112: Brigit as Triple Goddess, especially the Yellow-Green Enchantress
I am indebted to Dr. James MacKillop’s masterful Oxford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, 1998, Oxford University Press, for most of the mythological minutia herein.)
The Old Irish goddess Brigit is patroness of so many areas — fire, smithing, cattle, fertility, poetry, crops — that we may be justified in considering her a form of Triple Goddess, as Cormac hinted in his tenth-century Glossary. We examine here some arguments for seeing Brigit as a conflation ofthe Rorian tradition’s Demiurges of the three Earth Signs: Blue-Violet Mason (Saturn in Taurus-Equinox Capricorn), Red-Orange Diviner or Abbess (Proserpina in T-E Taurus), and especially the Yellow-Green Enchantress (Isis in T-E Virgo). All three of these earthyArchetypes are both mothers and daughters of their opposite water Archetypes; this may explain Brigit’s long-held associations with wells and waters.
Brigit as the Blue-Violet Mason: As patroness of fire and smithing, Brigit mightwell have originally been lady of the similarly-earthy but older arts of masonry, pottery and stone-cutting. Cooking pots were fired in clay long before they were cast in bronze; before tools and weapons were crafted in metal, they were carved or chipped from stone. As a stonemason Brigit would be equated with the Celtic deity called the Cailleach, the blue-faced Hag of Winter, who gathers up and deposits the giant boulders of the countryside, and thus would have been the builder of thecromlechs and menhirs. In the Rorian tradition the Cailleach is identical to the Indigo Mason, whose trees are the blackthorn and elder, whose animal is the goat, and whose bird is the raven or the crow. Governing Saturn in T-E Capricorn, this form of the Triple Goddess is the Crone, goddess of wisdom, trickery, anddeath. In her marvelous Pagan Celtic Britain (1996, Academy Chicago Publishers, p. 278), Anne Ross mentions an unidentified squatting deity thought to be the patroness of potters, and beaked like the Irish raven- or crow-goddesses; this would appear to be a form of the Cailleach or Brigit-as-Crone. The Cailleach is also the term for the last sheaf of the harvest, which is saved until spring. This may relate to the straw figure of Brigit placed in “Brigit’s Bed” on her Feast Day of February 1; see below, Brigit as the Yellow-Green Enchantress.
Brigit as the Red-Orange Diviner or Abbess: As patroness of cattle and fertility, Brigit is clearly equated with Tara-Anna-Eithne, the Rorian tradition’s Abbess, Diviner, and healer of the springtime, whose trees are willow and furze, whose animal isthe cow or bull, and whosebird is the crane. Governing Persephone in T-E Taurus, this form of the Goddess is according to some the Mother (springtime is fertile, and her divine centers are the heart, hands, and breasts), or to others the Maiden, as in the springtime is not yet a mother; in the Rorian calendar she does not give birth until September, when she has the Red Hunter and the Turquoise Fowler. Like the Red-Orange Abbess, “Saint” Brigit is the mother of Ruadan (“the Red”), apparently a form of the Red Hunter. Brigit is often compared to Minerva, who in her Greek form of Athena would appear to be cognate with Eithne, wife of Nuada (the Green Priest) and thus the Red-Orange Abbess. In her form ofBrigantia, she is equated with victory and Minerva, and even wears the mural crown, asAnne Ross points out in her Pagan Celtic Britain (1996, Academy ChicagoPublishers, p. 279). The mural crown is identical to the Rorian tradition’s Tower Crown, worn only by the Red-Orange Abbess at her coronation in Taurus.
Brigit as the Yellow-Green Enchantress: As patroness of poetry and crops,Brigit is most clearly equated with Freya as the Rorian tradition’s Singer, Enchantress, and harvest-queen of Lammas and August, whose trees are hazel and apple, whose animalis the deer, and whose bird is the swan. The governor of Isis in T-E Virgo, this form of the Goddess is a Virgin and patroness of virgins, but is also the Mother, who in the Rorian calendar has just given birth at Lammas to the Blue Planter and the Violet-Red Forester. Brigit is thus an early form of the Virgin-Mother archetypelater used by the Christians for Mary; “Saint” Brigit was revered by Celts as the midwife ofMary. Further, the Feast Day of St. Brigid is February 1; in the Rorian Calendar this is the time of Early Imbolc (ca. January 29-31), when the Yellow-Green Enchantress is reborn. In Celtic tradition this is when “Brigit’s Bed” is made of (hazelwood?) basketry and a small figure of straw placed in it. (We can further add that February 14,the Christian “Valentine’s Day,” is the Rorian calendar’s Late Imbolc, the Feast of the Epiphany of Brigit-Freya, when the Yellow-Green Enchanter becomes a woman.) Despite her many roles, Brigit is best known as patron goddess of poets and virgins,and her primary Demiurgic Archetype must thus be the Yellow-Green Enchantress.