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Highest Illuminati Defector:”Rothschilds Rule with Druid Witches”

October 30, 2007

By Henry Makow Ph.D.

Halloween is an appropriate time to learn that a “Grand Druid Council” of 13 “Witches” control the Illuminati, and meets eight times annually on the “Witches’ Sabbaths” (incl. Halloween) when millions of occult practitioners engage in orgies, which sometimes involve human sacrifice.

My source is the highest Illuminati defector in history, a Witch High Priest, a member of the Council of Thirteen, and part of the Collins Illuminati bloodline that brought Witchcraft to the US in the 17th Century.

He casts the Illuminati as a vast, highly organized and powerful occult conspiracy that holds mankind in a satanic vice.

The Illuminati are “thousands of conspiracies operating in parallel,” he says. For example, the vows and initiation rites of witchcraft closely mirror Freemasonry.

His name is John Todd (also Cristopher Kollyns). In 1972, when Todd was “saved,” and exposed the Illuminati, he ruled a 13-state US region consisting of 5000 covens, i.e. totalling 65,000 priests and priestesses. That’s just the ministers, not the congregation.

Amazingly I stumbled upon Todd just last week. This champion of humanity would be unknown today but for a website maintained by “James”, an American living in Japan, and another belonging to the redoubtable Wes Penre.

Skeptics say that if the Illuminati were real, there would be defectors. There are plenty of defectors; clinics that deal with CIA mind control and satanic ritual abuse are full of them.

But the vocal ones get put away. In 1987, Todd was framed for rape and sentenced to 30 years. According to Fritz Springmeier, when Todd was freed in 1994, he was “picked up by a helicopter” and murdered. (“Bloodlines of the Illuminati” p.93)

But James’ website has a record of Todd being released from prison in South Carolina in April 2004 and then being re-incarcerated in the “Behavioral Disorder Treatment Unit” of the South Carolina Dept. of Mental Health. Calls to the Director Chad Lominick  were not returned. (Could someone find out if Todd is there and still alive? We owe him that at the very least.)

Todd has provided many shocking revelations, which Fritz Springmeier confirms could only come from a man who was in fact a member of the Council of Thirteen. Fritz Springmeier says the 13 Illuminati families consist of “generational Satanists.”


Speaking in about 1978, Todd said the Illuminati use the Jews as a front.

“The Illuminati knows the people are going to find out about them …the best thing they can do is call your attention towards something else & say that’s that. So they have reflected the attention on Zionism …The only problem is that most of the people in the Illuminati aren’t Jews. Their founders were Jews by birth, but not by religion. But most of its leaders, except for the Rothschilds, are Gaelic: Scotch or French Gaelic. It’s got nothing to do with Jews. My family & most of the people serving on the Grand Druid, their family trees go back to the pagan temples in Rome & Greece & England, to the original priesthood. Some go back as far as Egypt & Babylon. It’s got nothing to do with the Jews.”

[David Livingstone writes: “Elizabeth Hirschmann and Donald Yates in their study, “When Scotland was Jewish”, documents the Jewish origin of many of Scotland’s leading families, beginning with the Sinclairs and Stuarts, but also the families of Forbes, Bruce, Campbell, Gordon, Caldwell, Fraser, Leslie, Christie, Kennedy, and Cowan (Cohen).]
Todd makes clear the Rothschilds, a family of Sabbatean Jewish Cabalists, top the Illuminati hierarchy:

“The Rothschilds lead the Illuminati and in every country they have a family …being the head of the Illuminati. In the United States, we have the Rockefellers. David Rockefeller is both the head of the Council of Foreign Relations and the Trilateral [Commission] which is the name of the Illuminati within the United States.”

“On the top of each pyramid you will see a capstone with an eye in it. The capstone is the Rothschild Family or Tribunal that rules the Illuminati; they were the creators of it. The eye is Lucifer, their god and their voice. The first 3 top blocks are on every pyramid. The top block is what I was initiated into, the council of 13 called the Grand Druid Council. They only take orders from the Rothschilds and nobody else. They’re their private priesthood. The Council of 33 is directly under them, that is the 33 highest Masons in the World. The Council of 500, some of the richest people and conglomerates in the World–[including the Bilderbergs and the families like the Duponts and Kennedys.]

“The Golden Dawn is the organisation of witchcraft, the 4th block up there, and it’s the Rothschild’s private coven. They choose every member personally.” He says C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein were both members of Golden Dawn. Grand Druid Isaac Bonewitz and the ACLU started an organization to sue Christians who defame the Occult. He includes Scientology and The National Council of Churches in the Illuminati structure.


Todd traces his defection to a meeting that took place around Labour Day 1972. They had received eight letters by diplomatic pouch from London.

“Dr. [Raymond] Buckland cut the seal on it and took out six letters that were sealed with this Illuminati crest. The first four were just business, money that we were to pay here and there and so on. Actually, the Grand Druid Council is nothing but glorified bankers, they write millions of dollars worth of checks to people in political and religious fields every month. But the last two letters led me to want to get out.

“Now even though I was a part of setting up a world government, I always kind of snickered that [this] was ever going to happen, that we were serious, that it was kind of a little game we were playing. As long as the Rothschilds had all of the money to spend on our plans, we went ahead and spent the money. So I never took it seriously until we opened the last two letters.

“Now in the first letter that we opened of those last two, was a chart, and in that chart it listed an eight-year plan for world take-over ending in the December month of 1980. …Next, the last letter we opened contained–now I’ll have to quote it and then I’ll have to explain, it, since witches say English but they say words that may not mean anything to you–it said:

“We have found a man whom we believe to be the son of Lucifer. We believe that through his works and our backing he can become ruler of this world, stop all wars, and bring peace, finally, to this war-stricken World.” Now that literally meant that we had found a person so fantastically-powered that he could convince people he was their only salvation. Now that literally meant in Christian terms, he was demon-possessed like nobody had ever seen!”

Todd said the take-over plan involved economic breakdown where even Illuminati companies went broke. They have the means to survive such a catastrophe. He says Phillip de Rothschild gave the plan to his mistress Ayn Rand for her novel “Atlas Shrugged.” (Interestingly, a movie of this novel starring CFR member Angelina Jolie is in the works.)

Todd says that in the face of economic breakdown, the Illuminati have trained a military force (including prison inmates) to take over the US. This echoes Svali, another Illuminati defector, who has disappeared.

He says that, as in the Bolshevik Revolution, millions will be killed in a “helter skelter” rule of terror. Todd says the only thing deterring this plan is widespread gun ownership among the US population.

In the 1980’s, he spoke of a plan to reduce the world to rubble in World War Three, to spare only Jerusalem, and rule from there.


As suggested above, Todd says the Illuminati spend a lot of money bribing people, especially Christian evangelists and preachers.

“Much that you see in churches that you just think is liberalism is pay-offism. …It’s kind of hard for a minister …to turn down half-a-million dollars if it’s laid down as a bribe, and they can get even higher. In fact, one church I know of got eight million dollars in two years, and another one got ten million dollars in one year! So, they can receive some money.”

Todd says rock and roll music is designed to cast a demonic spell on the listener. I know this sounds farfetched but I urge you to listen to Todd’s presentation “Witchcraft of Rock and Roll” in the multimedia section here. He says the Illuminati started Jesus Rock to control the message. The group, “KISS” stands for “Kings in Satanic Service.”


Anyone reading Todd’s lectures can see he was raised in Satanism as he claimed, and had a profound understanding. Fritz Springmeier, who is also imprisoned, said Todd knew things that had taken him (Springmeier) years to grasp.

Todd’s message seems too bizarre to be believed. But in the context of the phony 9-11 attacks, the phony war on terror, the suspension of Constitutional protections, the erection of a police state, the failure of Congress and the media,the dumbing down and homosexualization of society, the sexualization of children, the explicit Satanism, depravity and pornography in the “entertainment” industry, Todd makes a lot of sense.

Humanity is the victim of a monstrous conspiracy of unspeakable proportions. Our leaders, whom we pay to defend us from this sort of thing, are either dupes or traitors.

Mankind has the intelligence and the means to evolve as intended, but we are being dragged back into an abyss by Evil incarnate.

What can we do? You tell me. They need to deceive the masses. Help spread the truth while we still can.

Winston Churchill, Druid

New – The John Todd Story


Comments for “Highest Illuminati Defector:”Rothschilds Rule with Druid Witches””

Mark said (November 4, 2007):

“My source is the highest Illuminati defector in history, a Witch High Priest, a member of the Council of Thirteen, and part of the Collins Illuminati bloodline that brought Witchcraft to the US in the 17th Century.”

Not quite the “highest”: I strongly advise checking out all the information given by “Mother Goddess” Arizona Wilder. She’s a whistleblower from even higher up the Satanic hierarchy than was John Todd.

I believe Henry Makow has previously endorsed information from the highly credible Cathy O’Brien. Well, Arizona Wilder’s info reinforces that of O’Brien, but offers a view from higher up the occult Illuminati pyramid. For those with a truly open mind, Wilder’s testimony can be amply confirmed elsewhere. Predictably, it goes into weirder territory than the confessions of Todd and O’Brien: how could it NOT, since Wilder has been part of the very inner sanctum of world Satanism, which is utterly corrupt and perverse by nature??

Springmeier is great, of course. But we’ve got to be brave enough to face information even *he* hasn’t yet broached. The Illuminati crosses some very strange barriers… we’ve got to follow their trail as far as it goes, and not merely stop where it’s convenient or socially acceptable. Right?

John said (November 4, 2007):

If there are still any people out there that are ‘ in denial ‘ that
the current President of the United States is
NOT a ‘ born-again ‘ Christian, or any other(?) kind of Christian, but, rather,
was, & STILL IS ,
a member of
‘ Skull & Bones ‘ ,
a satanic secret-society,
then they can find still more proof here:

At the end of
former Illuminati witch John Todd’s presentation,
‘ Witchcraft of Rock & Roll ‘

( ) ,
he says,
“for [someone] to leave the Illuminati .. .
he would have had to tell it. .. .
Let me tell you something real quick so that
there will be no misunderstanding:
You come out of the occult,
you come out of the masons,
you come out of the Illuminati,
there is one [?] thing:

Anywhere there is a vow of secrecy,
that vow of secrecy MUST be broken.

Not in part.
When somebody breaks the complete vow of secrecy
they are out.


In the current President’s

Official autobiography,

‘ A Charge To Keep: My Journey To The White House ‘

[ See it for yourself, right here: ], he wrote,

“My senior year I joined Skull & Bones, a secret-society,

so secret I can’t say anything more.

In a rare, extraordinary, interview on NBC’s ’60 Minutes’,

he was asked about the fact that

not only one, but BOTH , so-called ‘ contenders ‘

for the President’s Office are

members of Skull & Bones, & he said,

“It is so secret, we can’t talk about it.”

[Watch BOTH public admissions, back-to-back, right here:

Watch how quickly Kerry tries to change the subject, &

the way NBC helps him accomplish that.]

More of John Todd’s EXTRAORDINARY revelations about

things we were not supposed to know, & to understand –

which probably cost him his life –

can be found here:

Finally, you can verify, for yourselves, all of the truths about John Todd here:

D said (November 3, 2007):

I recall that Mr. Bonewitz here had been well acquainted with Anton LeVay and Michael Aquino. He may correct me if my memory distorts the facts. Bonewitz was a member of LeVay’s Church of Satan (CoS) for a while, ostensibly split from it – as Aquino split it CoS into his Temple of Set (ToS – now Temple of Power).

I remember very well the well publicized split between LeVay and Bonewitz. Aquino and Bonewitz carried on an ongoing mudslinging match betweeen each other for many years through letters to off-beat occult magazines, as late as 1991. Acquino called Bonwitz one of ‘the big nosed pagans’ I remember.
I thought it was a punch and judy show they were putting on back then…and from all we’ve learned about these guys since there really is no doubt about that.
ToS fronted every occult AND BDSM and swinger’s club in Austin, Texas back in the early 90’s. These clubs, cliques and quasi-ordered ran the gamut from Wiccan to Pagan to Satanist….of course the recruits were unaware that they were all covertly created and controlled by (name withheld) – a college professor that was working directly for Aquino.
I will grant that “The people who rule the world are businessmen and bankers who don’t give a damn about any religion, divine or demonic.” as he’s written here. The occult is the oldest con in the book for indoctrinating into mind control, and also for intelligence gathering, counterintelligence, blackmail, extortion and you name it.
And what about John Todd? Where is he? Wikipedia says,” Todd is currently residing in a maximum security prison for the treatment of high risk sex offenders.” How can we confirm that?

Thought you might like this

Todd (Collins) has been smeared from multiple quarters. Glaring conflicts have been cited in the autobiographical information he gave, such things as his official military record says he was a state-side clerk on a base during the Viet Nam war rather than going to Viet Nam as he said. Most of the negative information on the web was authored by evangelist groups claiming to have had contact with him in the past. One called him a ‘pathological liar’. Also articles emphasizing seductions of underage girls, and finally campus rapes.

Listening to this ten minutes of 1970’s recording of one of his lectures, considering what he spoke about in details that simply wasn’t circulating in the public domain 35 years ago, I really can’t accept that he was just a pathological liar with a scam. He couldn’t have just pulled these details out of his ass at the time.

Tony said (November 2, 2007):

Dr. Makow: Following your article on the rule of Druid Witches,commentators refer to certain bloodlines. Americans of European
background, in general, have few written records beyond a couple of hundred years, so they/we tend to be impressed with someone claiming
direct descent from a medieval French king. It should be pointed out that if you double your ancestry every 25 years, which is considered
an anthropological generation, beginning in 1950, by the year 1000,you will see that you have about 250 billion ancestors. Since the
world as we know it did not have a billion inhabitants until 1850,everyone, certainly everyone of European background, is descended
many times over, probably millions of times over, from those people with a line of descendants. Since Rollo the Viking, or whoever,
lived long before the year 1000, we can assume that if he had a line of descendants we are all descended from Rollo the Viking, and not
just the Normans and the Sinclairs, and the Forbes, et al.
Geneticists also now know for sure that everyone of European background is descended from Charlemagne, who lived in the 9th
century. We are all probably also descended from the Capets as well. DNA scientists also know that if only two percent of Jewish
males in European cohabited with non-Jewish females in the year 1000,probably a low number, that everyone of European background has
Jewish blood. And everyone with any kind of British, Irish, or Scottish background, red-headed or not, has Norman blood; it comes
with the territory. In short, a lot of this “bloodline” argument that I keep seeing referenced on the Internet is really, really,
really dumb. We are all part Jewish; and Jews are all part non-Jewish; we are all descended from kings and peasants; we are all part
Norman and part Viking.

And beyond that, it’s also true that a certain percentage of every generation do not have the fathers they say they have or think they
And many so-called aristocrats invent their lineage; certainly many Americans do; Jackie Kennedy was one recent example

Issaac Bonewits said (November 2, 2007):

You might want to read the one book that has been written about John Todd, aka Lance Collins: ‘The Todd phenomenon?’ by Darryl E Hicks, a reporter for ‘Christianity Today.’ Darryl Hicks is an Evangelical Christian, not a ‘heretic’ or Heathen of any sort. He found that Todd’s story was sleazy and unbelievable for anyone who actually tracked his real life story. This matches a pattern of deceit set by Michale Warneke and other pushers of ‘Satanic Panic’ (Jeff Victor’s book by that name would also be worth your reading.) I met Todd twenty years ago when he was running a psuedo-Wiccan scam in Dayton, Ohio (and being an informant for the FBI). He has been in and out of jail his entire life due to a habit of shooting guns wildly and sleeping with underage girls whenever possible. I was one of the people who exposed him as a fraud for his claims of knowledge about witchcraft and druidism. As a result I became elected by him to the rank of being the criminal mastermind behind the Illuminati, after he had gone back to promoting himself as an ‘expert’ on the topics. Ironically, I do believe that there are conspiracies, I just think there are hundreds of them, not just one or two. Still I look in my mailbox every day and never seem to get that fat check from the Rothschilds Todd said I was getting. In fact, I earned less than $10,000 last year from my writing and speaking about minority belief systems, so the life of an Illuminati mucky-muck doesn’t seem to be very lucrative. Don’t waste your time worrying about imaginary global satanic conspiracies. The people who rule the world are businessmen and bankers who don’t give a damn about any religion, divine or demonic. Should you decide that you actually want to know what modern Pagans really believe and practice, try reading my books and those of others who belong to the religions, rather than those written by people with economic and theological axes to grind. You will probably still disagree with us and think we are foolish people, but you won’t be distracted from the real conspiracies by imaginary ones.

James said (November 1, 2007):

I read your article about John Todd this evening.
I met John some 30 years ago at a meeting in a small warehouse in Seattle. John was a recent convert to Christianity and those of us in attendence were all converts as well. He made quite an impression on me. He told us that he was afraid for his life. He was armed with
a 45 cal. automatic pistol in his belt for all to see. He told us he was a member of the Council of 13, of his being in the Rothschild mansion in England, of being seated at the dinner table with 13 chairs, one of which was for Satan. He was special, he said because of his bloodline,
his being born into a family of witches and warlocks. He said his mother was a witch, and bloodlines do count for much in the occult world. He became a Christian due to meeting a man in a coffehouse in a southern state – Alabama, Arkansas, or Tennesee who shared the gospel with
him. He also told us that he was rescued from a life sentence in an Army prison in Germany for killing his superior officer. He shot him to death with a pistol. His mother contacted a US Senator who flew to Germany and “pulled the strings” for his release and expunging his
service record of the incident.

These few items from that evening with John so many years ago I do remember quite vividly. They made such an impression on me, I have never forgotten them. Henry, keep informing us the Truths you have found.

Charles said (November 1, 2007):

I’ll bite. I am hard pressed to accept the notion
that lineages are intact going back to Rome or Egypt.
Even harder to accept an intact social structure
descending from deep antiquity.

Hugh Capet (938-966), the house of Bourbon,
represented in the elder line by King Juan Carlos, is the senior surviving branch of the house of Capet.

The elder line of Capet became extinct with the death of Charles IV in 1328. The next eldest line, the house of Valois died out with Henry III in 1589. That left the house of Bourbon as the senior line of Capet. Juan Carlos is directly descended from the grandson of Louis XIV, who became Philip V, the first Bourbon King
of Spain. The French descendants of Louis XIV of
Bourbon ended with the Count of Chambord who died in 1883. The current claimants to the French throne are of the house of Bourbon-Orleans, descended from the younger brother of Louis XIV.

“King Juan Carlos is the heir male of Hugh Capet, who ascended the French throne in 987, a line of decent not easily equaled” “Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe” Louda and Maclagan; New York 1981

Ashley said (November 1, 2007):

Hi, Henry, Thanks for a superb website! Further to your comment that Todd’s observation that ‘rock ‘n roll music is designed to cast a demonic spell on the listener’ sounds far-fetched: please allow me to mention a bit of empirical evidence from my own experience. I was called a couple of years ago (in my capacity as emergency services chaplain) to a suicide scene. A 24-year old had returned to South Africa from a stint working in London, where he had acquired manuals of Masonic and Satanistic practice (discovered only upon his death). His music collection had been almost exclusively of the heavy metal variety, with a few animated models of bands (including KISS) as part of the decoration of his bedroom. He had been in low spirits ever since returning from overseas, and on this day had put on one of favourite music CDs as background, wrapped a plastic bag around his head, and smothered himself. There seemed to be a common-sense link between the pre-existent musical taste, the new occult interest and the eventual self-destructive behaviour.

Donna said (November 1, 2007):

read your John Todd article and I am responding to your question, “What can we do? You tell me.” Thanks for asking.

The first thing we must do is spread the truth and awaken the population, one person at a time. You and many others have been doing this for years. I have written two books meant to enlighten people.

The second thing we must do is unite. We the People have the strength and power of size and numbers. We can defeat a small group, if we come together. We need a club to join, a list of real names of people who are willing to stand up and be counted, and to declare our intentions. We must come out of the closet and into the light.

The third thing we must do is defend the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Jim said (November 1, 2007):

Well, Henry, you were right that I would be interested in your article posted today on . I heard a tape recording from a presentation by Johnny Todd at a church back in around 1980 from my neighbor. I found it hard to grasp but probably true. Many years later now after learning more than I ever wanted too about high level corruption in police, courts, state and federal politics and gov’t I now believe that he is probably correct. I certainly believe that luciferian based entities have control at all the power points in society here and abroad. One only needs to look at the “finders” incident, the “Franklin credit union” coverup, the presidio child sex scandal (Col michael acquino and temple of set) for absolute proof that the military, intel and the highest echelons in gov’t practice luciferianism and are nothing more than expressions of organized crime structure who are controlled by demons. These articles are public info and have been verified many times over. But there are more gov’t documents not commonly known by the public and these docs are based on public govt hearing on cia covert ops gone bad, radiation experiments, etc. Any reasonable person who examines the many gov’t docs and eyewitness testimony of former intel and military will have to admit that our whole gov’t/military/intel system is a set of rico types organized crime syndicates.

Your article today is the latest set of deep secrets exposed by your peeling back another layer of the liciferian onion. You are close to the core of the “conspiracy of the snake” going back to the garden of eden. lucifer was the snake being in the garden of eden that talked to eve and tempted her.

Keep up the good work. You just keep writing groundbreaking research. In my opinion the only power great enough to break the satanic spell cast over most people’s minds by these covert luciferian rulers who are given the whole world by satan is the power of the Holy Spirit of Gad Amighty and belief in the Savior of the world, His son Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins. Through our belief in Jesus as our Savior, our sins can be forgiven and we can be released from spiritual bondage of the snake being lucifer. Then the demons can be cast out and the soul can be freed to see and believe the truth.

Joel said (October 31, 2007):

I have read Fritz Springmeier book 13 Bloodlines of the Illuminati several years ago and from doing my own investigation I have come to similar conclusions as Todd. But there is one unanswered question where does the the Black Pope fit into all this? I am starting to think that he controls everthing and even Rothschild answer to him.

Thanks Joel

I don’t know the answer to this and it takes a big man (200 lbs) to admit that.


Andrew said (October 31, 2007):

Introducing John Todd’s story today is more difficult because scarcely anyone believes in the spirit world anymore, so Todd’s story is simply inconceivable for most. Dr. Wickland’s 1974 book, Thirty Years Among The Dead, opens with a chapter, The Inter-Relationship Between the Two World, which is an excellent explanation of the spirit world with quotations like this:

John Wesley wrote in “The Invisible World”: “It is true that the English in general — indeed most of the men of learning in Europe — have given up all accounts of witches and apparitions as mere old wives’ fables. I am sorry for it, and I willingly take this opportunity to offer my solemn protest against this violent compliment which so many that believe in the Bible pay to those who do not believe it. Such belief is in direct opposition, not only to the Bible, but to the suffrage of the wisest and best of men in all ages and nations. They well know that the giving up of witchcraft is in effect giving up the Bible.”

That psychic phenomena occurred at the house of Mr. Samuel Wesley, father of Rev. John Wesley, at Epworth, and continued with noises and disturbances of various kinds for many months, is well known.–01__INTER–RELATIONSHIP_OF_THE_TWO_WORLDS__000.htm

This book is online–00__TOC__30_Years_Among_the_Dead__000.html

Wickland’s book may be more instructive on the spirit world than Carr’s Satan. The Protestant world where English and German are spoken trivializes the spirit world with Halloween (It’s just make-believe for children); whereas, in the Latin world it’s still very real in the minds of the people. e.g. The Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos ). Which is celebrated tomorrow in Mexico for example.

David Livingstone said (October 31, 2007):

What is interesting is they are all descended from Rollo the Viking, who married Poppa of Bavaria, the great-granddaughter of Guillaume de Gellone. This was the most popular figure of the Grail Romances, where he was known as Aymery. He is believed to have been the son of Rabbi Makhir.
The Normans of course were all derived from Vikings, and particularly from the Orckney Islands in Northern Scotland. Genetic studies have found a particular link connecting the settlers of these isles with a strain of red hair, that is speckled across Scandinavia and then Central Asia.
The Norse sagas, known as the Prose Eddas, claim that Odin the progenitor of the Vikings came from Scythia, in Southern Russia, a people who were described by ancient historians as being green-eyed and red-haired. These people later converted to Judaism and become known as Khazars, who again were described as being red-headed. This likely resulted in the popular medieval Jewish legend about the Lost Tribes supposedly residing in Central Asia who were referred to as “Red Jews”.
But red, if you believe Dan Brown, but this has also been confirmed by Arizona Wilder, is the great secret of the Illuminati. Like Rothschild, which means “red shield”, or red flags of Communism. But is also the origin of “red cross”, or “rose cross” and Rosicrucian. Or, “rose-line”, which became Rosslyn, the supposed burial place of the Holy Grail, for which the Sinclairs have been the hereditary guardians.
This is why it is important that after two centuries of intermarriage among first cousins, a Rothschild finally married outside the family, but to a Sinclair. Jacob Rothschild married Mary Serena Dunn. The mother of Mary Serena was Lady Mary Sybil St. Clair-Erskine, who was herself the daughter of James Francis Harry St. Clair-Erskine, 5th Earl of Rosslyn.
There’s more on that here:

Yousef said (October 31, 2007):

Thank you very much for your articles. I reached the point where I believed there are no fair people in the American culture and your are proving the opposite to me. Thanks…

Henry Makow is the author of A Long Way to go for a Date. He received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto. He welcomes your feedback and ideas at


Basing itself on this deep and mysterious connection between the Source of our individual lives and the source of the life of the planet, Druidry recognises eight particular times during the yearly cycle which are significant and which are marked by special observances.

Of the eight times, four are solar and four are lunar – creating thereby a balanced scheme of interlocking masculine and feminine observances. The solar observances are the ones that most people associate with modern-day Druids – particularly the Summer Solstice ceremonies at Stonehenge.

At the Solstices, the Sun is revered at the point of its apparent death at midwinter – and of its maximum power at the noon of the year when the days are longest. At the Equinoxes, day and night are balanced. At the Spring Equinox, the power of the sun is on the increase, and we celebrate the time of sowing and of preparation for the gifts of Summer. At the Autumnal Equinox, although day and night are of equal duration, the power of the sun is on the wane, and we give thanks for the gifts of the harvest and prepare for the darkness of Winter.

These four festivals are astronomical observances, and we can be sure our ancestors marked them with ritual because many of the stone circles are oriented to their points of sunrise or sunset. By the time the circles were built, our ancestors had become a pastoral people, and times of sowing and reaping were vital to them.

But as well as these four astronomical, solar festivals, there exist four times in the year which were and are also considered sacred. These were the times which were more associated with the livestock cycle, rather than the farming cycle.

At Samhuinn, between October 31st and November 2nd, livestock for whom there was insufficient fodder were slaughtered and their meat salted and stored. At Imbolc, on February 2nd, the lambs were born. At Beltane, on May 1st, it was the time of mating and of the passing of the livestock through the two Beltane fires for purification. Lughnasadh, on August 1st, was the time which marked the link between the agricultural and the livestock cycle – the harvest began and both human food and animal fodder were reaped and stored.

The two sets of festivals represent far more than just times which our ancestors chose to honour the plant and animal life-cycles though. They demonstrate our thorough interconnectedness with both the animal and plant realms. It is only modern-day people who can separate the life-cycles in an analytical way.

As we contemplate the festivals we shall see how interwoven is the life of our psyche and of our body, of the planet and of the sun and moon – for each festival time marks a potent conjunction of Time and Place in a way that is quite remarkable.

Let’s look at the cycle now. The dates given are for the Northern hemisphere, where they originated, but if you are in the Southern hemisphere, you need to reverse the dates: so you would celebrate the Winter Solstice in June, the Summer Solstice in December, and so on.

Looking at the complete cycle, we shall begin at Samhuinn – a time which marked traditionally the ending and the beginning of the Celtic Year.

Samhuinn, from October 31st to November 2nd, was a time of no-time. Celtic society, like all early societies, was highly structured and organised – everyone knew their place. But to allow that order to be psychologically comfortable, the Celts knew that there had to be a time when order and structure were abolished – when chaos could reign. And Samhuinn was such a time. Time was abolished for the three days of this festival, and people did crazy things – men dressed as women and women as men. Farmers’ gates were unhinged and left in ditches, peoples’ horses were moved to different fields, and children would knock on neighbours’ doors for food and treats in a way that we still find today, in a watered-down way, in the custom of trick-or-treating on Hallowe’en.

But behind this apparent lunacy, lay a deeper meaning. The Druids knew that these three days had a special quality about them. The veil between this world and the World of the Ancestors was drawn aside on these nights, and for those who were prepared, journeys could be made in safety to the ‘other side’. The Druid rites, therefore, were concerned with making contact with the spirits of the departed, who were seen as sources of guidance and inspiration rather than as sources of dread. The dark moon, the time when no moon can be seen in the sky, was the phase of the moon which ruled this time, because it represents a time in which our mortal sight needs to be obscured in order for us to see into the other worlds.

The dead are honoured and feasted, not as the dead, but as the living spirits of loved ones and of guardians who hold the root-wisdom of the tribe. With the coming of Christianity, this festival was turned into Hallowe’en [October 31st] All Hallows [November 1st] and All Saints [November 2nd]. Here we can see most clearly the way in which Christianity built on the pagan foundations it found rooted in these isles. Not only does the purpose of the festival match with the earlier one, but even the unusual length of the festival is the same.

Next in the cycle is the time of the Winter Solstice, called in the Druid Tradition Alban Arthan [the Light of Arthur]. This is the time of death and rebirth. The sun appears to be abandoning us completely as the longest night comes to us. Linking our own inner journey to the yearly cycle, the words of the Druid ceremony ask “Cast away, O wo/man whatever impedes the appearance of light.” In darkness we throw on to the ground the scraps of material we have been carrying that signify those things which have been holding us back, and one lamp is lit from a flint and raised up on the Druid’s crook in the East. The year is reborn and a new cycle begins, which will reach its peak at the time of the Midsummer Solstice, before returning again to the place of death-and-birth.

Although the Bible indicates that Jesus was born in the Spring, it is no accident that the early Church chose to move his official birthday to the time of the Midwinter Solstice – for it is indeed a time when the Light enters the darkness of the World, and we see again the building of Christianity on the foundations of earlier belief.

In a Christian culture we really only have one marker for the year, and that is Christmas. Easter and Harvest-time used to be significant, but can hardly be considered so now, when only a fraction of the British population attend Church regularly.

Druidry has eight markers, which means that every six weeks or so, we have the opportunity to step out of the humdrum of daily life, to honour the conjunction of Place and Time.

The next Festival occurs on February 2nd, or the eve of February 1st. It is called Imbolc in the Druid tradition, or sometimes Oimelc. Although we would think of Imbolc as being in the midst of Winter, it represents in fact the first of a trio of Spring celebrations, since it is the time of the first appearance of the snowdrop, and of the melting of the snows and the clearing of the debris of Winter. It is a time when we sense the first glimmer of Spring, and when the lambs are born. In the Druid tradition it is a gentle, beautiful festival in which the Mother Goddess is honoured with eight candles rising out of the water at the centre of the ceremonial circle.

The Goddess that ruled Samhuinn was the Cailleach, the Grey Hag, the Mountain Mother, the Dark Woman of Knowledge. But by Imbolc the Goddess has become Brighid, the Goddess of poets, healers and midwives.

And so we often use Imbolc as a time for an Eisteddfod dedicated to poetry and song praising the Goddess in her many forms. The Christian development of this festival is Candlemas – the time of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. For years successive Popes had tried to stop parades of lit candles in the streets of Rome at this time, until seeing that it was impossible to put a stop to this pagan custom, they suggested that everyone enter the churches so that the priests could bless the candles.

Time moves on, and in a short while we come to the Spring Equinox – the time of equality of day and night, when the forces of the light are on the increase. At the centre of the trio of Spring Festas, Alban Eilir [the Light of the Earth] marks the more recognisable beginnings of Spring, when the flowers are beginning to appear and when the sowing begins in earnest.

As the point of psychological development in our lives it marks the time of late childhood to, say, 14 years – Imbolc marking the time of early childhood [say to 7yrs].

We are in the Spring of our lives – the seeds that are planted in our childhood time of Imbolc and Alban Eilir will flower from the Beltane time of adolescence onwards as capacities and powers that will help us to negotiate our lives with skill and accomplishment.

Beltane, on May 1st, marks the time of our adolescence and early wo/manhood. Spring is in full bloom, and twin fires would be lit at this time, through which would be passed the cattle after their long winter confinement, or over which those hoping for a child or good fortune would jump.
We see traces of the Beltane celebrations on May Day, when dancing round the maypole celebrates the fertility of the land and creates an echo of the ritual circle dances that must have been enacted in stone circles throughout the country.

We have reached the time of the Summer Solstice, Alban Hefin, The Light of the Shore, by June 21st or 22nd [the dates for each of the solar festivals vary each year since the events are astronomical not man-made, like our calendar]. Light is at its maximum, and this is the time of the longest day. It is at this time that the Druids hold their most complex ceremony. Starting at midnight on the eve of the Solstice, a vigil is held through the night – seated around the Solstice fire. The night is over in a matter of hours, and as light breaks, the Dawn Ceremony marks the time of the sun’s rising on this his most powerful day. At noon a further ceremony is held.

Six weeks later we come to the time of Lughnasadh on August 1st, which marks the beginning of harvest time. The hay would have been gathered in, and the time for reaping the wheat and barley was due. It was a time of gathering together, of contests and games and of marriages. The marriages contracted at this time could be annulled at the same time the following year – offering the couple a sensible ‘trial period’. In some areas a flaming wheel was sent rolling down the hillside at this time to symbolise the descent of the year towards Winter, and in the Druid ceremony a wheel is passed around the circle in symbol of the turning year. The Christian version of this festival is Lammas, which has recently been revived in some churches. The word Lammas comes from hlafmasse – ‘loaf-mass’ – since bread is offered from the newly harvested grain.

The Autumnal Equinox, on September 21st or thereabouts, is called Alban Elfed or Light of the Water in the Druid tradition. It represents the second of the harvest festivals – this time marking the end of harvest-time, just as Lughnasadh marked its beginning. Again day and night are equally balanced as they were at the time of the Spring Equinox, but soon the nights will grow longer than the days and Winter will be with us. In the ceremony we give thanks for the fruits of the earth and for the goodness of the Mother Goddess.

And so the circle completes itself as we come again to the time of Samhuinn – the time of death and of rebirth.

What does it mean to celebrate these festivals? Are we simply trying to revive customs that belong to a different era, and are well forgotten? Those who follow Druidry believe strongly that this is not the case. Just as Christmas and New Year are vital to our psychic health because they give us some measure of the passage of our lives, so -if we incorporate a celebration or recognition of these times – do we find that we develop an increasing sense of peace and place in our world and in our lives.

Let us look at the value of the festivals from a psychological point of view:

When we celebrate them we honour times which have been considered sacred for over four thousand years. The four fire festivals relate to key life periods and the experiences necessary for each one of them: Imbolc invokes the gentleness and mothering that we need in our first years on earth. We need the stillness of Imbolc, of the candles glittering on the water, of the Goddes Brighid who sings to us each night as we fall asleep. When we have become young adults, we need the initiation of Beltane – of Spring, when the force of our sexuality courses through our blood and when we need the guidance of the tribe and its mythos, not its denial or salaciousness.

As we become young adults at the Lughnasadh time of our lives and begin to build a family, the rules change – the wildness of youth gives way to the constraints that responsibility brings, and we need an understanding of this as part of the wider scheme of things – not merely a ‘knuckling down’ to duty with the seeds of rebellion in our hearts.

As we grow old, we approach the Gateway to the Other World. If we have followed such a path as Druidry, this becomes a time of preparation for the Great Adventure, a time in which we become familiar with our friends and guides in the Other Worlds who show us, time and again, that death is really a birth to another level – a wider horizon.

If we work with this scheme, we have a chance to invoke each of these phases of our life every year – as if each year were a microcosm of our complete lives. In the early Spring we open to the child who lives in each one of us – we honour and acknowledge and cherish him, and we allow the healing breath of the Goddess of Poetry to sing gently to him.

At Beltane, we open to the God & Goddess of Youth. However old we are, Spring makes us feel young again, and at Beltane we jump over the fires of vitality and youth and allow that vitality to enliven and heal us. When young we might use this time as an opportunity to connect to our sensuality in a positive creative way, and when older the mating that we seek might well be one of the feminine and masculine sides of our nature. Integration of the animus and anima or of the male and female aspects of the Self has long been seen as one of the prime goals of spiritual and psychotherapeutic work, and Beltane represents the time when we can open to this work fully – allowing the natural union of polarities that occurs in nature at this time the opportunity to help us in our work – a work that is essentially alchemical.

We move from conjunction to the fruits of that conjunction with the festival time of Lughnasadh – the harvest being that of either children or of creative works. This is a time of satisfaction in our accomplishments – whether that means gazing into the face of our child or feeling the warm satisfaction that comes when we achieve an objective in our field of endeavour. It is at the time of the festival of Lughnasadh that we can invoke the powers of accomplishment to nourish the need that we all have to achieve something in this world. If we feel that we have achieved something, we can use this time to open ourselves to the satisfaction this brings. So often we rush through life that we do not even pause to enjoy those things which we have around us – our family or home, for example. If we feel that we have not yet achieved anything, now is the time to open ourselves to our potential for achievement. Acting ‘as if’ is a powerful way to mould our future. If we spend time opening ourselves to the feeling of family or accomplishment, even though we do not apparently have these things, we help to invoke these realities for the future.

Finally, at the time of Samhuinn we can open ourselves to the reality of other worlds, to the reality of the existence of those of our friends who have ‘gone before us’ and who are still alive and well, though not on this earth. If each year we have in consciousness connected to this plane, when the time comes for our transfer, it will represent a more familiar, if still challenging territory that we will actively want to explore. Children brought up in this tradition will have a warm feeling towards this other realm, rather than being filled with fear for the Unknown, and with a fear that has been provoked by the pernicious images of hell developed by distorted forms of Christianity.

We have seen how the four fire festivals demonstrate a cycle related to the phases of our life on earth. The four solar festivals represent, at a psychological level, four key functions or processes: Inspiration, Reception, Expression, and Recollection.

The Winter Solstice, Alban Arthan, represents a time when we can open to the forces of Inspiration and Conception. All about us is darkness. Our only guide is Arthur, the Great Bear, the Pole Star (or the Southern Cross in the Southern hemisphere). In the stillness of night is Intuition born. Both the festival and the function is located in the North – realm of the night and mid-winter. The Winter Solstice is the time when the atom-seed of Light, represented both by the one light raised on high and by the white mistletoe berries distributed during the ceremony, comes down from the Inspired realms and is conceived or incarnated in the womb of the night and of the Earth Mother. It is thus a potent time to open ourselves to the fertilsing power of the Muse or of the Great Source, so that we may give birth to our creativity.

The Spring Equinox, Alban Eilir, located in the East, represents the time of Reception – Reception of Wisdom, as we face the dawn rays of the rising sun on the first morning of Spring. The East has always been associated with Wisdom and Enlightenment, because it is from the East that the sun rises. And it is on the Spring Equinox that it rises due East. At this time we can open ourselves to wisdom and the powers that can bring clarity to us.

The Summer Solstice, Alban Hefin, in the South, is the time of Expression – when we can open ourselves to realising our dreams and working in the arena of the outer world. The Summer always seems the time when there is the most energy for getting things done, and aware of this, we can cooperate with this energy. We often take holidays at this time, and while it is a good time for active holidays, the restful, tranquil break from the hurly burly of life is probable best taken in the Autumn, around the time of Alban Elfed, located in the West, when the energy moves towards one that fosters Recollection – the quiet in-gathering of the experience of Summer.

Working every six weeks or so with a psychological process or function or with a life-period is a deeply satisfying experience.

At the centre of our ceremonial circle is the place of Integration. Here all the qualities and dynamics find their resting place and place of creative union at the very heart of the circle – which is also at the very heart of our beings. In many of the ceremonies this reality is enacted ritually by the Druid moving sacred objects from the periphery of the circle to the centre – thus enacting the movement of integration on the physical level and grounding a spiritual and psychological principle in action with their body.

The centre of the circle represents God/dess and the Self; the Sun and our Soul; the Source of All Being. As such it is the place where all comes to rest and to fruition.

We can see now how the circle becomes, over the years as one practices Druidry, a magical place in which the circumference represents the round of our daily, yearly and whole-life journeys – inextricably tied to the daily and yearly cycle of the earth, and the eight compass directions with their associated meanings and spiritual and psychological associations. At the centre lies the still point of Being and No-Thing.

The entire space of the circle becomes our sphere of inner working – it becomes a sacred area in which, like a magic carpet, we can travel to other states of being. It becomes a doorway which, like the well-known gateway of the trilithon, can give us access to previously hidden realms and altered states of consciousness.

Adapted from Elements of the Druid Tradition by Philip Carr-Gomm

Continue to the Wheel of the Year

Eisteddfod | Candlemas Ritual | Druid Festivals


by Susa Morgan Black, FSA, Scot
Druid, OBOD

Bi Bride bhithe, bhana, leinn. 1

Brigit is the Celtic Saint and Goddess of Poetry, Healing and Smithcraft. She has been worshiped by the Celtic people as a Saint for over fifteen hundred years, and as a Goddess long before the Roman invasion of Britain and the birth of Christ. Her cult was so powerful that the Celtic Christian Church had to adopt her as a Saint, and the Roman Catholic Church followed suit, for her people would not abandon her. Along with St. Patrick, she is the patron Saint of Ireland. St. Brigit is often referred to as Muire na nGael “Mary of the Gael”. Mara Freeman states, “Brigit is the nearest thing we have to a Great Mother of the Celts.” 2

Lands of the Goddess

The name “Britain” is a derivation of Brigit’s name. Britain was named for an ancient Celtic tribe, the Brigantes, who worshipped Brigit and were the largest Celtic tribe to occupy the British Isles in pre-Roman times. The tribe originally came from the area that is now Bregenz in Austria near Lake Constance. The word “brigand” comes from this tribe of fierce warriors.

Her worship probably spread from the Continent, leaving place names behind, such as Brittany in France. Brigit place names are found in Brechin, Scotland, the river Brent in England, the river Braint in Wales, Bridewell in Ireland. Even London has a Bridewell.

The symbol of Britain – the Goddess Brigantia or Britannia, (still found on their fifty-cent coin) is Brigid in her aspect as Goddess of Sovereignty or Guardian of the Land.


Names of the Goddess

There are many variations, pronunciations, and spellings of Her name, including:

Scotland: Bhrìghde, Brighid, Bride
Ireland: Brigid, Brigit, Brighid, Brìd, Brígh
Manx: Breeshey
Wales: Ffraid
England: Brigantia, Brittania
France: Brigandu

The name Brigit itself means either “Fiery Arrow”, “Bright One”, or “High One” in the ancient Celtic language, referring to her solar aspect. In the old Celtic language, she was Briganti, which is connected to the old Indo European word, Bhrghnti. In Sanskrit, bhrati, or brihati means “exalted one”.3

Druid Goddess

Brigit is a “pan Celtic” goddess, who was worshipped by both the Goidelic 4 and Brythonic 5 Celts in the British Isles and beyond. She is a solar deity, who once hung her mantle on a sunbeam. In Celtic mythology, Brigit is the daughter of the Morrighan and the Dagda 6, the Good God and Chief of the Tuatha de Danaan, the ancient fairy race of Ireland, and the sister of Ogma, who invented the Ogham alphabet. She was the wife of Bres, King of the Fomorians (who were at war with the Tuatha de Danaan). Brigit was said to have been the mediator of peace between the two ancient warring tribes. She was the mother of the Three Gods of DanuRuadan 7, Iuchar and Uar 8. These three Gods were said to have married the three princesses of Ireland – Eire, Fodhla and Banbha. 9 In other sources, Brigid is the daughter of Boann, the Goddess of the River Boyne in Ireland. Boann (bo fhionn) means “white cow”, an association she shares with Brigid. Brigit is primarily the patron Goddess of poets, healers and smiths. She is also a patron of other womanly arts – midwifery, dyeing, weaving and brewing, and the guardian of children and farm animals – particularly cows. 10 The island of Ireland itself is said to be the green mantle of Brigit. She is also said to be the patron of travelers, sailors, and fugitives. She is specifically a patroness to the Druids in her aspects of poetry (Bards), healing and prophecy (Ovates) and blacksmithing. 11 (Druids).

Goddess of Poetry

Brigit is patroness filidhact (poetry and bardic lore) and the filid – (bards), who were the oral transmitters of the Celtic culture. This includes storytellers, folklorists, mythologists, balladeers, singers, composers, poets, musicians, particularly harpers, historians and clan genealogists. She provided the “fire in the head” of poetic inspiration. The Bards are the surviving class of the Druids, keeping the ancient traditions alive until the present day. Bards were the honored guests from cottage to castle, patronized and supported by a network of clientele. The Blind Harper, Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738), was one of the most famous bards in Ireland, and made his living as an itinerant harper. He was a formidable composer, who is said to have learnt some of his music from the faeries themselves.

The word file – poet, is related to the word, faic – to see. Poets are inspired by the Other World, and have the gift of fàisneachd (prophecy).

In the county of Limerick, Brigit visited the household of a chieftain, and asked that his foster father and his sons play the harps that were hanging on the wall. She was told that the chief’s bard was away, and the children did not know how to play. Thereupon, she blessed their hands, and they played the harp with such skill that they became famous harpers, and the bards of kings for generations. 12

Goddess of Augury

Goddess of Augury In Druid tradition, poetry (filidecht) was associated with augury (fiosachd or fàisneachd). So Brigit was also the patron of prophets and seers (fiosaiche). She was said to have foreseen the future of Christ when she was his nurse:


Augury 13

The augury Brigit made for her Foster son (Jesus)
She made a pipe within her palms:
“I see the Foster son by the well’s side,
Teaching the people assuredly

I set the augury towards the well,
And truly that was righteous work,
The King of kings teaching the people,
Yonder I see Christ, assuredly.”

The form of divination Brigit used is called “frìth Bhrighde (augury of Brigid) 14”, where she curled her hand into a “seeing tube”. Looking through this “hand made tube”, she could find lost people or animals, report on the well being of distant people, etc. In Scots Gaelic, frìth means “an incantation to find whether people at a great distance or at sea be in life.” 15 Frìthir is another word for seer or diviner in Gaelic. Water and Fire are both associated with divination. Celtic Seers divine by both looking deeply into water (fàisnich uisge) or into the flames (fàisnich teine).

Triple Goddess

Brigit is sometimes referred to as a “Triple Goddess”, having two sisters, also named Brigit. More commonly, she is considered a triple aspect deity because she is the patroness of three primary skills in the Celtic world – poetry, healing and smithcrafting. In this image, one image carries a pair of blacksmith tongs and a sword, another image is handling two healing snakes, and a third image carries a wand with a crescent moon and a tablet.


Brigit rules the elements of Water (Uisge in Gaelic, Dwr in Welsh) and Fire (Teine in Gaelic; Tân in Welsh).

As Water deity, Brigit is the patroness of healers, with many healing springs and wells dedicated to Her throughout the British Isles. Water is also associated with psychic ability, music, and poetry.

triple goddessBrighid, the Triple Goddess, by JBL of Calcutta, Images of the Divine

Natural bodies of water were also sacred to her, particularly where three streams joined together. 16 As a Fire deity, she is the patroness of blacksmiths and poets (a poet’s “fire in the head”). The hearth is sacred to her in every home. Another name for her feast day is Candlemas, in which all the candles for the coming year are made and blessed. “Brighid is the Triple Goddess of Fire – the fire of poetic inspiration and divination, the fire of health and fertility, and the fire of metal working and crafts.” 17 Water and Fire were important elements to the early Celtic civilization long before they reached the British Isles. The elements were especially venerated at the end of a long harsh winter – fire was welcomed as the returning warmth of the sun, and water was celebrated as the ice and snow melted

Patroness of Blacksmith

She is the patroness of blacksmiths, the King of Crafts on which all other crafts depend. She is not a blacksmith herself, that niche is occupied by the Celtic deities, Goibnu and Govannon, but she inspires the creativity and artistry of the blacksmith craft just as she inspires the creativity of poets. Her eldest son, Ruadan, was a blacksmith. When Ruadan was killed, Brigit keened (caoine) in grief for him, thus initiating the Celtic custom of keening for the dead. 18

Blacksmiths were considered magicians and wizards themselves. And it was the excellence of Celtic metalwork that differentiated them from all other early cultures and brought them to prominence.

Blacksmith Chris Mead at the Ardenwood Forge Fremont, California.

Brigantia statuette created by Oberon Zell, from the Mythic Images Collection

Goddess of Protection

In her aspect as Brigantia 19, she carries a spear, an orb of victory, and wears a war crown. The word “Brigand” derives from this warlike version of Brigit.

In the British national anthem, “Hail Brittania, Brittania rules the waves. Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.” Her warlike, protective characteristics are emphasized.

As a saint, there were many prayers of protection invoking Brigit, which have been collected by Alexander Carmichael.

Prayer of Protection 20

Thou Brigit of the kine,
Thou Brigit of the mantles,
Shield me from the ban
of the fairies of the knolls,
The faeiries of the knolls.

Christian Saint

Brigit occurs in Christian tradition as Saint Brigit of Kildare, Ireland. In some legends, she was a Druidess before she was converted to Christianity.

The Saint was born near Kildare, on February 1 st in 453 AD, to a Druid father, Dubthach, and a bondmaid, Broicsech. Saint Patrick was still alive when she was born. Her father had a vision that his wife would “bring forth a daughter conspicuous, radiant, who will shine like a sun among the stars of heaven 21.” In the vision, the father was told to name his child after the Goddess Brigit. When the radiant child was born, she was immediately bathed in milk. She would tolerate no impure food, and was nourished on the milk of a “white skinned, red eared cow alone”. The attributes of white skin or fur with red ears on an animal (usually a cow, hound, or deer) is indicative of an “otherworldly” or faerie animal in Celtic mythology.

catholic brigantia
This statuette of Brigit can be found in most Catholic supply shops or Irish import stores.

In some legends, it was a Druid who foresaw her radiant birth and future status, and she was later fostered and raised by the Druid Brigit was famous for her generosity, giving away all she owned to the poor, including some of her father’s possessions. This displeased her father, Dubthach, so much, he took her to Leinster to sell at the court of the king. He left her with his sword in the chariot to make arrangements, and while he was gone, Brigit gave away his sword to a poor leper. When her angry father reported this to the king, the King of Leinster said, “It is not meet for us to deal with this maiden, for her merit before God is higher than ours. 22 So saying, her father was prevented from selling her into bondage.

Brigit grew into a beautiful young woman, described as “blond and slender” 23 but had no interest in a secular life. When her family tried to force her to marry, she plucked out her own eye to make herself less attractive. When her family relented, she replaced her eye, miraculously healed.

She was to be Ireland’s first nun. She took the veil from the Scottish Bishop, Mél, who broke Christian tradition and ordained her as a female bishop, saying “No power have I in this matter. That dignity has been given by God unto Brigid, beyond every other woman 24.” (Perhaps this harks back to pagan traditions, when there were female Druids).

Brigit’s miracles include restoring the dead to life (as a baby, she breathed life into the stillborn son of the Queen of Conaille), causing a mystic blaze around herself, healing the mentally ill, sick, and blind, making the dumb speak, turning water to ale. Her shadow had healing powers. A man brought his consumptive mother to Brigit, and placed the woman in Brigit’s shadow, where she was immediately healed. Brigit gave her famous healing girdle to a beggar, who was able to make her living from it as a healer thereafter.

She also had the power to curse, and once cursed an apple tree to baroness when its owner refused to give apples to the poor. When refused the hospitality of ale at a feast, she cursed the proprietor’s stock, and the stock of ale disappeared.

Brigit was a seer and a visionary, and once told Saint Patrick her vision of the Ploughs of Ireland, which prophesied the spread of the Gospel.

She was known throughout the land for her charity and could use up her stock of food and drink and it would replenish itself immediately. A starving hound once came to her door, and she gave him the stock of bacon. When her foster father asked what became of the bacon, she said, “Count them.” and all the strips of bacon were in the larder again.

The Life of Brigid in the Book of Lismore describes her, “She is the prophetess of Christ, she is the Queen of the South, she is the Mary of the Gael.”

Although she does not appear in the Bible, she is an integral part of Celtic Christianity. Legend claims her to be the midwife to Mary and the foster mother of Christ.” From the prayers gathered by Alexander Carmichael in the Scottish Highlands, Sloinnntireachd Bhride, The Genealogy of Bride: Is mi fo chomaraig mo Naomh Muire, is I mo chaomh mhuime Bride. (And I under the protection of my Holy Mary, and my gentle foster-mother is my beloved Bride.) 25

The legend states that angels came to escort Brigit to the manger where, as a midwife, she delivered the Christ child. This is an interesting legend considering she was born 500 years later. (This is another example of where the distinguishing line between the Saint and the Goddess is elusive.)

There is a story of how she used her Sight to discover Jesus when he was lost as a child in the Temple in Jerusalem and another legend of when she drew the attention of Herod’s soldiers to herself by wearing a crown of lit candles, so that Mary and Joseph could escape with their baby son to Egypt.

A stone head of Brigit was discovered in a Neolithic tomb Drumeague, County Cavan, and brought into a local church. The head was canonized as Saint. Bride of Knockbridge 26.

Alexander Carmichael spent years in the Highlands of Scotland around the turn of the last century, gathering folklore, customs, practices, and prayers from the oral tradition of the country folk who lived in those remote areas. Much of their worship was devoted to Saint Brigit, and many prayers and invocations such as the above, were dedicated to Her. Carmichael published over six volumes on this subject, the Carmina Gadelica, Hymns and Incantations, in Gaelic with English translations.

Traditional Scottish Gaelic Supplication of Saint Brigit a

Brighid nighean Dùghaill Duinn
‘Ic Aoidh ‘ic Cuinn ‘ic
Criara ‘ic Caibre ‘ic Cais ‘ic
Carmaic ‘ic Cartaich ‘ic CuinnBrighde nam brat,
Brighde na brig,
Brighde nan cleachd,
Brighde na frìth.Brighde nan gealachos,
Brighde na bìth,
Brighde nan gealaphos,
Brighde na nì.Brighde bean chomainn,
Brighde na brig,
Brighde bean chobhair,
Brighde bean mhìn.

Brighde ciabh Moire,
Brighde Moime Chrìosd, –
Gach latha agus gach oidhche
Nì mi Sloinntearachd na Brighd,

Cha mharbhar mi
Cha ghuinear mi,
Cha charachar mi,
Cha ghonar mi,
Cha spaltar mi,
Cha spùillear mi,
Cha saltrar mi,
Cha rùisgear mi,
Cha reubar mi,
Cha mhó dh’fhàgas
Crìosd an dearmad mi.

Cha loisg grian mi,
Cha loisg teine mi,
Cha loisg ial mi,
Cha loisg gile mi.

Cha bhàth uisge mi,
Cha bhàth sàla mi,
Cha bhàth lighe mi,
Cha bhàth burn mi.

Cha laigh bruaill-brì orm,
Cha laigh suan-dubh orm,
Cha laigh druaill-drì orm,
Cha laigh luaths-luis orm.

Tha mi for chomraig
Mo Naomh Moire;
‘S I mo chaombh chomainn

Brigit daughter of Dugall the Brown
Son of Aodh son of Art son of Conn b
Son of Criara son of Cairbre son of Cas
Son of Cormac son of Cartach son of ConnBrigit of the mantles,
Brigit of the peat-heap,
Brigit of the twining hair,
Brigit of the augury.Brigit of the white feet,
Brigit of the calmness,
Brigit of the white palms,
Brigit of the kine.Brigit, woman-comrade,
Brigit of the peat-heap,
Brigit, woman-helper,
Brigit, woman mild.

Brigit, own tress of Mary,
Brigit, Nurse of Christ,
Each day and each night
That I say the Descent of Brigit,

I shall not be slain,
I shall not be wounded
I shall not be put in cell,
I shall not be gashed,
I shall not be torn in sunder,
I shall not be despoiled
I shall not be down-trodden
I shall not be made naked,
I shall not be rent
Nor will Christ
Leave me forgotten

Nor sun shall burn me,
Nor fire shall burn me,
Nor beam shall burn me,
Nor moon shall burn me.

Nor river shall drown me,
Nor brine shall drown me,
Nor flood shall drown me,
Nor water shall drown me.

Nightmare shall not lie on me,
Black sleep shall not lie on me
Spell sleep shall not lie on me,
Luaths-luis” shall not lie on me.

I am under the keeping
Of my Saint Mary,
My companion, beloved

a. Carmina Gadelica, Volume III, by Alexander Carmichael
b. 0 Conn is also the progenitor of Clan Donald, one of the clan sept names is MacBride

Brigit of Kildare

The King of Leinster granted Brigit land for a monastery in Kildare (Cill-Dara), (Church of the Oak 27), around 470 AD. Brigit was the Abbess of the first convent in Ireland, and after her death, a perpetual flame was kept in her honor. It was a center of learning and art, including metal work and goldsmithing. Its most famous illuminated manuscript being the Book of Kildare (which no longer survives) Only women were permitted to enter the hedge enclosure with the Eternal Flame, which was fanned by a bellows. There were originally nineteen nuns who kept vigil at the fire, one each night. On the nineteenth night, the nun would say, “Brigid guard your fire, this is your night.” These Nuns may have been a continuation of a sect of Druids, the “Sisters of the Galliceniae” who performed sacred female rites.According to Cogitosus, who wrote in 650 AD, Kildare was a “double community” of monks and nuns, presided over by an abbess. 28 Brigit’s relics were kept in the abbey until the Viking raids in the Ninth Century.King Henry VIII of England, during the Reformation, dissolved the assets of the Catholic Church in Ireland and destroyed the abbey in the Sixteenth Century.


All that remains of the Medieval building are a high cross and a round tower. The remains of what might be the original communal hearth from the time of Brigit were discovered in 1996. 29 About a mile away from the remains of the abbey, the original stone well still exists, with a cloutie tree (a Larch) nearby. The Larch’s branches are still hung to this day with strips of cloth, bandages, ribbons, etc. in prayer to Saint Brigit for healing. 30

In 1993, Sister Mary Minehan, a Brigidine Nun, relit St. Brigid’s flame in Kildare. They have set up a Solas Bhride, a Christian Community Center, “for Celtic Spirituality in the spirit of Brigid of Kildare”. They hold a festival, Feile Bhride, at Imbolc in Kildare each year. They are raising funds to establish a permanent building to house the perpetual flame. Membership in Cairde Bhride (Friends of Brigid) can be obtained by writing Sister Mary Minehan at Solas Bhride, 14 Dara Park, Kildare, Ireland, telephone 045-522-890.


This photo was taken by OBOD Bard, Kate Reynolds of a Catholic church dedicated to Saint Bridget in Moodus, Connecticut, U.S.A., April, 2002

Brigit of the Mantle

In the legend of Saint Brigid’s Cloak or Mantle, she found the perfect spot to found her abbey in Leinster, in a place called Kildare. There was an old oak, sacred to the Druids on the premises, making it a holy site. She went to the King of Leinster with four of her maidens and asked him to donate the land for an abbey. The King refused to give her the land. Brigid prayed to God for help, then asked if she could have just the amount of land that her mantle would cover. Laughing in derision, the king agreed. Each of the four maidens took a corner of the cloak, and walked East, North, West and South, the cloak stretching as they walked until it encompassed the parcel of land she desired for her abbey. They king, seeing the miracle, fell to his knees, and could deny her nothing, converting then and there to Christianity. 31 Brighid built her church there, under the shade of the old oak, not far from a well, also dedicated to the saint. A cathedral was built on the site in the thirteenth century, but the original foundations of Brigit’s church still exist!

An Irish blessing: Faoi bhrat Bhríde sinn. May you be under Bride’s mantle. Ireland itself is sometimes described as the “green mantle of Brigit”, and the color green is also associated with the faeries, which links her to her original status as a Goddess among the Tuatha de Danaan.

An Irish prayer to Bride:

Dear to me is Erin,
Dear to me each land,
Praise be to it!
O, white flame of Leinster
Enlighten the whole land.
Chief of Erin’s maidens
Chief of finest women.
Dark the bitter winter
cutting its sharpness
But Bride’s mantle
Brings spring to Ireland.

Brigit, the Healer

Brigit is the patroness of healers, using the elements of fire and water to heal. She taught the properties of herbs, and blessed many springs and wells across the land, that are still venerated today. Her girdle and mantle had healing properties, which she shared with others. A drop of water from her mantle created a healing lake.

cloakMy Irish Kinsale cloak, hanging from a tree. Made by Marian Hinderness, San Jose, CA.

As a solar deity, she also taught that sunlight and water could be used for healing, especially the eyes. She advised sufferers to find a clean, clear spring, or fast moving body of fresh water, sparkling with sunlight, and lathe it on sore eyes for a restorative cure. In Catholic tradition, they pray to Saint Brigit for eye maladies.

In folk tradition, a girdle (belt) is woven of straw at Imbolc, wide enough for people to step through three times in a healing ritual. Stips of cloth or ribbon are also left out to be blessed by the Saint on Imbolc, imparting the healing properties of her own cloak to them.

Goddess of the Healing Wells 32

Wells throughout the Celtic lands are named after Saint Brigit. There are many legends that the Saint had stopped by a well in her travels, and blessed and healed people at the site. “Clooties 33” are often tied to the trees (often Hawthorne) overhanging the wells, with healing wishes. These wells 34 were probably dedicated to the earlier Goddess, Brigit, with a presiding priestess or Druid.

Famous wells in Ireland dedicated to the Saint include: Kilbride parish, Co. Mayo; Chiffony, Co. Sligo; Faughart, Co. Louth; Ardagh, Co. Longford; Buttevant, Co. Cork; Castlemanger, Co. Cork; Dunteer, Co. Louth; Inismagrath parish, Co. Leitrim; Killinagh parish, Co. Cavin; Kilranelagh parish, Co. Carlow; Liscannor, Co. Clare; Marlerstown ,Co. Louth; Mullingar, Co. Westmeath; Tully, Co. Kildare; and Outeragh parish, Co. Leitrim

St. Brigit’s well in Tully, Ireland. Photo by Elizabeth Rees in Celtic Saints in Their Landscape

Brigit the Midwife

Brigit is the patroness of midwives. She was the midwife of Mary, bringing Christ into the world.

Bride Ban-ChobhairChainig thugam cobhair,
Moire gheal is Bride;
Mar a rug Anna Moire,
Mar a rug Moire Criosda
Mar a rug Eile Eoin Baistidh
Gun mhar-bhith dha dhi,
Cuidich thusa mise ‘m asaid,
Cuidich mi a Bhride!Mar a gheineadh Criosd am Moire
Comhliont air gach laimh,
Cobhair thusa mise, mhoime,
An gein a thoir bho ‘n chnaimh;
‘S mar a chomhn thu Oigh an t-solais
Gun or, gun odh, gun ni,
Comhn orm-sa, ‘s mor m’ othrais,
Comhn orm a Bhride!
Bride the Aid-Woman 35There came to me assistance
Mary fair and Bride;
As Anna bore Mary,
As Mary bore Christ,
As Eile bore John the Baptist
Without flaw in him,
Aid thou me in mine unbearing
Aid me, O Bride!As Christ was conceived of Mary
Full perfect on every hand,
Assist thou me, foster-mother,
The conception to bring from the bone;
And as thou didst aid the Virgin of joy,
Without gold, without corn, without kine,
Aid thou me, great is my sickness,
Aid me, O Bride!

As patroness of midwives, she was invoked at the door of the home where the woman was giving birth, by the midwife.

“Bride, Bride, come in!
Thy welcome is truly made,
Give thou relief to the woman,
And give thou the conception to the Trinity.

She is the guardian of every newborn child, their cradles often protected with a woven Brigit’s Cross.Upon the safe birth of the child, it was “sained” by the midwife, with three drops of water on the child’s forehead, dedicating the child in the name of the Trinity. A candle was also carried around the bed sun-wise three times. All these are elements from the Goddess Brighid, who was a solar deity also associated with healing wells. Could saining be from an older tradition of putting the newborn child under Brighid’s protection?

Brigit of the Hearth

Brighid is also associated with the teinntean (the domestic hearth) especially in Gaelic Scotland, which is why Brighid doll’s are placed near the hearth on her feast day.

The doll is usually dressed in white, with ribbons, lace and even jewelry added. Mine has a green (handkerchief) mantle, with a Brigit’s Cross made out of a piece of Irish peat.

A slat geal (white wand) is often placed in the leabe Bride (Brigit’s bed) with her image, as a fertility charm. She is the patron of agricultural, pastoral, and domestic fertility and abundance.

An offering of grain and milk products is left for her – bannocks, cheese, cream, butter, milk.

The Bridie doll is kept throughout the year near the hearth, hung on a wall, or near the door, as a talisman of protection, then burnt in the next year’s

Brigit’s eve fire while a new one is fashioned. Brigit doll made by OBOD Bard Kate Reynalds, Druid wand made by James W. Maertens
Togail an Teine Mar a thogadh Muire.
Caim Bhride ‘s Mhuire
Air an tula ‘s air an lar,
‘S air an fhardaich uile.
Kindling the Fire 37As Mary would.
The encirclement of Bride and Mary,
On the fire, and on the floor
And on the household all.
Beannachadh SmalaidhSmalaidh mis an tula
Mar a smaladh Muire;
Comraig Bhride ‘s Mhuire
Smooring 38 BlessingI will smoor the hearth
As Mary would smoor;
The encompassment of Bride and of Mary.
Air an tula ‘s air an lar,
‘S air an fhardaich uile.
On the fire and on the floor,
And on the household all

Smooring the fire:

The women of the household rake the embers into a circle and divide them into three sections with a small boss in the middle. Three peats are placed in the spaces and ashes scattered over all so that the fire is banked down for the night and easily rekindled in the morning. I have my own tradition, where I light a candle for Brigit and ask her blessing on my house:

I kindle this candle in the name of Brighid,
Goddess of Smiths.
I sain 39 this house in the name of Brighid,
Goddess of Healers.
I smoor 40 this candle in the name of Brighid,
Goddess of Poets.

Brigit and Animals

Brigit had a way with animals, and could call birds to her hand. A hunted boar once found its way to her courtyard, and was granted sanctuary from its pursuers, remaining at the monastery for the rest of its life.

A white skinned red eared fairy cow is associated with her. This fairy animal provided the only sustenance she would accept as an infant – it’s pure white milk. This cow is said to be her favorite companion.

She saved a man’s life who had accidentally killed the King’s pet trained fox. The king condemned the poor peasant to death for his offense. Brigit replaced the animal with a wild fox from the woods who performed the same tricks that the king’s fox had performed. The fox disappeared back into the woods as soon as the peasant was set free by the king.

Brigit is also associated with a white snake, and with fish that sometimes appear in her healing wells.

hairy cows

Brigit, the Milk Maid 41

Cattle, milkmaids and milk were sacred to Brigid, “Thig a Bhride mhor na loin, Thig, a bhanachaig Iosda Criosda.” (“Come, great Bride, the beauteous, Come thou milkmaid of Jesus Christ.”) 42

“White Brigid’s Day” is another name for her feast day, referring to her association with milk, a vital food product to the early pastoral Celts. Milk was left out for her overnight, or poured out on the ground as a libation to her.

This plaque shows many of her symbols, the cow and pitcher of milk, the Bride’s cross, the barrel of ale, a duck and an owl, her abbot’s Sheppard’s crook, and the Druidic oak leaves and acorns.

She is associated with pastoral and agricultural enterprise – especially sheep and cows, during lambing and calving season, and thus a Goddess of animal fertility. She is particularly associated with milk and dairy products. She is thus a Mother Goddess with strong associations with Danu or Anu.

Brigit plaque made by Patricia Banker, Saints Preserved patron saints art and information

Shrines and Pilgrimage

There are many shrines and wells dedicated to Brighid throughout Ireland. In Faughart, the place many believe her to be born, there is an outdoor shrine where people come for healing. Cloths, bandages, ribbons, rosary beads and other items are tied to bushes around the shrine. A stream flows nearby with stations of the cross marked for pilgrims to honor her, usually the first Sundays in February and July.

In Killmagh, there is a “bullaun” (stone block with cup like depressions). Supplicants ask the Saint for help, and turn smaller rocks within the depression 43


The Catholic Church celebrates Candlemas on Brigid’s feast day (which is also celebrated as the “Purification of the Virgin Mary”). This is appropriate, because Brigid is a patroness of light. In her earlier version, she was a solar deity. On Candlemas, the members of the parish carry their lighted candles in a procession around the church, then the priest blesses the candles. The candles are then taken to their homes and used in protection from storms, demons and evil. February 3 rd is the feast of Saint Blaise, where two crossed candles are placed at the throat to protect the person from throat ailments.

Imbolc, Feast of Saint Bride

Imbolc 44, or Óimelc 45, occurring the first of February, is one of the four major Celtic festivals in the year, going back to Druid times. The other three are Beltaine (the first of May), Lughnassad (the first of August), and Samhain (the first of November.)

“The important Celtic feast of Candlemas fell on February 2 nd. It was held to mark the quickening of the year. In Ireland and the Highlands, February 2 nd is, very properly, the day of St. Brigit, formerly the White Goddess, the quickening Triple Muse 46.”

Imbolc, Là Fhéill Bhrìghde, was a festival of the original herding culture – where lambs are born and ewes are in milk. The milk provided drink, butter, cheese, and whey after a long, hard winter when the stocks of food were low – a matter of life and death to early Celtic people.

The rite of Imbolc is a women’s ceremony, where the coming of Spring is celebrated with Brighid’s feast (Maiden aspect of Goddess), and the waning of the Cailleach’s winter power is acknowledged (Crone aspect of Goddess). It is at the other side of the wheel of the year from Lughnassad, which is a male rite, celebrating Lugh, the God of Light. The struggle for power between the Cailleach and Brighid is the turning of the seasons from winter to summer. Early February marks the time when winter first begins to lose it’s power and the light can be seen to increase, thus it is also called Candlemas, when candles are blessed. In the myths, Cailleach brings winter snows while Brighid brings the first spring rains.

clootie tree

A tradition in the Highlands and Ireland is to put a strip of cloth or ribbon outside your door on Imbolc Eve (Jan. 31 st) for Brigit to bless. This cloth represents her mantle and can be used for healing throughout the year. Children are encouraged to notice if the cloth as grown the next morning, as Brigit’s mantle did! 47

I’ve designated a tree in my own backyard as a “clootie tree”, which has been used in many a healing ritual for my family and friends.

The ceremony is also a rite of purification, and homes and barns are cleaned out and blessed, after the dregs of winter. Imbolc rites solicit the return of light and warmth, the beginning of a new season of growth and abundance, planting, fertility and health.

Imbolc is also a traditional time to do divination. Looking into the ashes in the hearth the next morning one might find symbols of the coming year, or perhaps the very footprint of Brigit herself.

lady day

Lady Day 48
by Susa Morgan Black


In Wales, Saint Brigit is called Saint Ffraid. There are many churches called Llansantffraid which were dedicated to her. A Medieval Welsh traveling prayer, “Saint Ffraid, bless us on our journey.” 49

Brenin, the Welsh word for King, means consort of Brigantia. 50


Each Pictish king was given a Bruide name (a throne name), in his manifestation as the consort of Brigantia. The Picts are thought to be an early Brythonic tribe of Celts who settled in Scotland. 51

Isle of Man

In Manx legend, Saint Brigid came to the Isle of Man to receive the veil from Saint Maughold. Her feast day is known as Laa’l Breeshey in the Manx language, (which is similar to Irish and Scots Gaelic.) The lady of the house placed rushes by the hearth for a bed for the saint, then called out, “Brede, Brede, tar gys my thie tar dyn thie ayms noght Foshil jee yn dorrys da Brede, as ihig da Brede e heet staigh” Translation: “Brigid, Brigid, come to my house, come to my house tonight. Open the door for Brigid and let Brigid come in.” 52


In St. Ives, Cornwall, Saint Ea day is celebrated around the first of February with music and guising. Saint Ea was said to have floated to Cornwall from Ireland on an ivy leaf. They dress the Saint’s well, which is famous for curing diseases, especially of the eyes. Heated pennies are thrown to children from the balcony of the town hall. A silver ball is passed around until noon, and whoever has it when the bell strikes, is rewarded. The pennies and the ball are solar symbols. Thus, the themes of fire and water are acknowledged in the ceremony.


Oíche Fhéile Bríde, the eve of the Feast of Bride in Ireland was celebrated by bands of children carring a Bride doll from home to home. Women brought out cake and ale and invited neighbors in for a ceilí, to welcome Brigit. Milk products – butter, cheese and milk, were always served. The Saint herself was said to be abroad that night with her sacred white cow, blessing farmsteads and homes. People left out a piece of cloth, representing the brat Bríde, a piece of her sacred mantle, for the saint to bless as she passed by, which would be used to heal people and animals, especially in giving birth, the coming year. An offering of food for the saint and her cow was left in exchange. 53

In the Leitram – Donegal area of Ireland, families gather on St. Brigid’s Eve. Rushes would have been gathered and left at the door until the ceremony began, at midnight. At the appointed time, a designated person covers her or his head and knocks at the door. The Bean an Tighe (woman of the house) welcomes Brigid, saying “Fáilte leat a Bhríd” (Welcome Brigid), to which the newcomer replies, “Beannacht Dé ar daoine an tighe seo.” (God bless the people of this house.) Holy water is sprinkled on the rushes, which are then brought into the house. All participate in making new Brigid’s crosses or Celtic crosses for the year, and burning the ones from the previous year. 54

St. Bride’s Day, Scotland

In the Scottish version, the Cailleach, the old Goddess of Winter, transforms herself into Bride on this day by drinking from the Tobar Og (Well of Youth). With her white wand, she touches the ground and the flowers of spring emerge. In her aspect as Cailleach at the onset of winter, her blackthorn staff shrivels the growth into barren winter.

“Bride with her white wand is said to breathe life into the mouth of the dead winter and bring him to open his eyes to the tears, and the smiles, the sighs and the laughter of Spring. The venom of the cold is said to tremble for its safety on Bride’s Day, and to flee for its life on Saint Patrick’s Day 55,”

Chuir Bride miar ‘s an abhuinn la na Feill Bride” (Bride put her finger in the river on the Feast Day of Bride 56)

In another legend, the Cailleach Bheur (the old woman of winter the highlands of Scotland) ended summer with her blackthorn staff, banging it on the ground three times to signal the beginning of winter. With her severe presence came the winter gales and icy storms. The snow was her white mantle. Angus Og, the Celtic God of Love, was the handsome son of the Cailleach.

The Cailleach kept the Maiden of Spring, the Goddess Brighid prisoner, as her slave, making her life wretched with the hard work. Angus, who lived in the land of Everlasting Youth, saw Brighid one day in a vision, fell instantly in love, and was determined to marry her. But the Cailleach, his mother, knew that if he married Brighid, who in reality was the Sovereignty of the Land, Angus would become king, and would no longer be ruled by his mother, who would be deposed.

It was still winter, and travel was impossible. Yet Angus was determined. He borrowed three days from the summer months and the sun appeared and melted the snow, and he traveled to the Grampian Mountains, his mother’s abode. He searched and searched, but could not find his maiden, until he heard her sad voice singing in the forest near his mother’s castle as she gathered wood. When he found her, she looked up at him and she, too, was smitten with love. The day he found her was February 1 st, and was known as Bride’s Day from that day forth, the beginning of Spring. In her footsteps the early spring flowers, snow drops, emerged from beneath the snow.

His furious mother had her vengeance on the couple. She mounted the forces of winter against them, borrowing days from the harsh mid winter, causing devastation to the newly emerged flowers and young animals. But her power was waning and the love between Angus and his Bride were too strong for her. The Cailleach withdrew from the landscape, and turned to into a large gray stone, biding her time until the other side of the year when the Queen of Winter would reign again.

On the night of Imbolc Eve, the women of the household make a brìdeag 57, or dealbh Bride, a corn dolly of wheat, rushes, or grain from the last of the harvest. She is decorated with shells, stones, ribbons and early spring flowers, such as snow drops and primrose. A crystal is sometimes put over the heart to represent the “Guiding Star of Bride”. 58. The doll is placed in a “Bride’s bed” of woven wheat, a basket, or a cradle, which was placed near the front door of the cottage with a white candle burning nearby all night. In some traditions, the bed is put near the hearth. A white wand (birch, willow) is sometimes placed with the dolly to represent the wand of Brigit in legend. The woman of the house goes outside and cries out, “Brigit, Brigit, come in. Thy bed is ready.” three times. In other traditions, she exclaims “Brigit is come! Brigit is welcome!” Candles are often left out overnight for the Saint to bless. Also strips of cloth, representing the cloak of Brighid, which are used for healing throughout the year. An offering of a bonnach Bride (bannack) was left for the saint.

Dealbh Bride
Dealbh Bride made by Kate Reynolds, OBOD Bard

In a more public ceremony, the village girls, all dressed in white, carried the brìdeag in a procession throughout the town. The townspeople were required to give the group a gift of flowers, food (Bannocks, butter, cheese), in gratitude to the Saint for the year’s bounty. They finally gathered at the end of the day in a particular home, to put the Bride to bed and prepare for the feast the next day. Young men would come to pay their respects to the Bride, and there would be a ceilidh, with dancing and singing. At dawn, the group would sing a hymn to Brighid, and distribute the food to the poor.

In Barra, Scotland, fisherman cast lots for fishing banks after church services on Bride’s Day. The priest, “recited the virtues and blessings of Bride, and the examples to be drawn from her life. 59

In the Outer Hebrides women meet to make an image of the Maiden aspect of the Goddess, or Brighid. The doll is dressed in white, and a crystal is placed over its heart. She is placed in a cradle. Brighid is invited into the house by the female head of the household, and sacred songs and chants are sung in Her honor.
Alexander Carmichael states that, “Dedications to Bride are common throughout Great Britain and Ireland. From these traditional observations, it will be seen that Bride and her services are near to the hearts and lives of the people. In some phases of her character, she is much more to them than Mary is. 60


The Serpent

One of her symbols is a white snake that spirals upon a wand. “La Bride breith an earaich, thig an dearrais as an tom.” (The Day of Bride, the Birthday of Spring, the Serpent emerges from the knoll. 61

Moch maduinn Bhride, Thig an nimhir as an toll; Cha bhoin mise ris an nimhir, Cha bhoin an nimhir rium. 62

Early on Bride’s morn, the serpent will come from the hollow. I will not molest the serpent, nor will the serpent molest me. (The Greek Caduceus also has a snake motif for a healing symbol.)


19 is her sacred number. There were nineteen virgins who kept her perpetual flame in the monastery at Kildare. Prayer beads are made from 19 milk-white stones dedicated to the saint. (I have a necklace of 19 white quartz beads, with a Brigit’s cross attached.) Spells invoking Brigit take 19 days. For instance, lighting a special candle dedicated to her for 19 days along with prayers of supplication. 3 is also a sacred number, as Brighid is a “Triple Goddess”.


White (geal) 63 is her color, and symbolizes purity. It is also the color of her sacred food – milk and milk products. White also brings to mind the pristine snowy landscape during her festival in early February.

Red (ruadh) is also her color, the color of the hearth fire.

Blue (gorm), In Christian tradition, her mantle is blue, which is also associated with the Virgin Mary.

Green (glas). Her mantle is also said to be green, a color associating her with faeries. Ireland is sometimes described as her green mantle.

The Swan

According to Robert Graves, one of her symbols was the White Swan. 64

Black the town yonder,
Black those that are in it,
I am the White Swan,
Queen of them all 65


Cloak or Mantle

Brigit wore a healing cloak that she once hung on a beam of sunlight. Perhaps that is the inspiration for the traditional blue cloaks nurse’s once wore.

White Candle 66

Brigit’s feast day is also called Feill-Brìde, Candlemas, a time when candles are blessed by the Saint. A white candle should be dedicated specifically to the Saint and kept on her altar. Better still, a white candle with a three wicks.




As patroness of Blacksmiths, the anvil, or any blacksmith’s tool, is an appropriate symbol of the Goddess and Saint.

The Raven

Raven is associated with Imbolc, the Feast of Saint Brigit, because it is the first bird to nest in the Highlands, around the beginning of February. “Cuirear fitheach chon na nide”, (The raven goes to prepare his nest. 67)

Brigit Statuettes

Most Irish shops or Catholic supply stores will carry small statuettes of Brigit for the home altar. I have collected several images of Brigid from various sources listed in the appendix.


Sacred Woods

Both the Goddess and the Saint are reputed to own a white wand, made of birch or willow.

According to her prayer card, in Catholic tradition, her sacred wood is vine. She is also associated with oak, as her church at Kildare was built in nemeton, a traditional Druids’ oak grove.



Brigit’s Cross

While tending a dying Chieftain, the Saint prayed and wove an equal arm cross from the rushes on the floor. When the dying man asked her about it, she told him about the salvation of Jesus Christ, and he agreed to be baptized before he died. In more ancient times, this was her symbol as a solar deity. Brigit’s crosses can be made with either three or four legs.

The cross is usually hung above the front door of the home to protect it. Children’s crosses are hung above their beds.

Crosses were hung in the barn over the byre. The old cross is burned in the hearth fire on Saint Brigit’s eve, while the new one is made for the saint to bless for the new year.

Continue to Imbolc Meditation —>

brigit cross


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