Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Bridget of Ireland

  • Pamela Cooper-WhiteEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_9053

Two female figures share the name Brigid, the Christian Saint Brigid of Kildare, Ireland, in the fifth to sixth centuries CE (in Gaelic, Naomh Brid or Mary of the Gael) and the ancient Celtic goddess “Brighid.” The name, whose root means “power” or “exalted one,” has many variations throughout northern Europe including Bride, Bridgit, Bríd, and others. Different was St. Birgitta of Sweden, whose name is sometimes anglicized as “Bridget.” Birgitta was a fourteenth century abbess, and is not associated with Brigid of Ireland or the ancient Celtic goddess.

Celtic Goddess Brighid

Brighid’s lore and ritual practices are said to extend back to Neolithic times. She was associated in Celtic and Irish mythologies with two primal elements necessary for life including fire (Breo-saighit, “fiery arrow”) and wells of healing water. As goddess of fire or keeper of the sacred flame, she was associated with both bonfire and hearth, craftsmanship (especially forging and smithy), and therefore also...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bitel, L. M. (2001). St. Brigit of Ireland: From virgin saint to fertility goddess. Presented at Fordham University. Retrieved from http://monasticmatrix.org/commentaria/article.php?textId=6. Accessed 30 July 2012.
  2. Bitel, L. M. (2009). Landscape with two saints: How Genova of Paris and Brigid of Kildare built Christianity in Barbarian Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chadwick, N. K. (1970). The ancient Celts. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Condren, M. (1989). The serpent and the goddess: Women, religion, and power in Celtic Ireland. San Francisco: New Island.Google Scholar
  5. Connolly, S. (1972). Authorship and manuscript traditions of Vita I S Brigitae. Manuscripta St. Louis University, 16, 67–82.Google Scholar
  6. Farmer, D. (2011). Brigid of Ireland. In D. Farmer (Ed.), The Oxford dictionary of saints (5th ed., pp. 78–79). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Green, M. (1996). Celtic goddesses: Warriors, virgins, and mothers. New York: George Braziller.Google Scholar
  8. Healy, E. (2002). In search of Ireland’s holy wells. Dublin: Wolfhound Press.Google Scholar
  9. Jung, C. G. (1990). Archetypes and the collective unconscious. In G. Adler & R. F. C. Hull (Ed. & Trans.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (Vol. 9, Pt. 1). Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1959).Google Scholar
  10. Jung, C. G. (2009). In S. Shamdasani (Ed. & Trans.), The red book (trans: Kyburz, M., & Peck, J.). New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  11. MacKillop, J. (1998). Dictionary of Celtic mythology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. McCone, K. (1982). Brigid in the 7th century: A saint with three lives? Peritia: Journal of the Medieval Academy of Ireland, 1, 107–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. McCone, K. (2000). Pagan past and Christian present in early Irish literature. Maynooth: Maynooth Monographs.Google Scholar
  14. Meyer, K. (1912). Sanas Cormaic. Anecdota from Irish Manuscripts, 4(1–19), 1–128.Google Scholar
  15. O’Donovan, J., & Stokes, W. (Ed. & Trans.). (1868). Cormac’s glossary. Calcutta: O. T. Cutter.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Union Theological SeminaryNew YorkUSA