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Life, Light, Death, & Darkness: How Brighid B...

Life, Light, Death, & Darkness: How Brighid Became Maman Brigitte

Maman Brigitte Brighid celtic the house of twigs vodou cultural connection thot witch witchcraft

Within modern witchcraft and Paganism there’s always some discussion or other about cultural appropriation, whether or not to mix pantheons, who can worship what and so on and so forth. Sometimes we get too caught up in these issues, we let them dictate what we practise, think and feel; all the while never realising, or perhaps forgetting that the Gods and transformation go hand in hand.

Within many pantheons, the Gods represent natural and supernatural forces. And sometimes, those Gods transform and lend themselves to those in need, no matter the divisions among us.

When I first began my own witchcraft journey, I struggled a lot with issues of what to practise and what to believe. I’m mixed race; my mum is white English, my father black Jamaican and it didn’t matter what I practised or how I tweaked my practise. I always felt like I was ignoring some vital part of my heritage.

Perhaps that is why the Celtic goddess Brighid and the Vodou loa Maman Brigitte speak to something in my soul. Let me explain…

Introducing Brighid and Maman Brigitte

Brighid is, as already mentioned, is a Celtic Goddess. She was worshipped all over Britain in many forms. For example where I live in the middle of England, she was the powerful warrior goddess Brigantia. In Irish mythology, Brighid is a member of the Tuatha De Danaan, the supernatural fairy race. Born at daybreak, Brighid is a solar goddess ( as well as being associated with poetry, medicine, arts, crafts and sacred wells), and is associated with fertility, with Spring and the returning of warmth and light to the world.

Maman Brigitte is a Vodou loa. The loa are intermediaries who interact with humanity on behalf of the creator God (who has little to do with us). Maman Brigitte rules the cemetery with her husband, Baron Samedi. She’s a hot and fiery loa who drinks pepper infused rum too spicy for any mortal. The oldest female grave in any cemetery is hers, and if you want to honour her, then leave a tipple of spicy rum on said grave in your local cemetery! Besides the cemetery and death, Maman is linked to fertility, for death and rebirth are closely tied. She is also a fierce protector, particularly of women and she can be petitioned in matters relating to punitive justice.

These two figures, on the surface at least seem worlds apart from one another. How could they possibly be related? How did the Celtic Goddess of light become the Vodou loa of death? Transformation is often seen as something good, and indeed it can be, but transformation is also about pain and about suffering…

When Worlds Collide

The slave trade is a stain on humanity’s history, of that there is no doubt. The enslavement of Africans and others, their inhumane and brutal treatment is well documented today. Indentured servitude was also a thing. Some will tell you that it was a contract between an individual and another. The other would pay for the individuals travel to the ‘new world’ and in return, the individual would work for them, usually for a period of seven years. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? But of course, the truth of indentured servitude is very different, especially when you consider it was often passed as judicial sentencing for crimes. And often those crimes were committed by the poorest and weakest in society. As such, many poor Scottish, Irish and some English women found themselves in indentured servitude. It was slavery but by another name.

These women brought with them their protectress and goddess, Brighid. Sometimes in the form of a poppet or doll (where do you think voodoo dolls come from?). They would carry a representation of her with them for comfort and protection. And, they shared their beloved Brighid with their African counterparts, who took her to their hearts and made her their own. That is why Maman Brigitte is often depicted with red hair and light skin, hinting at her origins.

And so, fellow seekers and witches, we see how Brighid became Maman Brigitte. Now, do not get it confused, these are two separate deities, though definitely related. The point is, if the Gods can transform, then so too can we.

In your own quest, in your own journey, do not be afraid to seek out your truth of all that you can become. Do not let others tell you what you can and cannot believe or follow. The world is full of mysteries and we should all be free to explore them.

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My name is Emma Kathryn, my path a mixture of non-Wiccan Traditional British Witchcraft and Obeah, a blend that represents my heritage. A Devotee of Hekate, my witchcraft is what is needed when needed. I live in the middle of England with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs.
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My name is Emma Kathryn, my path a mixture of non-Wiccan Traditional British Witchcraft and Obeah, a blend that represents my heritage. A Devotee of Hekate, my witchcraft is what is needed when needed. I live in the middle of England with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs.
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