Cows and Dawn
West considers the cow with the red ears significant because Uṣas is particularly associated with red cows – probably a metaphor for the redness of sky at dawn.The Rig Veda refers to both Night and Dawn as cows: “Dawn and Night are a cow good for milking”. (It should be noted though that Brigit’s cow is white with red ears and such animals appear elsewhere in Celtic language tales notably The Mabinogi, the implication being that they are Otherworldly beasts. But then why is this so? Is it because they were at one time associated with a goddess of the heavens?)
St Brigit’s lore undeniably associates her with cows – she is a protector of domestic animals. In one of the medieval accounts of her life she is able to milk her cow three times to provide hospitality to visiting bishops and in her iconography she is often shown with a cow. In milking songs in the Carmina Gadelica she is referred to as ‘the milkmaid Bride’ and a milking blessing (no 95) affirms that:
"The calm Bride of the white combs
Will give to my loved heifer the lustre of the swan."
"Bheir Bride bhith nan cire geala,
Li na h-eal am aghan gaoi."l
Bride is often referred to as a maid or maiden in the Carmina Gadelica – as is Uṣas.