Brigid, menstruation and inclusivity

I’ll have to be more careful than usual in this post about highlighting the bits that are based in lore and the bits that are based in my own gnosis. Fundamentally, we don’t have much relating to menstruating in the Irish lore. I lie – there’s shag all, if you don’t count the numerous weird and wonderful ways people managed to get pregnant and give birth in the lore. Even duchas.ie, usually a wonderful trove of treasure to look at the practices and spells and folklore of our ancestors, is bereft of such things. Now there’s a good reason for that, particularly in the duchas case – it was primary school children sent out to gather these stories and while people wouldn’t mind telling kids the stories that might scare the bejasus from them, there were some topics not suitable for children at all.

Manchán Magan, in his recent book “Thirty-Two Words for Field” (2020, Gill Books), explains why some of this is so: “Some of the most renowned female seanchaithe (storytellers) were known for their bawdy humour and they shared this openly with the folklorists who sought their knowledge in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. However, when speaking into the wax cylinder recorder they tended to be more circumspect, censoring certain things“. In the following passage, he recalls how these same seanchaithe, when settled into the chair by the fire and relaxed in themselves, would revert to the earthier version. The transcribed tales would be sanitised though. As well, the author recounts a story from Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, celebrated Irish poet, where although she grew up in a Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) area from the age of six, it was only after her marriage that she was inducted into the realm of the back kitchen and learned a whole new vocabulary.

Given these words couldn’t be shared with an unmarried woman, it’s no wonder strangers in the 19th century wouldn’t be told of them, particularly if, as was sometimes the case, the local priest had come along to smooth the stranger way into the community. So, a history of sending strange and sometimes foreign men, of different class and history, as well as children, to collect these words and stories, means many of them have been lost.

Even though we have lost much of our language and folklore, particularly in the area of women’s lives, including menstruation, these memories may not tell us the exact words use, they do tell us there were rich vocabulary surrounding these elements and menstruation, sex, intercourse, were spoken about! Mangan’s book has improved my vocabulary around my menstrual cycle immeasurably, even if I’m still struggling to remember some of the words off the top of my head!

So, sex, menstruation, the workings of the body were definitely spoken of in Ireland. Sex wasn’t invented in the 80s and 90s, with the advent of Gay Byrne and the Late Late Show on a Friday night (yes, Gaybo was once an avant garde presenter on both radio and television, speaking of issues that had hitherto been hidden – not saying he did a brilliant job at all times, but he was willing to speak and discuss issues like women’s rights, domestic abuse, sex outside marriage…)

On then to Brigid and her links to menstruation. She is listed in Cormac’s Glossary as goddess of healing and we know from Fergus Kelly’s A Guide to Early Irish Law (1988, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies) that a woman-physician as one of the women that could be not dependent on a husband according to the law. He does add however, that in his sources, there is an indication that the term used, banliaih tuaithe, might refer to a midwife or a women who attends a woman at childbirth. So we have at least a loose link between Brigid and one end of the menstruation cycle!

Added to which, I can’t imagine that she would have an interest in healing and not have an interest in her own body…

Now all along here, I’ve been mentioning women, women’s bodies, Brigid as female, etc. It’s important to note that despite what modern menstruation spirituality tends to outline, not all women menstruate and not all who menstruate are women. That leads towards a very binary, static and outmoded vision of what gender is. While I have nothing in the lore that outright states Brigid would be accepting of someone who is a different gender to that which they were assigned at birth, I can’t help looking at her relationship with me, her work in healing and in the forge, her work with people who were maybe not valued as much in society as they should have been, the work with Brig Ambue and the cowless, and think she would not support those who are, due to the previously described outmoded understandings of gender, struggling to be accepted as they are in this world.

I’m not an expert in gender issues, it must be said, and I won’t conflate my experiences as a white, straight cis woman with those who are not any or some of those things. But I will say, I know something of what’s it’s like (a small part of what’s it’s like) to not be accepted as you are – I’m a woman in engineering and even to this day, I tend to have to prove myself over and over and over as an engineer purely because I don’t fit the stereotypical image of either woman or engineer. I can only imagine how much worse it might be when it’s not only your profession, but your sense of self that’s being challenged/ignored/scorned. And that’s before the abuse, the harassment, the oppression, etc, etc, etc.

If you’re struggling with menstruating or looking to gain a better understanding of your body and how it works, it’s easy to drop into menstruation spirituality or menstruation teachings in the modern world. But there are some serious issues there. There is an assumption that every woman moves through, or wants to move through, the great triple cycles of maiden, mother, crone (there’s been a fourth phase added in recent years of queen or enchantress, but let’s not go there for now, that’s a whole other blog post. And I do like the extra stage, I just don’t want to have to write three blog posts in one!)

Now there are huge issues in forcing all women into these boxes of maiden, mother, crone. And yes, I know, modern paganism has said it’s not about biological changes or stages, but more about appreciation, learning and development of self. The fact remains that these words are very gendered, very restricting and plain don’t work for all women, never mind the gender spectrum (I’m not even sure if gender spectrum is the correct way of putting it, but I’m damned sure we don’t have a gender binary so it’s the best I can do right now. Open to learning better though)

I’m a woman who can’t have children, for no apparent reason according to science – now, I’m not looking for advice, trust me that I’ve tried everything out there from acupuncture, meditation, visualisation, foods, movement… if you’ve heard of it, I’ve tried it. Not interested in hearing what worked for your friend or your cousin or this woman you know 🙂

It’s not a sore topic at all, right?

Anyway, back to the point. I’m a woman who can’t have children. While many people tell me the mother phase is one of creativity, of nurturing, of growing and doesn’t necessarily mean parenting a child, still when I hear “mother”, I think of the family I don’t have. And that’s just women with fertility issues. That doesn’t help women who don’t want children, or can’t have them for other reasons – financial, physical, emotional reasons, for a start.

Using maiden/mother/crone is limiting and exclusionary, in my opinion.

But where do we go from here? Well I’m working on a structure and outline that might help people deal with, come to terms with, work with their menstrual cycles or lack thereof without using gendered language or traditional gendered roles to work through it. It’s not easy cos it means examining everything I’ve learned and known about menstruation and body cycles and assessing it from an inclusionary point of view. Testosterone driven bodies have cycles just like oestrogen driven bodies do.

Plus, pretty much every body is different anyway. So, how do we inclusively group certain phases of different cycles to work for everyone? I’m not entirely sure this is possible. I think what is possible, though, is for everyone to have a better understanding and knowledge of their body and have a loose framework to hang that knowledge off. I know that understanding myself the times of my cycles when I’m more prone to tiredness, more prone to certain activities, more prone to anger, more prone to sleeping, more prone to reading certain things, eating certain things, etc, etc, etc, helps me live life a bit better and not get taken aback by my reactions or needs during any given phase. And I’d like more people to gain that awareness of their body, without having to trawl through information that’s abhorrently presented to them in the first place.

Brigid, Imbolc, Imbolg, etc

It’s that time of year again, when I’m picking up my brait Bhríde (the extra i in “brat” is cos it’s plural there, yup, I do multiples!), making sure the house is visitor-tidy and maybe even Mammy-tidy, seeing about walking the bounds and grounds and generally doing an energetical tidy up as well.

I’ll be celebrating Imbolc on Sunday this year, mainly cos Monday is a very busy work day. These things have to be adaptable as well. I’m seeing a lot of people asking about food to eat, rituals in a COVID world, offerings to leave, etc, etc. So here is a bit of what I’ll be doing, although there isn’t really a set piece I do.

I’m a solitary practitioner, although my husband does get dragged into things at times. I mean, he’ll definitely partake of whatever meal I cook on Sunday anyway 🙂 But for me, a group ritual is not something I’ve ever engaged in really. However, I know for many in the COVID world, this might be their first time celebrating Imbolc alone. And it’s a bit scary for some, concerning, different, that sort of thing. It’s fairly impossible to recreate a multi-person ritual with one person, especially one that was designed and written for public spectacle. But, you know what? This is an opportunity for you to make the most of your own ritual – or even not have one at all.

As an idea, here’s a format I sometimes use:

  • Plan what you want to do.
  • Do any cooking and baking beforehand – trust me on this one! Ditto with shopping for special items. Have everything handy when you start. Including any favourite prayers or songs.
  • Make a sacred space. this might be a clear space on the floor. It might ordinarily be called your kitchen table. It might be the couch. Really, what makes a space sacred, is that we make it so. Clean this area as best you can – physically as well as energetically, now mind. (If you can – herself can and will take into account physical limitations or realities)
  • Mark out, even if only mentally, what space you are counting sacred.
  • Lay out some candles or some lamps or some wool or thread or something to mark the boundaries of the sacred space.
  • Dress in the clothes you want to wear for the ritual – this can be as dressed up or dressed down as you like.
  • Take a minute to gather yourself, some deep breaths, quick meditation or prayer, bit of music, whatever takes your fancy.
  • Formally step into the ritual space with intention.
  • Start with lighting the candles or turn on the lights.
  • Say a prayer or sing a song.
  • Spend some time in meditation.
  • Share food with herself. Share a drink as well – doesn’t have to be alcoholic, milk is good, tea, coffee, minerals – give the best you can, she will appreciate it. Dairy is always associated with Brigid, cattle were so important in Ireland that beef is grand, lamb is a delicacy in Ireland, home baking is always appreciated, but shop bought is grand if that’s what you have. The important bit here is sharing with her the best you have.
  • After eating, or even before it, maybe throw on some music and have a bit of a dance. Have some time for joy and happiness in the ritual. It doesn’t have to all formal and serious and portentous. I’ve been known to throw on anything from Shakira to Metallica to Clannad to Enya.
  • Spend some time in silence as well. Allow time for her to talk to you, as well as the other way around.
  • Close out with another prayer or song or dance.
  • Formally leave the sacred space with intention.
  • Tidy up 🙂

Now, the above is a rough outline, it might or might not suit you. I’ve spoken above of also walking the bounds and grounds – this is an act of formally claiming our home and garden as ours and declaring our intention of it being our sanctuary. The important thing is the walking with intention (it takes ten mins going slowly!) but I also mix up a jug of water, salt and blood if I’m bleeding, as well as some incense or a candle and pour out the water as I go to physically encircle the bounds and grounds as well. That’s a me thing, not a general thing though.

There’s a whole lot on the web about food for Brigid. I’ve gone into a bit up above there and there are elements of Scottish and Welsh lore that I know of that call out specific plants that would be associated with Brigid. I don’t buy into the whole “sun goddess” thing, so yellow isn’t a big deal with me. Dairy, home baking, good meat and a special meal are generally the way I go. In saying that, I’m not the ultimate guide here. You are. What feels right to you, what you are capable of, what you want to do is important.

There’s whole essays and youtube videos on how to make Brigid’s crosses of varying designs so I won’t bother here, as well as brideógs and brait Bhríde and leaba Bhríde and all the rest. These are fun, as well as being ways to include younger members of the family in all the drama.

Fertility rituals abound in this time of year as well – Seán Ó Dúinn’s book on Brigid outlines a lot of them. From fisherfolk leaving shells in the corner of the house to farmers leaving sheaves of oats outside the door, to ask Brigid’s blessing on the prosperity of the family for the year, there’s plenty of scope to make this suitable for your own livelihood. A pen for writers, a bit of cloth for tailors, something to indicate your way(s) of making a living for her to bless.

Another option is to have a younger member of the family (or indeed, you yourself if you don’t have people around) to go outside on Brigid’s Eve (31st January for me) and be welcomed inside in the guise of the saint or deity, thus welcoming Brigid in for the year. Just be warned, when you welcome her in, her leaving isn’t always easy!

This is obviously a short enough post to cover what is an important day for me. Candles lighting, cakes baking, food prep… It’s a pretty domestic day for me really, which is in total contrast to my usual days. That works for me – you may need to look at something different. But maybe there’s some ideas you can take and use from here. Either way, celebrate the day somehow and enjoy it. It is a celebration remember!

Brigid and grief

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.)

The above is an excerpt from Caith Maige Tuired, gthe Second Battle of Moytura. And I’ve written about this excerpt before. I’ve even written a devotional on the lines. But it’s hitting me hard this week. I lost my godfather last week and because of COVID couldn’t attend the funeral. All the usual rituals of grief are lost to me. I watched his funeral on YouTube, which, while better than nothing is still not the same as the usual rites.

There was no final visit to him. There was no rosaries over the coffin. There were few stories exchanged, and those only with my parents, rather than the wider group of his family and friends. (These things happened, of course, with his wife and children and grandchildren, those family and friends who lived close enough to be able to visit and mourn together, but not for those of us further away).

Usually at a time of grief, those who can’t attend are few in number and so attention can be spared to help them, talk them through all the bits and bobs that happen in an Irish funeral. The jokes about how he’d be very happy with the way he looked in the coffin and how, yes, he still has the earrings in. The accidental references to him as if he were still alive. The plans for who stays with the body so he’s not left alone. The small ways we reach out to include people in a time of grief.

But with so many not able to attend, all that becomes impossible. And here we are, a year on, with a vaccine in sight, but still with months at best left before any sort of normal life can continue. And we grieve in private, as we always did, but also alone, which we did not always do.

Brigid knows grief. Her loss of a son is keener than my loss this week. She knows. Her Da knows as well. As does the Virgin Mary. All three have been around me this week to help, to support, to be here with me. I’ve sheltered under both the blue cloak and the green for peace and sanctuary, for heart’s ease. I’m almost certain the Dagda carried me to bed one night cos I know I didn’t get there by myself. They’ve reminded me to eat, to wash, to drink water, to move, to allow myself tears. To accept that ok, my eyes are not going to work properly for a while after that much crying.

And now, they are all reminding me that life does indeed go on. This doesn’t mean an end to grief, of course, but an end to the first, immediate, gut wrenching pain of separation. For me, right now, it’s an end to that stage of grief. It’s time to re-don the mantle of semi normal every day living. It’s time to light the candles and say the prayers. It’s time to drink water to ease the headache, get dressed and face the world. It’s time to get going again basically.

They’re right of course. I am sure his immediate family will be in that first stage for a while longer, they have the immediate reminders of him not being there all around them, on a minute by minute, hour by hour basis, in ways I don’t. It doesn’t make my grief less, or theirs more worthy, but it is different and will be dealt with in different ways.

So, today, I’m back on my usual schedule. I’m writing a blog post. I’m taking care of myself. I’m preparing for the week in work. I’m sorting out clothes and food and schedules. I will, no doubt, cry again because he’s moved on to the next life. But I will also start living again, rather than remain in a sort of limbo as I have been doing for almost a week now.

Brigid (and the Dagda and Mary and others) will be here with me for support and help, and the odd clip up the back of the head, as I need it. And I have tools and ability to mark this loss for myself, to make it less bad for me. They’ve helped with that too. And I have a community of friends who will and have been helping as well.

There are many things this pandemic has changed forever and possibly for the better – my attitude to working from home for a start – but I don’t think our grieving rituals are included there. Our grieving rituals are so intrinsic to the rhythm of life, to how we say goodbye to people, I can’t imagine them changing overnight like this. As soon as we can, we’ll be back to the rounds of handshakes and “sorry for your troubles”, the crowds of people lining up outside the funeral home or the home place, the endless cups of tea and the sandwiches and the cakes and the buns, the stories after a few drinks and the reminders at about 11pm or midnight that “we have something important to do in the morning”. We’ll be back to the communal support, the escorting of the coffin, the silence and the black. Because it’s written into our ancestral memories now, that this is what grief looks like and this is how we cope with grief. We have all this to do in that horrible, horrible first 3 day period so we can get through it all. We just keep going and if we keep going that long, we can still keep going past it.

Brigid’s relationships with other deities

Hello everyone! For me, I’m back at work tomorrow after 4 full days off, so as far as I’m concerned, normal service is resuming. As part of this, I checked back with the list of topics on Brigid that people wanted me to visit and came up with this one. Ok it’s a kind of cheat, since I’ve written in far more detail than this about Brigid’s relationships with other deities in the book on her I’m writing, but still. Here’s a taste. Now for this, I’m limiting myself to the deity rather than the saint or the other appearances of Brigid in the lore. Here we go…

First off, Brigid’s Da is fairly well recognised as the Dagda. No one else is claiming that role (and I can almost hear the mutter from him of “who’d want to” – he’s being very Irish Dad and proud here, not putting her down!)

Her Ma on the other hand… well it’s just never clearly stated. It’s limited to anyone woman in Ireland the Dagda is known to have had relations with. Which, really, limits it to any woman in Ireland in some ways… There are a few front runners though. First off is the Morrigan, since that’s who the Dagda is most clearly linked with. However, the Morrigan, in my experience, is not backwards about claiming her own, and nowhere in the lore is it stated she’s Brigid’s Ma. Boann is another option.

Now I have a bit of an attraction towards Bóann myself. I have been told that this is probably cos I grew up in close proximity to the Boyne, and it’s certainly no more substantiated than the links to the Morrigan. It’s possibly also because I see Bóann as a bit more motherly than the Morrigan. (yeah, I can feel the “Hey, I can be motherly” glare as well here) but it’s entirely UPG, with very little other than Boann having other kids with the Dagda as well.

Danú is a bit more complicated. I believe the thought that Danú is the mother of Brigid stems from the notion that Danú is the “mother-goddess” of the Tuatha Dé Danann – with Danann being assumed to be a grammatical form of Danú. Just to keep things interesting, there is a recension of Leabhar Gabhala Eireann conflating Brigid with Danú as the mother of the TDD… Anyone ever trying to make out a proper family tree of the Irish deities has their work cut out for them!

They’re the three front runners for her Ma anyway. Her siblings are bit more straightforward. There is a suggestion of the daughter of Indech, the Formorian king as Brigid’s mother, but I don’t rate this one even as much as the others above, since the timelines are all off. Of course, the Dagda was able to stop the sun in its course to allow Boann to conceive and bear Aonghus in one day so maybe time isn’t an issue here…

Back to the siblings so… First off, we have Oengus or Aonghus, or Mac Óg, the son of Bóann that the Dagda stopped the passage of the sun so that Bóann could get through the nine months of pregnancy without her husband Elcmar noticing anything wrong. (He’s not the Good God because of any moral leanings, mainly because the notion of Christian morality, good and evil etc didn’t really exist during his time).

Cermait is the son that plays a major role in the story of how the Dagda got his famous club. Apparently, Cermait slept with Lugh’s wife Briach and Lugh killed him for it. The Dagda, understandably, wasn’t too happy about this so took himself off on a round the world tour to engage in all sorts of adventures and ended up with the life and death club.

A third son of the Dagda, was Aed or Aodh in modern Irish (Anglicised as Hugh). Not as detailed a story about this son, although he does appear and sleeps with the wife of Corrgrend of Cruarch, who then kills him (anyone seeing a theme here?) This time the Dagda doesn’t manage to revive his son, but there’s a curse involved and it’s still a riveting tale.

Bodhb Dearg is named as a son of the Dagda, although it’s possible this was a later device to try and put some order on the pantheon (I don’t know why they bothered, any such ordering appears to have made things more complicated!) However, in Aonghus’ story about finding the beautiful woman of his dreams, the Dagda consults with the King of the Sí in Munster, also a son of his, Bodhb Dearg, who manages to find the woman in question, to ease Aonghus’ way. Here we enter into a bit of a conundrum since an later spelling of “Bodhbh” is “Badhbh” who is generally considered to be one of the Morrigna or an aspect of the Morrigan. So, was Bodhbh Dearg a daughter of the Dagda he slept with (as aspect of the Morrigan) or a son who ended up being King of the Sí in Munster?

There is a brief mention in the Banshechas of another sister, Echtgi, who is described as the “loathsome daughter of the Dagda” and her story described as a spiteful one. Not much detail other than this…

On to children so… And yeah, there’s about as much linearity here as well.

Ruadhán was Brig and Bres’ son in Caith Maighe Tuired 2. That bit is well outlined, given it’s pretty much all of the 3 lines poor Brig gets in the story by name. Fairly solid ground here.

Then we move on to… sons of Tuireann. I know – where did they come from? Well… There is a suggestion in some places (ok more than a suggestion) that Brigid is the mother of Brian, Iucharba, Iuchair, the sons of Tuireann, that Lugh sends off to to collect these items as a fine for murder: three apples, and the skin of a pig, and a spear,and two horses, and a chariot, and seven pigs, and a dog’s whelp, and a cooking-spit, and three shouts on a hill. (It’s all more complicated than that of course, but I’ll leave ye to read the story for yourselves for now, or wait for the book to come out if ye want – don’t be holding yere breath though!) of course the other suggestion is that Danand is the mother of the three sons in question – as ever, things are clear and straightforward in the family tree.

Isn’t that all fun? And we haven’t even gotten into the suggestions of incest and other skullduggery either.

Native vs Non-Native Brigid

I had planned a post on the animals related to Brigid, but after a discussion on Brigid’s Forge Facebook group, I’m going to leave that alone for a bit. The discussion did bring forward to me the need to discuss native Irish vs non-native Irish Brigid.

I don’t believe I have kept quiet that it is Irish Brigid I work for/with. I am aware there are other Brigids out there, but it is the Irish Brigid I deal with. So what I write here today is coming from that perspective. It doesn’t necessarily mean your practice is wrong if you feel a connection with one of the other Brigids. Hell, it might not even mean your practice is wrong if you connect with Irish Brigid – UPG is a valid concept, as long as it is highlighted as such and not passed off as general lore. (I do try to highlight all the areas where my beliefs and practices are UPG or at least how I link it back to the lore, but everyone slips up on this sometimes. If you do, deal and move on. It’s what I try to do!)

With that in mind, here we go.

The Brigid I work with is the daughter of the Dagda and her mother is not named. I mean the list of her possible mothers is anyone the Dagda is ever linked to in either a sexual or co-parental relationship. I have my favourite options, same as anyone else, but this is definitely an area that is personal gnosis. It’s highly unlikely to be unique, it may be unverified, but it will be personal. Do your reading, see who you favour. And remember, who you favour may change over time as you learn and work more.

Irish Brigid is a triple deity (see Cormac’s glossary) but she is NOT a maiden, mother, crone archetype. I feel very strongly about this. I think in Wicca practices, she is considered under the maiden, mother, crone shape, but there isn’t an equivalent in Irish lore. In Irish lore, the triple deity for Brigid is under the goddess of poets, the goddess of smiths and the goddess of healing. There’s a lot to explore there, in terms of what poets, smiths and healing meant in the Iron Age in Ireland and even unto the present day. In fact, in the book I’m writing, I extrapolate from these three to most professions, activities, work in the modern world. There’s very few areas Brigid isn’t interested in when it comes to community.

There is a strong link for me between the Irish deity and the Irish saint. St. Brigid is one of the three patron saints in Ireland. St. Patrick is the most famous, mainly because of our exportation of the celebrations, although it should be noted that as recently as my parents’ generation the drinking culture just wasn’t there that is today. Also – dying stuff green is grand, but if you want to explore Irish roots go beyond both dying stuff green and St. Patrick. St. Colmcille is the third patron saint – an exile from the land himself.

But St. Brigid is our homegrown saint who stayed. She’s ours, through and through. And through the saint, we have a lot of links to dairy, cattle, food, drink – in one of my classes I reference the poem about the lake of beer in heaven. While Jesus transformed water into wine, Brigid turns water into beer. Support your local products people!

There is still, I believe, a huge devotion to St. Bride in Scotland, with different lore there to support the actions there taken. For example, in Ireland, while the saint’s day is 1st Feb, one potential date for Imbolc, there is no tradition of Brigid ruling over summer, as there is in Scotland. There is a tradition in Wales of an Irish nun called Ffraid, feeding the poor, as well as turning various things to food. There is also the tale in Welsh lore of Brigid plucking her eye from her head to get out of marrying a suitor her father picked out.

There is a possibility that Brigantia in England is a fore-runner of Brigid in Ireland, brought by the settlements of Brigantes in Leinster. I know nothing about the lore of Brigantia though, although I understand the Romans, those loveable scamps, syncretised her with Minerva and Victoria. There is also a link to healing wells as well.

There’s nothing wrong with working with Brigid from different lands. There’s a St. Brigitte in Sweden, who is one of six patron saints of Europe (who knew??), a Maman Brigitte in vodou (please someone who know better correct me here!) who is associated with death, and doubtless many more I don’t know about. I’ve previously said there’s probably as many Brigids as there are people who work with her, and that’s grand.

But if you’re putting out information on Brigid, be clear about which one you’re talking about. Because each of these aspects or beings has a clear and distinct traditional practice behind them. Each of these aspects or beings has things they do, things they look for, things they work best with…

When it comes to Irish Brigid, well, I find it simple, but I focus almost exclusively on Irish Brigid, so I may be over simplifying it. The records in our lore, even including the saint’s lives, are few, so it’s reasonable easy read them, learn from them etc. We have Brigid as mother, Brigid as healer (saint), Brigid associated with cattle, oxen, sheep, boars. We have the hearth fire, the smith fire, the muse fire. We have our healing wells. We have our crafts and our arts. We have our rushes-based weaving and our dairy based miracles. We have the three Brigs in the Ulster cycle, the hospitaller, the judge and the cowless. We have strong women, doing what needs doing.

Lighting a candle is so ubiquitous in Irish culture (The Mammy had a candle lighting for me for a difficult meeting last week!) it’s impossible to rule out flame tending as a native practice, not to mention the Brigidine sisters in Kildare re-igniting the sacred flame there. Weaving a cross or whatever symbol you wish on Imbolc. Leaving out the brat Bhríde on Imbolc to give us healing, particularly for headaches, for the rest of the year. Leaving out the sheaf of oats (or something that represents your coming prosperity and fertility in the coming year) to ask for a blessing from her and making sure there’s enough food and other resources for the coming year.

All of these are actions taken by generations in Ireland, and probably elsewhere as well, given how long emigration from this island has been occurring, and still happening today. But the most important part of Irish Brigid? Living up to her standards. What are you doing for the community, the people, those around you? How do you support that community, virtual or physical, that you are a part of? How do you develop your skills and knowledge to make the world a better place? Honestly, that’s the best thing you can do to work with her.

Brigid as support

Pretty much all of this post is UPG or a very close relation to it, so please, please, please don’t go taking it as sanctioned canon.

I’ve often written and spoken of Brigid need us, as human tools, to get certain parts of her work done, and I still believe that. I’ve also written that there’s times she needs reminding that tools, especially human ones, need rest and respite and care as well as work. What I haven’t written about is when things get so bad that she takes one look and mandates such a respite. That’s what’s going on for me right now.

I’m worn out. It’s been a long, tough year for a lot of us, me included. Added on top of COVID, I, like so many others, have had the normal every day, pressures that happen all the time, complemented and enhanced by the fact that a lot of my usual pressure relief valves are shut right now cos of COVID. It’s a perfect storm of sorts. And there hasn’t really been the chance to sit down and think about what can replace those usual pressure relief valves.

So I got a slap upside the head yesterday. I got notice I had to do something before my body forces me to do something. And I have.

Brigid isn’t necessarily a gentle deity, although she can be that way, and she’s not being gentle now. There’s too much to do to talk me into doing shit she knows I need to do, so she’s taking the direct route.

But the things she’s asking of me: setting boundaries around what I will and won’t be doing at Christmas, taking time for me and spending it in activities that I will find pleasurable (my local spa is opening up again next week and I’m booked in for an afternoon), taking steps to make difficult occasions easier for me. These are all things I know will help long term and in the short term. They will set me up to begin preparing for Imbolc and my responsibilities around then. They will help my body realise there is still life here and I need to replenish and re-energise to deal with the shit that’s coming.

(Please note: this isn’t some big, world wide shit I’m expecting, just the usual shit I deal with on a regular basis. This isn’t a call to arms – or at least not in the traditional sense)

Biggest of all for me, she’s demanding that I spend time, money and resources on myself rather than others for preparation of what’s to come. And what’s coming is another round of seasons, with their own challenges and requirements.

Until I started researching and meditating and journeying, I didn’t have this kind of relationship with Brigid, the messages came in different ways. But now I do and the messages get clearer. And she is a support.

The things she asks of me are not always difficult or hard or needing lots of effort – but sometimes booking that time in the spa is as difficult as a major activism effort. And I will recognise my privilege here in that I have access to the spa and the money to get time in there. Not everyone does. When money was a lot tighter than it is now, that spa afternoon would have been a ritual bath at home – something I do still do! – or a walk in the fresh air or cooking myself a decent meal. She won’t ask more than she thinks you’re able for, in as many different ways that “able” can be interpreted there. So listen to her when she’s offering this support. It’s not always given in the fluffy blanket mode, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as valuable for all that.

Brigid, politics and the US presidential election

I will say that Lora O’Brien has done an awful lot of work in this area (Irish spirituality/ Irish paganism and politics) and she sums up a lot of her views here: https://youtu.be/mxPJILQrt8k. My own agree with the views expressed there but given some of the discussions given out on various pagan groups I’m a part of, I wanted to express them here.

I know the common “polite” and “mannerly” custom has been for decades not to discuss politics or religion in polite company. Well, I don’t claim to participate in polite company all that often and this blog is quite definitely religion- or at least spirituality – orientated. I’ll make no pretensions on that score. I will also say clearly (again) that my spirituality informs my politics and vice versa.

Do you remember the post a few months back on how to honour Brigid? And how prominently the causes I believe she supports featured in that post? Brig Ambue is an aspect of Brigid I find very attractive.

I’m a white, cishet, Irish woman who has also the privilege of a bloody good education, decent salary, good health care options, etc, etc, etc. I hold a lot of privilege in this world in general (and frankly, I consider being born on this island and being party to this culture as a privilege as well). I have a lot going for me. That doesn’t mean life hasn’t been hard – it’s been bloody hard at times. Really hard. But most of the time, me, my religious views, my political views, my gender, my sexual preferences, etc, etc have not been the issue (ok gender has been at times, but not most of the time).

Brigid works with me and part of that work is supporting the community and that means supporting some of those causes I mentioned above. Part of it is signal boosting. Part of it is monetary. Part of it is making myself very uncomfortable and using myself as examples of things that need to be made public. Part of it is writing posts like this to explain why politics and spirituality are interlinked. This is not my core skill, just saying, it’s definitely something I have to be pushed to do.

Part of my work is ensuring my political representatives know how I feel and how I want to be represented on particular issues. Part of my work is ensuring that people who are feeling unsafe and oppressed have the means to discuss that. (Fair warning: if you’re rich, white, able-bodied, straight, etc you’re not being oppressed. Trust me. If you disagree with that, I strongly suggest getting yourself some education about systemic privilege. Also – are you in the right place at all?)

That means that sometimes in my facebook groups, I post on US politics, because a lot of our members are US based. And in the last week, it has been a tense time in US politics. I’m not a Trump supporter. I think it a signal that what is meant to be the “greatest” nation on earth could elect such a leader. A bad signal, just in case you were wondering. Aside from his attitude to women (remember the “grab ’em by the pussy” comment????), his attitude to migrants, his attitude to health, his attitude to anyone who isn’t rich is absolutely disgusting. I think Trump has shown how there are many areas in the States that are feeling their rights being stripped from them. Whether these people are imagining this issue or not comes back to politics.

To me, a government’s role is to look after their people. Leaving people in food deserts is not looking after them. Leaving people in work deserts is not looking after them. Leaving people working 2+ jobs just to keep food on the table is not looking after them. Leaving people in such fear for their lives that they riot and face down armed police forces rather suffer for One. More. Minute. is not looking after them. It’s an important job to ensure all citizens and inhabitants have the means to feed, clothe and house themselves according to the standards of the day. ( I once heard a Republican politician state that since 99%+ of homes in the US have fridges, they can’t consider themselves in poverty. It was an interesting theory to say the least….) It’s equally important to enforce the rule of law, but to also ensure the law is fair and just.

Seriously, how could Brigid not be interested in this? How could any deity not care about their people and how they are looked after?

There are many comments coming up in pagan groups lately that they were hoping this was a politics free space. Our religion, our spirituality, cannot be separate from our politics. Politics is what deems which religions are ok to practice and which aren’t. Politics is what decrees what is ok to discriminate against and what isn’t. Not law. Politics. Politics tells us who is ok to punch down and who isn’t. Who is “acceptable” and “respectable” and who isn’t.

So, I will say again for those in the back: I believe Trump was a bad president for the majority of people in the US. I believe Biden isn’t great, but he is at least better than Trump. Mind you, one of the Halloween pumpkins and turnips might be better than Trump. Who you vote for, who you support politically, who you give your time, energy and money to all feed into your spirituality. There is a cognitive dissonance between practicing a spirituality so in tune with the needs of the community, the needs of the tuath, the needs of the people, and voting for a party that ignores all of that.

As I type, it looks like Biden has won the US presidential election, so I’ll be lighting a candle in thanksgiving to herself. I have no doubt that Trump has already started his legal campaign now, he has certainly already started his “election fraud” campaign, so there is still work to be done here. But the US presidential election is only the tip of the iceberg. And this translates to your own locality as well, US or not. Who are you voting for in your local elections? What elected officials are in your area? What are their views? Do you know who these people are who are meant to be working for you? Learn about how politics works in your locality so at least, come election day, you can make an informed choice regarding which box your X goes in.

For those suffering from the election season, there are a couple of threads in the Brigid’s Forge group on facebook to talk about what’s going on. I will say though that the group doesn’t allow bigotry, oppression etc. I run the group and my word is the final word. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you should know the things I support and allow. Here’s a link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/318562765289760 I look forward to welcoming you there.

Brigid and Samhain

Brigid has, of course, no real direct links to Samhain, Imbolc being her gig. But all the same there are some things that link her to Samhain, in a loose, non-specific way.

Brigid was the one who taught us keening (see Caith Maigh Tuired 2), the proper way to mourn our dead. And Samhain is the time for remembering those who have passed on. There are traditions in Ireland kept to this day on this time of year. Laying out the extra place at the table on Halloween night (Oíche Samhna) for any passing departed family member or friend who wants to pop in. The whole month of November (also called Samhain in Irish, or Mí na Samhna as we learnt it in school) is devoted to the dead in the Catholic tradition, with All Saints’ Day being November 1st and All Souls’ Day being November 2nd. There are increased numbers of prayers for the departed throughout the month and it’s a long standing tradition in this country of visiting a graveyard to pray for the inhabitants, if that’s the correct term, during the month of November. Remembering the dead is a big deal at this time of year in this country. And as for those who pass away at this time of year, well it’s not lucky to pass away at all, but it’s generally accepted with all the extra prayers going on, it’s not a bad time of year to go – the prayers can give you a head start on the way out of purgatory, y’see.

It’s important too, to remember the graves of those who have gone before us. While many parishes hold their Cemetery Sundays in the summer, a reason to give the grave a spruce up for the occasion, November is a time when families will bring fresh flowers or ornaments to the graves as well, in remembrance. It’s not precisely that the Irish practice ancestor worship, you understand, it’s more the respect to the dead is strong in this country and particularly in November.

It’s a time too for remembering those who have gone before us. Invariably at this time of year, the story of my Nana as a ghost gets told. It was coming close to the last day in November and Nana hadn’t made it to a graveyard because of one thing and another. So late one afternoon, she hopped on her bike and cycled over. It being November and Ireland, she was well wrapped up in her good coat, which happened to be very pale in colour. And it being November and twilight at best, dark at worst, she didn’t want to go too far into the graveyard for fear of who or what she might meet. So she hopped in over the style and knelt down just inside the wall to say some prayers. As she was finishing up, she saw two neighbours coming towards her and thought, brilliant, we can cycle home together. So she lept up onto the style and called out to them. They, seeing only a pale, wavering figure appear out of nowhere at the edge of a graveyard, took great fright, and took to their heels (well pedals!) with force. Nana, not wanting to be left behind, hopped on the bike to come after them, causing them to pedal with even more intent.

It was only when she arrived home, crossly wondering what in blazes was wrong with the women, that she realised the sight she must have presented.

This story always promotes a great laugh in our family, because while Nana was formidable, she was also four foot nothing, with blonde hair, so you can imagine the image the two women saw on the wall of the graveyard, on a dark night…

There are other stories that are told as well. Have a look at An Scealaí Beag’s Patreon offering for this month for some of the darker tales of this time of year. But I’ll get back to Brigid now.

For me, Samhain marks the last quarter of the year before Imbolc. I see it as November for the dead, honouring them, remembering them, praying for them, hoping they’re well and happy. Nollag (Christmas in Irish, again applying to the whole month of December, but also being used for Yule) is for celebrating in the face of the winter’s darkness, taking joy in the living, in the young, in the future, in the hope. By Christmas Day, the days are, technically, getting longer again, once the winter solstice is over. It’s celebrating almost in defiance of the darkness and holding the strong belief that the light and growth will return. January for me is cleaning up and getting into the final preparations for Imbolc. It’s clearing out the hold, making room for the new to take root and grow. it’s investigating the dark corners of both home and soul, to see what lies stagnant that needs cleaning or removing or dusting or replacing. It’s a time for making things stretch as well, until the first green shoots start to show and depending on the joy from Christmas to last us through this last darkness before the Spring comes again.

These days of course, the darkness of a December night has less effect on us and the difference in days length between December and January is difficult to notice. And yet, we embrace the light in the darkness – look at how many of our Christmas traditions revolve around light – decorations, candles, even brightly coloured wrapping paper. But the notion of a spring clean is a good one, and still prevalent among many people.

Back to Samhain then. And Brigid. This is the time when the harvest is over, first, second and last. No berry or nut should be taken from the plant after this night, since the Devil or the Other Crowd (depending your persuasion) will have taken the goodness from them on Oíche Samhna. What we have now, is what we have to see out the winter. These rhythms don’t worry us as much now, with modern farming and supply chains, but it’s good to remember a time when the apples from the first harvest were safely packed away and brought out on this night as a treat. When the nuts we buy in bushels from the shop now were a real vital filling food to keep things going, calorie wise, for the winter. When the berries were the last sweet treat for a while and when the first green shoots in spring were a craved-for experience.

Brigid cares about us – why wouldn’t she, and we her people. She wants us to do well – as communities, as individuals. She wants us to survive the coming winter while accepting that not all will. And she wants us to have the appropriate way of grieving for those who do leave us. Many people who follow Brigid are not Catholic, have never been Catholic, have no wish to be Catholic. Equally, many people who follow Brigid are not Irish, have never been Irish, have no wish to be Irish. And those people come from different traditions and habits. But I speak here as an Irish pagan Catholic, deeply rooted in those traditions and habits. I view Brigid through that lens, through the lore, through the traditions of my forebears.

November is for the dead. Remembering them. Praying for them. Making sure we’re right with them, making sure we’ve not left them out. It’s not to keep them with us, for surely they have their own journeys to be about, but to know there’s a place for them here if they wish it. Admittedly, everyone has some ancestor they don’t want visiting, and you deal with them as you would any unwanted visitor. But the loved ones, the ones who are welcome, wherever they are, it does us no harm to remember them and wish them well. And Brigid knows and understands grief. She knows and understands loss. She knows the immediate sharp pain and the longer, dull ache of realising someone isn’t there any more. November gives us the chance to grieve.

The biggest mistakes people make with Brigid (IMO)

One of the topics suggested in a recent request I put out was to highlight the biggest mistakes I see people make when looking to work with/for Brigid. Now, it should be said, at the start of this, that this is my opinion. I say it out straight when I feel something is based on the lore, but please… it’s opinion and your mileage may vary. OK?

The first mistake I see people make is assuming because she’s listed as a Catholic saint, she’s a meek and mild martyr, a woman the Catholic Church could be proud of. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Even as a slave, in her various Lives, she was notorious for not doing as she was told. She repeatedly and repentantly gave away her owner’s goods to the poor. She pulled out her own eye rather than be forced to marry someone she didn’t care for. She went her own way and did her own thing – all examples of remarkable strong will for someone who is a slave. As well, she surely wasn’t a martyr, and died in her old age. (Well, relative old age…)

Then I see people focusing on only the “nice” aspects of Brigid. As in, she’s a healer, she’s a positive force, she’s a “nice” goddess. She really isn’t. In the lore, her main activity is mourning her son. She bring keening to the Irish and the whistle to guide us at night. She’s at home in the dark and she deals with things that are not pleasant to say the least. She works on the darker emotions – just ask any mother who has lost a child just how dark those emotions get. “light and love” she ain’t. Trust me.

There are a lot of people who practice flametending or flamekeeping as their primary source of spiritual practice. Now there’s nothing wrong with this, but Lora O’Brien (of www.irishpaganschool.com ) and I had a chat about this recently which is well worth listening to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5s_dUqeU2E. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with flame keeping, but there’s also a lot more you can be doing as part of your spiritual practice.

Now as a follow on from the above, there’s an awful lot of people who don’t realise just how practical a deity Brigid is. I mean, one of her areas of interest is smithcraft, which I consider a predecessor of engineering and if there was ever a more frighteningly practical group of people than engineering, I’ve not met them (and I am one, so I’m allowed to say that!) If you’re working with Brigid, I’d highly recommend looking at practical aspects to worship as well as the more esoteric options.

Learn about the lore. Yes, yes, ok, there’s little enough about Brigid (or Brig) in the Irish lore, but dammit, there’s more than nothing. And “little” just means it’s easier to get your head around what’s in there. There’s very few excuses here for not doing this. Know who you’re working with, surely this would be sensible anyway? I mean, you’d not go out on a date with a complete stranger without doing some checking up right? Asking round, having a look on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or whatever? So use your common sense and do a bit of scouting around before doing something drastic here. Even if you decide she’s not for you, honestly, it’s grand. Better to learn that before you dedicate your life and lives to her than afterwards right?

And another thing. I understand the need for ritual and ceremony at times. It not something I spend much time at, but even I feel the need to do something special sometimes. And that’s grand. But have a think about what you’re committing to before you start. Have you the resources to complete a full on, ceremonial ritual once a day, week, month? If yes, grand, but be aware those resources may change, so be careful of the promises you make. If no, then don’t commit to it. A once off ritual is just grand for some things, and even if it is a daily ritual, it doesn’t need to be ceremonial. One of my rituals is to say hello to her most days. Yup, there’s a statue on my windowsill that I say hello to most days. And I say “most” here because it’s not absolutely every single day of my life and I don’t promise her that. So, you know, be careful of the rituals you promise, cos once you promise, she will expect them.

Actually the above paragraph goes for any promise you make, not just about rituals and ceremonies. I know in some corners of the internet, having a geas is a really cool thing to have, but seriously, before you commit to that, accept it, or decide you want to go down that road, read up on the lore and figure out what the usual trail of woe is in the stories. I’ll save you some time here: usually it’s a case of multiple geis, then something happens so you have to break one of them, then you die or suffer horribly. So, you know, think twice and twice again before accepting or looking for a geas. And I’m happy to stay I’ve managed to steer clear of them for the most part.

Brigid has a mother. We’re just not sure who she is. And frankly, given the way her Da got around back in the day, we can probably limit the options to “the women of Ireland”, although there are one or two front runners. You may have your favourite. That’s grand, you’re entitled to that opinion. Just remember, it is your opinion, not fact and in this case, live and let live.

There are people who claim the saint came first and the deity second and vice versa. I think it’s more likely there was a deity called Brigid and a saint called Brigid, as well as a few other Brigids in the lore, and they have overlapping areas of interest, but not identical areas of interest. There’s a grand interest for example in cattle, cos frankly, they were bloody important, but the saint is probably more interested in Jesus and the deity more interested in the Dagda. (I’m not equating Jesus and the Dagda here, mind, just showing an area where the interest probably doesn’t overlap). Also, the deity was probably more likely to be having sex than the saint.

There are a lot of folk customs about Brigid in Ireland. Don’t discount them. Brigid’s cloak, Brigid’s crosses, customs around fire, the Brídeog, etc… these are all passed down from our ancestors, and frankly, Christianity in Ireland was mostly skin deep over a deep rooted pagan tradition. So even if the traditions come from generations of Christian practice, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a pagan root to them.

Some of the folk tales, we have no written lore from time immemorial. This is no reason to discount them necessarily. Because story telling in Ireland was an oral tradition, with the great traditions of the Filidh, coming through the bards of the early days of English occupation, to the senachaí of more recent times. For an example of a modern seanchaí, look up Eddie Lenihan. He has fantastic stories, several books and pre-COVID, was still doing in person performances. He’s wonderful to see live if you can at all, but if you can catch a recording or buy his books, you’ll see the living tradition of story telling in Ireland. Not necessarily Brigid related, but it will help you understand the means of passing stories.

So there’s 11 things to watch out for. If something strikes a chord with you, or causes you to feel uncomfortable – well you are quite free to contact me to tell me how I’m wrong, but I’d also invite you to figure out why it makes you feel uncomfortable. Seriously. This isn’t intended as a personal attack, it’s more about highlighting things I see people doing that don’t site right with me. And if there’s things you think I’ve left off the list, let me know as well!

How to honour Brigid

One of the topics that came up on my recent request for blog topics was ways to honour Brigid. Now I feel I’ve been fairly clear on this blog that for me, honouring her, working with her, etc comes with my daily life. The best honour I can pay her is to live a life she might be proud of. Or at least not objecting to…

But I appreciate there are people out there that prefer a different type of relationship with their deity. And sometimes it’s nice to do a bit of specific rather than generic honouring.

I suppose one of the issues I have is that I don’t see my relationship with her as needing honouring as such. I mean, we’re not equal partners in this, but I have rights as well as her. And I think that’s important to remember. Honour her first and foremost by knowing yourself. Know your boundaries, your limits, your abilities, your weaknesses. Admit to yourself who you are, what you are, where you are… be clear on all this. Trust me, it makes life in general easier, never mind relationship with deity.

But we’ll go from quick and easy to the more complicated stuff here.

So first off – lighting an auld candle rarely goes astray. I mean, if I was living in California, Oregon, Washington or anywhere else there’s wildfires raging, I wouldn’t be adding fire energy to the conflagration without serious consideration of the consequences. But here in Ireland, we’re unlikely to have those issues, even with the week of fine weather we’re currently having. Lighting a candle and just thinking about herself is a pretty straightforward and easy way to pay her respect.

Meditation is a great to connect with herself as well. I read something long ago that said prayer is when we speak to the gods and meditation is when they speak to us. Meditation is both extremely simple and extremely difficult. I find visualisation helps me a lot with meditation, but also saying the rosary can get me into a meditative state – it’s not one I usually encounter Brigid in though. Mantras can help. Guided meditations can help. You can check out the journeying methods taught at the Irish Pagan School for specific journeys to meet herself (journeying isn’t quite meditation, but it’s linked and well worth learning. But be careful and learn from a decent source. I will recommend https://irishpaganschool.com/ for this – not only cos I have a few classes on there, but I do believe this method is as careful as it can be.)

Now I mentioned praying there in the previous paragraph. Either composing a prayer of your own or using one already in the public domain, it’s up to you and the resources available to you. Prayer doesn’t always mean asking for things, praising deities is an old, old tradition as is the tradition of just reminding them we’re here. No harm in either type of praying.

After that, well she’s never been adverse to a glass of wine in my experience, although she does have history with beer and stronger spirits as well. If alcohol isn’t an option, milk, cream, butter, dairy products in general are no bad idea. For a bit more effort – home baking is a way to go. I mean the Dagda is the big one for food, but Brigid has the links to the hearth fire (and to me this includes the modern gas or electric oven!) so the fruits of said fire are always welcome. I’ve heard people asking how long to leave out offerings like this – honestly, I don’t think it matters and it will depend greatly on your own personal circumstances. If you have small children or animals about the place you may not want to leave out things that would be harmful to them. At the very least, try to remember to through the offering out before it goes off anyway. Not for any deity related reason, but more for hygienic issues. Equally, how you dispose of your offering will depend on what it is and your circumstances. I either throw a glass of wine down the sink or else onto the grass in a particular spot.

If you want to get a bit deeper but still keep this honouring to yourself, have a look around in your local area or community and see what needs doing. Is there a well about the place that needs weeding and clearing up? Is there an abandoned graveyard of a religious tradition you understand that needs upkeep? Is there a playground that’s covered in litter?Have a look around and see how you can do something to make things better.

You can always donate money. I’m a firm believer that energy follows money, so use what money you can to support causes in her name. Environmental issues, women’s and children’s rights, LGBT+ rights… any minority is probably a way to honour her. And this way you choose to support something you care about as well as something she cares about.

If you have the ability and resources, you can join or found a group to help with any of the above issues. Is there a well that continually gets overgrown or littered? Can you gather people together to take care of it? Many hands make light work. And setting up and running a group like this required the help of a deity in my opinion. It’s easier to herd cats than people, but a group of people tend to get more done than one person alone.

If you haven’t the resources to get directly involved yourself, promote those who do. Online activism or armchair activism is almost pejorative these days, but sharing a post to spread awareness of something is valuable as well. Basically – do what you can do. She’s hard on her tools, but she doesn’t usually intentionally break them…

You can create in her name – while she is listed as the goddess of poets, it’s really not just poetry she’s interested in and poets in Ireland were expected to do a lot more than just declaim a few rhyming couplets. So, writing anything at all. Painting, sewing, embroidering, knitting, weaving… there are a load of crafts out there that allow you to be creative and honour her in the doing of it.

I have mentioned before I believe my work as an engineer to be work in her name, with engineering being the descendant in the modern world of blacksmithing. Careers in the law, in the arts, in caring for others, in healing, in looking after the home ,in caring for children, in caring for the oppressed, caring for animals, both wild and domesticated… all these can and will honour her.

You can make her crosses – whether a 4 armed cross, a 3 armed cross, a lozenge or many other kinds.

Best of all – tune in, use your discernment and find out what she needs you to be doing. Honestly, that’s probably best in the end.