To celebrate our new Spring holiday in Ireland I have created a collection of five bowls inspired by the symbolism around our national patroness, Brigid. Once again, I am bringing together ideas from my own culture, from Celtic traditions and fusing them with the Japanese artform kintsugi.
Bridget has always fascinated me. Not only do we share a birthplace but I was also named after her. Growing up familiar with many stories of this 5th Century saint, it was much later I discovered the complexity of this revered Irish woman who is also a mythical pagan goddess.
To some she is St Brigid of Kildare, founder of Ireland’s first convent, famed for her rush crosses, healing wells, sacred flames and a miraculous cloak. To others, Brigid is a triple goddess – of healing, fire and poetry.
She has many other names but four will do for the moment!
In Ireland, the 1st of February marks the beginning of Spring and we celebrate of Lá Fhéile Bríde, St Brigid’s Day. Like many feast days of the Irish calendar, Brigid's predates Christianity – her roots lie in the Celtic festival of Imbolc, the feast of the goddess Brigid, celebrated at least five millennia ago.
The full Moon with crescents back to back is the symbol of the triple goddess. Brigid is the goddess of healing, fire and poetry.
The eternal flame at her convent in Kildare entwines Christianity with the alchemical force of the goddess Brigid which also encompasses the fires of inspiration and creativity, the home and the forge.
One story tells of her at the bedside of a dying pagan chieftain, perhaps her father, picking up rushes from the floor and weaving a cross as she told him about Christianity. The man converted before he died.
My favourite wildflower, the dandelion, has links with Brigid, including its name Bearnán Bríde, ‘the indented one of Brigid', is one of the first blooms in Spring. According to Brehon Law an essential medicinal herb with healing qualities.
The power of healing is also symbolised by the element of water and there are many holy wells attributed to Brigid. Imbolc involves not only the lighting of fires, but also purification of well water and the ushering in of Spring.