Gelli Fach

Gelli Fach

I'm a cell, I'm fragmented, I change my form;
I'm a repository of song, I'm a dynamic state.
I love a wooded slope and a snug shelter,
and a creative poet who doesn't buy his advancement.

Wyf kell, wyf dellt, wyf datweirllet;
wyf llogell kerd, wyf lle ynnyet.
Karaf-y gorwyd a goreil clyt,
a bard a bryt ny pryn y ret.


From: Legendary Poems from the Book of Taliesin, edited and translated by Marged Haycock





Friday, 11 September 2015

Flame-Keeping for Brigit: Sophia and Brigit




My flame-keeping shift for Ord Brighideach fell during my stay at Gladstone’s Library this time. I wasn’t able to keep a candle alight for 24 hours while I was there, but there is an inner flame as well as an outer flame that needs tending and that I paid attention to.
I wore my Brigit’s cross pin throughout the period and visited the chapel/meditatation space evening, morning, afternoon and evening to sit quietly in contemplation and recite poems and prayer. There is something special about having a place set apart for spiritual work. Although I feel I can talk to Brigit anywhere, such a place seems free of any outside interference, more concentrated and focussed.

I also spent time outside, since it was a day without rain, though not as warm as one would hope for in August. At the back of the building is a garden with a statue of Sophia, Greek for Wisdom, viewed as a goddess by the Gnostics and others.




Carved by sculptor Tom Waugh, Sophia has graced the gardens since 2010. Around her are four stone benches  carved in Welsh and English with the words Cariad/Love, Heddwch/Peace, Gwirionedd/Truth, and Cyfiawnder/Justice. Words which are eminently fitting for contemplatation during flame-keeping. In fact, Sophia has much in common with Brigit: remember that in Cormac’s Glossary she is described as ‘Brigit the female sage or woman of wisdom’.  The Book of Wisdom (judged apocryphal but of spiritual value by the Protestant church) says this about Sophia:
Wisdom is more mobile than any motion;
because of Her pureness She pervades and penetrates all things.
She is a breath of the power of God,
a pure emanation of the Glory of the All-Mighty…

She is a reflection of Eternal Light
and image of His Goodness.
Though She is but one, She can do all things,
and while remaining in Herself, She renews all things;
She is more beautiful than the sun
and excels every constellation of the stars…

She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other,
She orders all things well.
Chapter 7, vv 24 - 8:1

In Proverbs she is described as ‘standing in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths’ and says:
Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.
For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward* or perverse in them.
They are all plain to him who that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.
Receive my instruction and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.
For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared with it.
I wisdom dwell with prudence and find out knowledge of witty* inventions…

Council is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.
By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.
By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.
I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me…

I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was…

Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
For whoso findeth me findeth life...
Chapter 8, vv 2; 6-12; 14-17; 23; 34-35

There are parallels here with Brigit the goddess of sovereignty and Brig the jurist.


 Behind the statue of Sophia, the path leads to a woodland area, one of my favourite places to stroll and another good place to sit and contemplate Wisdom as the dappled light falls around you... 

"For whoso findeth me, findeth life"... Musing on this I thought of the words of Jesus "I am the way, the truth and the life" - these words could apply equally to Wisdom (for her mouth speaks truth). Perhaps he saw himself as wisdom. Or perhaps, as in Gaelic Christianity, if Brigit, the Woman of Wisdom, was his foster-mother, Wisdom is what she passed on to him and what he came to embody.

"She is a reflection of Eternal Light
and image of His Goodness.
Though She is but one, She can do all things,
and while remaining in Herself, She renews all things;
She is more beautiful than the sun
and excels every constellation of the stars…

She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other,
She orders all things well."


* witty - clever, wise  *froward - wilfully contrary



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