Episode 85: Brigid & Áine

It’s summer and it is TOO HOT, but it doesn’t mean we’re not grateful for the seasons. So we’re talking about the seasonal Irish goddesses, Brigid & Áine! We cover late-night booty calls, perpetual flames, SWORD NAMES, and terroir—but for people. There’s nothing like summer in the city, or in this case, Ireland.


CW: This episode contains some discussion about sexual assault.


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About Us

Spirits was created by Julia Schifini, Amanda McLoughlin and Eric Schneider. We are founding members of Multitude, a production collective of indie audio professionals. Our music is "Danger Storm" by Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com), licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0.


Amanda: Welcome to Spirits Podcast, a boozy dive into mythology, legends and folklore. Every week, we pour a drink and learn about a new story from around the world. I'm Amanda.

Julia: And I'm Julia.

Amanda: And this is Episode 85, Brigid and Aine.

Julia: Yeah, this is going to be a good one. It's hot as hell here in New York, so we decided to, maybe if we appease the Irish goddesses who are in charge of the season, they will let us not sweat to death.

Amanda: Yeah, we go through some great fashion ideas, practical fashion ideas I might add, learn a little bit more about my ancestral homeland. Just don't worry about it, it's not pagan, it's fine.

Julia: Yep. It's all good. It's all good here. Also, very good and would probably look great, even when they're super-sweaty, are our newest patrons. Sarah, Ella, Katie, Anna, Liz, and Emily, as well as our supporting producer level patrons, Phillip, Julie, Kristina, Josh, Yore, Neil, Ashley-Marie, Jessica, Maria, Ryan, Phil Fresh, and Debra.

Amanda: They join our amazing legend level patrons, who I am shipping out their boxes right now as soon as we're done recording this intro. Sandra, Audra, Mercedes, Jack Marie, Leanne and Cassie. Thank you all so much for your support. You allow us to do this show, to publish it for you every single week, and to buy drinks to support our podcasting habit. Jules, what were we drinking this episode?

Julia: Frozee, which seems very 2017, I will give our listeners that, but it is also delicious and I don't care.

Amanda: Yeah. It feels like an adult version of shave ice or paragis and it's delicious.

Julia: Yeah. I mean, that's basically what it is. It's just shaved ice with frozen Rosé, or Rosé poured on top of, you know what I mean. It's fine.

Amanda: It's delicious. I also actually made this like bourbon slushie for my Fourth of July barbecue last week where you basically have iced tea, lemonade, and orange juice that you freeze together with some whiskey overnight. And then you let it sit out on the counter for 20ish minutes before you serve it, and it's like a delicious, slushy, super drinkable, boozy little beverage.

Julia: That sounds amazing, and I would give up my ban on dark liquor just to try it.

Amanda: Right on. Well, we are really stoked about this episode. We do want you to know that we discuss sexual assault a little bit, so be mindful and really kind to yourself when deciding when and if to listen. But, without further ado, I hope that you stay cool this week, this summer, and enjoy Spirits Podcast episode 85, Brigid and Aine.


[Theme Music]

Julia: Amanda, it's summer. It's summer.

Amanda: It's so hot! Julie, it's so hot!

Julia: It's so very hot.

Amanda: It's hot as balls. It's hot as balls.

Julia: Normally, I'm very excited for summer, but it is hot as balls currently. So, I thought when I was writing this episode that we would be celebrating summer. But, at this point I kinda don't want to. But, I do still want to celebrate some enthusiasm over two things that we both love, and that is summertime and Irish goddesses.

Amanda: Woohoo!

Julia: I know, coming back around. Specifically, this episode we are going to be talking about Brigid, the goddess of spring, fertility, healing, poetry, and smith craft. As well as Aine, who is the Irish goddess of summer, wealth, and sovereignty.

Amanda: All the things that I love, good choices.

Julia: I know. I do my best just for you.

Amanda: Lots of Irish people are given patron saint medals of either Saint Patrick or Saint Brigid. Often they'll gender that based on the kid, if it's like during communion or confirmation or something. And I have a Saint Brigid medal, so I'm excited to learn more about the goddess.

Julia: I think you're going to be very happy with that medal because she is pretty medal herself.

Amanda: Oooohhhh ... secret ism pun!

Julia: So, we're gonna actually start with Brigid, because you know, spring goes into summer, and then we can finish with Aine to get to chronological.

So, first Brigid, her name means the exalted one, and that is derived from a proto-Celtic Briganti, which means High One. I did do a lot of research for the pronunciation of this, so hopefully it's somewhat close to being right. I can only hope.

Amanda: Don't @ us.

Julia: I'm doing my best.

Amanda: Listen folks. Real talk for a moment. Making this podcast is a labor of love. We hope it's gonna be our jobs one day, but we put our heart and souls into making it, editing it, posting it, promoting it, trying to get money, keeping all of the stuff organized, answering your many beautiful emails and tweets and Facebook messages. We do our very best, so when we get substantial things wrong, when you think we could be doing better, when we could learn something for the future, we are happy to hear it in a nice way. But, if we mispronounce a word that is never going to come up again in any other episode, trust that someone's already told us. Love you bye.

Julia: It also seems as though it might have come from a high German name called Bergund, and the Sanskrit word Behistun which means High, and it's an epithet of the Hindu Dawn Goddess Ushas. So, interesting-

Amanda: I love when Sanskrit gets up in there. We always talk about it. Sanskrit shows up and you know it's a party. It's like the person that shows up to your party with gin and juice. Sanskrit is like this is gonna be the night now.

Julia: No, when Sanskrit shows up, you know that things are gonna get crazy.

Amanda: Side note. I got a strawberry guava fruit juice, not carbonated, just fruit juice from a poke place in my neighborhood the other day. And girl, it was adult Hi-C. I wanna add some gin and or vodka to that real bad.

Julia: Pick some up for the next time I'm at your house, please.

Amanda: I sure will.

Julia: According to the Book of the Taking of Ireland, which is a collection of poems and prose that give the history of Ireland and the Irish from the world to the middle ages, and it was compiled in the 11th century. So, according to all that, Brigid is the daughter of the Dagda, who is the father figure and god of fertility, agriculture, manliness, strength, and appetite.

Amanda: Not even saying like strength, straight up manliness.

Julia: Straight up manliness.

Amanda: That's awesome, but like ... That's very funny.

Julia: And her mother was a mortal poet. So, so far so good.

Amanda: This sounds like self-insert fanfic, but I'm down for it.

Julia: This legitimately sounds like you.

So, it's already a really good start. She's said to have had two oxens, as the King of the Boars, and the King of the Sheep.

Amanda: Just as like her friends? Consorts?

Julia: Yeah. So, she's just out there keeping a bunch of livestock royalty, which makes sense because she is the Goddess of Fertility and spring and whatnot. Also because of this, considered the Guardian of Domesticated Animals.

Amanda: I'm getting some vibes of, what was the older sister in Chronicles of Narnia?

Julia: Susan.

Amanda: Susan. My head was saying Sarah. I'm getting some Susan vibes up in here.

Julia: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Damn right.

So, she is the patroness of poetry, smithing, medicine, arts and crafts, sacred wells, and of course, the arrival of spring.

Amanda: Let's pause on sacred wells. Please tell me more.

Julia: I don't have a lot more, but there are sacred wells. Look, you know how we were talking about with the Laome, there's just sacred rocks and stuff like that, just around. As long as there's a piece of the land that has significance to the community around it, it's probably gonna be sacred in some way.

Amanda: All right. Fair enough. I just love that idea that she's like, "Yeah, I got arts and crafts. I got domestic stuff. I got animals. I got sacred wells, man! I get to give them sweet wells."

Julia: Give me that good, good water.

Amanda: I mean, in a world where we have not learned to treat water, or even that water could be contaminated in bad ways. There are probably real reasons for it to be like, "That well. That well is okay."

Julia: Yeah. So, according to Lady Augusta Gregory, Brigid is quote 'a woman of poetry, and poets worshiped her for her sway was very great and very noble. And she was a woman of healing along with that. And a woman of smiths work. And it was she that made the first whistle for calling one to another through the night.'

Amanda: Damn!

Julia: Which like, okay, I don't know really what that last part means exactly, but now I'm dubbing her the Goddess of Cellphones and Late Night Booty Calls, because I think that's kind of what we're talking about here. I know that's not it, but-

Amanda: Was pre-industrial Ireland having flutes that you would trade with your beloved? So you would carve matching flutes or something, and be able to call out each other in the night time? Was that the proto booty call?

Julia: I like that a lot. It's really cute.

Amanda: Damn!

Julia: She is said to be the Celtic equivalent of the Roman Minerva, or the Greek Athena, especially since both versions of the goddess embody this idea of an elevated state, which is either physical or psychological.

Amanda: Nice.

Julia: So, this even goes in to the physical realm. So, she is considered the Goddess of All Things High, so high rising flames, the Highlands, hill forts, upland areas.

And then, it also goes into the psychological realm, wisdom, excellence, perfection, high intelligence, poetic eloquence, craftsmanship, healing ability, druidic knowledge, and even skill in warfare.

Amanda: This is amazing. I also love that domestic animals are in her purview, because they are the highest of the animals as far as humans are concerned. You know, they are cultivated, such that they really fulfill our needs, because that's how human beings see the environment is like, "Does it help me? Yes. No." But, oh my god this is so cool, and I'm getting really like capital R Romantic vibes here. In my literature degree whenever we talked about Romanticism with a capital R, it's like Byron and Keats, and Shelley, and all these poets that wrote about like, "Oh my suffering but also beauty!" And like the sublime. The first time that I studied that phrase and that phase of literature, my professor put up on her slides a painting of Byron standing on a hillside, looking out over-

Julia: I know exactly which one you're talking about, too.

Amanda: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's like the textbook image, literally of the sublime. And this is very much the vibe that I'm getting of Brigid just like in a beautiful frock or something, standing on the hillside with smart sheep at her feet, a book of poetry, being like, "Yes, this is mine!"

Julia: I love it. That's a good image. Someone make it for us, please. If it's not already out there.

So, she's the Goddess of High Things. It's the reason why she's called the Exalted One or the High One. And I kind of like in my head, I'm just like, "She's the Goddess of Getting Super High!" It's just where my head went.

Amanda: Elevated states man. Elevated states.

Julia: So, she is also attributed with the invention of keening, which for people who don't know what that is, it is the combination of weeping and singing. So, she invented this while mourning her son after he was slain while fighting the Fomorians.

Amanda: I mean, it is an artful form of mourning. I see it.

Julia: Yeah, I'm gonna post a example of keening in the show notes because it's kind of like a weird thing if you haven't ever heard of it before.

Amanda: Yeah. It's one of those things where I could see myself laughing uncomfortably. You know, if I first learned of it, especially or see it. But, I usher at an Irish theater here in New York City, for fun to go see plays and hang out with old Irish folks that remind me of my grandparents. And there was a play that involved keening. It happened in a scene during the show and it was so profoundly moving. If it had been described to me I would've, you know, kind of probably laughed nervously, but it was super profound. So, definitely a thing that's worth learning about.

Julia: So, Brigid is probably most well known now, because during the Middle Ages she was syncretized with the Christian saint, Saint Brigid.

Amanda: There she is.

Julia: There she is. Supposedly, Christian monks took the ancient figure of the Mother Goddess and grafted her name and functions onto her Christian counterpart, Saint Brigid of Kildare. So, this is according to the medievalist Pamela Berger. So, she is associated with perpetual sacred flames, to the point where ... this is really interesting. One is maintained by 19 nuns in her sanctuary of Kildare, Ireland. So, supposedly this flame is pretty badass. According to some writers in the Middle Ages, the flame is surrounded by a hedge that no man can cross. If a man attempts to cross the hedge, they are said to become cursed, either by going insane, dying, or being horrifically injured to the hope where they cannot be healed.

Amanda: Wow. That's amazing, and not to be too hetero normative here, but I love that this is the woman's man cave. This is where women can go to like, "Fucking be chill for a minute." And like, "It's quiet, and no one needs me. And there's no kids, and there's no errands, and there's no animals to be tended to. And we can all sit here and like fucking read, or nap, or pray. Just have a minute. By the fireplace, it's pretty, there's a hedge, there's privacy. We can undo our corsets, we can just be here for a minute."

Julia: I like that. So, this is actually extremely similar to Vesta or Hestia in Roman/Greek mythology. And this kind of similar, general worship of the hearth goddess. In the Roman Catholic church, Saint Brigid's Day is February 1st, which is the same days as the Gaelic day of worship for Brigid the goddess. So, this day was selected because it is the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Another fun fact about Saint Brigid, which got me all excited, is that she is an expert dairywoman and brewer. And is said as one of her miracles to have turned water into beer.

Amanda: Hot damn! God, I didn't think she'd get any better, and here we are.

Julia: I know. Our final part is probably one of my favorite things. And this actually got tweeted at us by listener, Amy, which I didn't know about, and Amy kind of opened my eyes to it. And I was really excited about it. But, several Medieval biographies mention that some of her miracles, Saint Brigid's miracles, included divine abortions, described by sources as penance for sins, and treated as relatively minor offenses.

Amanda: Huh. Wow. I don't even know how to wrap my head around that.

Julia: Yeah. So, let me tell you the story, and then we can maybe discuss it a little bit more.

Amanda: Sure.

Julia: So, in the story, Saint Brigid is said to have become a nun because she was arranged to be married, but she refused, and then prayed to God that her beauty would be taken away from her so that no man would want to marry her. They're not very clear, but apparently that works, because she takes this new found independence and she becomes a nun in order to work with the sick and poor. So the aforementioned miracle is outlined by cogenesis, and it occurred when a young woman had broken her vow of chastity, in some versions it's a nun herself, and became pregnant. And here's the direct quote from the source, 'Brigid exercising with her strength of her most ineffable faith, blessed her, caused the fetus to disappear without coming to birth and without pain. She faithfully returned the woman to health and to penance.'

Amanda: Wow. That is a lot.

Julia: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, Cogitosus was an Irish monk and a writer who lived about 650, that was around where he was at. So, he was one of the monks of Kildare, and so he has the oldest written record of the life of Saint Brigid. And it's actually kind of a controversy, cause some people said that he might have actually been related to her in some way.

Amanda: Really?

Julia: In some way, like a cousin of some sort. So, he is supposed to be a contemporary with her.

Amanda: Wow. This obviously is a lot of complex implications for Catholic theology, especially you know, when deciding to sanctify somebody. You know, you confirm what I understand the church kind of like takes the sum of their life and the sum of their miracles and decides how it goes. And so, it's like ... that's just such an interesting fact, or claim that I ... It's one of those things that makes me realize that people in history were people, also. And people dealt with similar situations that we deal with now, only with different or fewer resources. And I can't imagine the kind of like groundbreaking shit-stirring, you know life, defending, and altering people had to deal with stuff like this back then.

Julia: It's really interesting, and I kind of wanna leave the implications of it sort of open-ended for our listeners, but I think it's a really interesting fact. And it's one that you can't really ignore about the goddess and about the saint, because they're like so woven into the history of who they are.

Amanda: Absolutely. And putting to the side for minute, the kind of like Catholic saint, and Catholic implications, because I'm sure there is a lot there, and a lot of people have very strong opinions. As a goddess, again like everything about Brigid implies mastery over nature, whether it's brewing, it's agriculture, it's arts and crafts, which is you know elevating raw materials to a higher form. Domestic animals, things like that. Control over your reproductive cycle. Control over things that would otherwise happen to you passively. That is an elevation and an evolution, too. So, it is very ... Wow!

Julia: Yeah. There's a lot there. It's a lot to unpack, for sure. Now, that we've settled up with spring. Let's head right over to summer.

Amanda: I'm down.

Julia: So, summertime, summertime. Amanda, that is Aine's time.

Amanda: Summertime in the city. Someone's in a rush next to someone looking pretty.

Julia: Someone looking pretty. Excuse me Miss, I know it's not funny, but your perfume smells like your daddy's got money. Okay. Sorry.

Amanda: My partner has not seen Hamilton or listened to it, and yet, that song is verbatim a part of our vernacular now, because I quote it so much.

Julia: That's adorable. So, summertime. That is Aine's time. So, Aine's name derives from the word that means brightness or radiance, as well as splendor, glory, and fame.

Amanda: All right

Julia: We're really killing it on the name game here. So, we'll start with the fact that Celtic legends say that she is the daughter of Eogabail, who was a member of the Tuatha De Danann, which is one of the mythological races of Ireland. So, they are basically the main deities that existed in pre-Christian Ireland. And their pantheon is said to dwell in the quote 'otherworld', but would interact with humans, and the humans' world from time to time.

Amanda: Got it. So, I'm getting a little bit of a Zeus before he fucked up a lot of stuff vibe. Where the gods are like there, around, kind of parallel, but not involved necessarily in human affairs.

Julia: Later Christian records would depict them as kings, queens, heroes, rather than deities, because non-deifying former deities is just what Christianity does.

Amanda: Well, it's not pagan, it's fine.

Julia: Yep. Well, it's not pagan, it's fine. So, it seems that Eogabail is another name for Dagda, which we talked about before being the father figure of Brigid. And he seems to also be the father figure, and again he is the god of fertility, agriculture, manliness, strength, and appetite.

Amanda: Ha! Manliness.

Julia: I love the appetite part, that's kinda fun.

Amanda: I know.

Julia: Aine is also considered in many stories to be the wife of the sea god, Manannan Mac Lir.

Amanda: She fucked with a sea god.

Julia: Yeah. And in other stories, she's his daughter. But, this is one of those instances where the family trees are corrupted because they're being retold through a Christian lens.

Amanda: Yeah, for sure.

Julia: Side note. Manannan Mac Lir is actually a pretty cool god. He had a boat called Wave Sweeper. He had a water boat chariot, and he had this powerful sword called The Answerer, and a cloak of invisibility. And I see you J. K. Rowling. I know what's up.

Amanda: Are we sure this is not a Gary Soo self-insert fanfic?

Julia: It kinda feels like it, doesn't it?

Amanda: Wave Sweeper? The Answerer?

Julia: Yeah, The Answerer is a pretty fucking cool name for a sword.

Amanda: Oh my ... it is like so badass, it's almost corny. But, I am here for it.

Julia: Okay, if you had a sword, what would you name your sword?

Amanda: Oh. Oh boy. Oh boy.

Julia: Now, I kinda sprung this one on you, but get ready for it.

Amanda: You know, my first thought was The Lady Killer. But, I don't want to kill ladies, I want to make them be like, "Damn, girl. She fine." So, maybe ...

Julia: So, your sword's name is Damn Girl, She Fine?

Amanda: It would be the like, Where'd You Get That Shirt?, or something. That would be my ideal situation, is the sword ... and somebody would be like, "Damn! Where'd you get that?" Or, Thanks It Has Pockets, that's my sword's name.

Julia: Oh fuck! No that's so good! I love that so much!

Amanda: My scabbard would have pockets.

Julia: It's a pocket. Your scabbard is a pocket. It's in your dress

Amanda: If a pocket has pockets ... Oh fuck! We did it! Dress with the scabbard in it.

Julia: We figured it out.

Amanda: There it is. We're done.

Julia: It's like a bag of holding, except it holds my sword.

Amanda: Yeah. Or, like the cane sword. Only instead, it's like the boning, like a nice a-line skirt, you know what I mean? And the sides, the hems, that is where the scabbard is.

Julia: I'm so happy right now. You've made my day.

Amanda: We're gonna be millionaires. We've figured it out.

Julia: We've figured it out, we've just gotta bring back swords.

Amanda: Thanks, it has swords.

Julia: Thanks, it has swords.

Amanda: It's got one good sword.

Julia: It actually came with a sword. How cool is that?

Amanda: How cool is that? You can fit it right in there, look you can't even see.

Julia: Moving back on to summer and Aine. One of the more important titles of Aine is the fact that she is known as the Queen of the Fairies.

Amanda: Hell yes!

Julia: So, the feast of Midsummer night is thrown in her honor. This association also ties her to the goddess Grian. And they might, according to some sources, share a dual goddess seasonal function role, which is really interesting.

Amanda: Meaning like they share summer versus winter?

Julia: Yeah. So, the goddesses are said to represent the two suns of the year. So, Aine represents the light half of the year, and the bright summer sun. Where Grian represents the dark half of the year, and the pale winter sun. Like you know how it's winter time and you can kinda see that sort of veil of light. Like the light is different during the winter. And the Irish were like, "I know what that is. That's a different goddess."

Amanda: A different sun. I mean, it feels that way, right? Like, how could it be the same sun in the sky, and yet, it is so much less warm?

Julia: Yeah. No, I really like that. I think it's super interesting. I really enjoy, and we've talked about this with Biave, and we've talked about this a couple of times. I really like when early human beings like kinda understand astrophysics a little bit.

Amanda: Yeah. In the mermaids episode, too we referenced it. Where I, or I think I just said, "I love when people describe weather." Like I love, exactly as you say, our ancestors pretty much got it in a way that is like mind blowing.

Julia: Or like when Betilla was like, "Oh, the sky is cold above the earth. Above the earth the sky is cold."

Amanda: Yes, it is! It is cold!

Julia: How did you know that? How did you figure that out? It's amazing!

Amanda: I know. Other times I see humans forget random things, or like try really, really hard to open the lock where the key was upside down the whole time. And I'm just like, "How did we get here?"

Julia: How?

Amanda: How did we make it?

Julia: How did we figure out like stars, and the sun, and the earth existed in the ways that they do? I don't understand. Anyway.

So, as the sun goddess, Aine could take the shape of a red mare that no one could outrun, and use this form in order to walk among the Irish people.

Amanda: Yes!

Julia: Like a better Kelpie.

Amanda: Exactly. Lawful, good Kelpie.

Julia: So, the hill that is associated with Aine is Na kine in the county Limerick. And it is actually located right next to the hill of the goddess Grian. So, they're twinsies, it's very cute.

Amanda: Neighbors.

Julia: So, Aine became the queen of the fairies once the Christians came into the picture. This is attached to stories where she had relationships with human men, and this supposedly led to the birth of this magical fey human race.

So, probably the most important story of Aine is how she became known as the goddess of sovereignty, because I love a good sovereignty story. So, the story is about the story of Aillill Aulom, who was according to Irish traditional history, the king of the southern half of Ireland. So, in the story, he discovered that the grass in his fields just would not grow. And without the grass there could be no cattle, and then his people would starve. So, he approached a druid who told him to go to Nekane, which was then known as the Hill of Aine, on Samhain Eve. So, the king did as he was told, but when he arrived on the hill, he became drowsy and fell into this kind of half-sleep, during which he saw a vision of Aine.

Amanda: No. Never sleep on a fairy mound.

Julia: Aine was so beautiful that the king was quote 'overcome with desire' and forced himself upon the goddess. Don't do that! Just don't fucking do that! So, the assault ended only when Aine bit off Aillill's ear, earning him the moniker Aulom, or one eared. Because ancient Irish law dictated that only a quote 'unblemished person' could rule. By maiming him, Aine had rendered him unfit to be king, and in that moment became the embodiment of sovereignty, able to grant and remove a man's power to rule.

Amanda: Wow. This is some like-

Julia: Yeah. There's a lot of implications there.

Amanda: This is some like Medusa levels of reclaiming agency from a place of complete, you know, victimization.

Julia: Yeah. It's really, really interesting. For the record, the descendants of Aulom also claim to be the descendants of Aine, as well. Again, because of that whole nonsense.

There is another story in which Aine is the wife of a man called Gerald Fitzgerald. Ireland, okay. Who is also known as the Third Earl of Desmond, because why not? So, here's an actual guy who lived between 1335 and 1398, and was known as Gerald the Poet.

Amanda: Adorable. He sounds British. What county was he in?

Julia: I have no idea. But, I think this is one of those instances where during that period the British had invaded Ireland. And they were trying to create claims to the land, which is why he's associated with an Aine story.

Amanda: Yeah. Or he could be natively Irish but had the title of earl imposed on him when the British came and was like, "This is mine, now." And we were like, "No."

Julia: Yeah, basically. So, in a version of the story, again he rapes Aine rather than having a consensual marriage. And she exacts revenge on him by turning him into a goose. And in some stories, killing and eating him.

Amanda: Wow.

Julia: Yep. So, this is supposed to be a retelling of the original story of Aulom. But, the retelling in this version is giving a more French continental inspired twist with the goose ending, because you know France, they just like turn people into birds and stuff like that.

Amanda: They love it. They love it. Russia loves their bird husbands. And France loves their 'Oops, now you're dinner!' goose.

Julia: You're adorable. So, this story's also said to have roots in the fact that the Fitzgerald family was originally Norman. And in order to claim ties to Ireland, they invented this mythos, being related to the goddess of sovereignty in order to justify their leadership. This is like some early on Sun King bullshit. You know what I mean?

Amanda: Yeah. And actually, my mind flashed right away to kind of like corporate culture, because in the giant investment banks, like the one where I started my career, they frequently buy other companies all the time. And there are people who work in the like acquisitions department of giant corporations, whose job is to think about like meshing corporate culture. And how do you talk to the employees? How do you spin that story to the public? And that idea of like inventing narrative, and finding providence, and inventing a way that these things can peacefully coexist. Reminds me exactly of this, where some people sat around in a palatial sub-chamber in France, and said, "Okay, how can we soothe this transition, and make this as smooth as possible?" And humans are gonna human.

Julia: And I think that's really interesting, because when you consider Irish mythology as a whole. And you consider the movement from pre-Christian mythology to Christian mythology, this becomes such a powerful play in their book, is taking one thing that they like and has benefits, and instead of turning it evil like we see a lot of the time, the lull 'it's not pagan, it's fine'. We see them turn it into something that they can use in order to dominate the culture. You know what I mean?

Amanda: Yeah. You know, on a more serious note, that is gas lighting. It is psychologically abusive to use something, some kernel of truth about a person or a culture or whatever, and use that as like the grit in the oyster to like make a pearl.

Julia: Yeah. And like kind of finishing up this episode with a little bit more discussion. Mostly, that I like the idea that our Western god and goddesses can cross over with each other. So, we see a lot of the same stories because either they're spreading to people from another source, or we're just seeing people having similar human experiences.

And I like that when that's the case because there's always these things that are quite specific to a region that they're coming from. So, like in the case of Brigid being similar to Athena and Minerva, but because she has such like this very regional specific thing, she has like control over the Highlands. She invented keening.

It reminds me of this thing that I used to talk about when I was doing food writing a lot. It's called terroir. It's the taste of place. It's the flavor that is distinct to that region, and usually it applies to stuff like cheese, and wine, and meat. But, the idea that something is so distinct to a place that it makes it entirely unique from other things that are similar to it, it's formed from the land and the people itself to create something familiar, but also entirely new. And I liked both these goddesses because I feel like they fall into that area of terroir. It's really, really interesting.

Amanda: I'm just sitting here grinning, because this is one of my absolute favorite subjects. And I love that you use this lens to kind of tie them together. As a person ... I felt like I was really raised on the internet, you know. And I think both of us had this experience of you know, finding communities online, and seeing parts of ourselves, discovering parts of ourselves that we couldn't kind of get at elsewhere online. Maybe me a little more than you because you like played outside and stuff.

Julia: Sometimes.

Amanda: Little bit. But, I rediscovered when I went to college, the fact that I was from a place, and I lived in a place, and those places weren't just the ... like where all my clothes were before I traveled somewhere else. Or, my like meet space when I was not living my life online. But, there were positives to that. And there are things that are true of our hometown and our upbringing that aren't true of others. And I kind of learned to appreciate those things when I traveled a little bit, and studied abroad, and lived outside of our hometown. And, those are now some of my favorite things.

As much as I love the internet, I love this community. I love all the ways in which the web lets us live lives that are bigger than just where we are. You know, it's a real privilege that I'm able to really see the fact that, you know, having a community supported agriculture share this summer means that I am eating vegetables that were grown ten miles away from where I live. And I get to shake hands with the farmer. I get to go pick strawberries on the farm. I get to have a New York State radish that I could not get anywhere else. And, there's something really exciting and nerdy about that.

So, that is very much like the kind of taste of summer for me. Farmers Markets are one way that you can really put an actual, tangible connection to something that is otherwise hard to find.

Julia: Yeah. No, I really appreciate that. And think that that kind of lends itself to this idea that like much like our goddesses, and much like our culture, we are shaped by the place that we are born, and shaped by the communities that we're built in. And I really appreciate that, because I think a lot of times our generation kind of give our hometowns a bad rep, you know what I mean?

Amanda: Especially those of us raised in suburbia.

Julia: Right. For sure. And we just, we wanna see so much more. But, you know, I've spent a lot of time talking with people who, because of the internet, and because our friend groups kind of expand, who weren't born and weren't raised in the same kind of community that we are. And you start noticing the differences and it's really interesting. And you start thinking like, "Oh, not everyone grew up with that weird commercial that everyone always quotes back in my hometown?" Or, "Oh not everyone grew up with that chain of food places that we would go to at 2 in the morning after tech rehearsals and stuff like that?" And it's just really interesting to kind of think about, "Hey, I am unique because of how I was created and how I was formed. And like I have this unique experience that no one else outside of this community is going to have." And it's really, really interesting. And really cool. And I feel like that's such a human experience, and I think that we kind of take it for granted, and we don't appreciate it enough.

Amanda: Yeah. And like you know, this is sappy, but one of the great joys of my life is having a friendship with you, and with Jake, and with my brother and sister, and my other little brother, all of them, because the five of you understand me and my origin in a way that no one else does. Like not my other friends of ten plus years, not my partner, not people who grew up outside of where we grew up, and we kind of often say that you and I are kind of each other's only close friend, from our upbringing and elementary school and all of that.

But, I'm so glad that I have you because as much as, you know, I tried for a while to distance myself from that past. Like, there are ways in which our hometown is messed up and has stuff to learn. And there are ways that we tried to better ourselves, and to unlearn some of the patriarchy, and racism, and homophobia, and heteronormative, that we were raised in. But, that is the flavor of life, and as ... You know, it's not gonna go away.

And all we can do is make peace with where we came from, and decide what we wanna keep, decide what we want to toss. Be like, well if it's not pagan, it's fine.

And I don't know. I'm really glad to have you, and I'm really glad to have this through line of friendship, so that we can always ... some part of us resonates in the matching part of each other that shares that terroir. I don't know how to pronounce it.

Julia: Terroir. It's weird and French. It's fine. I appreciate you and I appreciate you having in my life. And I'm definitely not crying right now. It's totally fine. But, I'm just glad that the way that we were raised and the people that we became worked so well with each other. And I'm glad that we get to do this project. And it makes me really happy. And I'm so glad that we get to share those experiences, and the experiences of the communities that we get to talk about with our listeners. And I really appreciate that.

And this is like a very thankful podcast at the end of this. But, I do really appreciate the time that we get to spend with all of our listeners and with each other talking about new and exciting things in our lives, and in the lives of human beings in general. It's very cool. It's very awesome. And I'm glad to be here.

Amanda: I know. Summertime is a time to sit in the sunshine and eat some really good food, and drink some really good drinks, and say like, "Ah, this is okay sometimes." And this is what this podcast feels like to me.

Julia: It absolutely is. And remember listeners to stay creepy.

Amanda: Stay cool.

Julia: Seriously though, stay cool. It's really hot out.

Amanda: Seriously hydrate. Please go to a cooling center if you have asthma. Don't go outside. Bye!

Julia: No! Bye!

[Theme Music]

Amanda: Spirits was created by Amanda McLoughlin, Julia Schifini, and Eric Schneider, with music by Kevin MacLeod and visual design by Allyson Wakeman.

Julia: Keep up with all things creepy and cool by following us @spiritspodcast on Twitter, instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr. We also have all our episode transcripts, guest appearances, and merch on our website, as well as a form to send us your urban legends, at spiritspodcast.com.

Amanda: Join our member community on Patreon, patreon.com/spiritspodcast, for all kinds of behind-the-scenes stuff. Just $1 gets you access to audio extras, with so much more available too: recipe cards, director’s commentaries, exclusive merch, and real physical gifts.

Julia: We are a founding member of Multitude, a collective of independent audio professionals. If you like Spirits you will love the other shows that live on our website, at multitude.productions.

Amanda: And above all else, if you liked what you heard today, share us with your friends! That is the very best way to help us keep on growing.

Julia: Thank you so much for listening. Til next time.