Review: ‘Brigid: Meeting the Goddess of Poetry, Forge and Healing Well’ by Morgan Daimler

Brigid by Morgan DaimlerBrigid: Meeting the Goddess of Poetry, Forge and Healing Well is an introduction to the multi-faceted Celtic goddess, Brigid, by Irish Polytheist Morgan Daimler. In this book, Morgan traces the threads of the ‘enormous, brightly coloured tapestry’ that gives form to Brigid in the twenty-first century to their original sources.

Morgan centres on the well-known Irish depiction of Brigid as three sisters in the 14th C Sanas Cormac: ‘Brigid of the Poets, Brigid of the Forge, Brigid the Healer’. She introduces Brigid’s earliest representations as the daughter of the Dagda and member of the Tuatha dé Danann in The Caith Maige Tuired and Lebor Gabala Erenn. Lesser know Brigids from the Ulster Cycle: Brigid the Hospitaller, Brigid of the Judgements and Brigid the Cowless are also introduced.

A chapter focuses on Brigid by other names: the Gaulish Brigandu, British Brigantia, Scottish Bride, Welsh Ffraid and Saint Brigid. Morgan traces a trajectory from her earliest worship in Gaul and Britain through her introduction to Ireland by northern British settlers in the 1st C to her arrival in Wales with Irish settlers in the 7th C.

Brigid’s Irish myths are covered along with variants of the Scottish seasonal story of Bride’s imprisonment by the winter goddess, the Cailleach, and rescue by her lover, Angus. A wealth of folkloric material is presented including the Imbolc rhyme ‘the serpent comes out of the mound’, the background of Brigid’s crosses, Bride dolls (brideog ‘little Brigid’) and the braht Bride (Brigid’s mantle or cloak).

My favourite part was the menagerie of creatures associated with Brigid; two famous kings of oxen, a king of boars, a king of rams, an oystercatcher, linnet, dandelion and Ffraid’s smelt. Morgan also shares traditional and modern prayers, chants and charms including her own translations and magical workings.

Each chapter ends with a section on Morgan’s relationship with Brigid. Three of these voice minor miracles. The first is remarkably evocative. Morgan speaks of going to a public chant circle led by pagan folk singer Kellianna. A small candle was lit in the centre of the room but before they called to Brigid it went out. In spite of this everyone held hands and sang a chorus for Brigid. The room was filled with warmth and Morgan felt Brigid’s presence. When she looked down, the candle flickered into life then settled into a steady burn and did not go out until the end of their songs. When I read this, I felt like I was in the room with Morgan experiencing her awe.

I’ve known Brigantia as the goddess of the Pennines for several years. I’ve learnt a little about Brigid from books and websites but have never seen her mythos brought together with such lucidity and coherence. I’ve also learnt new things to follow up such as the associations between Brigid the Cowless and the fian.

I would highly recommend Brigid: Meeting the Goddess of Poetry, Forge and Healing to anyone starting to seek Brigid on the grounds of its clarity, depth of research and provision of an excellent bibliography. I’d also endorse it to people with some knowledge of Brigid and longstanding devotees because it’s packed with fascinating information and shares touching personal testimonies to Brigid’s presence in the modern world.

Brigid: Meeting the Goddess of Poetry, Forge and Healing will be released on the 25th of March and is available to pre-order HERE

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