Breath of Life: The Triple Flame of Brigid
In Gaol Naofa, our Gaelic Polytheist community, we recognize and honour multiple manifestations of the Flame of Brigid. Based in the Old Irish lore, in the wisdom found in the living Gaelic traditions, (i.e., the folkloric customs, songs, tales and beliefs found in the areas where Gaelic, Irish and Manx are still spoken, and where these traditions have been handed down most faithfully) and what we have found in our own experiences, we see her sacred flame as threefold, and illustrated as either three flames rising from a cauldron, or as three concentric circles:
1. The sacred, cloistered flame which is tended by women only.
2. The hearth flame, which is tended by the bean a tighe ('mistress of the house') or fear an tighe ('man of the house') who kindles the household flame and repeats prayers and blessings over it for the protection and well-being of their family, as well as petitioning Brigid on behalf of the family.
3. The community, festival flame which is lit by whichever individual or group is appropriate for that particular ceremony or gathering.
Each flame of Brigid is also a center in and of itself: The festival flame is the center of a ceremony, the hearth flame the center of a household and family, and the cloistered flame the center of a shrine and community. Fire's ability to create, destroy, transform and inspire has always fascinated the Gaels and we perceive it to be something divine and otherworldly. In reconstructed, Gaelic Polytheistic cosmology, fire is perceived to be the center of land, sea and sky: a source of inspiration (imbas), a place where we commune with one another, and where we speak, and listen, to the deities, ancestors, and spirits of nature.
Brigit búadach, Lethan breo. Brigit búadach, Bethad beo.