Sunday, February 11, 2007

Brighid's Day

In Celtic tradition, the spirit of a sacred candle flame resides in the wick of the candle and not in the flame itself.

A sacred flame such as the one that is tended by the Irish Brigidine nuns of Kildare can be passed onto others because of this.

And on the eve of this past Brighid's Day (February 2) I was honoured to be part of a small gathering of women who received the gift of Brigid's Flame in a beautiful ceremony (candle-lit, of course)created by a good friend who recently visited the cathedral and shrine at Kildare and had the flame gifted to her by the sisters there.

My friend, not a Catholic at all, but a devout pagan, was thrilled by her experiences in Kildare. Brighid is one of those beloved saints/goddesses with tangled crossover links to pagan mythology, and my friend had also experienced a physical healing at one of Brighid's sacred wells on this trip--and any time you're able to avoid extensive dental surgery you are bound to be spiritually moved as well in my opinion!)

This is part of what she wrote in her invitation for us to come and share the flame:

Brighid's Holy Day will be celebrated this year in Kildare, Ireland, by devotees of both the Goddess Brighid and Saint Brighid from around the world.

For many She is one and the same, and a bridge between the worlds.

The year 2oo7 marks the centenary of the re-establishment of an order of Brigidine Sisters in Kildare. It was started in 1807 by Catholic Bishop Delaney, who in commemoration planted an oak tree which still stands today in Cill Dara(Church of the Oak). On Feb. 1st, 2006, the President of Ireland lit Brighid's Sacred Flame in the town square where it will continue to burn in perpetuity.

Last year I was blessed to have Brighid's flame passed on to me twice in Ireland. First of all by Mary, pictured below with her holy candle, and then by the Sisters of the Brigidine order who were responsible for rekindling Brighid's flame at a Peace Conference in 1993, re-invigorating this ancient link to pre-Christian Ireland that had been forced underground after the perpetual flame was extinguished by a Pope in the 1600's.

It is speculated that the flame may have originated up to 1000 years earlier, with the Goddess inspired Druidic priestesses that long preceeded the advent of Saint Brighid's egalitarian monastic order in the 5th century AD.

Well, after an evening full of singing, story-telling, poetry, chocolate cake and Irish lore, I am very happy my friend decided to create such a meaningful way to share a personal experience.

And I now have a beeswax candle with mystical links to ancient Ireland and a Brighid's cross hand-woven from reeds on my kitchen wall.


Tai said...

What a lovely post...happy Brighid's Day (slightly belated!)

BostonPobble said...

What an amazing experience. *happy sigh* Thank you for sharing.

Ms.L said...

Ooh Spider Girl,this is so beautiful and wonderful!
Thank you so much for sharing.

Steven Novak said...

Fantastic post.

Thanks for sharing this.


[eric] said...

Cool. ^_^

Happy Brighid's Day (+10)!

keeper of the flame said...

Spider Girl, thanks for sharing the story of our Brighid's celebration on your wonderful blog! Anyone interested is welcome to visit for more photos and information.

One little detail though...I think that both the flame of Brighid's candle AND the wick are most sacred! The spirit of the flame is retained in the wick after the flame is extinguished, but I liken this to the rebirth and renewal we know will spring forth from the pregnant maiden Goddess who 'contains' the spark of life during the dark months of winter! All aspects of the life cycle of the flame are equally our the passages of our own least that's how I choose to understand it!