A book review and then some: How I found the goddess Brigid

I think a Goddess may have chosen me. I say this not with the connotation that I am special. Instead I feel as though I was trying in vain to find my own Gods for a good part of my adult life. I'm too analytical for this to be a conscious task. Instead, I think a Goddess has finally chosen me--in the same way that I think a God or Goddess would choose every one of us if given a chance.

I was brought up with earth-based spirituality, but not much focus on deities. We had Greek, Norse and Native American myths and I felt a spiritual connection to the stories of Persephone and Demeter and I liked Thor simply for his brashness. But other than that, they were just stories—stories of significance and meaning, sure, but not infused with that sense of powerful consciousness and personality that seems to mark the true presence of a deity for others. 

Then a few years ago, I began noticing references to Brigid in increasing frequency—in stories that I read or in spiritual books and divination. The name kept coming up. I had never even heard of a Goddess named Brigid before that time. And I felt it was too cumbersome a name to give to a child, even though I had good reason to like it.

When I was sixteen, I ended up alone and frightened at a strict Catholic school in Germany among strangers who vocally rejected me because of my vision impairment. The one person who was kind and accepting toward me was a classmate named Birgid, obviously a variant of Brigid. I was not able to stay in contact with that classmate, but over more than twenty years, her memory has always stayed strong with me. And so when I began to hear the name Brigid, I connected it to that memory.

As such, Brigid had a head start in my heart. But at first, I thought that this Goddess was only one among many. Despite the fact that she is quite popular in some Neopagan circles, I did not find her in many of the lists and books about European Gods and Goddesses. From her conspicuous absence from some anthologies, I would have thought she was a minor figure. But as I have since learned, that is far from the truth. 

Brigid began to come into my life more forcefully in the past two years, when I became a published author. I heard more about Brigid, although it was usually in a passing comment or a random story, rather than in weighty spiritual books. After I had published my first three novels, I decided to begin my hearth-side email circle and make the theme of my website an online hearth that welcomes all and particularly those who have faced injustice in society. 

The idea first came to me while I was traveling in Portland, Oregon and one night I sat down with friends for a little wine and Tarot. I was telling my friends about my new business plans, when one woman--who says she doesn’t even remember doing so--turned to me and said, “Well, you know. There is a connection you should make. The hearth, writing, your healing work with herbs and your activism—it’s all very much the work of Brigid.”

I was taken aback and momentarily confused. Here was Brigid again, this time not just a passing reference but one very specifically directed at me. At the same time, I was struggling to integrate my new ideas and I didn’t have the patience for any digression. So, I let the comment pass. 

But Brigid didn’t let me be. Over the next few months, it seemed as if her name came up in every book I picked up. But there was precious little real information to be had about her until I ran across an Amazon recommendation for a book called Brigid: History, mystery, and magick of the Celtic Goddess by Courtney Weber. 

I’m a shrewd shopper, so I looked at other books on the goddess, but that one that I came across at random called to me. And I didn’t have the money to buy any book at the time, so I put it on my wish list. 

Then this past month, I ended up on the other side of the world in Portland, Oregon again and went into a Pagan bookstore with a little money in my pocket and a promise to get a gift “from my higher self to myself” as my mother likes to put it. And that was where I finally found a real goddess.

So, here is my review of the book with one caveat. This is a highly subjective, personal thing. Many people may be inspired by another deity or another book. And this book may not speak to everyone in the way that it speaks to me. But there it is.

I very rarely find a non-fiction book I can’t put down, but I read this book in record time, snatching every little minute and skimping on sleep while trying to juggle work, writing, herbal practice, activism and children—much the way Brigid juggles the aspects of hearth-keeper, bard, healer, smith and occasional warrior for just causes. The writing is that good.

Within these pages I found a reflection of the divine that I can embrace personally and wholeheartedly as never before. The author Courtney Weber does a masterful job of telling her own story of discovery in a way that is humble, credible and humorous while presenting spirited retellings of traditional tales, historical research, personal reflections, meditation exercises, ritual templates and divination practices.

The structure of the book is both organic and quite clear to me. Reading it felt like gaining two spiritual allies at the same time, Weber and Brigid—one immediate in this world and the other a picture pieced together from fragments until it became the goddess.

I had long since despaired of ever finding a specific path or teaching that I could adopt as my own. And I am very excited to have been proven wrong in that jaded belief. Weber’s approach to Brigid is as close as I have ever found to my heart’s way. I recommend that particularly those devoted to writing and other poetic arts, healing and activism give this book a try. It may just have more miracles to work.

1 Comment

Arie Farnam

Arie Farnam is a war correspondent turned peace organizer, a tree-hugging herbalist, a legally blind bike rider, the off-road mama of two awesome kids, an idealist with a practical streak and author of the Kyrennei Series. She grew up outside La Grande, Oregon and now lives in a small town near Prague in the Czech Republic.