The Fire & Legend of Bridget of Kildare

What follows is an article by Erin Durrett introducing the new Explore Celtic Spirituality series starting up this coming Sunday. I’m delighted to be one of the co-dreamers of this offering!

February 11, 2018, 4pm-5pm
Church of the Holy Spirit
15420 Vashon Hwy.
www.holyspiritvashon.org

What does the word “Celtic” conjure for you? Lively, lilting music on St. Patrick’s Day? Lines of high-steppin’ Riverdancers? The misty isles of Britain? For the next few months we’re going to be exploring the deep currents that underlie these well-known traditions and images in a series of short workshops that will offer music, poetry, movement and food for the soul that come from the ancient sacred traditions of Celtic culture.

February 11th the series begins with a celebration of the “fire in the heart” of Bridget of Kildare, whose legend goes back into the mists of Irish prehistory. Like many saints, she comes down to us carrying the elements of her Divinity – blessings of fire and water, guarding prayers of home and hearth, brewing and good fellowship. She is the shepherdess of flocks and tender of their abundance.

One of her legends: When Bridget was a young woman her father tried to marry her off to a local king. As the king stood at his window watching her he said, “I suspect you want me to marry her because you are tired of her giving away all your possessions – just as I see her now giving away your jeweled sword to that beggar”. Her father, enraged, ran over to the window and began to yell down at Bridget but the king stopped him. “Your child’s reputation for generosity is well-known. But I think she will have no king of Tara; she is already the worthy bride of a greater King”.

Indeed, the fire in Bridget’s heart waits on no man! She walks back and forth through the mists of time tending that fire by touching the human heart with generosity, courage and companionship. She is with us when she makes ale for a bunch of thirsty lepers, when the last coals of the fire are banked with her blessing so the family may have hot porridge in the morning, when we weave the image of the fiery sun from cold, wet rushes as she taught us on her feast day in the bleak mid-winter.

Come with your children, grandparents and friends to celebrate with us at the fire in the labyrinth, with music and good fellowship in the hall! People of all ages and spiritual leanings welcome!

For more information: www.holyspiritvashon.org

And also in celebration of Brighid.

For the next two weeks you can listen to an episode of Forest Halls Celtic devoted to exploring the legend and myth of Brighid by way of music, poetry, and folklore.  Head over here to listen to Show 22

Yes, a Place Exists in Today’s World for Epic Storytelling

Last Saturday, I had the great pleasure of being one of 16 storytellers from the Seattle Storytellers Guild who performed the epic Finnish myth, the Kalevala, at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard. What a fun and amazing experience!

The whole Kalevala took six hours to tell, with two intermissions. Listeners — including myself — truly entered a magical world — one of wonder, humor, adventure, and human foibles — presented against a backdrop of times past or perhaps never were. I personally felt something wake up: my human nature that knows and expects to have an immersive storytelling experience that resounds with layers of myth. For an afternoon the Finnish mythic roots became my own — or perhaps stirred recognition of a similar fabric in my own ancestral and soul psyche. I loved the sense of “passing the story” — one teller to the next — with each teller bring their own “color” and sensibilities to the tale, while also tending the weave of the whole.

One of the tellers, Jill Johnson, well captures the scope and spirit of the event. Read her blog post, An Epic Revisited.

Kalevala tellers - photo by Barry McWilliams
Seattle Storytelllers Guild Epic Tellers for The Kalevala at Nordic Heritage Museum March 25th 2017

Tellers from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California, all came together to perform this wondrous event. The show is over, but I believe it will air on the radio. I’ll let you know details about that airing when I get them! Also, consider joining the Seattle Storytellers Guild next year, when our 2018 epic storytelling features tales from The Thousand and One Nights!

Jane Valencia performing the Kalevala - photo by Barry McWilliams
Jane Valencia performing “Aino and the Queen of the Lake” from the Kalevala – photo by Barry McWilliams