Alchemy…The Great Magnum Opus

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There is pure Alchemy happening at Bealtaine Cottage right now.

dsc03693The great Magnum Opus of the year is taking place all around us. 

dsc03690The Alchemy of Transmutation refers to the change of one substance into another.

The flowers of the Blackcurrant became food for the Bees and as they fed, so the flowers became food for humans and birds…then to become wine…from one alchemical transmutation to another.

dsc03689The word “transmutation,” comes from the French (12th century) transmutacion, meaning”transformation, metamorphosis”, and it’s primary source is to be found in the Late Latin transmutationem, from Latin transmutare, the verb ‎“to change”.

dsc03716Everything in the gardens and woodlands in undergoing change…from what it was in Summer, to food in Autumn.

Here are both the flowers and berries of the Leycestria Formosa.

The berries, when squashed, emit the scent of Vanilla Chocolate!

No wonder the Blackbirds fight over them!

dsc03717dsc03718dsc03712Its quite amazing when one thinks about it.

dsc03747Take for example the beautiful Roses that so blessed the veranda at the back of the cottage.

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They have transmutated into these wonderful Rose-hips.

dsc03745The process of Alchemy is happening all around us in Nature, but because we have debased and destroyed much of the Natural world, so we have come to belittle her magic and, as a consequence, stripped away the regard we once held for the Great Mother!

dsc03739dsc03737dsc03736dsc03738Is it any wonder we, as a species, are so sick, depressed, joyless?  

The incredible Alchemy of Mother Earth is happening all around us…step outside!

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Equinox and Early Shadows

Autumn is a time of early shadows as the season of summer passes over.dsc03334

And cobwebs everywhere! And here, in the Northern Hemisphere, one can easily notice the later dawns and earlier sunsets,as Spring is ushered in south of the Equator.

dsc03306Equinox is all about balance…the balance of equal day and night, of dark and light.

dsc03307I await the first light of morning with great anticipation, aware that the light grows more and more precious, to be cherished.

dsc03308We are creatures of the light!

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During these colder mornings I use the electric kettle to make my early tea.

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There is something very comforting about an old tea tin…often referred to as a Tea Caddy!

dsc03311We are poised at the turning time and the descent towards Samhain.

dsc03312The Celts only recognised two parts of the year in terms of life, and that was Summer and Winter, for Samhain, despite falling on the 31st of October, meant “Summer’s End.”

dsc03313The sun is casting long shadowswe grow evermore closer to the turning. 

dsc03371In the night sky, Fomalhaut – the Autumn Star – is making its way across the heavens each night. 

dsc03370The equinoxes and solstices formed an important part of ancient rituals here in Ireland.

dsc03366This Autumn Equinox is also referred to as Mabon.

dsc03365Mabon is a good time to look at the ancient Greek legend of Persephone and Demeter.

dsc03364“The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Chrysanthemums.
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.

–   John Updike, September

dsc03362Departing summer hath assumed
An aspect tenderly illumed,
The gentlest look of spring;
That calls from yonder leafy shade
Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
A timely carolling.
–  William Wordsworth, September

dsc03369Stone monuments were built here in Ireland and aligned to witness the light on these days.

dsc03368One can still view the illumination of these chambers in ancient cairns, at sunrise, on important celestial days.

dsc03367It just remains for me to wish you all a Happy Equinox on this beautiful evening at Bealtaine Cottage.

Recipes, Cats and Ponds

First of all, the recipes have just been posted over at Bealtaine Cottage Kitchen on the Good Life website…and here’s a link:

https://bealtainecottage.org/bealtaine-cottage-kitchen/

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Sammy-Bear is well and truly zoned out here on the sofa.

dsc03201I was going to sit down, for I’ve been out most of the day at the pond, finishing clearing the pond-weed! Oh…at last…job done! dsc03202I stood and watched his restful sleep and decided to sit elsewhere! dsc03203He’s a lovely boy who deserves his comfort! dsc03204The signs of season change and early autumn are now quite visible from the windows of the cottage, with lots of yellow appearing on the young Ash trees. By the way, there are lots of Ash seeds for sale and these trees are very, very easy to grow…even as Bonsai! Here’s the link to the seed site…

https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-for-sale/

dsc03229You can see from the following pics the amount of clearing I’ve done.

dsc03211It was a mammoth task and I’m jolly glad it’s over! dsc03212The next task involves continuing to clear around the banks and the woodland around the pond.dsc03228

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The water is cloudy but this should settle in the next day or so.dsc03233Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.  Buddha

dsc03232Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. 

John Wooden dsc03220dsc03221I have a mind to just get on with things…head down into the wind, not looking to right nor left and working until I’m exhausted.dsc03230

dsc03207dsc03209This is probably why I have refused the help of others and never allowed woofers to stay here…I’ve always been stubborn!

However, it must be said that I love a challenge and hard work is good for mind and body, regardless of age. dsc03206dsc03205Rebellion against your handicaps gets you nowhere.  Self-pity gets you nowhere.  One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world–making the most of one’s best.  

Harry Emerson Fosdick

dsc03235dsc03236dsc03237Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose.  There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

The Power of Ritual

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Ritual, everyday ritual, is incredibly powerful!

Examine the ritual of power, be that in the opening of parliament, royal celebrations, religious ceremony…and you begin to see the importance and power of ritual!

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So where does this fit into a sustainable life or a permaculture smallholding?

It is simple to understand in the context of power…

Since the rise of the Age of Technology, our real power as human beings has become diminished.

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We have become reliant on technology, without stopping to assess and filter the bits we really need and want.

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I was contemplating this as I lit the stove this morning, moving to and fro with paper and wood, collecting fuel from the barn, whilst casting my eyes over the pile of long thin trunks, standing erect ready to be sawn into logs. Autumn in the permaculture gardens of bealtainecottage.com 001

My early morning coffee is predicated on lighting the stove and doing small chores, as I wait for the kettle to boil. This is a ritual I choose to partake of.

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I could have kept my electric kettle and simply touched a switch each morning, but chose instead to avail of that great commodity: time!

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Rising a little earlier, cleaning the ash-pan, lighting the stove and waiting, allows my morning to begin a sacred quietness.

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I walk to the back door and stand by the open portal to Nature, as she heralds the morning in with birdsong.

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The power of ritual is our power.

It is what we have forgotten, as technology imbibes us to forget our humanity.

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We need both.

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We need to be selective and thoughtful about what we wish to keep in our lives.

It is our power to choose.

A Feast of Autumn

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Autumn in the permaculture gardens continues in a glow.

It’s near mid October…my favourite month, my birthday month!

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

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Stoves are keeping the cottage and the lodge warm and snug.

The nip in the morning and evening air is quite tangible.

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In the scheme of things, Autumn is an exuberant finale to the year, filled with colour and joy, mindful of all that’s passed and all left to come, as the descent towards midwinter moves ceaselessly on. 

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“The tints of autumn…a mighty flower garden blossoming under the spell of the enchanter, frost.”
John Greenleaf Whittier 

Perlagoniums resist the cold, staying in full flower, continuing in their summer glory.

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The pink roses of Midsummer have passed, leaving behind the fruits of each visiting bee…rose-hips hang plump upon the branches.

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Wisteria turns golden on the veranda.

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The morning and evening air hangs heavy and still, laden with mist.

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“GATHERING LEAVES
Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.
I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
Running away.
But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.
I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?
Next to nothing for weight,
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for color.
Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop,
And who’s to say where
The harvest shall stop?”
Robert Frost

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Salix Contorta and Honesty catch the morning sun.

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“I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless like silence, listening
To silence, for no lonely bird would sing
Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,
Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn; —
Shaking his languid locks all dewy bright
With tangled gossamer that fell by night,
Pearling his coronet of golden corn.”
Thomas Hood

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“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”

[Letter to Miss Eliot, Oct. 1, 1841]”
George Eliot

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“And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days…”
Dylan Thomas, Collected Poems

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“I ate breakfast in the kitchen by candle-light, and then drove the five miles to the station through the most glorious October colouring. The sun came up on the way, and the swamp maples and dogwood glowed crimson and orange and the stone walls and cornfields sparkled with hoar frost; the air was keen and clear and full of promise. I knew something was going to happen. ”
Jean Webster, Daddy-Long-Legs

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“Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under harvest skies.”
Sharon Kay Penman, Time and Chance

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“There was a filmy veil of soft dull mist obscuring, but not hiding, all objects, giving them a lilac hue, for the sun had not yet fully set; a robin was singing … The leaves were more gorgeous than ever; the first touch of frost would lay them all low to the ground. Already one or two kept constantly floating down, amber and golden in the low slanting sun-rays.”
Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South

Presents and Good Wishes

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Lucky me!

I received this beautiful pair of hand-knitted socks from Ally (a subscriber to Bealtaine Cottage), in time for the Equinox, a special Mabon gift!

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Ally writes, “Your lovely words and posts have given me much pleasure over the past few months…”

Ally, the socks are simply beautiful and I shall treasure them, wearing only on special occasions…they are so finely knitted, I am in awe…Bless you!

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Walking in the woodland gardens of Bealtaine this morning, I noticed that the Spindle is in fruit.

The berries are a delightful shade of pink, I love to see them!

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Trees have grown better this year than ever before.

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The flowers of the Fuchsia are colouring the gardens…all grown from cuttings stuck straight into the ground!

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As the leaves of the Gunnera Manicata die down, there are some lovely colours and shapes developing, like here by the lower pond.

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Here’s a leave with a hole…the stems are quite spikey as you can see.

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Walks are growing more leafy…

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A floral riot down by the gate!

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Michaelmas daisies this morning on the driveway.

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Woodland paths where once there was only rushy monoculture despair!

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For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.

Edwin Way Teale

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Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

George Eliot

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After a short rain this morning, the forecast is more dry and sunny days ahead…enjoy them!

Blessings X 

Equinox Magic in the Woods

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Equinox was a magical day, spent in the beautiful woodland around Lough Meelagh, about three miles from Bealtaine Cottage.

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Equinox is always a special time, with day and night perfectly in balance, a time to enjoy the last long stretch of day before time moves inexorably towards the dark.

This is a Bog Oak sculpture by the Lough…beautiful, isn’t it?

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Herons are widespread in this region, with many visiting the ponds at Bealtaine Cottage.

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Pathways wind and snake their way into the depths of the woods, where an ancient Court Tomb, from the Neolithic period, is hidden among the old, tall trees.

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Ancient trees stand sentry around the Court Tomb, laid out in the shape of the womb of the Goddess.

This magical place of my Celtic ancestors.

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One is in awe of the beauty of this sacred place.

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Fairies abound in this ancient place…can you see them?

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I wrapped my arms around this beautiful tree and inhaled the energy.

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Breathtaking trees…looking up makes me feel dizzy!

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Can you see the smiling Green Man within the tree?

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Here’s another Green Man…

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And every now and then a little path leads down to the water’s edge.

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Wishing you all a Blessed Equinox…time to prepare to snuggle into the darker nights!

A Place To Be Endured

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As a species on this Earth, we are separated from other life forms by consciousness, in that we are aware of our own existence.

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In being aware, we are able to make conscious choices every day, as we proceed through the maze of miracles and events that makes up our lives. Autumn in permaculture at bealtainecottage.com 012

“Live like a tree, giving, forgiving and free.”
Debasish Mridha M.D.

The best choices we make are those that involve, in some way or another, a generosity of spirit, for in those choices we give. Autumn in permaculture at bealtainecottage.com 013

I was walking the gardens this morning…really I should say, woodland, for that is what it has become, and pondering on the way in which all this manifested.

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It began with an unblinking, unfettered generosity of spirit…a conscious choice to simply plant trees into a land bereft of habitat.

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Growing and planting trees from seed has been my work over the past ten years.

Growing trees has been the work of Mother Nature for hundreds of thousands of years.

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However, at this point in time, Mother Nature, Mother Earth, needs our help…for she is so badly damaged by humankind!

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For my part, I continue to sow seeds of mighty trees in small pots…to give away with a generous heart, to the hundreds of annual visitors to Bealtaine.

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So many of you have made this sacred journey with me, planting trees wherever you live, in countries all over the Earth.

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“I have come to the conclusion that imperialism and exploitation are forms of cannibalism and, in fact, are precisely those forms of cannibalism which are most diabolical or evil.”
Jack D Forbes

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“Wherever forests have not been mowed down, wherever the animal is recessed in their quiet protection, wherever the Earth is not bereft of four-footed life – that to the white man is an ‘unbroken wilderness.’

But for us there was no wilderness, nature was not dangerous but hospitable, not forbidding but friendly. Our faith sought the harmony of man with his surroundings; the other sought the dominance of surroundings.

For us, the world was full of beauty; for the other, it was a place to be endured until he went to another world.

But we were wise. We knew that man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard.”
Chief Luther Standing Bear

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To plant and restore the sacred Earth means that it will never be “a place to be endured…”

We choose!

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“We return to you, O Earth, the things which you have given us willingly and most graciously; with our hearts, hands and minds, in the best way we know how.”
Taj Mahal

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The Magical and The Sacred

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It is a rare thing…to be lost for words.

A day in Autumn that changes one perspective on life and the meaning of it all.

Where shall I begin?

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Perhaps where I started, this morning, camera in my dressing gown pocket and mug of hot coffee in my hand, traipsing out in rubber clogs onto grass saturated with morning dew.

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Or maybe, a little earlier, as this year began, immersed in deep sadness, as my mother made her own journey back to the Divine.

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But the Wheel, as they say, turns and the beauty of the Sacred overcomes the grief of the mortal…I stepped out…

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What magic lies in Nature that transforms barren into life again and again?

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The gardens have emerged this year as Woodland…and my mother loved walking in the woods.

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Come walk with me…

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Blessings X