This Saint Patrick’s Day, Honor the Goddess Brigid
Celebrate with an ancestral soda bread recipe and homemade butter.
Hello, wonderful witches!
A very happy St. Patrick’s Day to you! My family is Irish, and until a few years ago, we had a family pub in Ireland: Costello’s Pub in Limerick, owned by my great uncle. I went to visit once with one of my brothers — but the only day we could go was a Sunday, and it was closed. One day I’ll go back, even though it’s not owned by my family anymore.
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Now to today’s content! As part of the perks for paid subscribers, I’m building out paid-only content. That means you can expect a lot more for holidays (like this one!) throughout the year. But because today falls on a Thursday, the typical day the newsletter would go out, this first holiday post is public. It’s a preview for what you can expect as a paid subscriber: a full story along with a few recipes you can use to celebrate. (Don’t worry, free subs, you’ll still get your monthly newsletter!)
Today’s featured article is about how to celebrate Brigid on St. Patrick’s Day.
This Saint Patrick’s Day, Celebrate the Way the Irish Do: Honor the Goddess Brigid
By Liv Pasquarelli
When it comes to celebrating Irish roots this March, honor the ancient Celtic goddess Brigid, who rules hearth and home.
The 5th century in Ireland was a time of great change, where the traditional Celtic religion, language, and culture was being swept out and replaced by Christianity from the mounting pressure coming from England and Scotland. Brigid played a unique role in this change, because her father was Celtic and her mother was Christian.
Brigid was born the daughter of an enslaved person in 453 AD. Her father wanted her to marry a wealthy man, and he had promised her hand in marriage to someone she had no interest in. Brigid refused and left home, building one of the first convents in Ireland for the sole purpose of educating young girls.
There continues to be debate over whether or not Brigid identified as Catholic or Pagan. Some even say she was baptized by Saint Patrick himself. She has since become one of the three patron saints of Ireland, along with St. Patrick and St. Columcille. Her feast day, occurring on the same day as Imbolc, suggests that she was likely a Celtic fertility goddess before being canonized a saint.
It’s an excellent idea to honor Brigid on Saint Patrick’s Day, a day reserved for recognizing the Irish diaspora around the world.
Ways to Honor and Celebrate Brigid
Brigid is the goddess of the divine feminine; hearth and home; fire; blacksmithing; poetry; fertility; healing; and inspiration. Here are some ways to honor her, show your gratitude, and call on her.
Light a fire or candles if you don’t have a fireplace. Brigid’s flaming personality and spirit are represented by the fire element. She’s also the goddess of the hearth. If you have a fireplace, definitely light it to celebrate. If not, bring your candle into the room that you consider the center of your home. For me, that’s my living room.
Write poetry. Bask in the glow of your candle or fire and meditate in solitude. Call on Brigid, the Goddess of Inspiration, and you’ll know what to write.
Brigid is the Goddess of Spring and the harvest. If you’re a gardener or farmer, you may already have your seeds for the upcoming season. Use this time to invoke Brigid and bless your seeds for a strong harvest. Plant seeds of growth and inspiration, too. Write down some goals you have, things you want to work on, and how you want to grow as the seasons change and the world is reborn.
She’s also the goddess of dairy farmers. Making homemade butter from buttermilk is an excellent way to celebrate Brigid. There’s a recipe below!
Soda bread is an Irish classic, and baking a loaf in honor of Brigid is a great idea. It comes from busy working families wanting to make bread without the time and temperature control needed to make yeast bread. Soda bread was born from the working commoner of Ireland, just like Brigid. I’ve included a recipe passed down to me through the women in my family, who came to America from Ireland.
My Mother’s Irish Soda Bread
This recipe was given to me by my mother, and it was passed down to her from her mother, who got it from her mother, who was born in County Cork, Ireland. Whenever I make this bread, I call on Brigid and my beautiful great-grandmother Genevieve. I was given my middle name after her, and I have a photograph of her in my altar area to always remember her. My mother had a difficult childhood, but Gena, her Nanny, was a pillar of strength and love. They were inseparable. I wish I could’ve met her.
That being said, this recipe holds a lot of ancestral power for my family, and I’m so excited to share it with you!
Irish Soda Bread Recipe
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups raisins (I used golden raisins, regular raisins, and dried cherries in mine)
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)
1 ¼ cups buttermilk (You can either use some saved from making butter or buy it from the store. My personal favorite is Kate’s Creamery brand Real Buttermilk.)
1 cup sour cream (I substituted this with Greek yogurt and it was just as good)
Yield: 1 big soda bread, about 20 servings
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a baking sheet or 9-inch cast iron skillet, or use baking parchment.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, raisins, and the optional caraway seeds in a large bowl with a large whisk to get everything equally distributed.
In a smaller bowl, slightly beat eggs. Add buttermilk and sour cream and combine.
Stir wet mixture into dry until the flour is moistened.
In the bowl, knead the dough for a short time, about 10 strokes in total. It will be VERY sticky so prepare to have your hands covered in dough.
Pick up the dough and shape into a ball. It doesn’t have to be perfect! Place the ball on the baking sheet or cast-iron skillet.
Using a bread scoring tool, razor blade, or sharp knife, cut an X on the top of the ball of dough with each line about 4” long and ¾” deep.
Sprinkle the top of the dough with a bit of flour.
Bake on the center rack for 65 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let the bread cool for ten minutes on the baking sheet or skillet, then move it to a cooling rack.
Brigid is the goddess of the harvest, domestic livestock, dairy, and butter! Yes, she’s literally the goddess of butter. A common story of Brigid was when she was a child, she gave away her mother’s entire stock of butter — which was to be sold to support them — to those hungrier than they were. Her mother was furious until she noticed that their entire storage of butter had been replenished, a magical reward for Brigid’s generous heart.
I pulled this recipe from the book Tending Brigid’s Flame by Lunaea Weatherstone, with some alterations.
A lidded jar (2 cups or larger)
A fine colander or strainer
1 cup heavy cream (If possible, consider getting your cream from a local dairy farmer!)
Yield: Half a cup of butter
Pour the cream into the jar and leave it out until it reaches room temperature, which takes about 2 to 4 hours.
When you’re ready to start, invoke Brigid for blessings, potentially lighting a candle or playing some traditional Celtic flute music.
Shake, shake, shake señora! The time this takes can vary. When you shake, chant the following:
Come, thou Brigid, goddess calm, Hasten the butter on the cream, Thou who bless my hearth and home, From humble floor to high room beam. Come, ye rich lumps, come! Thou who put light in moon and sun, Thou who put fish in stream and sea, Thou who put food in flock and herd, Send sweet butter now to me! Adapted from Carmina Gadelica.
You will see the cream begin to separate into butter and buttermilk. When there is a noticeable amount of liquid coming away from the curds, pour it out through a strainer to catch any of that rich butter. Save the buttermilk for making your soda bread!
Once all the buttermilk has separated, transfer the butter into a bowl. Use ice cold water to “wash” the butter. Pour the cold water onto the butter in the bowl, and strain it again, repeating 2 to 3 times until the water runs clear.
That’s it! Don’t forget to thank Brigid when your work is done.
Here are some options for delicious add-ins to your butter.
Fresh chopped apricots or apricot jam
The book Tending Brigid’s Flame by Lunaea Weatherstone
Liv Pasquarelli is a practicing witch and writer who lives in Rhode Island with her partner and her two beloved cats, Merlin and Moishe. She is the co-founder of The Indie Mood, a blog about indie beauty, and is currently working on her first novel.
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