Brighid of the Augery
Imbolc is coming and many Wiccans honour the Goddess Brighid on this Sacred Day. Brighid is a central figure in the Celtic mythos and one of the world’s most beloved Goddesses. She crosses cultures and faiths from Christianity to Paganism. In Catholicism she is still prayed to as St. Brigit of Kildare (b.451-d.523), although she was one of the “Saints” removed from the Catholic calendar in the 1960s. In the 8th century Cormac mac Cuilennain, the king-bishop of Munster in Ireland compiled the first linguistic dictionary on any non-classical languages of Europe on Irish words. This is part of his entry on Brighid.(1)
Brighid—a poetess, daughter of the Dagda. She is the female sage, woman of wisdom, or Brighid the Goddess whom poets venerated and thus called ‘Goddess of Poets’. Her sisters were Brighid the female physician and Brighid the female smith. Among all Irishmen, a goddess was called ‘Brighid’. Her name comes from breo-aigit or ‘fiery arrow’.
Cormac is recording the information of Brighid of the Tuatha de Danann who was venerated throughout the Celtic world. She was called Brigantia in Britain, St. Brigit of Kildare, St. Ffraid in Wales and St. Bride in Scotland. According to John and Caitlin Matthews (2) Cormac’s etymology of Brighid’s name is incorrect however and they say that the name Brighid comes from the Sanskrit word brahti meaning ‘high one’. There are so many stories about Brighid it almost seems as if she is an immortal travelling through time!
The divination method or augery known as the frith is attributed to her and the way it comes about is very strange! In this myth about Brighid, that many Pagans are unaware of, she is attributed as being the midwife that helped at the birth of Christ. In this story she becomes the companion of the Virgin Mary and when boy Jesus was missing for three days she uses the frith to find him in the temple.
The augury which Brigit made for her Foster-Son
She made a pipe of her palms:
‘I see the Foster-Son by the side of the well,
Teaching the people without doubt.’
The frith was used by many Irish seers, called also frithirs by curling their hands into a ‘seeing tube’ and using Shamanic vision to find lost people or animals or to see the health of people by distance. Sometimes the frithir also carried a divinatory stone called a ‘little stone of the quests’ made of red quartz. The usual method used by the frithir was to fast on the first Monday of the quarter at sunrise, with bare hands and feet to divine what events would come for that quarter. He or she would say special prayers to Mary and Brigit and walk clockwise around the hearth three times. Then with his eyes covered would walk to the threshold of the house and uncover his eyes, make a tube of his hands and look through them noting carefully what he saw. The things he saw would be the omens of the frith and would be interpreted for meaning much like dream symbols are.
Some common symbols from the frith are:
-a man or beast rising up is lucky and means improving health
-a man or beast lying down means ill health or death
-approaching birds mean news is coming
-a raven indicates death
Imbolc is considered to be the first quarter-day of the pagan Irish year, which marked the beginning of spring. So the frith would be performed this year on the first Monday after Imbolc which would be Monday February 3rd.
A modern version would be to wake up just before sunrise and without eating or drinking, with your feet bare, walk clockwise around your kitchen 3 times chanting Brighid’s name and asking her for guidance. Then go to the front door of your house (or window to outside if you live in an apartment), close your eyes, open the door (or window) and place both hands on either side of the door. Take some deep breaths and firmly state your intention. Now make a circle with your thumb and index finger to look through or alternatively a ‘tube’ with both hands curled up one behind the other as if making a telescope with your hands. Now place the ‘tube’ over your left eye and scan outside from left to right taking note of all you see. Especially take note of the movement of what is outside, is it towards you, away from you, from left to right, north to south etc. After you have looked at everything come back inside and write it all down. If you are unable to decide what these symbols mean, dream interpretation books can be of help to you.
Brighid is the Goddess of inspiration so you may be surprised by the clarity and understanding that you have of these symbols! I wish all the readers Happy Imbolc and the blessings of Brighid to you!
May Brighid’s flame strengthen you
May Brighid’s shield protect you
May Brighid’s mantle enfold you to keep you warm!
1.Cormac’s Glossary on Line: https://ia600306.us.archive.org/10/items/threeirishglossa00cormuoft/threeirishglossa00cormuoft
2. John and Caitlin Matthews, The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom, Element Books Ltd., 1994.