Saint or Goddess? Brigid's Day, February 1


February 1997
Issue 92

The nature of Brigid is so fluid and multilayered that she defies neat definition. Mary Cardren perhaps puts it best when she gives her summary of Brigid's many different guises: "A Triple Goddess, A Virgin Mother, a homemaker, a Virgin Saint and finally, a folk image whose shadows still moves over Ireland" 

Brigid is much, much more than a slightly rebellious Catholic saint; she is a trickster figure who turns up throughout history and prehistory, instantly devising strategies to subvert the patriarchs. She is sister of Juno and Isis, patroness of poets; a bilingual figure of no fixed place and hovers on the threshold, neither within nor without the house. She is Sheela-na-gig, serpent, cow and vulture.

She transcends history: we do not know if there was a historical Brigid, nor should we care.

Her potential is potent as an elemental force in feminism, as one who stands outside patriarchal structures.

Therefore, when she hails the coming of the spring in Imbolc, her feast day on February 1st, Irish women can celebrate another regeneration in the cycle of the seasons.

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