Did you ever hear it said, ‘what did we used to know about building that every generation has forgotten since’? Usually applied to how many ancient and often beautiful buildings are still standing while more modern efforts are not only badly designed and ugly but regularly need to be bulldozed for safety reasons!
Today in honour of the most important and longest lasting figure from Irish mythology through pre and post Christian Ireland, Brigid, I want to keep the sentiment of that question but change the words to ‘what did we used to know about equality and how it benefits the whole community that every generation has forgotten since’?
Today, January 31st is St Brigids Eve and tomorrow St Brigids Day or Imbolc is the all important festival of spring that marks the passage from the dark half of the year to the bright half (hurray!)
Traditions of this evening in Ireland would have included preparing a great feast and making a St Brigids cross (a pre christian sun symbol made from rushes for protection of the home). Giving food to animals and the poor. Leaving food in an outside window for the goddess as she passed in the night bringing the sun in her wake. At least briefly lighting candles in every room to again signify the coming of the light. Making a doll of Brigid in a basket of early flowers like snowdrops and hanging a piece of cloth outside for the goddess to bless.
In Irish mythology Brigid was the daughter of Dagda, the king of the Tuatha de Danann. Symbolised by fire and represented by the sun, the goddess, sometimes depicted as one of three sisters was revered and worshipped for thousands of years.
Much later in AD450 the girl who would become the legendary healer, missionary, leader and eventually saint was born in Co Louth.
Even without considering the many miracles attributed to St Brigid it’s clear she was an extraordinary person widely accepted as the most charismatic of Christian saints in Ireland, a remarkable leader and administrator and the centre of popular devotion in Ireland.
Sadly somewhere along the way, largely due to the rigours of male dominated religious organisations, a more patriarchal society defined by inequality emerged. The role of the feminine became subjugated and the long held position of women was lost.
Today in the spirit of Brigid, the goddess & woman and on this the eve of her feast and the coming of spring, the season of light, birth and hope I thought it would be a nice idea to consider her tradition while also highlighting some of the new grassroots movements that are happening across the world, making female equality this years hot topic.
The shooting of Malala Yousafzai by the Taliban for going to school and the exposure of the dangers faced by young women in India and around the world have sparked the beginnings of change, heralding a new spring for women perhaps. Just three campaign examples are…
- 1. 10×10, a global action campaign for girls’ education. At its heart is Girl Rising, an innovative new documentary film. Together, 10×10 and Girl Rising promote a powerful truth: ‘Educating girls in the developing world can transform families, communities, and entire countries – and break the cycle of poverty in just one generation.‘ Click this link for more information: http://www.facebook.com/10x10act For more information about the Girl Rising documentary/feature film click HERE
- 2. The office of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education is also highlighting their A World At School campaign through its website and on Facebok and Twitter. Its aim is to continue to campaign against child labour and child marriage and for a world at school. Click HERE to add your name to that cause.
- 3. Plan Internationals ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign is aiming to reach 4 million girls directly – improving their lives with access to school, skills, livelihoods and protection. To read more click HERE
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
― Margaret Mead