Brigid’s Light: Tending the Ancestral Flame of the Beloved Celtic Goddess, edited by Cairelle Crow and Laura Louella
Weiser Books, 1578637694, 256 pages, March 2022
Ancient Pagan goddess or Catholic saint? Brigid brings her power and wisdom in many guises for the benefit of all. In her guise as the Goddess of the Flame, her head surrounded in a halo of fire, “she stands with us at the in-between parts of our lives, calling us to her so we can learn how to face the moment.”1 As the Lady of the Well, Brigid is also very much associated with the waters, often known for bringing inspiration and creating a flow of ideas. Brigid is most associated with Ireland where one finds the earliest documentations of her. Her wells in Kildare (one known to the public and one a bit more hidden and off the tourist path) are visited by those seeking aid. The Saint Brigid’s monastery is also in Kildare, not too far from Dublin.
Brigid’s Light: Tending the Ancestral Flame of the Beloved Celtic Goddess, edited by Cairelle Crow and Laura Louella, is an anthology with writings from a diverse pool of authors, each opening up to their encounters with Brigid, whether through prose, poetry, art, and even recipes. In their selection of contributors, Crow and Louella sought to “reflect Brigid’s diversity in a wide variety of experiences of her power, a number of unique portrayals of her divinity, and even in different writing styles and spellings of her name.”2 Because Brigid’s influence is far-reaching, many of the contributors come from places other than Ireland.
The authors provide insight into the various ways that Brigid is celebrated and called on for assistance and sustenance, both physical and non-physical. Each writer encourages the reader to allow the “light of her flame always to guide you to your highest purpose.”3 There is a short bio of each of the contributors at the end of the book that allows the reader to further connect with those whose writings resonated with them.
The book is divided into six parts, each dealing with a specific theme: “The Many Faces of Brigid”, “Goddess in Nature”, “Rituals Practices and Prayers”, “Goddess of Hearth and Home”, “Mothers and Daughters”, and “Circle of Life and Death”.
The poetry found in each section was inspiring and melodious, each an offering to Brigid. The words flowed like the water surrounding her. They write of “finding” Brigid whether she met them in Canada or on a shoreline at sunrise. One poem leaves offerings to Brigid in the form of tears. A couple poems speak to Brigid the shapeshifter – as Maiden, Mother, and Crone. One connects with her as a midwife.
The works resonated with me on so many levels, in their diversity, some personal and some more “educational,” but through all of the words and images, one cannot deny the honor and love dedicated to Brigid.
In the “Goddess in Nature” section, I especially liked the piece on Brighid as Water Goddess (spellings of her name vary), detailing the Irish folk practices dedicated to her at the site of sacred springs and wells that continue to this day. Clooties, or strips of fabric are dipped in these waters and hung nearby in a tree with the belief that through the process of magical healing the illness would transfer from the person to the cloth which would eventually disintegrate. The author, Annwyn Avalon also writes on how one can create their own sacred well to place on an altar to Brigid.
In the section “Rituals Practices and Prayers”, I was drawn to the “Honey and Beeswax Healing Spell” by Cairelle Crow. I look forward to doing the spell for myself and also for a few loved ones, with their consent, of course. “The Bed Blessing Before Sleep” by H. Byron Ballard (adapted from Carmichael) is a beautiful and soothing blessing that I have begun saying at bedtime.
I loved “Cooking for Brigid” by Dawn Autora Hunt, which is in the “Goddess of Hearth and Home” section. I related to her telling of first encountering Brigid as a saint, growing up in and Italian Catholic family. As Dawn found a “pagan path” she writes of her honoring Brigid at Imbolc, lighting candles and cooking hearty foods. I will try her accompanying recipe of Shepherd’s Pie when the Wheel turns to Imbolc in February.
In the “Mothers and Daughters” section, I particularly loved the story of the “Granddaughter of the Well” by Yeshe Matthews which recounted her serendipitous trip to Ireland when she was in graduate school. Her “knowingness” of how to arrive at places that she had never before visited brought her to Kildare, to Brigid’s well and the monastery.
The book concludes with a prayer “written over shared cups of tea and tales of ancestors, and is infused with our deep love of the goddess.”4 The editors, Cairelle Crow and Laura Louella, leave the reader with the hope that the concluding prayer and the words within the book, “bring you bright blessings.”5
I highly recommend Brigid’s Light, both as a way to get to know the multi-faceted Brigid and also for the many ways that you can invite her to walk life’s path with you. Blessed Be.
Anne Greco is a non-fiction writer who writes about her life experiences and travels with humor, keen observations, and the hope that her words will remind us that “we’re all just walking each other home.” Her book, Serendipity: Chance Pilgrimages, tells the story of Anne encountering her places of power. As she reconnects with herself at each site, Anne also develops a deeper understanding and appreciation of her connection to both the seen and unseen worlds. Learn more about her work here: http://annegrecowriter.com.