“Brighid: Her Flame Burns Brightly” was an online conference organized and hosted by Land Sea Sky Travel as the first in a series of conferences. The series is called “A Year With The Gods” and they have plans for online conferences spaced through the year close to the more commonly recognized Pagan festivals.
As I have had a devotional relationship with Brigantia for many years I decided that trying to attend this online conference should be a good experience for me with the added benefit of devoting time to Her that day. I was however a bit nervous as I had not experienced this type of online conference before. I needn’t have worried.
The software used was Zoom which has a freely available client for a participant. The software has some good support information and I didn’t have any problems with downloading the client or testing my set up. The organisers of the conference were also available via email and Facebook with advice in the days before the conference.
As the conference organizers are based in the United Stated of America the timings of the conference were very understandable picked with the Sates in mind. Saying that the welcome pack emailed out before the event had a detailed schedule for the day including timings in three different time zones. I was both impressed and very pleased with this level of information and it made things much easier for me to organize. There were a number of nice extras sent out with the welcome pack too including a couple of short stories, a couple of chants and a couple of links to suppliers of relevant goods and services.
On to the day itself.
For me the conference started at 3.30 in the afternoon. Getting into the correct location was straightforward and everything seemed to be working very well. Our main host for the day, Vyviane Armstrong, provided clear information and repeated basic housekeeping type information throughout the day for those that joined at different times. Tech support was on hand through out the day too and while I was aware of some minor glitches happening problems were dealt with swiftly and efficiently with a good sense of humor kept throughout. I was very impressed with the entire organizational operation and I would expect that things will only improve as the series of conferences continues.
The opening devotions were carried out by Andrea Maxwell who sang a beautiful chant for us. The day was underway.
The first presenter was Lora O’Brien not someone I was familiar with although that’s true for a lot of people so please don’t take any particular meaning from that. Lora spoke about her experiences with Brighid and took up all on a guided journey to meet Brighid. Her voice was clear and very enjoyable to listen to, the journey was a delight. I particularly enjoyed the use of a boat as guide for part of the journey, this reminded me of many tales from both Scotland and Ireland. It also reminded me of the little boat in the Wizard of EarthSea quartet by Ursula Le Guin. Interestingly I had a name from my little boat, Wayfinder, and I hope I see it again in other journeys. I also found it interesting that where Lora described working areas in Brighid’s place that were slightly messy with works in progress I saw areas that had been tidied up, work finished for the day and things in their place for when they were next needed. I’m sure that says more about me than anything.
The next presenter was Gemma McGowan who spoke eloquently about her experiences serving Brighid as a priestess. Unfortunately I had to sort out my daughter’s tea during that talk so could only dip in and out. One of the advantage of this style of conference though is that the sessions are recorded and will be sent out to all the participants so although I missed some of Gemma’s talk at the time I will be able to listen to it again and pick a time when I am not going to be interrupted. I know she shared something of her experiences in seership and trance possession which is something I have a little experience of myself with a different Goddess so I am particularly looking forward to being able to properly listen to what Gemma shared during her talk.
The conference then had a short break and a giveaway draw. The break was also an interesting experience as participants had the option to turn on mics and videos for a little bit. It got a bit chaotic.
Following the break we had our Keynote speaker, Morgan Daimler. Morgan is a well known author and presenter and I was delighted that this conference would give me the opportunity to hear her speak. She confessed to being a bit nervous at the start of her talk as it was the first time she had presented at an online conference. I could see the nerves but I could also see her swiftly relax as she began to speak. Morgan spoke about her work with the original old Irish texts translating and digging for references of Brighid. While I was familiar with much of what she spoke about some information was either completely new to me or had simply not stuck when I read Morgan’s book on Brigid. In particular that the earliest mentions in the texts are of a single Goddess, the triple Brighid comes later in time. Also that the earliest form in the Irish texts was very likely to have been thought of as Brighid the Poet. That’s poet in the old Irish sense of an incredibly highly trained and skilled individual with a huge collection of lore, poems and stories stored within their memory. It was a very interesting talk.
Straight after that talk was a panel discussion. A range of questions were put to the presenters who shared their experiences and opinions. Participants were also encouraged to share responses in the chat room which remained pen throughout the conference.
After another break we heard from Mael Brigde who founded the flame tending group Daughters of the Flame in 1993. She shared with us the history of that group which I found fascinating and what a lovely piece of synchronicity that the Daughters of Flame lit their first flame tending candle on the very same day that the Brigidine sisters relit the sacred flame at Kildare. Neither group being aware of the other doing so at that time. Meal Brigde spoke beautifully about her experiences and both the history and practicalities of flame tending within the Daughters of the Flame. She also sang two chants for us, both simply lovely.
By the time Mael Brigde’s talk ended it was 11.30 in the evening for me and I was very tired so it was at that point that I quietly left the conference, shot down my laptop and went to bed. The conference itself went on with another presenter and I look forward to listening to her talk in the future when it is sent out to participants.
I really enjoyed my day taking part in this online conference. I was a little disappointed not to be able to hear more of how the speakers felt Brigantia fits into the assorted Brigidine lore as I connect best with Brigantia. I was also a little disappointed not to hear from any male presenters during the day. There were male participants but a male perspective in the conference did seem a little lacking to me. These however are minor points. No conference pleases everyone all the time.
Over all I felt this conference was exceptionally well run with some wonderfully chosen speakers. I am very pleased I made the decision to attend this first conference in the series. I am not sure how many of the others I might attend but I can see at least two that interest me from just the titles.
I know from experience of running face to face conferences in the past what a great deal of work goes into conference organization. My heartfelt thanks and congratulations go to all those involved in the planning and organizing of this very well run and presented conference.
Further details of the plans for the future conferences will be available on the Land Sea Sky Facebook page