Scratching Catholics

November 8, 2021


When you scratch a Catholic,
a pagan pops out.


This insight was given to me many years ago by Jenny Beale, friend and founder of Brigit’s Garden near Galway. She was called to create the gardens seventeen years ago as a celebration of Brigit, goddess and saint, and to honor the ancient Irish festivals and sun celebrations. And they are stunning. 

The gardens have become less a tourist destination that originally anticipated and more a resource for the local community. A few years ago a summer teddy bear picnic attracted 500 people. This event galvanized for Jenny the popularity and acceptance of the garden’s pagan focus by the local community. 

Really, there was no need for her to worry. Indeed the bridge between the goddess and saint is a strong one for the Irish people. Whatever she might be called at any given time, she holds the divine feminine energy that is intrinsic to the culture of a country that is named after a goddess from Irish mythology. That knowing runs deep. And the evidence of a blurred distinction between is found everywhere. And the blurring includes Mary.

On our recent trip to County Clare we visited one of the most well known Brigit holy wells. The walls of the grotto that leads to the well are lined with statues of Brigit and Mary and on this statue the bridge is clear. The divine feminine is deeply woven in the culture, psyche, and heritage of the Irish people. No matter the name. No matter the religion.

It’s not only the land and sacred sites that hold the memory of an ancient time when people were more deeply woven with Earth and cosmic energies. It’s the people. For indeed, when you scratch the surface of Catholic veneer, the old ways emerge. And the vitality shines a bright light.

Judith –