She asked for a banishing, a burning rite. I considered, and then she came to me: Brighid the smith, lady of the needful fire.
Brighid it was, then.
As our guide, we honor Brighid the smith, the lady of the useful fire. Brighid of the iron-hard arms, Brighid who withstands the forge’s heat and Brighid of the hammer, Brighid of labor and Brighid of force.
I have relatively few dealings with the Smith, which is to be expected. I don’t forge metal, weld or tinker with machinery. If it were up to my personal level of evolution, the human race wouldn’t have gone beyond digging sticks and hoes of lashed-together mammoth bones. Her contributions to human civilization, however, I can deeply appreciate.
And so I can her other qualities: the arm’s strength, the driving blow again and again and again. Persistence. Endurance of labor, pain and heat.
Light the fires within, Brighid!
Light the fires within!
Stoke the ashless blaze within our hearts!
While I’m certainly capable of hard labor, I’m not accustomed to using force. Not accustomed, but even I have wielded that hammer — to forge weapons against my enemies, to forge my own life into something malleable and useful, to break old forms, to temper the heat of my nature. It makes the arms ache and the heart burst from the chest. Rivers of sweat spring forth, with the silt of soot, the ceaseless rhythm, the boredom and the pain.
The Smith is the lady of sheer, hard work. There’s nothing glamorous about it and everything of value in it. The hammer-blows tap out the rhythm of inescapable time. Life is work, time, effort.
We prefer to honor her as the lilt of words, the lure of music, the balm of the healing well, the hearth-fire and its comforts. Mercy, generosity with the ever-giving milk cow, the pale hand that feeds the poor — Brighid as Lady Liberty, welcoming the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the Lady of the welcoming flame.
Let us remember her too at the moon’s darkness: the coal and its steady, unglamorous burn, the sweat on the brow, the midwife of metal, the shaper of life through effort and boredom and pain.
Tinne: the ingot-ogham, the sharp-edged honer of skill.
Bitheadh e mar sin.