Brigit Prayer Beads

by Patricia Monaghan

Brides Mound, Glastonbury - photo, Paul Williment,
Bride's Mound, Glastonbury (photo: Paul Williment,

This was very kindly sent to us just a couple of days ago by Michael McDermott, Patricia Monaghan’s husband. He writes:

Brigit prayer beads were developed by my beloved wife and partner in all things for comfort while she was on her journey of hope and disappointment with cancer. She always upheld the importance of daily prayer and stressed the creativity and peace of craft work.  These led her to create these beads.  She felt it important to seek the goddess in her own Irish heritage and this is one result. We prayed with these refrains on the beads (even called them Brigit rosaries) daily and had profound love and hope as we spoke the words and let the connections sink in.  We took the beads to Kildare last year for the Brigid festival and felt great connections and gratitude.  May you find the same peace and grounding that we did when you use the prayers. Please credit Patricia if these are republished.

Michael McDermott

To make Brigit Prayer beads: put three units of three beads each, with divider beads between.  You may put any number of divider beads between individual beads; place a larger number between the units of three beads.  Place one large bead at the point you wish to indicate as the “beginning.”  When using, you can repeat each of the following prayers either three times each, or nine times (in the latter case you will go round the beads three times to complete). Continue reading "Brigit Prayer Beads"

The Healing Womb

by Annabel Du Boulay

Hecate - by Annabel Du BoulayI was inspired to paint 'The Healing Womb' art installation for the Glastonbury Goddess Conference 2012 by my personal experience of mothering three children, two of whom were born with life-threatening syndromes and multiple disabilities. During the months I lived on neonatal intensive care and paediatric surgical wards, I heard many stories of womb wounding. Stories of sadness interwoven with abortion, of grief from miscarrying, of the trauma of still-birth. Stories of failed IVF attempts, of childless women, their wombs over-flowing with lost dreams. Stories from overwhelmed and frightened mothers nursing ill and disabled children. And stories of motherhood and mothering in the community, its challenges and its rewards.

As women, we all have stories of womb wounding to share but so often we can feel silenced by a society that does not honour our experiences. Abortion remains shrouded in stigma whilst feelings of anger, resentment, grief and despair can be challenging for family and friends to witness, leading us to hide our shadow feelings, pushing them deep inside us where they can fester, causing ill health both physically and mentally. Continue reading "The Healing Womb"

“Dolls”, Fairy Tales, and Ancient Goddess Figurines

by Jeri Studebaker

Vasilisa - by Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin (1876-1942)For quite some time I'd known that archaeologists have been digging up thousands of small female figurines from ancient Neolithic archaeological sites, both in southeastern Europe ("Old Europe") and elsewhere around the world. However, I was surprised recently to find two Russian fairy tales that seem to contain the literary equivalents of these ancient figurines. The fairy tales, "Vasilisa the Fair" and "Prince Danilla Govorilla," both contain magical "dolls" that help young fairy-tale women through rough times. After reading these tales, I wondered: do they provide clues about how ancient Europeans might have interacted with their goddess figurines: about what they did with them – and when, and why, and how?

Most Neolithic goddess figurines were sized to fit comfortably in the human hand. Many appear "otherworldly," their ancient makers having given them women's bodies but birds' heads and beaks, for example, or coiled snakes for legs. Since these female figurines are typically accompanied by few if any male figurines, and are inscribed with many of the same symbols found on the walls of associated temples, the renowned Harvard/UCLA archaeologist Marija Gimbutas suggested that they represent goddesses, and that their makers belonged to societies oriented around female deity. Continue reading "“Dolls”, Fairy Tales, and Ancient Goddess Figurines"

Let down your hair

by Jacqui Woodward-Smith

Brigit of the mantles,
Brigit of the peat-heap,
Brigit of the twining hair


When, in my early and mid-20s, I journeyed to the Underworld in the midst of a dark depression the urge that I most had to fight against was one to cut my hair; not to have it trimmed, or shaped, or styled to make me feel better, but to hack at it, cut chunks out of it, shave my head, make it ugly, destroy it. Somehow my hair was a symbol of my inner self and I felt that if I could make it look the way that I felt inside everyone would understand the dark place that I was in and I would never have to explain it, or hide it, again. Yet it wasn’t a considered thought, it was a barely understood visceral urge that I battled against almost every day, and I have since heard other women describe similar feelings. I think that that’s when I really started to think about hair…

…and the more that I thought about hair the more that I noticed references to it in the Goddess-centred books that I was reading and the stories that I heard. It became clear to me that, for women at least, our hair is a symbol of something deep and primal; a symbol of our wild, and yet often rejected or hidden, inner selves and it is, yet another, example of a symbol that has been taken from us and controlled, possibly to the point where it’s original meaning and power has been destroyed completely…but perhaps in everything there is a glimmer that can be reclaimed?

Continue reading "Let down your hair"