The Torch of Brighid - Flametending for Transformation is like two for the price of one, The first is the author's description of how and why she became a keeper of Brighid's eternal flame with detailed instructions on how you can become one too. The second, unexpected part is the beautiful story behind Brighid, goddess and saint, and how things evolved through the Ages. That part alone is worth the price of the book. It's a history lesson.

As a pre-Christian Irish goddess, Brighid goes back centuries. She was the keeper of the flame, the goddess of poetry and healing and creating. In ancient times the word for those who made or created things, was smith so it wasn't confused with creator. She was a goddess much loved by the Irish and held in high regard. Her feast day is Feb. 1 and the next day, Feb. 2 is Imbolc, a Wiccan sabbat. It's also Candlemas. Brighid was so beloved by the people that they refused to give her up when the Christians (later. Catholics) were establishing their territory and trying to eradicate anything pagan to be replaced by their beliefs and practices.

But the Celts were a stubborn lot and they steadfastly refused to put Brighid in a corner. In a case of if you can't beat 'em, join 'em the Church r3lented and raised her to the stature of a saint and replaced Imbolc with Candlemas. Candlemas is the sacred day of fires and candles. Rituals almost always involve lighting candles.

As befitting the goddess of fire, Brighid's fires were never permitted to go out. In an abbey, the eternal flame was tended by followers of Brighid and later by nuns. But as the Church grew more powerful, the flame was purposely doused by the Archbishop of Dublin. After he died, the nuns rekindled the flames. They were put out again during the time of Henry VIII of England when he ransacked the churches and monasteries, The flames burned no more for 400 years. They wouldn't be lit again until 1993.

Author Erin Aurelia says she first met Brighid during a reiki session and began to work with her. It progressed to her founding the Daughters of Brighid Flametending Order and  honored Brighid with keeping the fires lit. Her epiphany came, Aurelia says, when she was shown that each of the Irish tree oghams (letters) have a matching major arcana card. Each of the letters (oghams) corresponds to a tree and is infused with esoteric meaning. She linked each to the major arcana tarot cards as she went on her spiritual journey. So that  you can accompany the author on your transformative journey, there are detailed instructions for the daily devotion that lasts for 20 days.

In 1993 on Brighid's feast day, Feb. 1, in Ireland the Catholic Brigidian Sisters held a national conference where they lit the eternal flame again. At the same time in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, a small group of neopagan women formed the Order of the Daughters of the Flame. In 2014, the Children of Brighid was created for both sexes in England. There are North American orders also.

~review  by Judy Blackstone

Author: Erin Aurelia
Moon Books, 2022
125 pp