Myths are stories to live by. Every element in a story has a meaning. Everything symbolises a part of the listener’s psyche. When you listen to a myth more deeply, you discover its meaning for your life. This is what meditation has taught me about Brigit and creativity:
This story is much more personal to me than the other ones in the Brighid section. I chose it because it resonated with me. This is how I make sense of the story for my life.
Brigit is travelling for work. She is the abess of the most important women’s community in Ireland at her time, and a very respected elder. She travels every summer to take care of her community’s and the Divine’s business at gatherings and meetings. In the story, she needs a place to stay. It is as though the fire of creativity is looking for somewhere where it will be accepted and where it can do its work.
Because Brigit, in her guise as the summer aspect of Brighid, is the Fire of the Forge. She creates new things by melting metal down in the fire until it isn’t even recongnisable, and turning it into something new. This is the fire of every creative process. And that is the fire that is looking for a resting place.
The poor woman’s heart is open to this fire. She is glad and grateful that Brigit is staying with her, and sees it as a spiritual duty to give her the best she has. And for her, the best is everything. She gives all she has to the creative fire, like many a present-day artists gives all her time and energy to their creative passion. Or a spiritual seeker gives everything for knowledge and wisdom.
But Brigit will not keep what she has been given. The summer aspect of the Goddess is also Brigantia, easily her most warrior-like side. She is the tutelary Goddess of the Brigantes tribe, who lived in Northern England before the Romans came. They would have called upon her when their homes and livelihood were in danger. She was the one who would prevent the ultimate loss.
There is definitely a livelihood in danger here, and Brigit makes sure that nothing is lost. Nothing that you give to the creative fire is ever lost. It is given back to you in a different form. We can only imagine the amazement of the poor woman, and her desire to keep this astonishing event like a guiding light in her heart.
Just like this woman, we are called to give everything to our passion. For some of us it isn’t even clear what our passion is. If that is so for you, it is your first duty to find out. Because it is through our passion and desire that Spirit expresses itself. If we fail to do what we are meant to do, our health suffers. As Caitlin Matthews has been known to say: it is not a matter of choice.
Main picture: A tribal woman sewing from a page on traditional Kasooti embroidery
Embroidery silks from the Smocking Store
Hands sewing: a detail of "Nude Study, or Suzanne Sewing" by Paul Gauguin (1848-19303)
Creative embroidery by Anne Griffiths
Forge: detail of a picture from an armour workshop, which has disappeared from the internet