text size

Top comments

{{ annotation.praises_count }} Likes
{{ annotation.creator_alias }}
{{ annotation.creator_score }}

There are no comments yet. Be the first to start comment or request an explanation.

Brighidine Flamekeeping is the tradition of keeping a perpetual sacred flame for Brighid, a Celtic goddess, or St. Brigit, an Irish saint. There is overlap between the pagan and Christian traditions surrounding Brighid/Brigit as the goddess and the saint have become somewhat syncretized. The flame is kept in a 20-day cycle by a Cill -- a group of 19 people who tend the flame from sunset to sunset on their assigned shift. The 20th shift is kept by Brighid Herself. Traditionally, the flame was kept at Kildare by 19 nuns in a church where, it is said, no man could enter. Nowadays, the flame is kept all over the world by followers of both saint and goddess, and Cills can consist of people of any gender. (There are orders with unigender Cills as well as mixed-gender ones.) The flame is kept from sunset on one day to sunset the next, following Celtic tradition of the length of a day. Modern practitioners might not keep a literal flame, instead using LED candles, specially dedicated jewelry, or changing the desktop backgrounds on their computers to signify the beginning of their shift. There are many ways to signify the beginning of keeping the flame on one's shift; lighting a candle is only one of them. Flamekeepers might also say a prayer at the beginning of their shift to get into the right mindset. Keeping the flame for Brighid is generally considered worship, or veneration, so during one's shift it's preferred that one try to do Brighidine activities. Brighid is a three-fold goddess of healing, smithcraft, and poetry, so activities related to Her could be anything from creating poetry or art, writing, healing, making things, or even cleaning, as She is also considered a hearth goddess and thus associated with the domestic arts. Some followers of Brighid also hold that knitting and crochet are Brighidine activities, and might spend their shift doing that. One might also spend time making a Brighid's Cross to give to someone or hang in one's home. Ultimately, it is up to the practitioner what they do on their flamekeeping shift, and whether it is appropriate is between them and the goddess. There are several Brighidine orders with their own Cills active today.

read all comments

1 Shawn Bose = "The syncretization of religious traditions has long fascinated me - the more one starts to delve through the layers - it becomes clear that the deities, stories, iconography of that which we venerate may change in nomenclature, but are more fluid in terms of their characteristics, significance and interaction with the people that attribute them their status as worthy of worship.This can be seen in the many examples across the evolution of religious narratives in many parts of the world.  Most famously we know of Jesus as Dionysus, Dionysus as Krishna or Horus, etc. - but one that really is close to my heart is when my wife and I were doing an excavation in Paestum, Italy - which had once been the town of Poseidonia in Magna Graecia. There the iconography of Pagan and Christian also had a wonderfully fluid transition, "the worshipers of Hera passed on to the Christians who came after them was the icon of the pomegranate, a symbol of righteousness and plenty. Statues of Hera often show her holding a piece of that fruit. There is a church in nearby Capaccio called the Madonna of the Granato (Madonna of the Pomegranate). Within the church is a wooden sculpture of the Madonna; she holds a pomegranate." (http://www.naplesldm.com/hera.htm)"
2 Melissa D = "I wonder how modern practitioners who can not/choose not to use flame can replicate the experience of mindfully tending a flame, the effect repetitive tasks have on states of consciousness, and the devotional experience that comes with work done in the name of a deity. This isn't to say that the work of those who do not keep a literal flame is any less valid than those who do, but say a college group who can't light candles or flames wants to form a group of Cills, or a solitary practitioner who must work outside the home and can't risk leaving an open flame behind, wants to commemorate the period? It would be interesting to see what practices evolve out of this need."
3 Morag Spinner = "In my experience, the way the practices have evolved is to cover more than just tending an actual flame as part of 'flametending.' Those who cannot light a literal flame and even those who do will find other Brighidine activities to do during their shift -- such as knitting, creating poetry, art, healing, engaging in the domestic arts. It's still work done in the name of Brighid, and gives a devotional experience -- the acts of lighting and extinguishing the flame, literal or not, becomes a framing for the work done during one's shift, and the term 'tending the flame' expands to encompass much more than it once meant, becoming an abstract term more than a literal one. Personally, when I tend the flame, I'm not thinking about actually tending the candle I light -- that's just a symbol. I'm tending the fire within my heart, within my head, that was lit by Brighid and burns for Her. I'm tending the flame within my community by committing my hands to Her work. "Tending the flame" is a more a metaphor than a description of a literal act, for me. "
4 Morag Spinner = "A four-armed Brighid's Cross made from reeds. There are also 3-armed versions. Source.Instructions on how to make your own Brighid's Cross. "
5 Morag Spinner = "You can find a flametenders' directory here. "