Brigit: The Exalted One

I wanted to write about Brigit because she is the patron goddess of the tribe I belong too.  She is one of the famous goddesses of the Tuatha De Danánn, and there is so much information (and misinformation) out there about her.

Let us look at the etymology of the name and its possible meaning.  The name Brigit is Old Irish and came to be spelled Brighid by the modern Irish period. Since the spelling reform of 1948, this has been spelled Bríd. The earlier form gave rise to the Anglicization Bridget, now commonly seen as Brigid.  The name Brigit probably derives from the older *Briganti* which might have meant Sublime One or Exalted One.

The some of the sources for most of what we know about Brigit come from Cormac’s Glossary, the Lebor Gabála Érenn, Cath Maige Tuired, Imcallam in da Thurad as well as some inscriptions of what is thought to be variations of her worshiped in Britain and on the continent.

Brigit’s divine responsibilities are in the areas of poetry, prophecy, smithing, medicine arts and crafts, cattle and other livestock.  In Roman Britain she was the equivalent of the Roman goddess Minerva and the Greek Athena. She is sometimes thought of as the patron goddess of the filid.  According to Cormac’s Glossary, Brigit was a set of triplets, each one having the same name: a goddess of poetry, a goddess of smithing and a goddess of healing respectively.  Her favored time of year is said to be spring, and her feast day is Imbolc celebrated around February 1.  And her special region is said to be in Leinster, in the southeast corner of Ireland.

She seems to be a pan-Celtic goddess.  She is known as Bríghde or Bríde in Scotland, as Fraid in Wales, Brigan or Brigandu in Gaul, Brigantia or Brigantis in Great Britain, and Brigindo in Switzerland.  She is associated with rivers and streams and gives her name to the Brent in England, the Braint in Wales, and the Brighid in Ireland.  She is also thought (by some scant evidence) to be a Sovereignty goddess through her marriage to Bres as well as her name being part of the name for King in Welsh, and a goddess of agriculture though her association with lactating ewes and cattle.  She is also linked to fire cults.

Brigit is the daughter of the Dagda though we are not quite sure who her mother is though she is said to be a poet, her brothers are Cermait, Aengus, Midir, and bodb Derg.  She was married to Bres of the Fomoire and their son Ruadán who died while trying to kill the divine smith Goibniu.  Brigit’s lament of her some is said to be the first keening heard in Ireland.

If we really look at what we have of Brigit we can see that we have some information and a lot of speculation especially when the lines between the Goddess Brigit and the Saint Brigit becomes blurred.

Works Cited:

Koch, John T.  Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia.  ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, California.  2006.  Pp. 287-289

Monaghan, Patricia.  The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore.  Facts On File, Inc, New York.  2004 pp59-60

“Brigit” Mary Jones.  Jones’ Celtic Encyclopedia 2004, Access : July 16, 2010

“Brigantia” Mary Jones.  Jones’ Celtic Encyclopedia 2004, Access : July 16, 2010