My Best Ideas…

IMG_8466…flit into my head as I walk the woodland sanctuary, for it is here that I feel able to simply be, unaware of even myself!

IMG_8459I imagine this is the same for most people, for it is in this state of unawareness that the creative mind begins to flow evenly, unstoppable.

IMG_8465It was in walking among the trees yesterday that thoughts began to emerge about writing and where it all began for me in earnest.

IMG_8462It was of course here at Bealtaine Cottage where I found “a room of ones own,” as Virginia Woolf referred to the creative space.

IMG_8422However it’s not just about space, but time also.

Here I have more time to simply be.

IMG_8417My brother Hugh understands the importance of creative space.

Hugh lives a solitary, happy life, in a small cottage without electricity, where he writes poetry and creates from hedgerow wood and excavated Bog Oak.

IMG_8432Although Hugh had never seen any of the images unearthed by Professor Marija Gimbutas, as she carried out her archaeological work in Old Europe, he was moved by the forces around his little cottage to carve this strikingly similar Bird Goddess image into an Ash walking stick for me. IMG_8431Much of the creativity I am immersed in is governed and directed on a deeply magical level by Mother Earth too.

IMG_8427I use the word “magical,” for what I cannot rationally explain.

Shape-shifting in Ireland

IMG_7239The stories of shape-shifting can be found in many cultures throughout the world, but none so prominently as that found in Celtic culture.

images (4)Within the near area of Bealtaine Cottage can be found a wealth of ancient history many thousands of years old.

IMG_7240The Tuatha Dé Danann, the people of the Goddess Danu, were one of the great ancient tribes of Ireland.

DSC00561These people who appeared to “land on top of a mountain”, Sliabh an Iarainn, a great brooding mass of sandstone rock and thin soil, visible from Bealtaine Cottage.

IMG_7188 The ancient manuscript ‘The Annals of the Four Masters’, records that the Tuatha Dé Danann ruled Ireland from 1897 B.C. to 1700 B.C.

images (3)The Tuatha Dé Danann were eventually consigned to mythology, disappearing from the face of the Earth, but going underground, emerging later as ‘Aes sidhe’ (the people of the mound – fairy mounds)., now referred to simply as the Sidhe.

IMG_7120The people are known as “The Sidhe” or people of the mounds, or “The Lordly Ones” or “The Good People”.

poster fairy woodOnce consigned to the underworld the Tuatha Dé Danann engaged their powers of shape-shifting, emerging in many forms, even that of apparent human form.

IMG_7125In Irish mythology, we come across a number of stories about shape-shifting beings.

544131_1412925595612240_770913028_nThese shape-shifters are often goddesses, gods, magicians, witches, fairies and other supernatural creatures.

DSC00672Shape-shifting is an important aspect of understanding the complexities of the influence of the Sidhe in contemporary Ireland, as it is believed this magic is employed to allow the Otherworld to communicate with humans.

DSC00424A poem in the Lebor Gabála Érenn says of the arrival of the Tuatha Dé Danann:

DSC01039“the truth was not known beneath the sky of stars,
whether they were of heaven or of earth.”

IMG_7229 (2)Colette O’Neill is a writer and photographer living at Bealtaine Cottage in the west of Ireland.

Colette follows the Path of the Goddess at Bealtaine Cottage and is the innovator of Goddess Permaculture, which holds Mother Earth and all Her life to be sacred.

Colette O'Neill

This is a special offer on my first book, usually 27.50 now 22.50 but only until 7th July!

“A Cottage and Three Acres,” by Colette O’Neill

Please email Colette if you would like a particular inscription in your book. From a desolate cottage set in 3 acres of monoculture sadness, to a vibrant, thriving food forest of life…the journey back to Eden over 13 years… Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.

€25.00

 

Like Noah

Start a huge, foolish project,
like Noah.

It makes absolutely no
difference what people
think of you.

Rumi

IMG_0387Another five days.

IMG_0385Bealtaine.

IMG_0386The beginning of Summer.

IMG_0388This Bealtaine is the celebration of thirteen years of the Bealtaine project.

IMG_0384A project once considered the silly dream of a ridiculous woman.

IMG_0383Against all financial advice it was conceived and against all horticultural wisdom it was planned.

IMG_0382Planned, planted and grown!IMG_0381

The Bealtaine Project is now complete.

IMG_0389This land is both resilient and regenerative…it can grow abundance without me.

IMG_0390I am now free to observe and delight, potter and sit, all the while simply ensuring the gentle maintenance of the edges and paths, free to harvest and raise plants for the Potager Beds which provide some of my food and much of my pleasure.

IMG_0391I have embarked on writing my second book, happy with the good reception of the first, “A Cottage and Three Acres.”

IMG_0392I recently read this quote by W. H. Murray and found it to be true to my experience at Bealtaine Cottage over the past thirteen years…

IMG_0393“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. “

W. H. Murray 

IMG_0394Wise words…live your life!

IMG_0396Click here to purchase the book… “A Cottage and Three Acres…One Woman’s Return to Ireland in Her Quest for Eden.”

Rituals of Midwinter

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In preparing for the season of Yule, I follow the age old traditions of all the women who have gone before me.

BgQ7qv3CEAAL835Preparation is everything.

December 2011 Permaculture Bealtaine 009This begins in the home and involves casting an eye over all that will be of importance during this sacred time of gathering.

cropped-cropped-dsc02856.jpgI am driven with the desire to instil a sense of order upon Bealtaine Cottage as the Midwinter festivities approach.
cropped-cropped-mon-25-oct-10-003.jpgThere is a history to this festival that precedes the usual image we hold as the collective ideal…that of a more recent celebration, Christmas.

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureThe Winter Solstice  has been celebrated for thousands of years.

It was celebrated by my Great Grandmother who lived in the cottage above.

cropped-bealtaine-cottage-dec-11-011.jpgIndeed, Newgrange  here in Ireland, was constructed five thousand years ago, as a homage to the Midwinter Solstice, so this festival of Yule was immensely important to our ancestors.

cropped-22-dec-10-036.jpgThis was because communities were not certain of living through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months.

permaculture at bealtainecottage.com 005 Food and wine was ready to eat and drink ,as fruit fermented and animals were slaughtered as feed stocks dwindled.

light a candle at Bealtaine Cottage IrelandEven during the morning, parts of the interior of this Irish cottage can be dim during the months of Midwinter.

stained glass wheel of life Bealtaine Cottage 011Light is what our seasons are measured in.
midwinter cottage 013Light was and remains the important aspect of winter and our ancestors realised the connection this had to all life.

cavan burren 2That connection, that sense of knowing the elemental forces that governed their lives, was so important to them, that many monuments were erected to this end.

The standing stone at Bealtaine Cottage February 2013Here in Ireland, Newgrange is the most important, monumental reminder we have of this elemental connection.

Stone Circle at Bealtaine CottageSo today has been a day of tidying and ordering…cleaning the area around the cottage, sorting wool,  and listening to gentle music as I go.

Fox in the garden at Bealtaine CottageFor lovers of Bealtaine Cottage and all aspects of ancient Celtic life and Goddess Permaculture found therein, there is a second website, growing daily and now with over 90 new blogs and several thousands of unseen photographs, as well as podcasts and stories… Visit:

Bealtaine Cottage Good Life Membership~ Subscribe Today!

Yule and the Turning of the Wheel

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Garden at Midwinter

Origins of Yule

The great Festival of Yule, beginning at the time of the Winter Solstice and lasting for a full twelve days, summed up the cycle of the Celtic year.

Bealtaine Cottage candles in the window

The word Yule, according to the Venerable Bede, came from the Norse word Iul meaning ‘wheel’ and suggested that this was the time when the Great Wheel of Existence had completed its circle.

barn window reflection Permaculture @ Bealtaine Cottage 015

“In later Celtic folk-belief, Yule had a dual meaning, it symbolised the death of the old year and heralded the birth of the new…

winter sunrise at Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardens

Although the ground was cold, it would soon be warm again and Nature would burst forth at the festival of Imbolc.

The low-point of the period of Yule became the central festival of a number of formal religions, one of which was Christianity.

Bealtaine Cottage Midwinter Garden

 

After Yule, the Great Wheel began to turn again, bringing the festival of Imbolc around once more. Gradually some festivals assumed less importance and four great functional festivals – Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasadh and Samhain dominated the Celtic year. Many of these became major Christian holy days – Imbolc became Candlemas (1 February) with its own rhyme: ‘On Candlemas Day, Throw a candle away’.

Christmas Eve in an Irish CottageChristmas Eve, 2012 at Bealtaine CottageChristmas eve moon above Bealtaine CottageChristmas Angel 2012In Ireland, because of its close association with the goddess Brigit, it became Saint Brigid’s Day.

Where the festivals of local deities persisted, they became ‘pattern days’– the feast of a local or patron saint.”

From Complete Guide to Celtic Mythology by Bob Curran

winter solstice 2012 at Bealtaine Cottagemidwinter cottage 015midwinter cottage 012

The winter solstice, the rebirth of the Sun, is an important turning point, as it marks the shortest day, when the hours of daylight are at their least. It also the start of the increase in the hours of daylight, until the Summer Solstice, when darkness becomes ascendant once more.

Midwinter mist at Bealtaine Cottage

This Yule, my family will gather at Bealtaine Cottage for a coming together, a “gathering,” to celebrate and mark the Great Turning of the Light, before dispersing to celebrate with others the wonderful celebration of Christmas.

friday 10 12 10monday morn 6 12 10 014monday morn 6 12 10 006Yuletide continues to be marked at Bealtaine Cottage through to it’s end on the first day of January. A time of great hope and lifting of one’s head towards the ascending sun.

For lovers of Bealtaine Cottage, there is a second website, growing daily and now with over 85 new blogs and hundreds of unseen photographs, as well as podcasts and stories… Visit:

Bealtaine Cottage Good Life Membership~ Subscribe Today!

An Open Portal in Time…

dsc04452SAMHAIN…The Celts believed that Oidhche Shamhna, Samhain, was an open portal in time.

dsc04451This weekend marks the prelude to Samhain.

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=QE3V4W5FYDFA8

dsc04450Monday is the day of 

https://bealtainecottage.com/2013/09/29/the-night-of-the-thin-veil/

and is marked as a holiday here in Ireland.

dsc04449It is a time of in-between…between worlds as the Celts believed it to be… 

https://bealtainecottage.com/2015/10/05/between-world-we-celebrate/

dsc04447 The Celts understood the year to be divided into two halves associated with the dark and the light. dsc04446The dark half begins at sunset on October 31st with Samhain.

https://bealtainecottage.com/2012/10/15/the-celtic-new-year-festival-of-samhain/

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Samhain ends at Bealtaine, when the light half begins at sunset on May 1st.

dsc04444Both festivals are closely linked, but Samhain is considered to be the most important.

dsc04443 In Ireland, years ago, great preparations were made for the sharing of a  feast that included the departed as guests of honour.

dsc04442To enable them to come and go freely, all doors and windows were left unlatched; a special cake was made exclusively for their consumption, and a certain amount of other food was set aside just for them.

(http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/Samhain.html)

dsc04441This had to be left untouched by any mortal hand for the duration of the ritual period. Eating the food of the dead was considered to be a major sacrilege and it condemned the perpetrator to becoming a hungry spirit after death, forever banned from sharing in the Samhain feast.

(http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/Samhain.html)

dsc04440

As I walked out this morning, taking these photographs, it was apparent that Samhain was close, both in the colours of the trees and the Dragon’s breath along the valley.

dsc04438

So how did Samhain become All Saints Day?

dsc04434As Bridget Haggerty writes in “Irish Culture and Customs,” “…As with many of the old festivals, Christianity stepped in to do whatever it could to eliminate pagan rituals.

dsc04437In this case, it was Pope Boniface who took the festival of the dead and made it the festival of all saints and martyrs.

dsc04436 Originally it took place on May 13th, but a century later, Pope Gregory III shifted it to November.

dsc04435In Ireland, All Saints Day was instituted in 998 AD by Abbot Odilo of Cluny and by the 13th century, although many of the old Samhain rituals persisted as folk customs, November 1st had become firmly established as a Christian festival.”

dsc04433All Saints Eve is now 31st of October…Samhain!

dsc04432So what was always and only a great Celtic celebration has been claimed by a relatively contemporary religion as its own!

dsc04431However, Ireland being an island and its people being thinly removed from its cultural heritage, as John B. Keane once wrote in the play “The Field,” we have not forgotten our roots!

dsc04427In the play, “The Field,” the parish priest proclaims Christianity to be a “thin veneer” over Irish people, in a derogatory reference both to the people  and pre-Christian Paganism alike.  

dsc04426Regarding the compassion displayed for those who grieved and mourned the loss of family and loved ones, we were far removed from how the Romans described us as “Barbarians!”

dsc04425As for the souls of the dead, all were honoured, unlike the Christian church here in Ireland which regarded the souls of un-baptised babies as being condemned to “Purgatory”.

dsc04424Such was the the belief as I grew up and for the countless generations of those in my family before me.

Imagine the suffering of mothers who birthed at home and lost their babies, only to be sent to a place of darkness and nothingness.

Too cruel!

dsc04423This Samhain I will try to remember and honour all my family and friends no longer in this mortal sphere.

And celebrate with them in joy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please feel free to share this blog on any of the social media sites you are on.

Blessings X Colette at Bealtaine Cottage

Portal

dsc03935This portal to the Otherworld: a place of being for the Celts, where life existed, but not as we know it!

dsc03936The portal is the Old Fairy House, which was once the gateway to Kilronan castle.  

dsc03937This ethereal looking gatehouse was created many years ago, when only horses and carriages travelled the roads of the west of Ireland.

dsc03938It was built in the vernacular tradition, using water worn limestone hewn from the surrounding earth.

dsc03939Many years have passed since a horse or carriage passed by…

dsc03940The entrance is no longer a part of the old estate.

dsc03944Here it stands, watching the centuries pass by, unimpressed by progress…and perhaps, if stones could talk…

dsc03933I have a notion to bring my video camera with me next time…would you like a video of this enchanting place?

Below is a beautiful video with music…Fairy Reel…enjoy!

Old Year’s Night…Celtic Samhain

dsc03481

Between two worlds, that of Summer and of Winter, rests Samhain. 

dsc03482Samhain, (pronounced “Sow-when”) is the most important time in the Ancient Irish (and Celtic) Calendar.

dsc03483The time of Samhain starts at dusk, when the light and dark are in balance.

dsc03484This was never regarded as a time of death, but a time of incubation for Mother Earth.

dsc03485It was the onset of Winter that allowed the Great Mother to get ready the seed for Spring.

dsc03486Samhain is the Celtic New Year’s Eve.

dsc03487It is at this time, between worlds, that the veil is thin.

dsc03488A time of possibilities.

dsc03489A time to pay honour to those who are no longer with us in human form.

dsc03490This was a time of endings and the promise of beginnings, a time for stillness and reflection.

dsc03491It was understood that in the dark silence of Mother Earth, when all appears dead, comes the promise of new beginnings, the stirring of the seed beneath the ground.

dsc03492 It is on this night, some believe, that time stands still, allowing access to other worlds and into new consciousness.  

dsc03495As I walked the gardens today, taking these photographs, there was a real sense of endings and beginnings, of approaching a marker in time.

dsc03496 A sense of anticipation and readiness for the sabbatical that is Winter…for Samhain means “Summer’s End” and as the Celts believed, this was Winter’s Beginning.

dsc03497As an integral part of their culture and interpretation of life, the Celts held strong the tradition of The Transmigration of Souls, a philosophy I believe in.
dsc03498The Celts believed in two lands after death, the Underworld and the Otherworld.

 dsc03499The Otherworld was the abode of the dead.

dsc03500This is interesting, as it strongly suggests a “life alongside the dead”…and in that an understanding of the “Night of the Thin Veil,” 

https://bealtainecottage.com/2013/09/29/the-night-of-the-thin-veil/

dsc03501Archaeological evidence has drawn attention to the richness of Iron Age tombs and the abundance of grave goods within them.

dsc03505 There is literary evidence from Caesar that seems to confirm at least part of the Celtic Beliefs system.

dsc03513In his description of the Druids, he alluded to some of their lore that related directly to the movement of souls between one world and another or between one individual and another. He states:

‘…the druids attach particular importance to the belief that the soul (or spirit) does not perish but passes after death from one body to another’
(Julius Caesar: Gallic Wars VI)

dsc03514Lucan (Pharsalia: I) stated that the Celts considered death as merely an interruption in a continuous life, as the spirit passed from one form into another, or from one world to another. dsc03515Other writers, such as Diodorus Siculus drew attention to similar beliefs – that the soul was immortal and, as its body deteriorated with age, it simply moved to another, usually located in another world.  

dsc03516

It is little wonder then that the Celts believed in the sacredness of times and places “in between”. dsc03517And so we celebrate Samhain…

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Please consider making a small donation to the Fundraiser for

LEITRIM ANIMAL WELFARE CENTRE (once the home of Jack)

https://bealtainecottage.com/leitrim-animal-welfare-fundraiser/

“Animal companions come into your life for an infinite number of reasons, each one being in service to you, your current life experience, and moreover, your soul’s growth and evolution.”
Amy Miller, Beyond Companionship: Connecting with Kindred Souls of Animal Companions.

To The Mountain!

DSC01770I’ve been spending much of this week catching up with a great many tasks that were backing up around me…cork-tiling the bathroom floor and part of the Lodge floor, clearing the tunnel for the winter crops and all the usual stuff such as clearing and mowing the paths in the gardens!

DSC01861I have got a lot done because I made the decision last week to come off Facebook…and have shared my thoughts with you on this…

DSC01860I posted a number of pics on FB this morning, as so many people delight in seeing Bealtaine Cottage!

DSC01859It is, however, almost impossible to respond to comments left on FB as I simply do not have the time and am resolved not to negate my commitment to this blog and the second website at bealtainecottage.org

DSC01853Those of you who have followed this blog for any amount of time will be aware of the enormous workload I carry and will, therefore, totally understand this.

DSC01852Recently I came across this quote by Joseph Campbell and was deeply moved to meditate upon it for a while. 

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come. –

Joseph Campbell

DSC01850It has inspired me to “go with the flow” much more and to simply get on and do whatever tasks need doing, rather than planning and then becoming despondent at what I have not achieved…I can be my own hardest and most severe taskmaster!

DSC01846I am determined to come away from this driven approach and relax into life more!

DSC01784DSC01787I could do with taking lessons from Sammy-bear, seen here by the Catnip in the tunnel, out of his mind!

DSC01786DSC01785DSC01781Cats remind us all how we should relax…frequently and often!

On the other hand…looking at his spaced-out expression…maybe not!

DSC01846There is another quote I wish to share with you. It is on a slightly different note, but one that you may find meaningful at this time…for I am aware of the events in our world recently…

DSC01845This is a dark time, filled with suffering and uncertainty. Like living cells in a larger body, it is natural that we feel the trauma of our world. So don’t be afraid of the anguish you feel, or the anger or fear, because these responses arise from the depth of your caring and the truth of your interconnectedness with all beings.

Joanna Macy

DSC01844I have found this to be comforting as I attempt to make sense of the chaos!

There is so much to rejoice in when out in Nature…

DSC01837DSC01836This is a bank holiday weekend here in Ireland, and also the great festival of Lughnasadh!

DSC01835DSC01834DSC01832 I will stride forth on Lughnasadh Eve to a high point on a nearby mountain to welcome in the new season and pay tribute to Mother Earth and in particular, Mother Ireland.

DSC01829DSC01823DSC01820DSC01818To celebrate the season is to turn one’s back on the machinations, arrogance and hubris of Man, seeking instead, the warmth and generosity of the Great Mother…Earth, in all her beauty!

DSC01777DSC01772Before I go, just to let you know, I am writing a blog on the Bealtaine Cottage Good Life website, all about using sheep wool in the tunnel as I prepare it for the Autumn/Winter sowing and planting.

I am still clearing, but once I begin using the wool I shall take lots of pics and post them in the blog, along with detailed explanations of how and why.

You can become a member of the site here…

https://bealtainecottage.com/bealtaine-cottage-good-life/

DSC01797

See you on the other site tomorrow!

Bealtaine Cottage Good Life membership is 12 euros per year and allows me a small income to continue to grow the Bealtaine Project both here in Ireland and in the hearts and minds of good people all over the world.

Please join…