Celtic Goddess Brigid: How to Work With the Irish Triple Goddess
A goddess with depth and beauty. One whose name is embedded in the very history of the land. The Celtic Goddess Brigid has been worshipped for centuries in Ireland and the British Isles. She is gentle and kind, and yet stern and strong. This Irish Triple Goddess may be calling to you from the sacred flame and healing springs. Learn of Brigid’s origins and how to start working with her unique energy here.
Who is the Celtic Goddess Brigid?
One of the most ancient and prominent goddesses in Irish history is the Celtic Goddess Brigid (pronounced Breed and/or Bride). Originating during the times of the Celtic Irish tribes, Brigid’s story is deep and beautiful. According to author Rodney Castleden, an elite class of poets known as the Filidh worshiped her as late as the tenth century AD. Brigid is part of the Tuatha de Danann, the original godly race of beings that first occupied Ireland. Her name is theorized to mean “Fiery Arrow”, and shows a clear link to the words “Bright” and “Bride”. She’s the daughter of the Dagda, King of the Celtic Irish gods. And in some stories, she is Bres’ wife.
But she’s much more than a daughter and wife. Brigid becomes one of the most worshiped goddesses in Western Europe, her cult and traditions integrated in pagan Scotland and the British Isles. The Celtic Goddess Brigid was so well-loved during the Christianization of Ireland, she became a saint while other pagan gods were forgotten. But more on Saint Brigid later on.
Brigid as a Sisterhood and Triple Goddess
The Goddess Brigid is depicted in triple form in many sculptures and illustrations. Scholars believe she was actually three deities in one. Or seen as three sisters, all with the name Brigid. Each sister presided over an important domain: smith-craft, poetry, and healing. But why was she three sisters in one?
The number three was sacred to the Celts for many reasons, which presented itself often in their beliefs in the gods. Triple Goddesses like Brigid presided over the life/death/rebirth cycle. This is seen in her protection of children and lactating mothers. As well as her connection to midwifery and death customs. Modern pagans see the Triple Goddess concept in the form of Maiden, Mother and Crone. And while this may have been true of Brigid in past centuries, I don’t believe that it was her only manifestation. I believe Brigid as a Triple Goddess may have been more complex than we can even understand today.
Celtic Goddess of Water and Fire
The interesting thing about the Celtic Goddess Brigid isn’t just her triple aspect, it’s the polarity of her powers. As a Goddess of healing, Brigid ruled over the sacred wells of Ireland. This was a big honor, as the Irish people were so enamored with sacred wells they called themselves the “People of the Wells”. Wherever a deity was associated with a well or sacred spring in Ancient Europe, they were automatically considered a healing deity. There is a holy well at Liscannor in County Clare that’s associated with Saint Brigid that scholars believe was first a healing spring under the goddess Brigid’s watch.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Brigid was also a goddess of the sacred flame. Fire, to the ancient Celts, was the element of inspiration and passion. Note the polarity? This was actually a common motif among the Celts – fire and water. Life and death. Creation and destruction. And Brigid embodied this belief. According to tradition, Saint Brigid was one of 19 nuns tending a sacred flame that burns perpetually at the Kildare monastery. This monastery, however, is believed to have first been a sacred pagan site where the priestesses of Brigid tended the goddess’ sacred fire.
Is Brigid the Goddess the Same as Saint Brigid?
There is much speculation and evidence to support the idea that Saint Brigid of Christian fame is the same as the Celtic Goddess Brigid from Irish history. What’s interesting to note is that Brigid the goddess was still being worshipped while the Saint Brigid was supposedly alive and performing miracles throughout Ireland. So the idea that the Church took the worship of Brigid and re-packaged it into the faith in Saint Brigid is probable.
Saint Brigid is believed to have lived in the fifth and sixth centuries AD, though there’s no real proof she actually existed. There are many legends and pagan elements in Saint Brigid’s story including the tale of her birth. She was born in the threshold of her mother’s cottage at sunrise and may have been a Druid’s or a Pict’s daughter. These ideas show the liminality of Brigid the saint reflective in the obvious liminality of the Celtic goddess Brigid. Saint Brigid went on to perform many healing miracles and came to be associated with the sacred flame. All concepts central to the goddess’s powers.
Brigid the Goddess was likely honored at Imbolc, a Celtic feast-day marking the first signs of Spring, which included the birth of lambs and therefore lactation of the ewes. The goddess protected newborn animals and children, as well as nursing mothers. And later, Saint Brigid would also come to be known as a midwife and the pagan observation of Imbolc came to be called Saint Brigid’s Day. Is Saint Brigid the same as the goddess Brigid? I believe Saint Brigid may have been a real person, but the church canonized her in the hopes of phasing out the pagan belief in Brigid. In addition, in new age culture, Bridget is one of the Ascended Masters who governs inspiration, healing, and creativity.
How Does Brigid Manifest?
Every deity manifests in their own unique way. Brigid is no exception to this rule. When she appears to her devotees, she frequently shows up as a woman in the prime of her life. With long, red fiery hair and wearing a long gown of either green or white. She’s also known as a triple goddess and so can manifest as three different aspects of herself including as a maiden, mother, and crone. Some of her epithets claim she was radiant in beauty, as well. Truly, I believe she will manifest as she sees fit. And remember, she is one of the Tuatha, which means one of the faery people. So she likely has the ability to shapeshift into various forms at will. And, being associated with fire, may appear as glowing or surrounded by flames.
In addition, Brigid likely was carried on in the form of Saint Brigid of Kildare from the Christian standpoint. So she may appear in her saintly form, depending on the situation. In her saint form, she may be wearing a long blue gown with a green mantle. Otherwise known as an abbess’ crozier. And she may also be glowing brightly or have flames above her head. She may carry a lamp or candle and be accompanied by a cow, geese or ducks.
Signs Brigid is Calling to You:
There are certain ways in which deities call to their devotees. Some signs Brigid is calling to you include:
- Seeing her name in books, online, on TV, etc.
- The cow is popping up as a symbol or in real life, recurringly
- You’re drawn to the sabbat Imbolc and unsure why
- You have Celtic ancestors (though NOT a requirement)
- The water and fire elements fascinate you
- You’ve always been drawn to Ireland, even if you’ve never been there
- Saint Brigid is sending you signs
- You’ve taken up a skill of smithing, writing poetry, culinary arts, or healing
Brigid’s Magical Correspondences
- Names: St. Brigid, Bride, Brigit, Bridey, Brigantia, The Bright One, The Ashless Flame
- Gods and Goddesses: Brigantia, Berchta, Dagda, Bres, St. Patrick, The Morrigan, Sulis, Minerva, Boand, Dea Matres, Sheela na Gig, Hestia, The Cailleach, Ganga, Eostre, Abundantia, Danu
- Days: Imbolc/St. Brigid’s Day and Beltane
- Plants: red clover, oak, shamrock, rushes, corn (wheat/grains), rowan
- Crystals: moss agate, emerald, garnet, citrine, amber, rainbow obsidian
- Animals: cow, crow, boar, swan, sheep, serpent, badger, wolf, salmon, pig, horse, white bull, vulture, fox, raven
- Places: Kildare, Faughart, Liscannor, All Sacred Wells and Springs, Inishmurray, Brigid Braint and Brent Rivers
- Symbols: Triskele and Triquetra
- Elements: Fire and Water
- Offerings: fire, water, prayer, metals, tying ribbons to trees, blackberries, eggs, honey, bread, cake, bacon, milk, cheese, butter, ale, coins, a basket made of rushes called Brigid’s Bed, Brigid’s crosses, leave food and drink on doorstep for Brigid’s cow, cakes on windowsill on Imbolc, poetry
Brigid and Related Goddesses
There’s some speculation that Brigid might actually be a continuation or an aspect of the mother of the Tuatha, Danu. In addition, Brigid has been linked to other goddesses who seem to carry the same attributes including Brigantia of the Brigantes tribe of ancient Britain. And some even believe Sulis, a goddess of the healing springs at Bath, England, may be the same deity as Brigid. Her link to healing springs and the sun have eluded to this connection, though I personally feel it’s a bit of a stretch.
And let’s not forget the sister connection between Brigid and the Cailleach. When Winter ends at Beltane, Cailleach steps back and allows Brigid to rule the Summer half of the year. They are often seen as sisters of the Celtic year. Moving across the ocean to the New World, the Scotts-Irish immigrants brought their Saint Brigid with them. She would be adopted by the African slaves and become part of the Vodou religion as Maman Brigitte, also called Queen of the Cemetery and Mistress of the Ghede.
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How to Start Working with the Celtic Goddess Brigid
Brigid calls to people from all walks of life, any gender, any religion, any culture, etc. If she’s called to you, you’ll feel her fiery pull strongly but you might not know where to start. Here’s a few ways to start working with Brigid:
1. Read about Brigid
There are many Irish myths that include the Celtic goddess Brigid. Read many for free online. Pick up the book Tending Brigid’s Flame by Lunaea Weatherstone. It’s the most in-depth and educational book dedicated to the Celtic Goddess. I also highly recommend Celtic Cosmology and the Otherworld by Sharon Pace McLeod.
2. Set Up a Small Altar
Brigid appreciates having a small space in her followers’ homes where her presence can be felt. Set up an altar OR a small space on your nightstand or kitchen counter in honor of Brigid. She’s a goddess of the hearth so the kitchen is a perfect spot! A representation of her, a candle, and a small glass of water are all that’s needed to get started. As your relationship grows, you’ll naturally add more items to honor her and connect to your path.
3. Tend Her Sacred Flame
When you speak to the Irish Triple Goddess, burn a candle dedicated solely to her. In ancient times, the priestesses of Brigid kept a fire going for hundreds of years. Today that fire is tended and burns at Kildare because of her modern priestesses. Lighting a candle and tending her sacred flame is a simple way to connect with her.
4. Visit Local Wells
In addition to tending her sacred fires, acknowledge her other element water by visiting a local well or spring. If you have neither, visit your local natural body of water and pray to her there. Offer up your gratitude and ask for healing of body, mind and soul. Brigid is a healer, after all.
5. Celebrate Imbolc a.k.a. Saint Brigid’s Feast
Imbolc, also known as Saint Brigid’s Day, is celebrated on February 1st. Imbolc is an ancient Celtic feast day originally dedicated to the Celtic Goddess Brigid that changed to Saint Brigid’s Day when Ireland was christianized. Today, pagans celebrate Brigid on her name’s day by lighting bonfires, celebrating the first day of Spring, and making traditional Brigid’s crosses. You can do the same!
6. Learn Traditional Prayers
There are numerous prayers to Saint Brigid that you can use as your own prayers to the Goddess aspect of Brigid. Keep in mind, Saint Brigid and the Goddess Brigid are one in the same! By learning her traditional prayers, you’re showing extra effort in honoring all of her aspects. Plus being able to recite prayer becomes a ritual in and of itself. There are numerous prayers to “Bride” in the Carmina Gadelica. Like this one that particularly plays as a protective prayer:
THE genealogy of the holy maiden Bride,
Radiant flame of gold, noble foster-mother of Christ,
Bride the daughter of Dugall the brown,
Son of Aodh, son of Art, son of Conn,
Son of Crearar, son of Cis, son of Carina, son of Carruin.
Every day and every night
That I say the genealogy of Bride,
I shall not be killed, I shall not be harried,
I shall not be put in cell, I shall not be, wounded,
Neither shall Christ leave me in forgetfulness.
No fire, no sun, no moon shall burn me,
No lake, no water, nor sea shall drown mc,
No arrow of fairy nor dart of fay shall wound me,
And I under the protection of my Holy Mary,
And my gentle foster-mother is my beloved Bride.
Carmina Gadelica, Volume 1 pg. 175
7. Honor Irish Ancestors
If you have Irish blood, one way of honoring Brigid is to honor your Irish ancestors. Set up a family tree and explore your Celtic roots. Make traditional Irish fare. Play traditional Irish music. Any act of honor to them honors Brigid.
8. Give Offerings to Brigid
According to author Lunaea Weatherstone, giving traditional offerings to Brigid pleases her greatly. Some of her favorite foods include blackberries, honey, fish, hazelnuts, oatmeal, bacon, beer and dairy. If you can only offer her a bit of milk once a week, that’s plenty. Then make a special meal for her on her sacred days.
9. Threshold Magick
Brigid as a goddess and as a saint is considered a liminal being for a few reasons. (Liminal means “in-between” and was a particularly powerful and prevalent concept to the Celts.) One, because Saint Brigid was born on the threshold of her mother’s cottage AND at sunrise. And two, because Brigid is a triple goddess who was also part of the Tuatha, an otherworldly race of gods who became faeries over time. By performing liminal magick, specifically threshold magick, you honor the memory of Brigid. Make a front door wash and bless your front door in her name.
- Selene, Greek Goddess of the Moon
- Hathor, Egyptian Goddess of Love
- Berchta, Celtic Alpine Goddess of Children and Motherhood