In honor of Beltaine, which arrives on May 1st, I decided to write a post about an important Celtic deity that is associated with spring.
Brigid is the most enduring of the Celtic goddesses. She has survived to this day as St. Brigid. She is part of the Irish gods and goddesses called Tuatha de Danaan who were originally a sea-faring race called Pelasgians that lived near the Aegean Sea. Considered a magical race, the Danaans possessed the knowledge of blacksmithing. According to the Book of Invasions, the Tuatha de Danaans were driven northward from Greece as a result of invasion from Syria, and eventually reached Ireland.
This popular goddess is also worshipped in Scotland (Bride), Britain (Brigantia) and Gaul (Brigandu) where a celebration in her honor takes place on February 1st on Imbolc when the first signs of spring appear, usually when the ewe’s become pregnant. Brigid is a giver of plenty, and is loved and respected by ordinary people. Brigid also is a deity of learning, culture and skills, which equal the Greek Athena. Brigid is the daughter of the Dagda in some tales. A triple goddes, she is the goddess of poetry, inspiration and divination.
Brigid may once have been Brizo of Delos, a moon goddess, whose name is derived by the Greeks from the word, “brizein” meaning ‘to enchant.’ But as Brigid she is seen as a sun goddess, her name “Breosaighit” means ‘fiery arrow.’ It is not known how this change transpired. Maybe as a moon goddess, she was seen as a death aspect, and feared by humans so she was transformed into a sun goddess, a giver of life, to win the love of the humans. She may have been a goddess of metalworking as well. It is thought that she has a face that is beautiful on one side and ugly on the other.
Brigit has appeared in some form in a couple of my novels. In Beltaine’s Song, she is part of an ancient Celtic legend that revolves around the festivals of Beltaine and Samhain. Brigit represents the lighter half of the year, Beltaine. She awakes at Beltaine and sleeps during the darker half of the year, which starts on Samhain.
Kelley Heckart, Historical fantasy romance author
All three books of my Dark Goddess trilogy are available in Print and Ebook. Set in Dark Age Scotland, I mixed history with a Samhain/Beltaine myth that revolves around an Irish clan and the goddesses Brigit and Cailleach.