The Cave of The Cats…a Samhain Journey.

Today is the day after my birthday. The morning is clear and sunny, a brightness fills the air. The woodland gardens are filled with birds eagerly seeking breakfast after a long cold night…and a Sparrow Hawk is hunting for his breakfast too.

He sits atop the bird table, very still, eyeing up the landscape. The small birds have felt his presence and flown! He may have to hunt further afield this cold morning for his breakfast!

To see such a hunting bird visit one’s garden is to witness the re-balancing of Nature in a once impoverished landscape. A very fitting celebration of my birthday, for my heart’s desire was to help Her become restored, vital and once more, abundant!

Rich woodland now surrounds the cottage…a mere few steps from the front door.

Those who talk about leaving Nature to regenerate on Her own in an impoverished landscape know little of the struggles She faces in a world where we have taken everything from Her and then tell Her to get on with it! Fifteen years of careful nurture, love and planting, planting, planting has brought Her back to healthy abundance…now She regenerates!

In the early days of the Bealtaine Project I cut the rushes, millions of rushes…and kept the land clear for my planting, so as the young trees would not be strangled by the monoculture mess of rushes left behind after decades of meat raising.

Yesterday, the day marking my 64th year with Mother Earth, I visited one of the most sacred sites in all of Ireland, Rathcroghan and Oweynagat, The Cave of the Cats…the portal into the Otherworld. Unlike all other cultures, the Celts believed we could cross back and forth to the Otherworld. It was not to be feared, but existed parallel to our own world.

This is from Wikipedia:

Rathcroghan (IrishRáth Cruachan, meaning “fort of Cruachan”) is a complex of archaeological sites near Tulsk in County Roscommon, Ireland. It is identified as the site of Cruachan, the traditional capital of the Connachta, the prehistoric and early historic rulers of the western territory. The Rathcroghan Complex (Crúachan Aí) is a unique archaeological landscape with many references found in early Irish medieval manuscripts.

Located on the plains of Connacht (Mag nAí/Machaire Connacht), Rathcroghan is one of the six Royal Sites of Ireland. This landscape which extends over six square kilometres, consists of 240 plus archaeological sites, sixty of which are protected national monuments.

These monuments range from the Neolithic (4000 – 2500 BC), through the Bronze (2500 – 500 BC) and Iron Age (500 BC – 400 AD), to the early medieval period and beyond. These monuments include burial mounds, ringforts and medieval field boundaries amongst others. The most fascinating of these are the multi period Rathcroghan Mound, the mysterious cave of Oweynagat, the Mucklaghs – a spectacular set of linear earthworks, as well as the Carnsmedieval complex.

There are many interesting historic references to Rathcroghan (Ráth Crúachan) recorded in early medieval manuscripts, including the 12th century Lebor na hUidre. Rathcroghan is recorded as the location of one of the great fairs of Ireland, as well as being one of the island’s three great heathen cemeteries. It is also the location for the beginning and end of a national epic tale – an Táin Bó Cúailnge, and the royal seat of Medb (Maeve), Connacht’s Warrior Queen.

Rathcroghan is said to provide entrance to the Otherworld, via Oweynagat (the Cave of the Cats). Sadly, the newly arrived Christians name-called this sacred site, “The Gates of Hell,’ despite the fact that Hell was a new concept to the Celts! The cave is the starting point for the ancient festival of Samhain, as well as being described as the “fit abode” of the Morrigan, a Celtic Goddess of pre-Christian Ireland.

I want to say a big “Thanks and Blessings!” to all who sent me good wishes and birthday presents!

I want to thank all of you who have supported me through Patreon during the past year…Bless you!

Also those of you who donate apart from Patreon…bless you!

Blessings to those who support the Bealtaine Cottage Press through the purchase of a book, map or calendar!

Samhain Blessings to you all

XXX

Colette and Jack

A Glimpse into Ancient Celtic Ireland

old medieval ruins of dunluce castle on ocean coast in northern ireland famous place in uk

Ruins of Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland.

Dunluce Castle is a now-ruined medieval site in Northern Ireland, the seat of Clan McDonnell.  This is also a place where an early Irish fort once stood.

The first historical recording of the people called the Celts was in Ancient Greece around 700 BC.

dsc09711Moving from East and Central Europe, the Celts first arrived in Ireland about 500 BC.

dsc07886The story of their arrival is intermingled with that of the coming of the Tuatha de Danaan, a mythical tribe of the Goddess Danu.

dsc02192With the arrival of Christianity in the fifth century AD, written records then observe that the Celtic language was being spoken all over the island of Ireland.

fullsizeoutput_10ffHowever, the Celtic Ogham script was used in Ireland from the fourth century AD to the eighth century AD.

DSC02683The script consisted of strokes or notches cut along the edge of a standing stone. DSC02695Therefore, Ogham is seen as being the first written records of life in Ancient Ireland.

ueK2sRvBQviqybeGN4wQYQ_thumb_2019The written word was not, however, much required in Celtic life, as the hierarchy placed the storyteller high in importance within the tribe.

1wRqeJZ5TweBo3g+436eiw_thumb_202cWithin this is also placed the Druid, whose powers of recall, knowledge and tribal history, as well as poetry and lore, was central to the wellbeing and social standing of the tribe or clan.

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In this, the Celts loved storytelling. Before they learned to write, the Celts passed on their stories from one generation to another. Here is my grandfather, Hugh O’Neill of Tyrone, who was both a wonderfully gifted storyteller and musician. My elder brothers, Phelim and Sean are with him by the fireside in Omagh, County Tyrone.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1d79The Celts built large earthen banks or stone walls around their farms to protect themselves and their animals.

DSC02574These walls were called raths or duns.

IMG_8878Many place names in Ireland include the word rath or dun.

fullsizeoutput_111cExamples such as Rathcormac and Dunloe come to mind…try looking at a map of Ireland and see how many you can pick out!

fullsizeoutput_1126Many of the fortified homes were enlarged to become know as Hillforts, offering more protection and domination of the landscape. Oftentimes these sites were used later to build castles and larger settlements.

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Ireland is covered with the memories of our ancient tribes and people.<