2024 - Imbolc Celebration - Loughcrew
This was a celebration unlike most we have done. There was no plan. We met in the beautiful space of the Loughcrew Megalithic Centre and at the last-minute people cancelled which from experience is usually due to the energetics of the celebration weaving it's way into people’s auras even before they get there. It's best not to fight these prompts and to go with the flow in as much as is possible. But it's always a mini grief not to meet old friends as their input is anticipated and missed when absent.
We started with putting out the Bhrat Bríd on the floor with symbols and tokens of the season including, Brigit cards, stones, incense, a lantern, a singing bowl, a three-pointed talking stick, a holy medal, crystals included; selenite and quartz, some Brigit’s crosses, a daffodil bulb, a Brídóg doll which arrived broken and went home feeling a lot more wholesome.
We talked briefly about some of the solar landscape at sliabh na Cailleach and mythological associations with Imbolc, the goddess and Brigit.
We were led in a relaxing meditation and afterward used a talking stick in the circle to allow any speaker to voice what ideas surfaced during meditation. Rough notes were made to see if we could weave some of the themes that came up which included, the difficulty with new year’s resolutions in January, a dark time of year, being better suited to February, bringing peace to the world, Brigit as healer, the novelty of silence in an otherwise busy world, burying the crone to make space for bright spring Brigidine growth, finding inner peace and healing before expecting to see it in the outer world. Numbers swelled after the meditation and shrank again at lunchtime.
At the break we collected some rushes growing locally and found it very challenging to tie the crosses without any string and the rushes themselves being too inflexible. The innovative minds among us tried some threads frayed from the Bhrat Bríd, elastic from high viz jackets and strips cut from plastic bags!
When it came time for ceremony we agreed upon, or rather nobody objected to a running order of:
Smudge…..which we again changed to people being purified by being sprinkled with well water.
Light …looking into the flame to remember and acknowledge the light within
Directions were read and their corresponding elements placed on the ground.
At this point a heavy female frog, bulging from spawn jumped in beside us to make sure we all saw the goddess symbol jumping from one level of consciousness to another. As they live on land and water they are symbolic of bridging different worlds.
Burying the Cailleach here we should have burned our paper list of what we wanted to wipe clean for a fresh spring start but it was too windy to manage even papers burning. P promised to burn them at home. So we picked up a dead stick from the ground and each took it in turn to mentally and energetically transfera anything dead within ourselves into the stick, the Cailleach who was then snapped and broken and stuck into the ground under the tree we were under. The twig would decay and form the leaf, flower and fruit later in the year, which was a symbolic representation of our own troubles we had given the Cailleach for healing and transformation.
Using reeds that had been cut earlier and were surplus to requirements we were inspired to arrange, weave and build them as a hybrid cloak of Brigit, (healing Mandala) that when disturbed would release their creative healing energy to the places on the planet that needs it, from our “wholy land”, to the holy land.
Next followed a healing circle of three rounds, first for self, second for friends, family and absent members and the third round we turned outward from the circle to heal wider worldly issues.
N Planted the daffodil bulb for hope and symbolising our new and renewed growth. Who knows, that bulb could still be flowering long after each of us reading this have returned to spirit. Literally it doesn’t matter but the symbology and potential outweigh the reality at this point in time.
We closed the directions and returned to the Loughcrew Megalithic Centre, happy with our time out on St. Brigit’s first ever bank holiday weekend. It was thousands of years in the making!!!!!
"We never would have lit a flame or
done anything comfortably with the wind up there." Pat.
|East - Fáilte East, element Air:
I re-member the energies associated with the east:
I am; birth and beginnings, the rising of the Sun, Moon and Stars. The swiftness of wind and the breath of life, the startling beauty of the dawn chorus, the energy that sponsors inspiration, thought, creativity and logic.
Spring of the yearly cycle and dawn of every day.
Archangel Raphael the healer is associated with this direction and from our Celtic mythology we recognise Cesair, the first woman to set foot on Ireland's soil. Ogma of the Tuath Dé Danann, the champion of Lugh and inventor of writing, holds this inspirational energy. Saint Brigit had and shared inspiration in abundance.
In this direction we look towards Clougherhead seat of the goddess Áine. Here in the past we have celebrated with labyrinths on the beach.
I bring this energy here and now.
⧫ I Place this feather to remind us of the energy of inspiration and leadership in ourselves.
South - Fáilte South, element Fire:
I re-member the energies associated with the south;
Everything that is born in the east grows and develops with the warmth of fire and the heat of passion.
I am; expansion and ripening, radiant warmth and kindness, compassion and love, strength and courage the zenith of the noon day and the summer of the yearly cycle. In this direction the sun reaches its highest point in the sky on its yearly journey.
Archangel Michael the liberator with his flaming sword is associated with this direction and from our Celtic mythology we welcome Anú, earth mother and goddess of abundance. She is the maiden persona of the triple goddess and mother of the Tuath Dé Danann. In Celtic Christianity St. Brigit of Kildare with her eternal fire holds this warm nurturing energy. This is the direction of Brigid's fire temple in the beautiful Curragh and of Gobnait's well where we celebrated in Cork.
I bring this energy here and now.
⧫ I place this lantern to remind us of the energy of radiance and friendly warmth in ourselves.
West - Fáilte West, element Water:
I re-member the energies associated with the west.
Everything that is born, grows and develops must mature and ripen. I am the healing water of every well. I am that which gives us deepening, that which ripens and provides harvest. I am that energy of wisdom borne from experience that gives maturity of thought. I am the evening of every day and the Autumn of the yearly cycle.
In Celtic mythology, Brigit blessed many wells which are still used for drinking and healing.
You are the doorway to the wisdom of life, death and the underworld.
Archangel Gabriel of mercy is also associated with this direction.
In this direction lies the mysterious Rathcroughan, home of queen Meabh and Inishcrone in Sligo, where we blessed and celebrated water.
I bring this energy here and now.
⧫ I place this water to remind us of intuitive wisdom in ourselves.
North - Fáilte North, element Earth:
I re-member the energies associated with the north.
Everything that is born, matures and ripens must die and be reborn. I am the direction of coolness, darkness and rest. Home of the brilliant starry skies and the spectral aurora. Energy of foundation and stability, meditation, sleep and peace. I am the soothing dark night of the daily cycle and the winter of every year.
North is associated with Archangel Uriel the just.
In Irish mythology Brigit took the land in Kildare from the high King by placing her cloak on the ground and prayed as it grew and covered enough land to build her monastery on.
Silent supporting earth, our sacred land, home of the Ancestors, place of the subconscious, introspection and deep Peace.
In this direction lies Loughanlae where we celebrated lughnasadh and Sliabh Gullion, the rocky remains of an ancient volcano, home of the Cailleach .
I bring this energy here and now.
⧫ I place this stone to remind us of the energy of strength and stability in ourselves.
|Centre - Fáilte Centre, element Ether
I re-member the energies of all that has been said,
as these are the energies of the centre, whose element is the infinite Ether.
Everything that was born, grew, matured and died passes to and from spirit. Everything that exists contains and is permeated by the ethers of the centre.
I am the omni-present, the centre of; me, this circle, Loughcrew and the universe. I am the meeting space of, the inner and the outer, the above and below. I am the place where my soul resides in the heart of the creator.
I am the source and destination of all directions. The place where I am deeply centred and at peace, part of all that is.
In Celtic mythology, Brigit, the good goddess of the Tuath Dé Danann holds this space, as does Brigit the druidess and Brigit the saint. In Celtic Christianity we have An Spiorad Naoimh who animates all life.
In this direction we have heaven on earth and I bring that energy here and now.
⧫ I place this incense to remind us of the ubiquity of spirit and the energy of Ether in ourselves.
Brigid the Healer
Pat has written a piece with this celebration in mind. Read more at.... Brigid the Healer
While there are various myths about Brigid both as a Goddess and a Saint which many might poo-poo, it is worth remembering that Carl Jung believed that mythology is the product of the “collective unconscious.” In other words, the mythologies of our civilisations are based on ancestral memories and learning which were passed down through generations of storytelling (which had to be the case before writing was invented!).
Information reviewed February 2022 & 2024
The climb to Loughcrew is very steep and visitors are asked to wear suitable footwear and to be careful. It is grazed pasture and can get muddy and slippery. Note Cairn T chamber is currently not open to the public because of safety issues.
Thanks to the OPW for this photo of Autumn Equinox sunrise 2019. In the 1980's Martin Brennan discovered that Cairn T receives light from the rising sun on the spring and autumnal equinox - a beam shining down the passageway and illuminating the rock art on the backstone.
Loughcrew near Oldcastle in Co. Meath, aka Sliabh na Cailleach, the Mountains of the Hag / Witch / Wisewoman / Crone.
- Standing in the Rath of the Synods on Tara, there is a gap, maybe an entrance way in the henge ridges and this faces the general direction of Loughcrew, which appears as low hills on the horizon.
- There is a myth / legend that the wind shared it's wisdom with the hag/witch/cailleach/feminine energy at Loughcrew and she flew from there to Tara to share it with the Ard Ri/chieftain/people.
There is a link between here and Teltown. It is said a hag lived here, she was queen of the Tailteans and the Tailtean games were played at Loughcrew. Several people of noble birth visited every year to join in these games.
Ollamh Follamh was a constant visitor at the Loughcrew hills and when he died his body was cremated and the remains were buried there. King Laoghaire also lived there and a neighbouring townland was called Drumlaoghaire in his honour. Duchas School's collection story.
A large complex of chambered cairns - many up to 5000 years old - spread across the hilltops of Carnbane East, Carnbane West, Carrickbrack and Patrickstown Hill. Carnbane is the anglicised version of Carn Bán which means white cairn.
My house is situated at the foot of "Sliabh na Callaigh" or Billy's Hill as it is called by the people. There is a cave on the top of the hill and also a huge heap of stones. King "Ollamh Fodla" and seven other kings were supposed to be buried under the cave. The stones are supposed to have been carried by a hag in her apron. There is a stone hags chair on the hill also. Many visitors come to see the hill every year. A few fields away from this hill there is a field called the "Forth Field" it got its name from a mound or forth that is in the field. The people believe that the "Bean-Shee" lives on this forth. Duchas Schools Collection
Cairn T, one of the largest tombs in the complex, is situated on Cairnbane East. Inside this tomb lies a cruciform chamber, a corbelled roof and some of the most beautiful examples of Neolithic art in Ireland. During the Vernal and Autumn Equinox people gather at dawn in Cairn T to watch sunlight enter the chamber and illuminate the inside of the tomb. OPW information on the site managed by them at Loughcrew. Click here for opening times and information for visiting the site.
Visitors today can sit on the Hags Chair at the cairn. Locals believe claims that if you make a wish while sitting on this kerb-stone the witch will grant it. I did sit on the Hags Chair and asked my wish and looking back now today I can tell you it was surely granted, in a way I never thought possible. Magic of the Land - Loughcrew - Bernadette Mac
There are no facilities or toilets at the Loughcrew Car Park. During the summer guides from the OPW are at the top to give tours and information.
Notice of the Event
TaraCelebrations invites you to an Imbolc celebration to welcome in Spring
at Loughcrew Megalithic Centre, Summerbank, Oldcastle, Co. Meath. A82 A6N7
Sunday 4th February 11:00 to 16:30
Join us in meditation and ceremony to welcome in the energies of Spring and the nurturing energies of the season, as the expression of the Goddess changes from an Cailleach to the Brigid persona.
The landscape here is alive with earth energies and is a sacred place where the energies are high and the veil between worlds, thin. Near by is Sliabh na Cailleach, with its neolithic cairns and commanding views of the country.
Meeting at 11am in the Loughcrew Megalithic centre to begin the day in Meditation followed by a planning meeting to arrange an agreed running order for the afternoon. Normally we would have a running order and a theme decided on but this year we will see what spontaneously arises.
Planning meetings are fun events with plenty of brainstorming and laughter.
The meeting room will have access to kitchen facilities and toilets and if the weather is inclement an option to celebrate indoors. But come prepared to be outside on the hills.
Bring a picnic lunch and something special you feel might be useful to support the celebration.
We will work to include everyone and everything.
If your coming please send us an e-mail or use Eventbrite ticket
No charge but donations to cover room rental are welcome.