Brigit: From Goddess to Saint via the Patriarchy

Happy – and historic – St Brigit*’s Day: Today marks the first time an Irish national holiday is established in honor of a female saint.

Why is this important? Establishing a national holiday in Brigit’s name is a recognition of the feminine. Today’s world is run as a patriarchy, or as the late bell hooks put it, an “imperial white supremacist hetero patriarchy”. This power structure brought us to where we are today: A competitive profit-driven, resource guzzling, polluted world so out of balance that the global population is suffering from a climate crisis created by this very structure.

Long ago there was another way. Tom spoke to Pam about a seminal book, The Serpent and the Goddess: Women, Religion, and Power in Celtic Ireland (1989). Dr. Mary Condren traces the history of the rise of patriarchal structures that replaced matri-focal societies with a patriarchy, removing (with violence) power from the female population.

The book is a powerful call to arms:

Now the emerging consciousness of women represents a fundamental challenge to the gods of Western culture. … the voices of of women call for a renewed religious consciousness . We must undergo a profound conversion to a spirituality and worldview that honors womanhood and empowers our being; one that reveres the earth… Far from knocking on the door of patriarchy to get in, we need to overthrow the patriarchal “gods of displaced responsibility”, together with their warriors and priests if our world is to survive.

Mary Condren, introduction to The Serpent and the Goddess

Brigit’s status from goddess to saint was in effect a removal of her power, and we’re still experiencing consequences of these ancient political structures established in Brigit’s era. Can we go back? Where are we today with regard to the patriarchy, and is there hope for sufficient change?

We hope you enjoy this Big Picture conversation, and we welcome your comments and feedback.

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* We’re using Mary Condren’s spelling in The Serpent and the Goddess, though it is most commonly spelled “Brigid”.

Here are some links related to our conversation:

Teach Bhride, Tullow, Carlow, Ireland, and the worldwide Brigidine Sisters website.

Mary Condren, PhD, Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Dublin Trinity College. And an interview with her starting with the subject of The Serpent and the Goddess.

Our interview with Michael Hickey after which Ute introduced The Serpent and the Goddess.

Our story Common Sense which introduces the holonic framework and rationale for system change.

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