Cill Willow Flamekeepers
Cill Willow is a Spiritual Community of Flamekeepers modeled after the traditional Brigidine Priestesses who tended the perpetual flame of the Goddess Brighid in Kildare, Ireland. The members of Cill Willow are self-identified Pagans from all over the globe who feel a calling to flamekeeping.
Kildare comes from the Gaelic word Cill Dara, which means the Cell or Church of the Oak. St. Brigid built her Abbey in Kildare around 480AD, on a Hill beside a great oak tree. However, we all know that the Celts believed in the Goddess Brighid long before she became a Saint and the area of Kildare was sacred to her. This was always an important gathering place and pilgrimage site in earlier centuries. Without Brighid, there would not be a modern town of Kildare. Prior to Christianity taking hold of Ireland there was a great number of people who followed the Goddess Brighid. She presides over healing, inspiration/poetry and smithcraft. She is provider of plenty, giver of life and is also identified with nurturing, fertility and fire. All wells are sacred to Brighid for they are the doorway to the Underworld and the womb of our Mother, the source of all life.
The Priestesses of Brighid kept her flame eternally lit. 19 Priestesses kept vigil and made sure the flame was never extinguished. When Christianity spread throughout Ireland, the Goddess was so engrained in the Irish people that the church couldn’t eradicate her, therefore she became a Saint. In the 6th century, a monastery was built on the same sight where the Priestesses kept vigil at the Fire Temple. The original monastery no longer exists but a new Cathedral was built on the site during the 13th century. This Cathedral still stands and the sisters of St. Brigid (nuns) continued the work begun by her Priestesses. They too kept her flame ignited until the time of the Reformation in the 16th century. It was at this time that King Henry VIII destroyed many of the monasteries. The flame was extinguished but never forgotten. On February 1, 1807 Daniel Delany, Bishop of Kildare, began the restoration of the Sisterhood of St. Brigid. Their mission was to restore the ancient order and bring back the legacy and spirit of this amazing figure. In 1993, Brighid’s perpetual flame was finally re-kindled in Kildare’s Market Square by Mary Teresa Cullen, who at that time was the leader of the Brigidine Sisters. The sacred flame was kept by the Brigidine Sisters in their home and on February 1, 2006, the flame was brought back to the center of the Market Square where it has been permanently housed in a large glass enclosed vessel.
The Cill Willow spiritual community honors this tradition and hopes to grow closer to their understanding of Brighid, to each other and hone those gifts Brighid so generously bestows on those who follow her. If you are interested in joining us in tending a flame please fill out the form below: