Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blessed Brigid to you!

A happy and blessed Brigid to you!

Brigid is the Goddess of smithcraft, healing, and poetry. How is She moving in your life today? 

If this is Imbolc, Candlemas, or Brigid, to you, what does the holiday mean to you?


RantWoman said...

TOTALLY naive question:

Smithcraft? Being almost completely unschooled in matters Goddess, I might naively assume that something technological like smithcraft would be overseen by a male form. How is it that Brigid became the goddess of smithcraft?

Is she the muse of such, the female inspiration smiths need to work?

Is it the ever-popular role of women as transmitters of culture?

Is it something else entirely?

Whither the smithcraft stuff?

staśa said...

Hi, RantWoman!

Well, let me start from the other end: to you -- in your mind -- why would something technological like smithcraft be overseen by a male form? What about technology in general, or smithcraft in particular, strikes you as "male"? Or, what about a male form/male Deity strikes you as technological?

RantWoman said...

Ahhhh, excellent question.

Uhhh, I meant it about asking out of vast ignorance.

On second thought, the juxtaposition of smithcraft and healing also strikes me as interesting, curiosity-inducing.

But as to your question, I have no immediate citations in mind but I have spent a good bit of my life meditating about for instance the different ways men and women relate to technology, science, math and how in many cases they communicate about same. I say in many cases because I am aware of all kinds of assumptions people make about what is or is not traditionally a male or female pursuit.

But maybe could we just stick to the historical origins question for starters?

staśa said...

But... why would it be about history?

I'm not a historian; I'm a thealogian. I'll happily ask my F/friend Hystery Witch (http://hystery.blogspot.com/) if she has any Light to shed. Same with other Pagans who study more history than I do.

But I have a caution: this isn't about "proving" what's "right" historically (or herstorically). Theaology is as much about mythopoetical truth as it is about historical "truth."

What's more, there are problems with historical information about ancient Goddesses. Adequate physical material is very, very difficult to get, it's incredibly controversial, and the interpretation of physical evidence is subject to astonishing cultural gender biases.

Any information anyone gives you about historical origins of Brigid's worship will be mythopoetic as well.

I know you were asking out of ignorance -- you were very upfront about that, which I truly appreciate. And I was asking you to examine your assumptions, the inside of your own skull, how you think about about Deities and how you think about technology, rather than/in addition to having someone tell you about history/feed you their version of information. It's not like someone can hand you the right answers with this, in the same way someone can hand you the year Margaret Fell was born, or married George Fox. :)

To you, why would a technology or smiths' Deity be male? Or, why is it surprising that a Goddess of smithcraft would be female?

Hystery said...

Women have always worked. They have also engaged in the crafts/arts and industry since those endeavors were first undertaken by human beings. Pottery making and weaving were, not unsurprisingly, were women's work from the get-go. Throughout the Middle-Ages, women were primarily engaged in cloth-making, but they also engaged in work as furriers, bakers, saddlers, tailors, barbers, coopers, harnessmakers, glovermakers, armorers, hatmakers, brewsters, and goldsmiths. Many women worked alongside husbands although there were many who operated businesses independently of male relatives. (Gies,1978 pp.175, 177)

That said, women did not typically engage in smithcraft either in the medieval period or in the time periods preceding it. I suspect that Brigid's association with smithcrafting has more to do with older (Neolithic) associations with the Goddess and fire and tranformation than with the actual technologies of metal working which would have developed after the historical period in which women among Celts had become devalued. We see many Bronze and Iron Age goddesses who preside over activities dominated by men. Often, what we find is that the form of the Goddess familiar to us from the literature and mythology of the Bronze and Iron Ages must be deconstructed to rid it of its patriarchal overlay.

bnewman said...

Trembling, you step up to the goddess and ask, "Excuse me, but wasn't smithcraft historically men's work?"

The goddess turns to you, smiling as warmly and tenderly as any mother's loving-kindness, and hefting a really big hammer.

You say, "Right, never mind." Then she puts down her hammer, sweeps you up into her arms, and gives you a big hug. She smells like fire, and iron, and warm milk, and home. You fall asleep and dream the dream that you need to dream.

When you wake up, she sets you on the floor again, picks up a (smaller) hammer, hands it to you, and says "Right, back to work! Like this..."

Any more questions?

RantWoman said...

To BNewman, LLLLOL

Actually, I brewed up some tapioca pudding sweetened with Choloate Ibarra and went off in a different direction:


staśa said...

Here is the comment I posted to RantWoman's blog:

"RantWoman got back, basically, invitations to go read Wikipedia her own dang self--along with exhortations not to believe everything she reads, particularly since it's all meant to be mythopoetic in the first place. Okay, careful what you ask for."

Rather than give you the answer to the question you asked, I challenged your assumptions. My questions asked you to think for yourself -- none of which you answered, at least not yet.

I can see you didn't like that.

First off, as I said, I'm a thealogian, not a historian. I told you right off that I couldn't answer your historical questions.

Secondly, my ministry is about nurturing people's spiritual experience. It's not about answering non-Pagans' intellectual questions about Those Pagan (Other) People.

So there are two reasons right there that your questions were not in my area of expertise.

Still, I brought in other people, including a historian -- who didn't refer you to Wikipedia, but gave you actual historical references. But you didn't like her answer.

Third, it was Brigid. Did it not occur to you that I might... be busy?

Fourth, my hands are full hosting Brigid in Her guise as Healer. I'm recovering from oral surgery, Beloved Wife is recovering from the 'flu and is flat with bronchitis, and I have a terrible cold and might have the 'flu. But I should drop everything and look up historical references for you in an area outside my area of expertise? Not.

Pagan theaology cannot always be explained in Judeo-Christian terms or assumptions. I, and then the friends who responded when I asked for help in answering your questions, tried to help you see that, but you weren't able to see beyond that world-view. Essentially, you wanted Brigid explained in patriarchal historical terms. And you're upset that it didn't work.

This article might help:

RantWoman said...

Friend Stasa,

How about you and Beloved Wife consider yourselves held in the Light, on health as well I expect as weather grounds! If I lived closer I would happily offer to bring over a steaming pot of something.

Thank you for the historical reference.

You are correct. I have not interacted--yet--with your question about my assumptions. Or I have not interacted very deeply. Your comments about thealogy and history as well Hystery's comments about fire and transformation have been filed in my "some more historical info would be helpful" box. The box is perpetually overfull and I expect I will sort its contents as I encounter more information.

In the meantime. I returned to your original question How is Brigid moving in your life today? I really couldn't even answer that question without more information and the RantWoman Metaphor Manglement service had a moderately enjoyable romp even if the results are sort of unsettling. But if there is something in that we need to unpack, let's wait a few days and see if new Light surfaces on its own.

Hystery said...

The fire and transformation bit from my last comment, btw, are vague references to archaeomythology and feminist archetypal theory. I probably should have mentioned that I was doing a trans-discipline thing there. ;-)

Su said...

I'm not a pagan, but I like this day. We always make a big deal out of the solstices and equinoxes but the cross-quarter days always feel to me like the world is balanced on a pin as we move away from one season and toward another. Like it's a pause and a breath. Or like it's the day you could hold out your hands and take winter in one and spring in the other.

I also remember being really amused as a young person that even Groundhog Day had a pagan holiday underneath it.

Morgan said...


Every so often I try to think of Punxsutawney Phil as a God/manifestation of the God... I confess it challenges me, though. :)