There will be no lack of water in the well for the next few weeks!
I have finally given away my hens…as I no longer eat eggs and there was a lovely home ready and waiting for them where they would be more useful, as they are good layers and their eggs will be anticipated and appreciated where there is a family of people to eat them.
I shall miss them, but as with life at Bealtaine Cottage, the void is quickly filled and the hen-house will be re-purposed and appreciated further.
In the past, their manure was a part of developing the fertility of the land at Bealtaine, but this is no longer needed.
The compoost system is now working very well and far exceeds what any animal manure could bring to three acres.
Seed production is well under way, with some of the harvest already collected and much more coming to fruition.
We are now one week away from Midsummer, as evidenced in the lush growth seen here!
We inter-breath with the rain forests, we drink from the oceans. They are part of our own body. ~Thich Nhat Hanh
The fruit trees and bushes were pruned back quite hard over the course of last Autumn and Winter and they are happily producing yet another bumper harvest.
…no matter how complex or affluent, human societies are nothing but subsystems of the biosphere, the Earth’s thin veneer of life, which is ultimately run by bacteria, fungi and green plants.
Your deepest roots are in nature. No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of life you lead, you remain irrevocably linked with the rest of creation.
“If we are going to be kind, let it be out of simple generosity, not because we fear guilt or retribution.”
― J.M. Coetzee
Ireland is the richest source of Celtic myths and legends.
Down through the Ages, Ireland remained remote and cut off from mainland Europe, holding onto its rich folklore and spirituality.
It’s peoples worshipped all aspects of the natural world in which they recognised the Divine, in much the same way as I do here at Bealtaine Cottage.
The reason for the wealth of myth and legend that pervades Ireland, today and it’s people lies not just from its isolation from mainland Europe for much of its history.
Ireland remained free from pressures exerted by other cultures such as the Roman Empire.
So much so, that the great writer, John B. Keane referred to his people as having only a “thin veneer of Christianity…” in that they merged their pre-Christian practices with their newly inducted Christianity.
And so I offer this up as a simple explanation for the gardens at Bealtaine Cottage having evolved through a similar understanding of the natural world and the supreme forces of Nature.
This is no ordinary Permaculture garden as you can see, but one deeply nourished and inspired by the Goddess.
For me there is a spiritual, otherworldly, ethereal force at work and play here.
This is the rational (for me) way of explaining the extraordinary growth and extreme revving-up of biodiversity that has happened at Bealtaine.
All beyond my control…not that I ever wanted to control this magnificent force!
I leave that to the Planet-Wreckers!
As I re-emerged through my journey with Mother Earth, I came to an intuitive understanding of the need to stop digging Her…to let Her be!
So I mulch and cover Her with as much tenderness as befits the Great Mother.
You will never see any of Her precious skin exposed.
Her mantle remains in place.
And so this brings me to the second part of this story…
The wonderful success of No-Dig Gardening…
And here is the first of over twenty photographs and the story of growing success at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland…continued over at Bealtaine Cottage Good Life… bealtainecottage.org
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My daughter, Cara, was driving, so we stopped by the shores of the Lough, made famous by W.B.Yeats in his poetry.
Birthdays come and go and I have enjoyed sixty of them, all in the month of October, near Samhain…so this, along with a second ring as yet unfinished, marked my sixty Summers on this precious, beautiful Earth.
I had deliberated for some time over what I should spend my birthday money on…have always loved silver and, very importantly, dearly wanted to place a much maligned symbol of the Goddess where I would always see it!
The story of the snakes being banished from Ireland represents a dark place in the history of this land…for it was the Goddess who was banned, to be replaced with an image dominated by Patriarchy… that of Virgin Mother Mary.The Great Goddess often had snakes as her symbol—sometimes twining around her sacred staff, as in ancient Crete—and they were worshiped as guardians of her mysteries of birth and regeneration.
Bealtaine Cottage encapsulates those two energies…birth and regeneration…of Mother Earth herself, in all her wild, unstoppable beauty.
Wildheart was the place I had to go…
The journey back was auspicious, in that we got lost.
And so, driving along a quiet road, we were led to an ancient Holy Well…much older than any religion…
Tobernalt Holy Well is a place of reflection and nurturing serenity.
It predates the advent of Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century.
Its importance as a meeting place and a sustainer of life predates even our Celtic ancestors.
Tobernalt is a natural spring well that established itself in a primeval forest.
It is situated at the South West corner of Lough Gill in the North Sligo Barony of Carbury.
This was where I blessed my ring, submerging it in the Spring Water that flowed from the hill, away into the mystical depths of Lough Gill and the Lake Isle of Inishfree.
“…the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.”
― Wendell Berry
The photographer from Irish Country Magazine has just left…the magazine photo-shoot is over!
You can read all about Bealtaine Cottage in the Dec/Jan edition, which will be on the shelves at the end of November!
As we walked around the gardens, the conversation turned to the story of how Bealtaine emerged from rushy fields and it became apparent that this story becomes harder to tell…for it all seems so improbable.
The story has taken on myth-like qualities as visitors look around, finding it hard to believe that Nature could work such magic…but She has…the Great Creatrix!
The gardens are now a riot of autumnal colour, due in part to what many call ‘mistakes,’ but have turned out to be inspired tree planting, with nothing other than a gut feeling of where to plant and plant without discrimination.
When one considers it, Mother Nature does not discriminate.
She merely gets on with whatever needs to be done…nurturing and giving all her days.
Rachel Carson was acutely aware of how the future might be, if humankind did not awaken to the need to live with her…the one…the Mother, Creatrix of beauty and life.
“Silent Spring” remains to this time, an enduring legacy of the call to wake up and smell the roses.
We cannot live without her, though she can go on and on into the future without us.
The question is: does she want to?
I believe Mother Earth is reaching out to us in a last desperate bid to stop us from destroying our habitat.
What is being done in the name of economic progress is nothing less than a dance with death.
Despite what is apparent, there appears to be a mass awakening of people, much of it happening on internet media with a gathering speed and force.
If this little website is anything to go by, then all is not lost, for I see the growing numbers of people interested in a more sustainable lifestyle!
We are living in fast changing times, days of optimism and hope…we are moving into a time of co-creating with the great Creatrix…Mother Earth.
I did not choose Bealtaine Cottage…it chose me, as one who would be an enabler of the great Mother.
In the Celtic calendar, the first day of May was known in Irish as Bealtaine.
This was the feast of bright fire, the first of summer, one of the four great quarter days of the year.
The ancient Irish Book of Invasions tells us that the first magical inhabitants of the country, the Tuatha Dé Danaan, arrived on the feast of Bealtaine.
Bealtaine is all about renewal, another chance, an awakening.
I will let the great Seamus Heaney have the last word…
Beacons at Bealtaine
Phoenix Park, May Day, 2004
Uisce: water. And fionn: the water’s clear.
But dip and find this Gaelic water Greek:
A phoenix flames upon fionn uisce here.
Strangers were barbaroi to the Greek ear.
Now let the heirs of all who could not speak
The language, whose ba-babbling was unclear,
Come with their gift of tongues past each frontier
And find the answering voices that they seek
As fionn and uisce answer phoenix here.
The May Day hills were burning, far and near,
When our land’s first footers beached boats in the creek
In uisce, fionn, strange words that soon grew clear;
So on a day when newcomers appear
Let it be a homecoming and let us speak
The unstrange word, as it behoves us here,
Move lips, move minds and make new meanings flare
Like ancient beacons signalling, peak to peak,
From middle sea to north sea, shining clear
As phoenix flame upon fionn uisce here.
“A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. . . . When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.”
Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things. ~Elise Boulding
Yesterday, I found myself with two juicers.
Through fortune and kindness, my life had become too full, and so I gave one away, to a friend who needs to take good care of her health.
She was delighted and my cupboard was, once more, roomy and ready to receive.
To live in a state of abundance, it is necessary to practice frugality.
One cannot work without the other.
Abundance needs space to grow!
Clinging onto what one does not need creates clutter, confusion and chaos.
Is it any wonder the world is in such a state?
We don’t need to increase our goods nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants. Not wanting something is as good as possessing it. ~Donald Horban
The sculptor produces the beautiful statue by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed — it is a process of elimination. ~Elbert Hubbard
I have two websites… Bealtaine Cottage and Bealtaine Cottage Good Life.
This site, Bealtaine Cottage, is free and has over 850 blogs, as well as over 3,500 photographs.
Bealtaine Cottage Good Life costs 12 euros per year and allows me a small income, to keep doing what I love doing most…writing about Mother Earth and photographing her.
Making this small donation adds your name to the subscriber list.
You will then have access to the website and full blog as published twice each week.
This amounts to 104 publications per year, at a cost of 12 cents each!
Following on from comments and emails you have written about planting The Forest of Bealtaine, I have realised the international importance of this healing project.
You, my dear friends, have been planting this forest all over the world and have gently reminded me of the connectedness of which I so often write.
I am dedicating a section of this website to that dream made reality and here’s how…
If you have been inspired through Bealtaine Cottage to plant a tree, then can I ask you to email a picture and a few words to me, including your name, country and website, so it can be added to The Forest of Bealtaine page?
This page will be located at the top of the website in the coming day/s.
I will continually update it and maybe even create a special website, if it grows like a forest!
What do you think?
Is this a good idea?
I know so many of you have been inspired to plant trees through Bealtaine…this site will hopefully pay deep respect to you and your love for Mother Earth.
The start of the week in this sacred place, where edges meet and overlap…a cooling, calming morning.
Yesterday was a day of visits and creating bouquets to take with me.
The gardens are flourishing and birthing beauty all around me, so there was much to gather and choose from.
This is the tenth year using the roll of cellophane bought for me by my eldest daughter all those years ago as a leaving London present!
Small investments can and do go on giving!
Walking the gardens this morning, after the rain, with the earth scents rising all around me, it was a delight to see the apples well on their way to a grand harvest.
I continue to drink the apple juice saved as frozen juice from the harvest last year.
The “poor” land here has given me more food than I can cope with…a continuing surplus builds year on year.
In this tenth year, it is no longer a surprise that the main stream media has steered clear of permaculture, for the truth of biodiversity undermines the huge Agri-business pushed by governments and those in power.
Permaculture has been pushed out to the fringes of society by ignoring the outcomes of such an approach.
This is why I write and photograph and film and keep putting it out there.
I don’t mind being ignored, but Mother Earth WILL have her voice heard and those tuning in are rising in numbers to a point where the mainstream media will have to take notice or end up being overtaken.
The compost heaps continue to rise toward the sky, dropping back down to earth as they bio-degrade. Newly planted beds promise a rich return all Autumn and well into the Winter. Natural Spring water flows in abundance from an aquifer that is unabused by demanding “flush it away,” toilet cisterns.
There is no away and besides which, water is sacred!
Why use clean water to flush our human waste into the rivers and oceans…no way, there is no away! Taking care of people means taking care of the Earth…how simple is that philosophy to put into practice?
Not if you are a corporation or a politician on the make and take, for there is no money in caring, just an abundant, real economy!
Our abiding relationship is with Mother Earth.
It is the only physical relationship which surpasses all others in this life.
If we imagine our world as a tapestry, then where are you on the stitching?
Where do you want to be on the weave?
Here’s a thought: one of the biggest and most powerful supermarket chains in the UK and Ireland spent a small fortune on creating this advertising slogan, “Every Little Helps!”
Second-phase food production is under way as from this week.
Midsummer has passed and many harvests are home or under-way.
This week has seen me clear the tunnel, spread lots of compost afresh on the beds and begin planting for the next phase of crops.
As I cleared the tunnel and collected masses of seeds and seed-heads, I was thinking about the crops I would plant.
Number one on my list is Kale; one of the great foods, especially in juicing.
Regular intake of Kale juice keeps health at a peak.
Soil is the most important aspect of good food.
The food takes up the essential minerals and goodness in the soil and turns these into health-giving good food.
This was a good time to prune the Peach Tree and remove about half of the Nectarines and feed the tree.
I left some of the herbs in place and moved the rest into pots and outside beds.
“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
― Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution
“Organic is something we can all partake of and benefit from. When we demand organic, we are demanding poison-free food. We are demanding clean air. We are demanding pure, fresh water. We are demanding soil that is free to do its job and seeds that are free of toxins. We are demanding that our children be protected from harm. We all need to bite the bullet and do what needs to be done—buy organic whenever we can, insist on organic, fight for organic and work to make it the norm. We must make organic the conventional choice and not the exception available only to the rich and educated.”
― Maria Rodale, Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe
All the Poppy heads are now harvested, providing a massive amount of Poppy Seed…great in cooking and baking!
“Right now over 70% of the world population is convinced that something serious has to be done about the dangers facing the planet. …Most of humanity wants to know how to make the change. It’s one of those tipping-point times where things can change unbelievably fast…”
~ Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson, The Cultural Creatives
Words of wisdom.
Words of vision.
The coming times; a glimpse of what’s to come.
These times are infused with uncertainty and fear.
Many people deal with this by switching off.
The Tipping Point has arrived.
Most of us know this to be a truth.
We know it deep in our hearts.
There is a panic among those who hold power over us.
This is manifested in the shifting sands of policy as things appear to fall apart.
Our governments have sown the seeds of chaos…in what they have done and what they have failed to do.
The most insidious, Machiavellian, duplicitous human beings are rampaging and corralling us all into dark times.
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.” ― W.B. Yeats, The Collected Poems
For several years, as I have written this blog, and photographed the exquisite and the beautiful that is Mother Earth, I have attempted to inspire and encourage a return to Mother Earth.
For those who dwell close to her, quickly find the connection to life and spirit they have searched for, and in the finding is birthed a renewed sense of humanity, compassion, goodness and joy.
These are the values we have, as humans, innate within us.
The intuitive, intrinsic, spontaneous gifts of the Divine which make us as one.
Those we have elected as Trustees of Our Planet are conjuring wars, corruption, hatred and despair; thrusting us into the darkest of times.
As the falcon turns, hold on tight to what you know to be the truth.
Bealtaine Cottage is free and has over 850 blogs, as well as over 3,500 photographs.
Bealtaine Cottage Good Life is a mere 12 euros per year and allows me a small income, to keep doing what I love doing most…writing about Mother Earth and photographing her.
To subscribe, a small donation of 12 euros per year, will add your name to the subscriber list.
The old tin bath has been taken down from the wall of the barn.
Used wine bottles are left to steep for a few hours in rainwater.
Washed and clean, ready to be filled with home-made Blackcurrant wine.
There is always at least one day during the Summer, when one feels enthusiastic enough to overcome the reluctance to get stuck into bottling wine…today, all the right chords were struck and the work began!
Cork stoppers were duly washed and left to soak and soften, till, finally…
the wine was securely bottled! All that remains to be done is labelling…Chateau Bealtaine!
Outside the back door, Summer continues in layers of sheer abundance…Feverfew splurges on masses of tiny, daisy-like flowers.
Midsummer has only just crossed over and the garlic is ready to pull, with the first batch of Garlic and Oregano Olive Oil infusing.
Summer just keeps on getting bottled!
There is so much food and flowers, it’s sheer Heaven!
Walking around the cottage is a feast for the senses!
Even the ancient Polygonum is covered with bright red flowers…one of the very few plants here that has nothing for the Bees…but a delight for me!
Yellow Loosestrife stands tall in the casual cottage borders.
Roses fall over in a drunken Summer stupor, heavy with scent and bees.
Petals cascade onto stone steps, ivory wraps for blushing fairies.
Valerian falls onto the gravel path, dropping seeds and heavy flower-heads onto the visitor’s shoe.
And the Summer that was bottled today, will be brought out amidst smiles and raised glasses in the depths of Midwinter.
Looking out upon the Midsummer Solstice morning makes me want to weep…for what are we doing to our beautiful planet?
This is a stark realization, in terms of how we relate to Mother Earth, for we can survive without most material goods, but cannot survive without good food and clean water.
Much of what we eat and drink today is predicated on the use of massive amounts of chemicals…and all being pumped into, or spread upon, Mother Earth.
We are not just soiling the nest, we are destroying the habitat around it.
Not even animals do this!
Somewhere in all of this are people with real concerns, who are aware of the dangers ahead; only some people though, as many are still unaware, or refusing to face reality.
The reality is, in my opinion, quite stark.
One only has to start looking at the figures, such as loss of topsoil, loss of food growing agricultural land, number of force fed, factory farmed animals raised for excessive consumption on an annual basis.
The list goes on and on and the figures add up to frightening and alarming of destruction of habitat, for they point directly to an unsustainable world.
Unsustainable growth and development is when we plunder the future of our children, restricting their lives for our own wants and desires.
The health and well-being of future generations is dependent upon us all being mindful of caring for our Mother Earth and all her bounty.
Living lightly is not living without, but living with a care for our environment, our habitat and the children whose faces we will never see…
We will be remembered for our caring, or scorned for our destruction…
Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…I have posted over 110 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.
I write to encourage, help and inspire mindfulness for our beautiful world and have photographed and written over 720 blogs on the Bealtaine Cottage site.
As an Ark for Nature, trees and wildlife, the smallholding of Bealtaine Cottage receives no grant aid from either the Irish government or EU. Everything created here is self-funded.
Any donation, no matter how small, goes a long way in sustaining and developing this site.
The birds appear to have wakened in the cool of evening, filling the air with song and calls, as though they’d spent the day in the shade of the nest, keeping still and cool.
The grass paths are mowed in the upper gardens and plants cut back to allow safe passage.
This is Ireland at her best, with long cool evenings complete with blue sky until nearly the witching hour. Just as the fragrant roses have gone over on the veranda, archways of roses burst into being.
Roses and Virginia Creeper support one another in a frenzy of growth.
Less than a week until the Midsummer Solstice and the Earth knows.
She sings a song of endless summer days and green abundance.
Seeds are forming.
Fruit develops and ripens.
Blackcurrants darken and plump out.
Geraniums spill out from under Blackcurrant bushes.
Lady’s Mantle flowers and falls over, drunk with summer!
And the Bealtaine Angel is surrounded by rose petals at Summer Cottage.