When the working title of Bridging the Gap was mooted and agreed between EAST members for our next exhibition, it was also discussed in terms of having a link to a female theme or inspiration source.
Thinking of gaps to be bridged, my first thoughts were of the need for real connection in a world where I feel that’s fast being lost. My mind, in this kind of context, inevitably turns to Nature, and I’d also been thinking and reading about the sacred feminine, and then from this, a couple of lines from the Luka Bloom song The Shape of Love to Come sprang to mind: “…once again I hear the sacred arrow Brigid gave us from her cell of oak …” If you’d like to listen, here’s the link:
This has long been one of my favourite songs and I’ve always meant to find out more about the Brigid that he mentions, so I’ve started on a journey of researching to find out more about her.
What follows in the next couple of paragraphs is a very brief summary of material I’ve so far found which happens to be from various websites with a mix of historical and mythological focus. I have more research to do and have yet to find anything of quantity written about the ‘cell of oak’ mentioned in the song, which is an aspect that I’d most like to follow up on.
It has been written that Brigid was a pagan deity widely worshipped in the Celtic world, and she was so well-loved that she became one of the few pagan figures to be retained when Christianity took hold as the religion of the land. Most commonly named as the goddess of spring and new life, she represented light, life and a new beginning, through being the deity of fair weather, fertility and the dawn.
There is a belief among historians that St. Brigid of Kildare was a historical figure named after the area’s most significant female deity, and it seems to have evolved that many of her attributes have been ascribed to the human, Christian Saint Brigid, said to have lived in the 5th century.
The early monks, in their mission to embed Christianity as the new religion, embraced the already established and venerated Brigid, who was so influential over many aspects of Irish life that it was difficult to erase her from folk belief. And so it was that Brigid became Saint Brigid, the first and only female patron saint of Ireland, with a rewritten story for the Christian world.
The Irish government have recently decided that the country is to have, from 2023, a new public holiday in Brigid’s honour – the date is Saint Brigid’s feast day, February 1, which also marks Imbolc, and has been adopted from the pagan calendar or ‘wheel of the year’. This, to me, seems like a good place to start in bridging the gap, a place where we can focus on connection, light, life and a new beginning.