Brigid: most popularly known as St Brigid of Kildare, a patron saint of Ireland, though many believe the saint is a Christianisation of the goddess Brigid, a member of the Tuatha De Danaan. As they share many attributes and similarities in their stories, and the same sacred day (February 1st), it seems obvious to me that there is a connection, or that they are one in the same. New Age spiritual beliefs do not just associated Brigid with Ireland. As a goddess, she is revered by many.
Napier is a cute little art deco town on the edge of Hawke’s Bay, with black beaches, light blue water and a quaint seaside-meets-Gatsby charm. Though this might be the last place you might expect to feel the Celtic goddess Brigid reach out to you, that is exactly what happened to me.
I had spent the day amusing myself by exploring the town, but by late afternoon I started to feel a bout of loneliness that came from a desire to have my friends and family alongside me to share in my experiences. To fend off the looming moroseness, I decided to defy the 35 degree heat and occupy myself by climbing up to the Bluff lookout point.
At the bottom of the Bluff I found Centenary Gardens, a cute little nature area made from a reclaimed limestone quarry, and dominated by a lovely waterfall. I sought some respite in the shade here, hoping the coolness of the water might refresh and revive me somewhat. I have a very strong connection to nature, and particularly to the British landscape. There is nowhere I feel more at home than in the middle of a British forest. Whenever I go away for extended periods of time, I feel the separation quite acutely. I don’t just miss the views or the aesthetics, but the energy of British land (particularly my Midlands home) that clearly sustains me more than I reckoned.
Missing my family and England made me quite heavyhearted in that moment. I felt so very, very far away and tether-less. New Zealand is stunning and profound, but energetically it feels so different. I needed to feel a connection to home. I looked at the cascading water and the pool below, and I thought – irrationally, some would say – that the water might be able to carry my request home. All water is connected, after all. In an instant I felt a feminine presence reach out to me, assuring me that she could hear me and it didn’t matter how far away I was as my spirit is always connected to the land of my home, and I can feel that connection whenever I want. No name was given, but I intuitively thought it was Brigid.
Brigid is not a specific goddess/energy/force that I connect with often, so I definitely hadn’t sought her out. Later, after a sweltering climb up to the Bluff, I asked for some confirmation that I had heard what I’d heard (technically, I hadn’t really heard it. With me, it’s always more of a knowing). At precisely that moment, I saw a perfect purple flower on the floor by my foot. Then, a big butterfly with bright orange wings (the same type of butterfly that later prompted my musings in my last post) soared over my head, backwards and forwards. I felt sure this was a confirmation, and a reminder that there are elemental and nature energies for me to connect to here. I started to feel better.
A couple of days later I was back I Auckland, and I suddenly realised that it was Imbolc, or, as the Christian’s term it, St Brigid’s Day! I had completely forgotten this festival was coming up, marking the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
Whilst out running errands I saw a little church along Ponsonby Road that had a sign saying it was open for visitors. I am quite inquisitive of churches, though I don’t worship in them. However, this church looked modern and simple so I wasn’t sure there would be much to look at inside, and carried on by. I’d barely made it a few steps before, no, I had to go and have a look.
Inside it was fairly simple: no grand art or architecture to speak of, but the walls were lined with little stained glass windows of saints. I don’t really feel much of a connection to saints, but I figured I might as well look at one of the walls seeing as I was there. I scanned over a couple, admiring the colours but nothing else. Then, suddenly, before my very eyes was a depiction of St Brigid, perfectly illuminated by the sun and holding a bowl of fire in her hands. I was totally caught off guard, but I laughed. And I bowed my head to her, because I knew she was still reaching out to support me.
A few more days passed with more exploring, reading books and trying to temper the whirlwind of emotions that kept coming up. I started to rethink how long I intended to stay in New Zealand, and whether there were some other places I might like to go at the end of this trip instead. Oregon came to mind, and also the Isle of Man. I have wanted to go to Man ever since reading Faery Tale by Signe Pike, which recounts her journey to find enchantment in the modern world. It struck me how her story – to find enchantment to heal her disenchantment with life – is quite similar to my desire seek and pursue wonder.
But, I chalked this sudden rekindled desire to go to the Isle of Man as a fearful attempt at escapism because I was feeling so unsettled in New Zealand. However, exploring Devonport, a seaside town just across the water from Auckland City, would bring me back to Brigid again.
I wandered into a second hand bookshop (because I cannot simply walk passed these places, I have to go in). I perused the spirituality section for a while, aimlessly opening a few books to see if they could give me some answers to the questions I hardly knew how to phrase. Then, I started to look for books on King Arthur (which is what I do everywhere). There were a few, but what jumped out at me, nestled between some Arthur books, was this: St Bridget’s Night – Stories from the Isle of Man. I couldn’t believe it!
Some people will think I am crazy I am sure but, to me, this many Brigid related instances cannot be coincidental. I now feel sure that I need to go to the Isle of Man this year. I suppose I initially thought that going to New Zealand would take up my whole year, that it would be the journey to completely overhaul and revolutionise my life (as if that process could ever be just a simple, one-shot thing), but now I believe that it is the first part of an epic year of wonder-seeking adventures and spiritual growth. I think I am called to see and do many different things this year, which is incredibly exciting! Watch this space!
Have any of you had an experience with Brigid? I’d love to hear about it.