Queering Brigid

Introducing ‘Queering Brigid’, otherwise known as ‘Bridie as a Boy’, posed for by Jospeh Atiase, for my Queering Deities project. I was inspired by the words written by Joe about his connection with the goddess, his shamanic journeying, and particularly the powerful poem that he shared. Here he is in his own words:

“I first encountered Brigid as a Maiden Goddess. I worked with Her as Goddess of the Fire and the Hearth, Poet and Goddess of Healing.The first time I wrote poetry in Sacred Ceremony while working with Brigid the image that came through strong was Bridie as a Boy and I deeply connected with Her in this form and saw a lot of myself as a young queer person reflected in Her in this aspect.

The Swan is a strong image that carries so much in it. Power, Beauty, Grace, Struggle, Sovereignty and Fear. Working with the Swan is how I primarily connect with Her. I find it easier to work with totem animals and Deities in animal form as the can be gender neutral, pure, grounded and can also be encountered within nature and the everyday. One time I was holding a healing ceremony with Brigid at Imbolc by the river and a large male swan swam straight up to us as though to bless us.

The journey of signet to swan and the “ugly duckling” is also a strong metaphor for the journey of many queer people. In youth, the feeling of being different, alone, lost and then discovering who you are, learning to love that person and growing into a beautiful, strong and powerful being.

I enjoy traveling to the swan sanctuary and collecting and working with their impressive feathers.

I encounter Brigid in my Shamanic Journeying as the SwanBoy often. First as young, hopeless and fearful then later as a strong beautiful man. Often with white wings and sometimes as the Black Swan. The power of flight, the freedom and exploration also key queer experiences.

I honour Brigid as Queer Goddess. To me she is Goddess of children and young people and presides over this delicate part in all Queer people’s lives when we begin to discover who we are. During further research I discovered Brigid’s own queer history. Brigid the Priestess and Saint is known to have loved her soulmate Darlughdach. Darlughdach served as Brigid’s ambassador and her “anam cara” or soul friend. The two women were so close that they slept in the same bed. So may stories of queer love have been straight washed over time and I think it is so important to tell the complete stories of Goddess especially Celtic Deities whose queerness have been swept away through patriarchy and time.

Bridie as a Boy

Where do I tie my ribbon?

For my hair is cut short

And my sweetness held in.

Why must I shout and run and fight?

When all that I am is soft to the touch.

I am a single white flower in a field full of mud.

I am easily trampled, shy to return.

My Sister the Spring is a maiden of joy.

She dances free, shoeless on snow dusted hills.

When hope grows within me

I will know myself deeply and the joy that Spring feels will be mine just as hers.

But in moments of youth

The caged feel no joy

I am signet not yet swan

And Bridie as a Boy

Where can I dance in safety and freedom?

Away from closed eyes that burn holes filled with tears

I’ll collect enough feathers to build myself wings.

I could fly far from fear and look down my beak.

My Mother the Winter I’ll leave far behind

I’ll burst into flames calling like a Phoenix.

But in moments of youth

The caged feel no joy

I am signet not yet swan

And Bridie as a Boy

Image Copyright Nic Phillips 2021

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