In bygone Celtic times the year was dominated by the eight key festivals.
• Winter Solstice
• Spring Equinox
• Summer Solstice
• Autumn Equinox
These festivals were used by the people to honour the elements, nature and very much Mother Earth herself. The celebration of Imbolc originating from the Celts symbolizes the halfway point between the winter solstice (Yule) and the spring equinox (Ostara). The word "Imbolc" means "in the belly of the Mother," because the seeds of spring are beginning to stir in the belly of Mother Earth and new life begins to emerge during this time.
From the Celtic point of view, it's the start of the agricultural year, when the earth warms up, everything begins to grow and lambs and other livestock start to be born. It celebrates light and fertility. Cows' udders begin to engorge with milk at this time of year, ready for the first births of spring.
Imbolc begins on the 1st of February but can fall between the 1st & 7th of February when calculated as the midpoint between the astronomical Winter Solstice and the astronomical Spring Equinox.
Unlike any of the other eight Celtic festivals, Imbolc is unique in having a key central figure revered in Pagan and Christian times – Brigid. The demands on our ancestors were great as they prepared to clear, sow and plant for a good harvest. They needed fitness, nourishment and inspiration at the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. Brigid gifted them new vision for future prosperous times heralding the warmer, bright days.
When Christianity was spreading across Europe it was more often than not imposed on the people and much of their culture and tradition was wiped out forever.
Unlike much of Europe Irish Christianity or Catholicism is very different. And our rich mythology tells us that when St Patrick was spreading the gospel across Erin, he had an encounter with Oisin who had fallen off his horse while helping some men of the Fianna. Oisin had just arrived back from the land of eternal youth - Tír Na nÓg and in his offer of help to the men who were struggling to move a large boulder he accidently fell from his steed and became over three hundred years old. The Fianna immediately took him to St Patrick who had a very lengthy talk with him. After this talk St Patrick discerned that it was not right to stamp out these customs. He could see how the people truly revered the land and all that the Great Mystery had endowed them with so he saw fit to encompass all their festivals and culture into Christianity and so today we are very blessed to have both very active in our culture.
We have the goddess Brigid from the Celtic times who has been in a sense transfigured into St Brigid, one of the three patron saints of Ireland to look after us. So during this time of Imbolc, join us as we continue together on our journey home to ourselves. Let us once again retreat to the O’Moore county in the beautiful setting of Castletown where we can take a little recess from everyday life and re-join the brotherhood to which we belong. As always at our gatherings you will be very warmly welcomed and experience once again the things we have all come to love such as;
So let us all gather together for this time of Imbolc and let us awaken from our dormancy to the light that is always within us beckoning us forth to take our place in this world to make it better for all around us. Let us too be warmed by Mother Earth herself as she awakens from her silent slumber to nourish and protect us. Let it be so!
The invitation: Gathering our energy, attending to the seeds of our Destiny
The challenge: Clarifying our intentions, launching fiery arrows from our soul
The movement: Emergence, awakening
The gifts: Deepening the potency of our inner feminine
The wisdom: The power of focused intention, staying inward, and discernment
The archetype/ symbol: Brigid, Goddess, Fiery Arrows, Bringer of the Dawn, Maiden and Saint, Brigid’s Cross
The venue is Castletown, Co Laois which is very central for those traveling from the four corners of Ireland. For those traveling from the UK or mainland Europe simply pop the Eircode into Google Maps and it will take you straight to the venue.
Address: Castletown, Portlaoise, Co Laois
Eircode: R32 FK02
Registration for this event is mandatory for logistical and catering purposes.
The cost for the weekend is €120 for a standard room or €150 with En Suite. This includes all your meals. Please insert your name in the narrative when making your payment.
We are very aware that everybody's financial situation is different. The most important thing is for men to come together, so please do not let costs put you off from joining us at this gathering. The rates listed above are guidelines (to help us to break even) but if they are prohibitive, please let us know. Your presence is most welcome and wanted, and we are eager to hear your voice in the sacred circle as we sit with each other and our ancestors.
This is a great opportunity to gather once again in the great brotherhood to which we belong!
If funds are low let us know!
We look forward to you joining us either in person or online. If internet banking is a problem a cheque or bank draft can be posted to M.A.L.E.s Ireland at the following address.
Account Name: MALES IRELAND
Bank Name: Bank of Ireland, Newbridge
Sort code: 901263
Account No: 45319007
To book your place for our Imbolc gathering pease enter your details below and we look very forward to seeing you and sharing some more of our stories together.