As Lady Farmers, we want to pay homage to our predecessors, the women figures from history, myth and legend who embodied a powerful connection to the earth. As archetypes, these personifications of the feminine are capable and independent, deeply nurturing, infinitely creative and fierce champions of nature and her cycles.
So it is with Brigit (also spelled Brigid or Bridget). It is said she was born on February 1st, the Celtic Festival of Imbolc celebrating the cross-quarter day between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Legend has it that her birth took place over a threshold. Fittingly, she became the patroness of transitions, literally from winter to spring, and symbolically in many aspects of nature, life and the human experience. She presides over the birth of the new lambs and calves (the word Imbolc means “first milk”) and represents fire and light as the sun makes its return. She is seen as the protector of the home and keeper of the fire. She tends the hearth, preserving the eternal flame. She is patroness of healing, cooking, the arts (particularly poetry and weaving), animal husbandry, midwifery–and beer making! She is thoroughly and completely a woman’s goddess, and given the wealth of evidence we feel confident in claiming her as patroness of Lady Farmer.
I am inspired by Brigit in so many ways here on our small patch of earth, as folklore tells us she presides over almost every one of our daily tasks. I think of her on these cold mornings as I get the kitchen fire going and go out to tend the animals. She inspires me in my cooking and gardening, my exploration of culinary and medicinal herbs and fermented foods, as a weaver of ideas and words in my writing and as a weaver of earth friendly materials into healthy and sustainable garments for Lady Farmer. In keeping with an ancient Celtic custom, on January 31st, the eve of her feast day, I will place a square of cloth representing Brigit’s mantle outside my door to catch the morning dew of Imbolc. Thus the cloth becomes a token of her blessings and protection on our household throughout the next year.
For more of the folklore and stories of St. Brigid, tune in to Episode #27 of The Good Dirt Podcast, with spiritual director Kathy Spaar who guides us into a deeper connection with this legendary figure.
Here is a prayer to St. Brigit, a women’s Goddess and Saint. When in chaos and darkness, may we take comfort in the return of the light, the promise of spring!
Saint Brigid Hearth Keeper Prayer
Brigid of the Mantle, encompass us,
Lady of the Lambs, protect us,
Keeper of the Hearth, kindle us.
Beneath your mantle, gather us,
And restore us to memory.
Mothers of our mother, Foremothers strong.
Guide our hands in yours,
Remind us how to kindle the hearth.
To keep it bright, to preserve the flame.
Your hands upon ours, Our hands within yours,
To kindle the light, Both day and night.
The Mantle of Brigid about us,
The Memory of Brigid within us,
The Protection of Brigid keeping us
From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness.
This day and night,
From dawn till dark, From dark till dawn.
(prayer Courtesy of SaintBrigids.org)