The Colours of the Celts

Creativity was associated with orange, as well as sexuality and fertility.

Think of the egg yolk…only a deep orange yolk is really healthy and full of goodness.

Invoke this colour in areas of your home where you want to express these elements.

Wind Spiral in the Fairy DellGreen is infused with beauty and fertility, but also prosperity.

In Feng Shui, it is advised to paint the front door of one’s home red so as to attract prosperity, but my door is painted green and the real prosperity is quite tangible at Bealtaine Cottage.

As for beauty, well, that speaks for itself, for what is not beautiful in the flowing greens of Nature?

Brown is the essence of earth and the home.

The very centre of the home is the “hearth,” or home earth.

Brown is also for animals.

In old cottages in Ireland the animals were brought near to the “hearth,” or home for the winter.

Winter begins tomorrow in the Celtic Cycle.

The prosperity of purple is long associated with the royal families and indeed was not to be worn by lesser mortals in Europe, upon pain of death…not so the case today where we recognize the equality in all human life and the real meaning of wealth and power being unique to each one of us.

The blue of heaven heralds healing…I keep a long piece of blue silk to lay on a pillow or seat especially for those feeling poorly.

Blue also invokes peace and the sacredness of all under it’s mantle.

There are many colours that represent other aspects of our sacred journey.

As we wear a particular colour, our understanding of how it makes us feel infuses us with a little more knowledge and understanding of its importance to us.

We each have a favourite colour that we wear, one that looks good on us, matches our skin tones and brings out a certain energy.

That is a good place to begin to relate to the energy of colour.

The Consciousness of All Things

There is a stillness in the air tonight…a preamble towards Imbolc.

These last days of the Winter in the Celtic Cycle are a time of reflection…

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Spirals fascinate me, as they fascinate so many people.

We are drawn towards them.

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They mean something to us, something we have forgotten.

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My Celtic ancestors carved Sacred Spirals on stones…and so they appear to us today, a message from the past, but we have lost the key to understand their meanings.

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They, too, would have gazed up at the night sky and tried to understand their world.

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They, too, would have intuited a connectivity in all life…we continue to subconsciously embrace all life, yet we struggle against great odds, for we have been told for millennia that we are superior, and so removed from that life force.

And so we try to make our way back to where we can, once more, connect to life.

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For we now know, on a deeply spiritual, non-religious level, that we are one.

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We are one, as the spiral depicts an eternal connection, we are one.

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Spirals are full of symbolism.

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The spiral is found all over the natural world and indeed is also the symbol of life itself, as represented in the famous double helix, the molecular structure of life.

April 2011 Bealtaine 013The belief among the Celts, was that communication with nature was the chief priority in their lives, and the sound, immovable belief in the consciousness of all things.

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They did not fear death as we do in this present time.

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Everything was connected, there was no beginning and no end.

Every single thing upon and in the earth had a consciousness and was a part of, a fragment of, the one cosmic entity.

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The sacred spiral, I believe, was a representation of this belief.

Stones were considered to be old before time itself…a fascinating thought and a manifestation of a deep spiritual understanding, if not connection.

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The Winter is almost at a close…just another fifteen days left.

The joy of Spring awaits to be welcomed in on the first day of February…Imbolc!

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As in the nature of the Sacred Spiral, we move inexorably along the path of our life, but not alone, for we are one with the Universe…

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We now know we are made of that oneness, stardust itself!

The Celts recognized the great sight held by someone who was physically blind.

That person had the greatest sight…inner sight.

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Perhaps it’s time for us to connect with our own inner sight and begin to see with our intuition.

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The Prophecy of Merlin and the Vatican

The spiral, so long viewed as a mystical symbol…associated with the ancient Celts.

Merlin was one of the great mythological figures, also associated with those ancient people.

I say, “mythological,” only because we have no written proof…or do we?

Merlin, according to the Celts, was reported to have made many prophecies in his mythological lifetime…

Nonsense, I hear you say…but, read on, for this is where it all gets rather tangled and interesting!

It is interesting to note here that any writing to do with prophesy is of great interest to an old institution, famous for the suppression and burning of women and especially those with healing and esoteric knowledge at around the same time as this book was published…and into the centuries that followed.

A patriarchal institution of great secrecy…

You see, there is a book in the Vatican Library, amongst many hundreds of thousands of books, that are not to be read, or studied, except under the prescriptives of the higher echelons of that closed, patriarchal institution.

This book is a copy of an original manuscript, dated 8 October 1474.

The extraordinary title of this closed document is, Merlini Prophetica.

  This title, simply translated from the Latin, reads, “The Prophecy of Merlin.”

Amazing importance given to someone who was said not to have existed, don’t you think?

Light, Midwinter Sun, Signs and John Seymour

Light

What an opportunity!

As we descend into the dark days of midwinter, what better thing to do than light a candle and enjoy the soft light and warmth.

I was making candles today to add to my stockpile for the coming weeks, when candlelight is really the best light medium to illuminate the darkness.

Midwinter Sun

Sun worship was a common practice among the Celts…one only has to look at the amazing amount of motifs from that time to see this.

The god Belanos, known as, “the shining one,” had his feast on May 1, also known as Bealtaine!

The festival of Bealtaine was celebrated right up until 1895 at a place known as Mount Callan, near Ennis in County Clare.

There remains a sun altar at this place.

There is another sacred stone near Macroom, a standing stone known as “Stone of the Sun.”

It is easy to see and perhaps understand this Celtic fascination with the sun, when looking at the life and vibrancy exuded by the midwinter sun, on a clear morning at this time of year.

Signs

It’s possible to assess the insulation needs of any house by looking at the roof.

There are obvious signs to look out for!

For example, does the frost or snow remain on the roof as the house heats up?

If it does, then all is well, insulation is adequate up above.

Bealtaine has a double layer of sheep’s wool insulation added this year and it is paying for itself already.

Walking in this weather can identify insulation needs just by looking at the houses…snow or melt on the roof?

Insulation is one of the many ways we can help ourselves to live better and more frugally in these times of hardship.

I think it is time to re-visit what John Seymour, in his wisdom, had to say…

“…We have allowed ourselves to get where we are because of the ‘blind workings of the market’.

But we are not blind, so we must now start using our good sense to ‘break this sorry scheme of things and remould it to our hearts desire,’ as old Omar Khayam had it.

To allow ourselves to be dependent on some vast Thing created by the Merchants of Greed is madness.

It is time to cut out what we do not need so we can live more simply and happily.

Good food, comfortable clothes, serviceable housing and true culture – those are the things that matter.

The only way this can happen is by ordinary people, us, boycotting the huge multinational corporations that are destroying our Earth – and creating a new Age – an Age of Healing in place of the current Age of Plunder.”

The Illusion of Separateness and Our Sacred Mother

A human being is part of the whole, called by us “universe,” limited in time and space.

He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

This delusion is a prison,restricting us to… our personal desires and to affection for a few persons close to us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from our prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all humanity and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ~Albert Einstein

The Earth, once regarded by ancient tribes as the sacred Mother, is , once more, regarded by the awakened mind, as integral to our lives.

I was reminded of this as I walked the land this evening, taking the photos below.

The moon was waxing and the sky crystal clear.

The thought occurred to me that we are not separate…

We are not separate.

We are all connected.

We are all one.

Do you doubt this?

Each time you take a breath, thank a tree!

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The Magical Garden

This is the magical Stone Circle at Bealtaine Cottage.

It lies at the southern edge of the land and was, until recently, part of a form of ancient stones that had been cleared from the surface of the soil and pushed back into the recesses of the hill.

Some of the stones are huge and took several people to move them into position.

I worked alongside an archaeologist friend of mine, who had shown an interest in this particular site for some time.

It was he who urged me to allow himself and some colleagues to move the stones back into place.

The site was chosen following careful study of the alignments of several megalithic structures within the area, including a cairn on top of Kilronan Mountain, which lies to the north of the circle, in a direct line with the centre.

Although the Celts did not build the megalithic structures found within their lands, they were certainly aware of them.

The Fairy Rings are as much a part of Irish folklore as the Celts themselves…with stories of the mysterious lights that are seen within them when the Sidhe or Fairy Folk dance on moonlit nights.

These monuments were attributed to the the Tuatha de Danann, whom, it was said, disappeared, underground, into the hills and mountains.

The ancient stone sites are portals, where entrance to the human world can be made…and vice versa!

So, the Fairy Ring is now restored…just what Bealtaine Cottage was missing!

 It sits well in the landscape of trees and Nature that abounds the land.

With a stone seat nearby to sit and wait for the Fairy Folk on a moonlit night!

 

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How to Make a Biodegradable Willow Wreath…easy and free!

Cut a range of willow stems, including Dogwood and any other bendy shrubs or woods you can easily access and lay them on the floor to grade them in length.

Take a long length of green willow and made a circle, twisting the spare of the length around the circle.

Following this,  insert another long length as you can see, and twist this around the circle.

Twisting long lengths to start the circle, strengthens the hoop and makes it easier to follow on with shorter pieces.

You can keep adjusting the circle to make it as round as possible.

The willow will bend and shape quite readily.

Keep adding in lengths, inserting the thick end in between the woven lengths.

Excess pieces of willow can be snipped off as you go or at the end of the work.

Try to keep the shape balanced by rotating the wreath, not inserting the thick ends all into the same part of the circle.

I use garden cutters to trim the thick ends of the willow.

Start to add the colourful willow slips.

You can also use any bendy plant strips and even fresh Bamboo.

Take time to experiment with as many garden materials as you can find!

If it grows and is fresh cut, then it’s fine to use as it will be pliable.

Now add the red Dogwood…

Keep winding.

Keep twisting.

Make the wreath thick and chunky, as it will make a good decoration base all the year round and last for years to come.

The wreath continues to be pushed into shape, making it rounder.

The wreath is now ready for decorating.

This willow wreath is 100% biodegradable and will last for years to come.

You can redecorate it as many times as you please!

Adding Larch

Larch is associated with integrity and vision.

It is also for protection, so lends itself well to a front door wreath.

Adding Birch

Birch is for healing and cleansing and Willow is magical and powerful, so already, we have a triad of good energies balanced within this Christmas, midwinter wreath.

Adding Ivy…symbol of the spiral path of the Self

I cut several long trails of Ivy to wrap around the wreath…symbolizing aspects of the journey of the self and new experiences.

You can probably begin to see and feel the powerful energy from this Circle of Willow and Nature!

The wreath is now complete.

All that remains is to add some more seasonal decorations of your choice.

This is how I finished mine…

What a beautiful welcome!

dsc04154dsc04151dsc04156Here’s another I made recently as a gift for a friend…

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Rose-hips, Rain and Recipe for Rose-hip Syrup

The sun rises in a cooler sky, as the mist crawls slowly along the valley floor, in from Lough Meelaugh, past Kilronan castle to eventually meet the mists that cover the giant stretch of water that is Lough Allen.

Autumn is a time of mists, just as Samhain merges into Winter, so do the mists swirl and merge away off into the low clouds.

Lough Allen is an English translation from the Gaelic, meaning ‘Beautiful Lake’, and that it is!

The little town of Drumshanbo lies just above the Lough in the County of Leitrim.

It is little wonder it is referred to as “Lovely Leitrim.”

On a calm day the Lough takes on a look of pure glass, as in Maeve Binchy’s book, “The Glass Lake.”

I am happy to see such a beautiful sunrise and then sit here writing in the still of the morning…it’s now exactly 9am.

This morning has to be slowly enjoyed because there’s a mighty storm of heavy rain approaching Ireland.

Rain has been heavy all year and the earth is quite sodden…the wettest I have ever experienced.

As I write this, clouds have shadowed out the morning sun and already spots of rain are dotting the windows.

Even as the rain falls, the harvest continues…

Did you know that Rose-hips contain 20 times more vitamin C than the same weight of oranges?

Here is an old recipe for making Rosehip Syrup, a Vitamin C product given to babies and young children during World War Two…

Rose-hip Syrup
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2lb ripe rose-hips

6 pints water

1lb sugar
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Wash and remove stalks.

Mince or finely chop.

Add to pan with 4 pints boiling water, bring back to boil then remove from heat.

Stand for 15 minutes then strain through a jelly bag.(I use a cotton pillow-case!)

Return the pulp to pan with 2 pints boiling water, bring to boil, remove and stand for 10 minutes, then strain through jelly bag.

Now mix both juices and boil until reduced to 2 pints.

Add sugar, stir until dissolved, boil for 5 minutes.

Pour into small bottles, seal and sterilize using pan method.
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Other Uses for Rose-hips…

Rose hips can be gathered and dried for tea.

Drying methods are simple as the fruit is small and easily dried…but keep it slow and steady…I use the oven on my wood stove and leave the door slightly ajar to keep the dry air circulating but not baking.

An Autumn Afternoon in an Irish Cottage Garden

Colours of the season, dogwoods ablaze and Loosestrife turned to straw.

Birch and Beech turn earthy tones.

Near the lake, the cows move slowly in the afternoon heat, seeking shady spots to stand and stare.

Old driftwood from the ocean salutes the cottage.

The horses come to look over the fence, waiting for a treat they are sure to get!

A last flush of yellow on the Hypericum bush holds the moisture from the October air.

The Beech trees will cling onto their leaves for most of the winter, even though the life within has passed.

And little Newts seek a place to over-winter, resting on the back door mat as they make their path towards hibernation.