This last Saturday I went on a pilgrimage, alone, to St. Brigid’s Well, The Mary of the Gael, to light a candle by request of a friend. St. Brigid was originally a pagan goddess whom the Druids and Celts continued to celebrate even after the invasion of the church. The church, being unable to to stifle the love for this goddess, transformed her story and made her a Saint. As the goddess of the Celts was associated with water, so St. Brigid is associated with Holy Wells in Ireland. These wells are said to provide the three attributes associated with the Saint as well as the original goddess: Wisdom and Learning, Healing and also Poetry and Art. Brigid’s cross, which can be found over the doors and in the windows of houses, shops and pubs across Ireland, represents not only the cross of Christ but also the sun, and its beams of light effervescing. Brigid is highly revered in Celtic culture and is, along with St. Patrick, Ireland’s favored Saint.
I walked from town to The Well. The road took me through nearby countryside, by an Abbey, and down a dirt road lined with oaks and pumpkin vines where a lone sign, bare against the sky directed me to her Well. A willow arch stooped over the bridge crossing a stream into the garden. I lit my candle at the alter, saying a prayer that God, knowing my own hear better than myself, would grant my hearts desires and that I may bless others above all else. I wandered the grounds for sometime as it rained on and off. I sang songs, said prayers and simply enjoyed the beauty of the day and the peaceful, hopeful energy of that place. A statue of Brigid holding her eternal fire stood across the stream before a stone arch. The Arch as well as a nearby pine were covered in ribbons, tokens, coins, rosaries and what seemed liked lost items: opal rings, amber pendants, lipsticks, hair ties. Everyone brought their own small sacrifice to leave for the Saint. I dropped a penny in the Well with a prayer that peace might be ushered to this earth. With a final song I did not know, but felt, I left the grounds feeling I had made an important journey and that the candle I lit was not the only light that burned but that a fire more bright and eternal lived in me as in all of us who choose to follow the path before us with determination and faith.