND to me, well what’s the point in not doing it?

I use Michael Hyatt’s goal planning system to help me in work and home to get things done. He’s also a big proponent of “do the thing”, although he words it differently. And one of this things is to set three things every day to bring you closer to your goals. These can be very little things or very big things. Sometimes my list contains making phone calls, sending an email, buying a book… sometimes they involve moving massive (to me anyway!) amounts of money or spending hours researching or reading something. But they all get a tick when I do them. For example, I’m trying to build a habit of going to a personal trainer right now, once a week, so that makes it onto my daily 3 once a week. I’m also building a habit of writing for 30mins a day. That one, as yet, doesn’t make it onto the list because currently there are priorities above it. After this morning’s meditation, however, that may change.

Sometimes we set ourselves goals and targets that seem insurmountable, obelisks of achievement that need advanced experience in mountain climbing to attain. But every day, we can take one more step towards that goal, and every one of those steps is one step closer to achievement.

This is my thing for today. I’ve done the thing. What’s yours?

*JFDI – Just Fucking Do It 🙂


Lora O’Brien of the Irish Pagan School ( discussed the notion of devotionals with me some time ago and I started writing them. The structure is simple – take a piece of scripture (in our case, a piece of our lore), discuss/ meditate on what it means, end with a prayer. It’s a way of dissecting and interrogating our lore and our stories for the meanings within, both from the times they come from and our own modern world. Grief might seem like a strange one at this time of year, but there are a lot of people, myself included, dealing with grief. And Brigid gave us a way to cope with it. I hope you don’t need to read about grief today, but if you do – you’re not along.

Cath Maige Tuired: The Second Battle of Mag Tuired (Author:[unknown])
section 125

But after the spear had been given to him, Rúadán turned and wounded Goibniu. He pulled out the spear and hurled it at Rúadán so that it went through him; and he died in his father’s presence in the Fomorian assembly. Bríg came and keened for her son. At first she shrieked, in the end she wept. Then for the first time weeping and shrieking were heard in Ireland. (Now she is the Bríg who invented a whistle for signalling at night.)

In either battle of Moytura (Caith Maighe Tuired), Brig only appears as someone’s mother – Rúadán’s in this case. She has no role in the fighting, nor is she one of the movers-and-shakers. She does grant us something we may not value enough – she grants us a means to deal with grief. 

We all suffer with grief at some point in our lives and, particularly in modern society, the pressure can be there to bury the grief deeply and above all don’t let society at large see how deeply the grief goes. It doesn’t matter if the loss is of a parent, child, pet, friend… Grief is not something to be measured or allowed. Grief simply is. No matter what our beliefs, the nature of our relationship with the loved one is changed irrevocably. 

Brig offers us a way to externalise these feelings that feel so big and powerful. She literally grants our grief a voice. She understands. There is no magic club, no magic cauldron, no magic herbs to bring her son back – he is gone and in a most violent fashion. 

She knows. 

My husband & I have been trying to have a baby for four years. One year into our journey, we had a miscarriage. I had a week off work to ‘recover’. It wasn’t enough time. It wasn’t nearly enough time. I felt like I was moving in a different world to that around me. Our baby might have been the size of a pea when we lost them, but to us, to me, they were as real as if I had fed them at my breast. The world kept turning, even as I felt frozen, unable to keep up. 

A year later, I went through an initiation. Not a Brig related initiation, but nevertheless a profound and powerful experience. And during that time, the floodgates opened. On my way home from the weekend, I had a night alone in a hotel and a four hour ferry journey. During this time alone, I cried. I wailed. I sobbed. Even in my sleep, I had tears rolling down my cheeks. I keened. I keened hard

It was like releasing pus from a boil. Painful, unpleasant, petrifying with the force of it, but cleansing, clearing and calming in its own way. I released the pent up force of my grief. I unleashed those feelings on the world. I gave voice, oh ye gods, did I give voice. And while my grief, my loss is still there and nothing will ever replace the hopes and dreams we had for that little pea, it’s a clean, healing grief now, not something to hold me back, but something that is just part of me.

In my time of grief, Brig, grant me the strength to use your precious gift and give voice to my pain that I mourn fully and completely those I have lost. May I never forget them, but may I also continue with my life, my grief a part of me, but not controlling me.

Devotional Acts

I find myself, for reasons beyond my control, in work after midnight on a Monday. People on shift are surprised at my lack of emotion at this circumstance… and yet, to me it comes down to two things: 1) (and maybe most important) I know I can come in late tomorrow to make up for this and 2) my work is part of my devotional activities to Brigid. It’s a damn site easier to be sitting staring at an excel spreadsheet at this hour of the night when I remind myself that just by being an engineer, I’m working for her.

How do I come by this? Well working as an engineer is reasonably close in my mind to working in a forge. Indeed I started my career in a steelworks, long before I thought work working for/with Brigid (which preposition is used is probably dependent on which of us you ask!) Since I hit secondary school, I was aiming towards engineering, so the career wasn’t a shock. What was a shock was when I started working with the deity in question and found out that this was all part of the plan as far as she was concerned. I should note this is personal gnosis here, indeed this whole post is, but it agrees with some other peoples’ experiences as well.

Why does it make it easier? Well it doesn’t always, if I’m honest. There are days I think that even if being a teacher is difficult (both parents and my husband are teachers!), at least there’s those holidays… I know fine and well that the good teachers are upskilling and planning during those holidays, but still, there are times… But realistically, I’m not cut out to be a teacher. Too much swearing for a start. And I love being an engineer. I love the problem solving, the interaction with people and machines, the satisfaction of being able to turn around at the end of a project and say, “There, that’s what I achieved”. There are plenty of other professions that allow you to do this of course, but engineering has always called to me, even if when I made my career choice, I didn’t know the jobs I spent my career doing existed. Who knew yI could spend a few hours in the middle of a night changing a filter on an oil reclamation system, end up with skinned knuckles, bruised arms, pure exhaustion, but an absolutely intense feeling of satisfaction? Who knew I would spend 3 days straight in work, catching cat naps as I could, sorting out a chemical balancing issues, then head to bed for 10hrs before coming back in again?

Knowing that I can please myself as well as my deity is a huge thing. Knowing at least ONE being on this planet sees my work as valuable, even if that person isn’t me on the bad days, is a huge thing. Knowing when things are bad, and I can’t see the point, that I don’t really need to see the point right now, but that my work is serving some purpose, somewhere, is a huge thing. It helps me get out of bed on mornings when I know it’s going to be a tough day. It helps me on nights like tonight when I know I’m here for another 3 hrs at least, with a pile of problems facing me in the morning, whether I’m here or not. Because it’s not about me right now. It’s about showing up, doing the work, and getting on with it. Because it’s an act of devotion to do it. And I may grumble (and I will!), I may moan, I may play a major sympathy card when I get home tomorrow and see my husband, but I know I’m doing the work.

It’s easy to look at lighting a candle as the only act of devotion. It’s easy to think a regular prayer practice, or meditation practice is all that’s needed. And for some people, that is all that’s needed. (Lucky them!) Others are called to do other work. Some people write amazing poetry (ahem, go check out Mael Brigde’s work if you don’t believe me: ) Some people work in the community. Some people are teachers, artists, activists. And some of us just do our work and keep going. It’s not always glamorous or intriguing. Sometimes it’s the daily grind and that’s it. Because that’s what’s needed. And, those of ye who also work with/for her, already know this – she’s a very pragmatic individual. I blame her Da really…

Acts of devotion are very often this: the things that just need to get done. They’re not fancy, or pretty, or they don’t get praise or attention from other people. But they’re needed. And if not you, who?

Meditation vs prayer

I was speaking to my Mam yesterday, when she bemoaned the fact that many of the young teachers she sees on a regular basis are spending money on meditation courses, and meditation retreats, when to her mind, prayer is just as good for quieting the mind. Now, Ma comes from a staunchly Catholic background and is very devout (as, to be fair, is Dad!) It was hard for me to articulate to her what the difference between the two states is – for me anyway. I also had to remind her that for those of us who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, with all the church scandals in this country, prayer is intrinsically linked to said church (in Ireland, when we say “church”, we tend to use it as shorthand for “Catholic Church” – the privilege of having 90%+ of the population baptised into that entity)

I had to say to her that really, for people of my generation, prayer is something too closely linked to that horrible institution and that the Church represents that God. Now here I have to say that there is a difference between the Church and the Faith. I still believe in God – or a Divine Power at least, but that’s a whole different blog post! I still describe myself as Catholic, even if there’s a “Pagan” in front of it now. I still go to Mass, even if not as regularly as I used to. But “prayer” is a word linked in our minds to the morning prayers in school. For context, in Ireland, even now (although there are signs it’s changing) children prepare for Catholic sacraments in school – First Confession, First Communion, Confirmation. Of the 6 sacraments available to lay people (non-priests/nuns/monks), half of them happen in primary school. (Yeah, separation of church and state in Ireland is observed more in the breach…. Thanks Dev!)

But to come back to meditation vs prayer. There is still a fundamental difference between meditation and prayer in my head, and it is this: in meditation, we quiet our minds and listen; in prayer, we quiet out minds and speak. One is receptive, the other not. One is opening ourselves to our chosen entity, the other is asking our entity to listen to us. They are, fundamentally, linked but opposite. But, in my mind, we need both and we may swing from one to the other even within one session.

I have a daily meditation practice. OK, I listen to a guided meditation most nights, to help me fall asleep. That isn’t part of my devotional practice, that’s me just trying to get to sleep. And it mostly works. (for the record, I find Jason Stephenson is the Youtuber I use most often, with Michael Sealey a close second) But my morning meditation practice is something different. My morning meditation practice is where I’m setting myself up for the day. I set aside 15mins in the morning to sit and quiet my mind.

It’s important to note that what I said above about swinging from meditation to prayer in the one session happens to me quite frequently. It can turn in to almost a conversation between myself and herself. But when that happens too often, it isn’t as quieting to my mind, so I need to watch that. There are also frequently mornings where it turns into a litany of what I need to do that day, imagining conversations I need to have, issues I need to resolve… OK, this happens. But this is the thing – I call it a meditation practice. That’s what I’m doing, I’m practicing. And I’m likely to be practicing for the rest of my life, however long or short that may be. So when those daily, earthly, human matters come into my meditation time, that’s ok, and when I realise it, I refocus my efforts.

I use a mantra to help focus my thoughts sometimes, I use imagery sometimes, I use many things to help focus and quiet my mind. It’s whatever works. It’s not meditation in any given tradition, other than to be quiet and allow time for my deity to tell me what I need to know. Or indeed give me a slap up the back of the head because I’m not doing something I’ve been asked to do. It doesn’t happen all the time, but sometimes we need to open ourselves up (within limits, don’t be opening yourself up to just any auld entity coming into your thoughts, not everything is beneficial to you!) and listen to what we’re being told.

Prayer on the other hand, with me, tends to be a bit more on the fly. I rarely use set prayers. Most of the time, a prayer for me is a request for help, whether immediately for patience, endurance, or something else in the moment or else less immediately but certainly still off the cuff. Prayer as a method tends to be quiet the mind, form the request, form the intention, release the intention in the direction of the entity I’m asking, pull myself back into the world. So, for example, during a particularly strenuous meeting in work, I might close my eyes or take a deep breath (quiet the mind), realise whether I want the meeting to finish quickly or just this particular speaker (form the request), visualise for myself how this would look in a concrete way (form the intention), speak or think the outcome I want (release the intention), then open my eyes again or release another deep breath (come back to the world).

That’s for something straightforward of course. For something more complicated, I will spend more time about it – in fact, I could spend days thinking over the intention sometimes before I move forward with the rest of the process. There are times for something complicated, I might ritualise the process, writing out my intention, writing out a means to thoroughly focus my mind before I release that intention. Those times are rare though. Most often, it’s a “Please grant me patience to get through this!” type affair.

Also, this “process” of mine isn’t really mine. It’s not really anyone’s as far as I know. It’s just something that works for me and most often, when I speak to someone about prayer (as in asking, making a request) this is roughly the form they use. There are other types of prayer of course: praising our deities is a big one, and for some people this is hugely important. It’s not a major part of my life at the minute, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to never say never. Things change.

Now, some Catholics use prayer as meditation. The rosary is probably the most common form, the repetition of the words acts the same as a mantra, soothing the mind, quieting the mind, focusing the mind on God (or possibly Mary in the case of the rosary). The language isn’t important though. Giving ourselves that time in our day to quiet our minds is hugely important – particularly in the modern world where so much clatters and clamours to gain out attention. We need that time to allow ourselves to be awake but also quiet.

15mins might not seem like a lot to some people. If you can manage an hour, go for it! Work with what you need. Right now, in my morning routine, 15mins is what fits and works. And it sometimes drops to 10 or even 5mins. I use the Insight timer for settling me in and pulling me out on time. (No affiliation there, it’s just something I find very useful). I also light a candle when I meditate. Currently it’s my Advent candle, but usually it’s just a normal tealight. (Meditating at 6am in Ireland means for much of the year, it’s dark so the candle has a practical purpose as well)

In the end though, the label we put on these activities doesn’t really matter. Meditation and prayer are both important, in my opinion, in any relationship with deity/ divinity. This is important. It’s also important for our mental health. Constantly being on the go, mentally or physically, isn’t good for us, any of us. So even if you currently don’t meditate, give it a go. And remember, it’s a practice, not an achievement!!

My first blog post

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

Please note, the below story is fiction, based on myths in Ireland about Brigid being present at the birth of Christ and, indeed, serving as his foster mother (which in Ireland was a much bigger deal back in the Iron Age, and even later, than it currently is). This is not fact, not even generally accepted, but a story to show Brigid, her Da and a few other important figures at a time of change.

“You don’t have to come with me.”

“It’s been a while since I was over that way.”

“I am a grown woman y’know, well capable of looking after myself.”

“A bit of company on the journey will make it all the shorter.”

“That’s what I was hoping, but having me Da along will cramp my style a bit, don’t yeh think?”

“Ah sure I wouldn’t know anything about that…”

“Sure yeh wouldn’t… and I suppose it was always cold and lonely yeh slept the last time yeh went on walkabout?”

“That’d be my own business.”

“Hmph. You’re not coming.”

“It’s a free country, be the gods, and you can’t stop me.”

“Da, I’m a woman grown, I don’t need my da looking after me.”

“Sure it’s been a while since I had a decent stretch of the legs.”

“Since when is 5,000 miles a decent stretch of the legs?”

“Well, I suppose we could call it a stroll, but that seems a bit overly modest, like.”

“It’s me they need y’know. It’s woman’s things…”

“And I suppose I know nothing about it?”

“If you come out with the same-as-a-mare-birthing speech again…”

“No, no, but there are similarities y’know.”

“Will yeh not be needed here though? I mean the place is in a bit of a mess.”

“The others can manage it. They’ve done so before.”

“Just the two of us is it?”

“Well that depends on how lucky we get on the road.”


“Have yeh got everything?”

“Of course I’ve bloody well got everything!”

“Just checking, you remember the time-”

“Yeh’ll never let me forget it yeh auld goat, will yeh, it was my first trip out.”

“Still, no harm in checking.”

“I suppose if you’re coming along, there’s a few more things I can bring along. Wait a mo.”

She disappeared into the cabin, reappearing in seconds with a nice big pack, bursting at the seams.

“Don’t come, Da, was it. I don’t need yeh, Da, was it.”

“There was no point telling yeh it was my idea, was it? Come on, daylight’s wasting.”

The pair of the set off, leaving the cabin safe and secure behind them. 

“Did you remember any bit of a snack to keep me going, darlin?”

“Left pocket, Da.”

“Good girl.”


A bit later on: “Da. the distance between Ireland and the big land seems to have gotten a lot shorter.”

“I’d say the distance is the same as it always was, now.“

“Have you completely reversed the tides for the last few hours then?”

“Ah no, just asked an gealach for a bit of a helping hand, like…”

“Da, we’re really not meant to be doing that – look at the poor fish!”

“Fair point, don’t worry, I’ll send them back once we’re over.”

“You could’ve just let me help, you know”

“My poor baby girl? I couldn’t be doing that now”


A bigger bit later on: “Da seriously – someone is going to notice the bloody mountain just moved half a continent away!”

“You’d be surprised what people don’t notice… and sure I put it back, didn’t I?”

“I’m telling Aengus when we get home. No cheating, kids, a job worth doing is a job worth doing right.”

“Well and it is worth doing right – I didn’t do it wrong, did I? Time’s awasting, pet and we need to be getting on really.”

“I wasn’t the one who spent 3 weeks in that last camp.”

“I didn’t notice you leaving”

“You hid the bloody packs on me!”

“You do know you’re a deity, pet, don’t you? I mean technically, you don’t need the packs.”

“I’m starting to see why Ma insisted you come with me – she needs the break!”

“I love you too, pet. Now look, yer Ma was clear – arriving too early is as bad as arriving too late. That poor cratur is going to need help so we have to be accidentally sharing the bloody stable with them. I mean a stable? I get the whole humble origins myth making, we have a few ourselves, but a bloody stable? The poor woman deserves better than that. We need to have a word with the man in charge of this.”

“You can have a word after I get that child safely birthed and the mother happy and well. You know what he’s like Da, there’s no reasoning with him on some of this stuff.”

“I know, I know – sure aren’t you lucky your head of pantheon is so reasonable and affable like…”

“I don’t think anyone’s ever described Ma as affable, Da.”

“Bloody brats, don’t know why I bother”

He elbows her in the side. 

“Race you to that next mountain – go!”

“Hey, no fair, you cheated, Da!”

Nearing the end of the journey now: “Da you are not going into that town looking like that.”

“I don’t remember you being this fussy as a youngster?”

“I grew up. Look compared to home, the water will be nice and warm really. Just strip and get in, I’ve got clean clothes for you.”

“Who’s the bloody parent here and who’s the child??”

“You and me. Or possibly the other way round – just bloody wash yourself, would you?”

“Bloody kids, once they reach your shoulder, they think they can order you about….”

Nearly there: “Now look Da, there’s no need for a hullaballoo going in the gates. Do your ‘I know no Latin’ impression”. 

“They don’t need to think we’re a bunch of ill educated louts, pet.”

“I know, I know, but we’re here incognito, remember?”

“All right, all right. So instead of a nice polite Im homini negotiatori, we’ll try the old negotiator, negototiator chant?”

“That’s it Da.”

“This is how those rumours of our countrymen being incapable of education start, y’know.”

“No, Da, that’ll be the millenium of others doing their damndest not to educate us. Now come on, your best effort on a non-Latin speaking, yet wealthy enough trader please?”

So close I can almost taste it: “Is this it?”

“I dunno, there’s at least one pregnant woman in there. Look at it, they’ve not even had the sense to put the straw into a mattress for her!”

“Easy now, pet, sure they’re wealthy, don’t forget, this is the worst hardship they’ve known…”

“Still, it’s the man’s wife, could he not make an effort?”

“His wife who he knows damn well isn’t pregnant by him.”


“Fair point, I suppose. OK you’re going to be all earthy midwife then – ow!”

“Serves you right, you auld goat. Right, I’m going in to sort out some bedding at least, you make sure those bloody wise men turn up on time will you?”

“What about the cowherds?”

“Shepherds. They’ll be grand, all they have to do is follow the sheep.”

“Fair enough. Need a hand?”

“I might later on with the husband, but for now, I’ll be grand.”

The stable smelled about as fragrant as any stable, although there had been goats in there at some point. The lady was sitting on a pile of straw, looking miserable and in pain. Her husband was not quite wringing his hands, but he looked close. Sure what could you do? I poked my head round the door, let out as merry a “Bhur ndéithe daoibh” as I could, and bustled in. They looked confused ,obviously, but it was unlikely they’d heard the Irish before I suppose. 

The stables were big and airy – well built really, even Da wouldn’t have too many problems with them – but stables they were. Piles of straw for the animals, a tackroom over in the corner (room might be overstating the case there, but it was sectioned off), upper floor for more storage. Now this lot didn’t have any of the usual travel amenities to help them along. They hadn’t planned on staying this long of course, aiming instead to have been home at this point. But it was too late now. I could tell by looking at her, the child was coming along soon. Slight problem there since it was barely daybreak, and the shepherds wouldn’t be along til there stars were out. Still, maybe Da could do something about that.

Now look, it was Aramaic these people spoke, but seriously, translating and writing in that language after all this time would take me too long, so just trust me on it alright? I had a few words of it, and enough Greek to back it up, so we muddle along. This isn’t a precise rendition, more of an overview, anyway. 

Not wanting to butt in too early, I prepped up our sleeping arrangements and made sure Da’s midnight snack was handy. The woman was staring at me as if she’d never seen a bed made before. Alright, I might have made one slightly fancier than usual to make a point, but still. Anyway, even in her pain, she knew my version of sleeping arrangements would be far more comfortable than hers. Her husband, being a devout man, was reluctant to talk to me, but she was less shy. She called over, I went over to their side and we had a bit of a chat. 

Now a woman in labour is not a woman to be pulling and prodding at straw, shaping it and placing it, so I did most of the work, but by the end of it, we were close enough that I could make a few enquiries as to how things were going. Her first child, her midwife at home (wasn’t allowed travel with them for some reason), her husband not even having Da’s experience with mares (just don’t get me started) – sure the poor thing was terrified about it all. Added on to that, the pressure of needing a live birth because she was delivering the Saviour of the World… well you can imagine the state she was in. I always thought if the child was that important, that particular Deity  could have managed a bit more help and comfort for the poor woman, but Da reckons we were enough. Some people make things harder on themselves for no good reason. “No direct influence” indeed. What good is free will when people are dying? 

Must remember we are not puppet masters and our people deserve to make their own mistakes. Doesn’t mean I can’t drop a few warnings every now and again though…..

Anyway, back to the woman in question. Well, I was just about to figure out how to ask how she was doing in broken Greek, when Da popped his head round the door to get the husband out of there. I looked a bit surprised since the baby wasn’t due til starlight, but he was muttering to himself and indicated that things might be moving a bit quicker than expected. Or maybe, perhaps, the stories we knew were coming to our people weren’t 100% accurate….

Either way, I looked at the woman who was moaning quietly away to herself, probably trying not to make a fuss, but definitely starting to feel the labour pangs. Someone messed up somewhere with the distribution of pain in childbirth, but I had been hoping the birth would be as easy as it could be. I mean, if you were in charge of bringing your son into the world, wouldn’t you try to make it as easy as possible on the woman who was going to be rearing him? Obviously, that particular Deity and I have different views on these things. 

Now, the birth was straightforward I suppose – the babe was in the right position, no cords round his neck, etc, etc, etc, but the poor woman suffered something awful with the pain she went through. I used any of the herbs I had that I thought might help, but they were older than I’d like and I didn’t know enough to be able to send Da out to get some local ones. Plus, by the sounds of it, he had the husband chopping wood and it wasn’t going too well. Now, I had thought he was a carpenter, but he’d obviously not been involved at this stage of the process before…

Still, the babe was alive and healthy, the mother was also alive and healthy, and recovering nicely, so that it was about sunset when I was able to let the husband and Da back in. Da had his hand on the poor man’s back – I was sure if he was holding him up, or propelling him forwards, but the man was moving like he was in a trance towards the woman on the bed, nearly tripping over the haybox I’d put the child in for the minute. 

Da made all the usual noises over the child (isn’t he the spitting image of you, fine healthy lungs, etc) before muttering something about more visitors arriving. 

The first lot weren’t too bad. The night was cold alright and a few sheep are as good as any blanket or hot water bottle once you persuade them to lie down where you want them. The shepherds had brought gifts of food and firewood, bless them, cos really, there’s only so long you can keep a fire going without adding anything to it before people start noticing. Even brand new parents would cop there’s something going on there. Between the sheep and the food, it was a bit of a feast we had going then. I even brought some out to Da, who I found rummaging through the packs – destroying my system he was, but you know Da. He got most of it back where it should have been. Eventually. 

The next lot weren’t as useful in my opinion. Da reckons they were the propaganda people, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have been useful as well. I’ve heard he claims 12, but all I remember is a crowd of them anyway, all done up in fancy gear and arguing between themselves. They could have been some of our own folk debating a prophecy really. Not a decent gift between them though. I mean, these are first time parents, you’d think a bit of cash towards this and that would’ve been sensible, but they were so concerned with the Saviour of the World bit, they forgot about the newborn baby with first time mother bit. Honestly. I don’t think any of them were married. Still, gold is always welcome and Da’s bits of frankincense and myrrh were useful as well – even if they sold it for more gold, it would come in handy. 

I have to admit, they didn’t look too impressed with the new baby. I mean he was lying there, snoozing away to himself, looking as cute as all newborns do (well, otherwise, they’d never survive if they didn’t look so cute!) and all they could do was mutter to themselves and point at me and the mother as if trying to figure out who was who. Well the breastfeeding sorted that out. Shocked them a bit, mind, but they deserved it really. Eventually, I had to get Da in to shoo them out again cos the father had fallen in love by this point and would put up with anyone as long as they weren’t interrupting his oogling of his baby. (Oh the child was his now, alright, never mind any discrepancies of timings)

The major problem with prophecies, as far as I can see it, is that once they’re made, anyone can get hold of them. So when the ruler over there, Herod I think it was, got wind of the fact that someone important was born and of course, those bloody Important Visitors were too important to get away without having to pay him a visit. To their credit, I suppose, they did their best to mislead him, but it was still time to get this little family away from that place, or indeed any place where that man had power. 

Seeing as how I was meant to be a simple midwife and not knowing much about the world, I couldn’t just say something, but Da had a word with Someone and the next thing is, Joseph’s had a dream to get out. Well that was handy now, wasn’t it?

Da had to head home at that point. (He doesn’t like to admit it but ever since that business with Cermait and the club he doesn’t like being away from home too long). But I could hang around for a while longer and frankly, they were going to need the help. The whole issue of heading for Egypt and not for home took a while to sort out, but eventually, the father was persuaded it might be an idea to lay low while the massacre of the innocents was underway. (Look it up, we didn’t hang around, so I can’t vouch for the veracity of any of the stories, but the rumours were horrible. His own sons, even!)

I waved goodbye to Da as he hit off for home and the rest of us turned towards Egypt. I’m still not 100% sure why we chose Egypt, but it was reasonably close. I think they might have had family there or something. 

But the soldiers were close after us (I mean they took their time at the start, we had time to stop off at the temple in some town or other to get the birth rites seen to – actually, I wonder if that’s why Da left us in the stable?) But there were times in Egypt when it got a bit close for anyone’s liking. 

Now I will say now, I never did anything as daft as wander about with a crown of candles on my head. I’m not vain, but if there was ever a recipe for losing your hair…

I did intercede with the spider though. Lovely thing, very obliging, whipped us up a grand web in no time – and over a fairly hefty cave mouth as well. As for the legend of the mother with the date palm and the well – I’m my father’s daughter, alright. Asking the water to flow a bit differently for a few days wasn’t a massive deal. Not that little trickle. And in that dry place, a trickle goes a long way.

In the end though, it was mainly exhausting. We had to mostly do things without my help since the local folk look to different power sources than we do at home. I got very good at cleaning the child’s backside on the run though. Even the most unexposed soldier can tell a baby’s output smell…

We got word from someone (don’t ask me who, the familial connections would rival an Irishperson’s for complications and 3rd cousins twice removed etc and in a foreign language, sure I could hardly follow at all), anyway, we heard that the old king was dead. Painfully, it must be said and I can’t say I was overly sorry to hear it. Now it still wasn’t exactly safe, what with all the upheaval and hassle that comes with a change in rulership, but certainly, there didn’t seem to be anyone specifically after the child any more. Plus, they needed to settle down and raise him now, not be gadding about over half the Middle East. Not that it was called that then, being part of that wonderful Roman Empire. 

I was sad seeing them go – sure didn’t we know even then the man wouldn’t live to see his grandkids. Still, he’d have a good life for a few decades before the burden of saving the world started weighing on him. He was a gorgeous child though – I mean, they all are, but even so. You spend long enough looking at a baby in the hours before dawn and you’ll fall in love too. 

The journey home was fierce long though. Don’t tell him I said it, but Da does know how to make time pass and miles pass. Even if it does involve jumping half a continent to move things along. When I arrived home, the fire was going in my little house, the hearth not the forge, and there was bread and cheese laid out. There are some advantages to having not-quite-human parents. 

I still gave out to them about going through my stuff behind my back though.