Sisters of the Flame
Welcome to the Sanctuary of Brigid’s flamekeeping cill, Sisters of the Flame. Our first flame was lit on December 19, 2019, created from Brigit’s Flame in Kildare, Ireland and Bridie’s Flame from the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides, Scotland.
What is flamekeeping? Read on to learn a bit about the herstory of Brigid’s flame, and to get more info about our flamekeeping cill.
A Brief Herstory of Flamekeeping
The Goddess Brigid and Saint Brigid are intrinsically entwined, with myths and legends attributable to one or both, sometimes indistinguishably. Each is traditionally associated with fire, with Goddess Brigid in particular to the forge, the sunrise, and dawn. Celtic lore infers that Brigid in her many guises and names, along with other deities, are tied to fire and ritual as well. Mythology tells us that nineteen Druidic priestesses — known as daughters of the fire (inghean an dagha), or fire-keepers (breochwidh) — kept a perpetual flame in a large shrine dedicated to the Goddess Brigid in Kildare, Ireland.
It is written that when Saint Brigid was born at the liminal moment of dawn, a beam of light burst around her head like a flame. When she built her monastery and church in Kildare, she continued the priestesses’ custom of keeping a fire alight. For her and her nuns, the fire represented the new light of Christianity, which reached the shores of Ireland early in the 5th century. Also of note, Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis), a Welsh chronicler, visited Kildare in the 12th century and reported that the fire of St. Brigid was still burning and that it was being tended by nuns of St. Brigid.
Some historians record that a few attempts were made to have the fire extinguished, without success, and Brigid’s perpetual flame survived for many years, possibly up to the suppression of the monasteries in the 16th century. The flame was re-lit in 1993 by Sr. Mary Teresa Cullen, leader of the Brigidine Sisters in Kildare, and since then they have tended the flame in their Solas Bhride Centre. This famous perpetual flame in Kildare, and other flamekeeping sites around the world, are testament to the number of Brigid devotees who keep alive this sacred practice.
The Sanctuary of Brigid remembers our ancient flamekeeping sisters, we hold respect for and feel solidarity with all sisters who currently tend a flame for Brigid, both Goddess and Saint, we honor Brigid with every flame we light. We hope for each member of our cill that she will use her time of flamekeeping to grow her relationship with Brigid and use with good intent the gifts She generously bestows on those who follow Her.
If you are a woman who is interested in tending Brigid’s flame with us, please find us on Facebook HERE and ask to join our private group. Our permanent positions are currently filled but we always love to network with others who flamekeep! Thank you, and bright blessings!