We now take a look at our Lady 'Brighid bhoidheach', Bride the beautiful. Brighid, or Bride, is the tutelary goddess of the Gaelic peoples of the Western Isles, where she is still well loved and worshipped under the guise of the Christian Saint Bride. Indeed, the Hebridean Isles themselves take their very name from this ancient deity.
On her festival day, am Fheille Bride, on the first of February, she gives to us the promise of Spring, the promise of new life returning to the Earth. Hence she is often known as 'Brighid of the Green Mantle'. This goddess of hearth and flame so beloved of the Gaels is known by many different names, for her Mysteries are many.
She is the 'Lady of the Shores', for the shore is one of those magical in-between places that so fascinated the Celts. These in-between places such as shorelines, fords, doorways and so on, were neither one state nor the other. The shore is neither dry land, nor is it the sea, yet it is the meeting place of both. If we consider that the land represents our solid, material world, while the sea represents the Great Cosmic womb of all life, the intuitive side of our nature, we can see that the shore is a meeting place between one world and another.
Brighid is also known as the 'Two-Faced One'. In the legends she is described as having one side of her face black and ugly, and the other white and beautiful. The Mystery of Bride is to be found in the annual transformation of the cailleach, the hag of winter, into the fair maiden of Spring.
Brighid is the goddess of all arts and crafts, and as such she is the feminine principle of the Ildanach, the counterpart of Lugh Lamhfada. She represents the potential of all women for she is the eternal flame that burns in the heart and hearth of every woman of the Gael, 'moon-crowned Brighid of the undying flame'. This principle of the undying flame continued even after the coming of Christianity into Ireland. At the fifth century sanctuary of St. Bride of Kildare, the sacred fire within was attended by her devoted maidens and was never allowed to go out.
The name of this goddess originates from the Gaelic words Breo-Saighit, which means Fiery Arrow. The arrows of Brighid have many attributes. As goddess of bards, smiths and physicians she is the flame of poetical inspiration and of healing, and the fire of the divine forge.
Finally, as the Good Shepherdess who watches over her flock, Brighid presides over the cradle of the new born infant. It is a common practise for the women of the Isles to hang rowan crosses over their cradles whilst reciting a charm or prayer to Brighid to invoke her protection.
Yes, Brighid is still loved and revered by the Gaelic peoples of Scotland and Ireland. Long may it continue.