The new front doors make a fortress of our flat. It is cold and wet outside. The yippy dogs are yapping outside or downstairs. A woman is shouting. A woman is coughing. A woman is bleeding. I have woken with a mission today. I am going to tell my Irish cousins here in the heart of Scotland about the older ways of Ireland, before the English came.
But, what do I really know of Her, being ‘over here’ nearly thirty one years? All the women I ever spoke to on the islands knew who Bríd was. Not down here around Stirling. No woman speaks of Her and I wonder why. Were many many women murdered here as witches? How was Bríd taken out of the memories of the women living now? What can I tell my cousin about how we were as a race, before the English came? We had a goddess and we worshipped Her and when the English came we were murdered for speaking of Her. But there are women like me – thousands and thousands of us living all over Scotland and Ireland – who know and revere the energy and legend of Bridget. How do I convince my cousin it wasn’t the English took Her energy from us, it was Christianity.
In primary school we made Bridget’s crosses from rushes. She was my very first love. Four decades later and I am more in love with Brigid; the pre-Christian Goddess who represented all that Mother Eire could be.
Brigid was the child of Tuathe de Dannann. Tuatha De Dannan was born when a star fell from Sirius B. One child of that star was Danu. Brigid held the energy of the ways of the star peoples. She rode on the back of swans. She could turn into a swan. She was peace, mostly. She is also the dance of fire in a woman’s personal ceremony.
Tribes all over the world met at Standing Rock in Dakota a few years back. They spoke of their Original Instructions. Each Indigenous tribe had pre-Christian knowledge for the care of the land and the people from that land. Ireland is no different. Brigid was one representation of those vital, Original Instructions. Brigid existed to love the land, the animals and the people. Her energy lives in woman bleeding, coughing, shouting – knowing that we can create magic and food in a moment, protect our children like tigers, and heal all life’s ills with laughter.
How to make the symbol of Bríd:
Step One. Go outside. Find rushes. Clean them, place them on cloth. Pick them up, one at a time and play with them. Smooth and weave with the warmth of the tips of your fingers and your thumb.
Step Two. Bend and balance reed on reed. Great Grandmothers in Eire told tales of Brigid. She was a woman of old Ireland. Bend each reed, weave. Turn the cross a moon’s quarter. She danced in fire flames.
Step Three. Tie each bundle. She healed with herbs. Snip. This ancient symbol protects against disease and sickness.
Step Four. Hang your symbol above your door. Ask Bríd to protect you.
Step Five. Make another for your neighbour.
As a newly blossomed Mother I danced in and out of fires thinking the flame was my heart. Thinking Brigid of Danu was with me. Imagining her. Conjuring her up. I wasn’t alone. I know many many women who enjoy dancing by fires imagining they were the Goddess Danu or Brigid. We don’t need drugs or alcohol. We just lift a hide drum, feet and voices. This is the way of the women of old Ireland and Scotland, before the Christian laws came.
Pre-Christian times we had Nature Laws in Ireland. Our laws were spoken by poets.
My cousin here in the Hillfoots is of the same tribe as I. Long long ago we were Brehons of Eire. He doesn’t remember. I do. There’s a lineage of Light beings all over Scotland and Ireland. We are free in our heads and we grow glorious gardens. We are outspoken, empassioned.
From our paternal lineage we inherited magic, healing, knowledge, and control of the elements. From our maternal lineage we inherited seeing the future, care of animals, fire making and tending, protection spells and rituals. And the ability to create Life. Brigid’s mother was a goddess of war, her father was a Dagda from the family of Danu.
“Oh Brigit whose land I behold, on which each one in turn has moved about, thy fame has outshone the fame of the king — thou art over them all. Thou hast everlasting rule with the king apart from the land wherein is thy cemetery. Grand-child of Bresal son of Dian, sit thou safely enthroned, triumphant Brigit!”
Today I parked the car at Witches Craig. We walked past the wooden hag, carved with warts and all. She’s the mascot of this caravan park. She’s been created by a man who hates women, I think. The caravan park is just outside Stirling, in the shadow of the Wallace Monument. Quite near to Logie Kirk. I wanted reeds from a sacred place in order make the cross of Brigid.
The sun was beginning to set as we climbed the hill. My daughter strode to the precipice. I lifted my eyes from picking reeds. The first rocky peak is as high as the Wallace Monument. Red and gold rested on the sharp edges of the rocks – it looked like flames. She was covered in the last colours of the day. Here is the place women danced around fires together, before the men came. I can feel it. An energy like Callanish is buried there. Bríd has been worshipped, asked for, here.
I may have memory of a life there, once. I hear screams of women burning and dying. If I tune in just a little more, I could see more, but I don’t. I sensed the portals in the time loops. and I watched instead the man who followed us from the big house. I stayed low, in his sight. Someone had been before me; scored the greenest strongest reeds from the rain-trail. I examined the tufts. He watched me, my daughter, my dog. I kept my dog at my heels, in case he had a gun.
I can feel The Wolf of Badenoch and Strathspey. I know he had a castle here – Garth Castle. If women of his time came to this faery fort Craig to pray or dance, he would have discovered them. In and out of history stories went my imagination. The past dramas of this hill have left their energies lingering. It all needs cleaned, healed, cleared by witches more skilled than me at that sort of thing. Rosemary Innes from Findhorn should come here with her dowsing crystal. She could lay geometric discs in the darkest places, spell them for healing. Willow Witch could come here to suck the spirit souls from the stones; send them on to Light. I could grow flowers and herbs from the bottom to the top. Witches Graig is miles of old sorrow, I think, as my daughter descends. The man leans against a too-wet tree.
When we return to the caravan park, another man awaits us. His arms are firm on his hips. His shoulders are back. His chest is all puffed up. He looks like my father, ready with a row.
I have parked on his land.
I repeat, I am sorry Mister King, it will never happen again. I make myself smaller. I do not meet his eye. I do not show him my Goddess strength. I just teach my daughter to run from big rough men. I have my reeds to make protection crosses.
I sped away, as if swans carried the car.
My imagination gives me a future image. Women return to dance there, in ceremonial fires, for the Goddess and Saint, Brigid. The land was loved. Could be again.
‘Mum, why did you call him Mr. King?’
‘That was the name on the van in his driveway.’ I said. ‘I note the men who block strong woman-energy. I know their names.’
The Brigid energy is back in the women of the Highlands and Islands. Brigid energy grows across Ireland. We have invited her to return. She will help us remember the old ways before Christianity, when the care of the land and the people was the only important thing to do.