Brighid’s Mantle – History and Lore

Brighid’s Mantle – History and Lore

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Brighid is the Celtic goddess who is the keeper of the hearth, the deity who watches over nursing mothers and pregnant women, and who is the overseer of all things domestic. She is also connected to healing and wisdom. One commonly found symbol of Brighid is her green mantle, or cloak. In Gaelic, the mantle is known as the brat Bhride.

Although her origins are that of a Pagan goddess, at one point she became associated with Christianity and St. Brighid of Kildare. The legend has it that Brighid was the daughter of a Pictish chieftain who went to Ireland to learn from St. Patrick. In one story, the girl who later became St. Brighid went to the King of Leinster, and petitioned him for land so she could build an abbey. The King, who still held to the old Pagan practices of Ireland, told her he’d be happy to give her as much land as she could cover with her cloak. Naturally, her cloak grew and grew until it covered as much property as Brighid needed, and she got her abbey. Thanks to her roles as both a Pagan goddess and a Christian saint, Brighid is often seen as being of both worlds; a bridge between the old ways and the new.

In Celtic Pagan stories, Brighid’s mantle carries with it blessings and powers of healing. Many people believe that if you place a piece of cloth out upon your hearth at Imbolc, Brighid will bless it in the night. Use the same cloth as your mantle each year, and it will gain strength and power each time Brighid passes by. The mantle can be used to comfort and heal a sick person, and to provide protection for women in labor. A newborn baby can be wrapped in the mantle to help them sleep through the night without fussing.

To make a Brighid’s mantle of your own, find a piece of green cloth long enough to comfortably wrap around your shoulders. Leave it on your doorstep on the night of Imbolc, and Brighid will bless it for you. In the morning, wrap yourself in her healing energy.

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Brighid – Hearth Goddess of Ireland

Brighid – Hearth Goddess of Ireland

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Origins of Brighid:

In Irish mythological cycles, Brighid (or Brighit), whose name is derived from the Celtic brig or “exalted one”, is the daughter of the Dagda, and therefore one of the Tuatha de Dannan. Her two sisters were also called Brighid, and were associated with healing and crafts. The three Brighids were typically treated as three aspects of a single deity, making her a classic Celtic triple goddess.

Patron and Protector:

Brighid was the patron of poets and bards, as well as healers and magicians. She was especially honored when it came to matters of prophecy and divination. She was honored with a sacred flame maintained by a group of priestesses, and her sanctuary at Kildare, Ireland, later became the home of the Christian variant of Brighid, St. Brigid of Kildare. Kildare is also the location of one of several sacred wells in the Celtic regions, many of which are connected to Brighid. Even today, it’s not uncommon to see ribbons and other offerings tied to trees near a well as a petition to this healing goddess.

Celebrating Brighid:

There are a variety of ways to celebrate the many aspects of Brighid at Imbolc. If you’re part of a group practice or a coven, why not try Honoring Brighid With a Group Ceremony? You can also incorporate prayers to Brighid into your rites and rituals for the season. Having trouble figuring out what direction you’re headed? Ask Brighid for assistance and guidance with a Brighid’s Crossroads Divination Ritual.

Brighid’s Many Forms:

In Britain, Brighid’s counterpart was Brigantia, a warlike figure of the Brigantes tribe near Yorkshire, England. She is similar to the Greek goddess Athena and the Roman Minerva. Later, as Christianity moved into the Celtic lands, St. Brigid was the daughter of a Pictish slave who was baptized by St. Patrick, and founded a community of nuns at Kildare.

In addition to her position as a goddess of magic, Brighid was known to watch over women in childbirth, and thus evolved into a goddess of hearth and home. Today, many Pagans and Wiccans honor her on February 2, which has become known as Imbolc or Candlemas.

Crafts to Honor Brighid:

In many Pagan traditions today, Brighid is celebrated with crafts that honor her role as the protector of the hearth. You can make a Brighid corn doll, as well as a Bride’s Bed for her to sleep in. Perhaps the best known decoration is the Brighid’s Cross, whose arms represent the place where a crossroads comes together, the space between light and dark.

Brighid and Imbolc:

Like many Pagan holidays, Imbolc has a Celtic connection, although it wasn’t celebrated in non-Gaelic Celtic societies. The early Celts celebrated a purification festival by honoring Brighid. In some parts of the Scottish Highlands, Brighid was viewed as a sister of Cailleach Bheur, a woman with mystical powers who was older than the land itself. In modern Wicca and Paganism, Brighid is sometimes viewed as the maiden aspect of the maiden/mother/crone cycle, although it might be more accurate for her to be the mother, given her connection with home and childbirth.

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Imblc – Brigid’s Well Spell

Imbolc – Brigid’s Well Spell

To Heal Or Bring General Good Health

Purpose:  To ease ill-health or bring well-being in the coming year.

Background:  Imbolc is also known as the Feast of Brigid, a well-beloved Irish Goddess renowned as a patron of healing. Many springs and rivers are sacred to her, bearing features of her name, in Brittany, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, but her strongest association with the healing power of waters is with wells.

In pre-Christian times, people venerated the genii loci, or “spirits of place,” of natural locations that were considered particularly sacred springs and wells, sources of water that came up from the earth, were considered very special, and healing properties, including cures for eye and skin problems, became attributed to many of those associated with Brigid. In this spell, you will be recreating Brigid’s Well in symbol, in the form of a pottery or stone bowl or cup. Since Brigid’s Healing Well is a spiritual symbol, this recreation is just as valid as if you had applied to the spirit of a well in Kildare, in Ireland, or a river in Wales. You may make up to three requests for healing, including one for general good health, as appropriate.

How to cast the Spell

Items You Will Need:

  • Six white candles, 6-8″ in length
  • One stone or pottery cup or bowl
  • Three small beach pebbles
  • One small cup of salt
  • Spring water
  • Matches

Timing:  Cast this spell at Imbolc

Casting the Spell:

  • Place the candles all around the cup.
  • Name each stone as an ailment you wish healed, as appropriate, sprinkling a pinch of salt over each. Breathe onto them, saying:

By my breath.

  • Cover them with your hands, saying:

By my flesh.

  • Place the in the cup, and cover them with water, saying:

By the living waters of Brigid, may health prevail and good reside.

  • Light each candle, saying:

Hail, Lady of Fire.

  • Hold your palms toward the flames and close your eyes, then visualize dark stains on the stones dissolving in the water, rising to the surface to be burned away in the candle flames.
  • Chant the following until you feel the energies in the circle rise:

Earth, water, flame

Work in Her name

Earth, water, fire

Work my desire.

Discharge the energy raised by raising your hands into the air and mentally releasing it.

  • Return the stones to a beach as soon as possible after Imbolc night.
 The Spells Bible
The Definitive Guide to Charms and Enchantments
Ann-Marie Gallagher

“Candlemas’ is the Christianized name for the holiday, of course. The older Pagan names were Imbolc and Oimelc. ‘Imbolc’ means, literally, ‘in the belly’ (of the Mother). For in the womb of Mother Earth, hidden from our mundane sight but sensed by a keener vision, there are stirrings. The seed that was planted in her womb at the solstice is quickening and the new year grows. ‘Oimelc’ means ‘milk of ewes’, for it is also lambing season. The holiday is also called ‘Brigit’s Day’, in honor of the great Irish Goddess Brigit. At her shrine, the ancient Irish capitol of Kildare, a group of 19 priestesses (no men allowed) kept a perpetual flame burning in her honor. She was considered a goddess of fire, patroness of smithcraft, poetry and healing (especially the healing touch of
midwifery).”
– Daven’s Journal – Imbolic