Celebrating Lughnasa

The carved head of Lugh looks in all directionsLughnasa (earlier, Lughnasadh) was the feast of Lugh.

Lughnasa Lugh, carved by Michael Quirke A harvest festival, its celebration marked the end of the period of summer growth and the beginning of the autumn harvest.

Lugh, carved by Michael Qirke of SligoIts original name does not survive in popular tradition, that being now the common word in Irish (Lúnasa) for the month of August. 

Lugh of LughnasadhThe festival is rather known as the Sunday of Crom Dubh (the god of harvest), or in varying areas as Lammas Sunday, Garland Sunday, Bilberry Sunday, or Fraughan Sunday.

Burlap and lace flower arrangementThe first weekend in August marks Ireland’s changing-of-the-season festival of Lughnasa.

Burlap and lace flower arrangementThe Irish playwright, Brian Friel, wrote the now famous,“Dancing at Lughnasa” which is all centred around the pivotal point in the Celtic calendar, Lughnasa.

Bealtaine flowers at LughnasaThe Celts regarded the Earth as a fertile Goddess, to be nurtured and honoured…a way of living I now follow, as a care-taker and care-giver to Mother Earth.

flowers for MichelleThe gate-keeper to the sanctuary of Bealtaine Cottage.

Lughnasa flowers for Michelle's weddingToday is the final day of summer in the Celtic Calendar…Happy Lughnasa!

 

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Monsanto and Why Your Vigilance is Needed…

Vandana Shiva on GMOsWe have been informed that Monsanto are backing out of Europe.

Cottage todayWe have been told that Monsanto do not see a viable market for their GMOs in the EU.

Bealtaine CottageHowever, it is important to realise that Monsanto have cultivated friends in the highest echelons of government worldwide.

Bealtaine CottageThe EU is now officially in bed with the US administration, via the recently verified Trade Agreement.

Feverfew and tomatoesMonsanto are not going away.

The lure of money and power is too great!

Be vigilant!

David's Oak treesMonsanto have been around for some time and used to playing the long game.

Do not let your guard slip on this one.

The stakes are too high!

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Update on 2nd of August.

As I suspected…

http://rt.com/news/court-overturns-french-monsanto-ban-930/

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 100 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

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Where Permaculture meets Buddhism

Permaculture and BuddhismThere has been hardly a day this Spring and Summer when Bealtaine Cottage has not welcomed visitors.

permaculture and BuddhismOften times I am left exhausted by the challenge of working, to keep production going and keeping a “welcome for all”

Permaculture and BuddhismThere have been occasions when I have had to turn away requests to visit…and I spend time regretting it, but I work on my own and have others to care for at times.

Bealtaine, where Permaculture meets BuddhismThis morning I received an email from visitors who came to see Bealtaine on Friday last.

Permaculture and BuddhismI thought I would share this with you, for what Michael has to say is thoughtful and profound. 

Hi Colette 

This is Michael!

I visited you on Friday with my partner Mairead.

Anyway I just wanted to say thanks again.

You’ve really awakened in me the real magic and mysticism held within our mother earth.

I was beginning to think permaculture was just another ego trip men were on, trying to use wacky methods to grow food, rather than cherishing and learning to live in harmony with mother earth and all her creatures.

The voluntary work I had done with some ‘permaculture’ enthusiasts had left me feeling very uneasy that this might be another path of excess, rather than simplicity and harmony.

I sort of turned away from the permaculture ideas.

I felt the Buddhist ideas of how to live simply and compassionately towards all of the earth’s sentient beings were being left out of this approach. Permaculture and Buddhism

Michael goes on to say…

I watched this documentary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FumyvVOVbaY a few months ago and was extremely moved and humbled by how simply the monks lived in harmony with their surroundings taking very little from it and not disturbing any of the life around them.

I began meditating in the Zen tradition a while ago.

And after initially thinking it would be a way for me to find some peace and quiet in a busy world, the practice soon began to awaken in me the sacredness of the world around me and soon the practice became my life.

Visiting your place has made me realise how much the earth wants to come to life.

It’s hard to describe but the plants and insects and all the life in Bealtaine seem so alive and ultimately happy!

Its like the teachings I’ve been reading in Buddhist texts are alive in Bealtaine.

It’s like a microcosm of how the world would be, if we lived compassionately for all creatures, down to the tiniest microbes in the soil.

It’s truly a living revelation.

I had these strong questions in my mind about how to connect the material and spiritual world in a harmonious way, so that we can live balanced between the two, not giving too much time to either so that all life can flourish.

I had asked a lot of people, including monks and meditation teachers, but it took seeing your place to realize what needs to be done.

I think I had spent too much time over the last while being to into spiritual practices, thinking the earth might be better off without humans, but seeing your place has given me an understanding, that as conscious beings, we have been given the role of caretakers of the planet, but its something we’ve yet to realise.

I’ve read so much about balance, but It took seeing your place to see what balance is.

I’ve met so many teachers who seem to cling to one approach but my intuition has always kept me thinking that both the outer and inner worlds are equally important and need equal care.

Bealtaine really is this sacred balance and thank you for nurturing it to life!

I hope to visit it many times and please keep us informed of any courses. 

I thought I’d share this page with you..

there are some great lectures. the first one by Dr Vandana Shiva and the ones by Deepak Chopra and Helena Nordberg Hodge are particularly inspiring.

well have a great summer and hopefully we get to visit again in the not too distant future. and if you ever need a hand with anything, please let me know, I’d love to come and learn from you!

namaste

Michael

Permaculture and Buddhism

A Sacred Space for the Mind

Cobwebs on Fuschia

The morning was misty, with an autumnal feel in the air…cool and damp with dew. hanging webCobwebs hung on trees and bushes, sometimes stretching for metres in the air.

misty morning at Bealtaine CottageIt felt so liberating to just amble around with tea in one hand, camera in the other and not be oppressed with heat.

The misty hill of BallyfermoyleI don’t tolerate heat too well and look forward to autumn, it being my favourite season of all. Buddha at BealtaineThe early morning sun began to evaporate the mist, bringing to mind the day ahead and all that needed to be done. 

Dew catcherI love the time in the morning before any other creature has stirred…it’s magical and charged with a wonderful energy.

secret pathI was born and grew up in a tiny two bedroom house in Omagh, shared with parents and 8 siblings, so have come to appreciate the calm, before the day begins in earnest.

Sitting room windowQuiet, early mornings, hold a sacred space for the mind.

Buddleia on the gravel driveEarly morning, as the sun rises, is an almost different world…a world apart from the mundane and expected.

A world filled with possibilities, hopes and plans.

setting sunAnd the setting sun carries away the hot day, into the embrace of another cool, welcome night.

Cottage Garden Harvest

Cottage garden harvestRed onions and seeds dry in the heat of the afternoon sun at Bealtaine Cottage. cottage garden harvestThe Permaculture harvest is on it’s way.

cottage garden harvestI am saving lots of seed from the biggest, healthiest and tastiest plants!

cottage garden harvestThe rain came and has left a little water…not much, but enough to fill the tank in the loft!

Cottage Garden HarvestHerbs and seeds are coming into their own!

potato harvest at Bealtaine CottagePotatoes are appearing where none were planted…these have grown from seed dropped last year and have not been earthed up!

cottage garden harvestBlackcurrants are taking over the gardens!

Apple harvest

Apples are plumping out…

Runner beansRunner beans are seeking Heaven…

Raspberry harvestRaspberries are being eaten straight from the garden!

broad beansBroad Beans are looking monstrous!

potager beds at Bealtaine CottageAnd the Potager beds have received their second planting…

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 006My brother Hugh O’Neill has made some very special Bog Oak pendants for the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy shop.

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 003Hugh has carved some Rune and Ogham symbols on some of these special little pieces of Bog Oak.

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 004The wood is carved and polished by Hugh into these amazing pendants, each accompanied by glass or wooden beads…

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 005 A little piece of Ancient Ireland to wear around your neck!

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 002You can find these on the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop…

https://www.etsy.com/listing/157732408/ancient-irish-bog-oak-pendants

 

Carbon Taxes Won’t Save Us!

Back door of Bealtaine CottageToday, I was feeling just a teensy bit down.

It’s a rare experience for me.

Back door at Bealtaine CottageLife is so full on here at Bealtaine, that positivity fills the day, running from one task to the next and looking forward to a brief sit down and a cup of tea.

But today, something caught up with me…a growing feeling of fragility that I had suppressed for a long time.

A jingle bell heartWeakness in the face of disaster.

Fear.

Dog Daisy benchI have spent much of my life suppressing fear.

To be honest, most people have too.

table on the verandaCarrying life, caring for life, creates a deep fear…of birth and death, and one that we know we  must resist.

Not just resist, but train ourselves to regard this feral fear in as dispassionate a way as we can muster.

Family on the dresserWe as adults cannot display fear to our young or those in our charge or care…we must be brave, pretend, laugh in the face of fear.

kitchen windowToday I was desperate for water to ensure the plants in the potager beds did not die.

The well had stopped flowing.

The heat of the day was oppressive, as the cloudless sky framed a burning hot sun that evaporated what little moisture was left in the soil.

Petunias in pot on veranda tableI drove the car to an ancient spring, lower down the valley, and spent the morning bucketing water back up to the cottage.

It was exhausting, but successful…the plants are still alive tonight, as I write this blog in the cool of a full moon.

Church bench and tribal drumThe fear has hung over me all day, as I realise how terribly vulnerable we all are, in the face of these persistent, extreme, weather events.

The first sunflower opens at Bealtaine CottageIn this state of vulnerability lies a growing awareness of the fragility of life.

We have to do everything we can to protect that life.

Carbon taxes won’t do that…only we can…each and every one of us!

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In Search of Fairies on a Summer Eve…

In search of fairiesIt could be the way the light hangs in the sky this evening…

Lysimachia Punctata and stone stepsOr the stillness of the air as a mist starts its’ way up the valley…

Entrance to the Fairy WoodOr may even be the predominance of moths fluttering in the still air down in the Fairy Wood, in the gardens below the cottage…

entrance to the fairy wood at bealtaine cottageI’m walking the gardens in search of the Fairies.

entrance to fairy wood at bealtaine cottageAlthough most people here in the West of Ireland will tell you they’ve left the fairy faith in the past, there is a lingering moment, between asking whether or not they believe in the Fairies, and the reply in the negative.

That moment of hesitation is all one needs to be aware of!

The Fairy Wood at Bealtaine CottageFairy faith is the belief in fairies, of course.

fairy wood at bealtaine cottageWhen the Milesians, the mythical race described by an 11th century scholar in Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of Invasions), came to Ireland they banished the natives to the underground and they became the Sidhe, the fairy folk.

Fairy cats in the fairy woodThey reside in old ring-forts, stone circles and inside and under magical trees like the Hawthorn, or Fairy Thorn as it is known here in Ireland…particularly one growing alone in a field.

A path from the Fairy WoodNo farmer disturbs the Fairy Thorn, for to do so brings almighty bad luck!

In the Fairy Wood below Bealtaine CottageThere is a Fairy Thorn in the wood below the cottage, hence the name, Fairy Wood or Dell, as it lies in a hollow, well below the cottage.

Willow Fedge leading away from the Fairy WoodAnd so I ramble the gardens, quietly, patiently looking here and there for movement or unexpected light.

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I would really appreciate if you’d take the time to vote for me in this Irish award…

Colette O’Neill

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Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 110 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

There are over 560 blogs in the archives on this site.

Thank you for supporting this blog

 

Always an Upside!

Feverfew and stained glassIt is very hot and very, very dry.

sedum in a tin canThe well has dropped low and trickles down to the cottage, threatening water supply to the tank in the loft.

Feverfew and DriftwoodPlants are thirsty and the rain barrels are empty.

Lysimachia Punctata and willow archA potential disaster ensues if the clouds don’t spill the rain soon!

Meadowsweet and Vetch in the Bog Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage todayHowever, there is always an upside…sometimes one just has to search around a little.

Perlagoniums on the Cable Table at Bealtaine CottageI found it!

Poppy seed heads at Bealtaine CottageThis is perfect weather for harvesting seed that is ripe and there are lots of it!

Foxglove seed The seed is dry and the air is dry…that makes for perfect harvesting in my experience!

harvesting seed at Bealtaine CottageAnd so I harvested…

Bealtaine CottageThere is always an upside!

The Transmigration of the Soul

back door of the cottage

The Romans conquered Europe, but resolutely refused to invade Ireland, despite ruling England, Wales and Scotland for several hundred years.

Angel at sunsetRecently I have made a concerted effort to find out why this was…Why continual Roman Emperors left Ireland alone…?

Sunset through the trees at Bealtaine CottageWhat crops up in my investigations time and again, is the issue of the ancient Celtic belief in the transmigration of the soul.

Sunset at Bealtaine CottageThis was not just something that was taught by the Druids, but an unshakeable conviction in the afterlife…one so strong, that it made them absolutely fearless in battle.

view from a window at Bealtaine CottageTransmigration of the soul is a doctrine of reincarnation.

Flo and JackWithin this belief, spirits may be reborn into any of nature’s forms – human, animal, or even inanimate things, such as trees and water.

Water garden in permaculture at Bealtaine CottageThis is supported by evidence from the ancient Celtic Heroic tales.

Celtic Cross at Bealtaine CottageThe Greek writer Diordus Siculus (c. 60 BC – 30 AD) noted that the Druids believed “the souls of men are immortal, and that after a definite number of years they live a second life when the soul passes to another body.”

Bee on Lunaria flower at Bealtaine CottageThe Greek philosopher Strabo (c. 63 BC – 21 AD) observed the Druids believed that “men’s souls and the universe are indestructible, although at times fire and water may prevail.”

Angel at Bealtaine CottageJulius Caesar wrote of the Celts “They wish to inculcate this as one of their leading tenets, that souls do not become extinct, but pass after death from one body to another, and they think that men by this tenet are in a great degree stimulated to valour, the fear of death being disregarded.”

Buddha at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensThis was most troublesome for Julius Caesar, as he realized this race would not be easily defeated and thence subjugated.

Missy Cat sleeps on the bed at Bealtaine CottageThe Roman Empire was all too aware of what happened when the British Celts,  under their Queen Boadicea, decided to revolt against Roman tyranny.

The standing stone at Bealtaine Cottage February 2013The Celts, led by their Queen, cut a mighty swathe through the Roman settlements, towns and armies in England, almost wiping out Roman occupation!

light a candle at Bealtaine Cottage IrelandThe Romans had raped the daughters of Boadicea, making her watch…the entire Iceni Tribe rallied behind the dignity of their queen and against the tyranny of such barbarians as empire breeds.

Christmas eve moon above Bealtaine CottageAs for the women of the Celts, Roman Diodorus Siculus wrote of them, saying, “Among the Gauls the women are nearly as tall as the men, whom they rival in courage.”

Brigid Cross  Bealtaine Cottage Shop on EtsyAmicus Marcelling states – “A whole troop of foreigners would not be able to withstand a single Celt if he called his wife to his assistance”

Bealtaine Cottage candles in the windowJulius Caesar was frightened of the Celts, despite the mighty legions of Rome.

Bealtaine Cottage before Christmas 2012This is a truth I carry today…to be steadfast and resolute in holding fast to what I believe to be right.

Bealtaine Cottage bog garden 

Blessings X