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:

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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)

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.  

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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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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.

Magical Spirits

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It’s a wet evening.

It’s a cool evening too.

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I’ve lit the stove and the kettle begins to sing on the top.

It’s a tea and toast kind of evening.

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I was thinking about Fairies today as I walked through the Fairy Wood.

It lies below the cottage, in a natural dell and is a very special place.

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There’s a Fairy tree in the centre of the woodland with a huge stone underneath it’s branches.

I’ve often wondered about the history and meaning of that tree and stone.

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I have been told that such a tree planted by a stone can mark the resting place of a person whose body was not allowed to be interred in the graveyard…the churches had all sorts of rules regarding who could and could not be interred in so called sacred ground…unbaptised babies, suicides etc…all of great sadness and shown little mercy…

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And so, while Jack plays with his football…for some reason he believes I want to steal it…I think about this tree, the Fairy Wood and…fairies…

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Fairies are widely regarded as magical spirits who can help humanity get closer to Nature and embrace harmony in the natural environment.

To the Celts, nature embodied the sovereignty of the Goddess.

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In comparison, within the church view, Nature is widely regarded as something amoral and fearsome, needing to be dominated and put to service.

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All this has led us away from our deep relationship with Mother Earth…we are now in a state of flux and near abandonment and we feel this deeply, with some more aware of the root of our unhappiness and others less, or in severe denial.

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“The creatures I seek do not want to be seen.”
Annie Dillard

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“These folk are hewers of trees and hunters of beasts; therefore we are their unfriends, and if they will not depart we shall afflict them in all ways that we can.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

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Maybe we need to think again about Fairies, for until we respect the natural world and our precious environment, we are doomed to be cast aside as Gaia struggles on her own…

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Midsummer Vigil

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The wall is silence, the grass is sleep,
Tall trees of peace their vigil keep,
And the Fairy of Dreams with moth-wings furled
Plays soft on her flute to the drowsy world.
~Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

DSC00869And as the seasons come and go, here’s something you might like to know.

There are fairies everywhere: under bushes, in the air, playing games just like you play, singing through their busy day.

So listen, touch, and look around — in the air and on the ground.

And if you watch all nature’s things, you might just see a fairy’s wing.

~Author Unknown 

I often walk the gardens in the early morning, taking my tea or coffee with me…and always my camera.

DSC00874It is often in the early morn or at dusk that I find myself in a strange little corner of the gardens, which stretch to three acres and I attempt to capture the moment through the lens.

DSC00882For my part, I believe in the Sidhe and have often felt their presence.

This morning there appeared to be a humidity in places which made it’s presence felt in some of the photographs I took.

DSC00885You may make of them what you will.

DSC00887Bealtaine Cottage is quite alive at all times and especially today, Midsummer, 20th day of June 2016.

DSC00888The veil is thin…

DSC00892This is of very special meaning to me and heralds the presence of my Mother, for this is her Angel sitting by a plant which was dedicated to her.

My daughter bought this pot and plant as a reminder for me of my Mother and her Grandmother…it sits near my seat by the veranda, just outside the back door.

DSC00896The Realm of the Sidhe is a shadow land, carved out by the Tuatha de Danann following the defeat of the tribe in their last great battle.

Many of the sacred places in Ireland are also home to the Sidhe lying just beyond the fields we know.

DSC00904The Tuatha de Danann, the people of the Goddess Danu, were one of the great ancient tribes of Ireland.

The important manuscript ‘The Annals of the Four Masters’, records that they ruled Ireland from 1897 B.C. to 1700 B.C

Bealtaine Cottage appears to be  alive with ancestors.

Midsummer Blessings to All XXX

 

 

Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing, and bless this place.
~William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Pagan Woman

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True morality consists not in following the beaten track but in finding out the true path for ourselves and fearlessly following it.

Mahatma Gandhi

DSC00676The word, “morality” comes from Latin, moralitas, meaning “manner, character, proper behaviour” 

DSC00675One would be forgiven for thinking that morality was invented therefore by the Romans…in my view a most immoral culture and empire!

DSC00674Following on from the collapse of the Roman Empire, morality became the foremost banner of the Abrahamic religions, as they prescribed the life to be adhered to for those in Europe and later North and South America, as well as large parts of Africa.

DSC00673Failing to adhere could mean being cast out from society, which was governed in strict terms by the church, in almost every instance.

DSC00671And this has remained de rigeur until recently…in fact, my own lifetime.

DSC00668In fact, social acceptability and indeed family acceptance was predicated upon one’s adherence to religion…or apparent adherence!

DSC00667This blog was preceded and inspired by a conversation I had a few days ago with a family member, a sibling.

DSC00669We both recalled how dominant religion was in our childhood, education and subsequent life outside of Ireland.

My Mother declared towards the end of her life, that she felt fortunate to have reached a time in history when she could ask questions about the institutions that governed much of her life and embrace the possibility of a much bigger picture.

DSC00514 We shared many interesting conversations on many aspects of life…she felt the “lid was off the box!”

DSC00512I have recently declared myself to be a pagan woman, in that I do not believe in any form of killing, for any reason, nor do I believe in a “creator” as in any sky god, including Zeus and I seek the Divine in all life. Mother Earth is both my home and “church,” feeding my deepest spiritual needs.

(Paganism is not dogmatic. Pagans pursue their own vision of the Divine as a direct and personal experience. ~Pagan Federation)

DSC00665 As I revealed this to my brother, we both realised that this would have been impossible to declare for any of our previous family over the course of the last 1500 years .

So, here I am, the first woman in my family for 1500 years to happily and openly declare my spiritual path outside of any established, monotheistic  church or religion and reconnecting with ancient family …that’s quite profound, don’t you think?

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Natural Gardening and No-Dig Growing

DSC00027DSC00032Ireland is the richest source of Celtic  myths and legends.

DSC00029Down through the Ages, Ireland remained remote and cut off from mainland Europe, holding onto its rich folklore and spirituality.

DSC00030DSC00031It’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.

DSC00034The 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.

DSC00035Ireland remained free from pressures exerted by other cultures such as the Roman Empire.

DSC00036So 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.

DSC00037 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.

DSC00038This is no ordinary Permaculture garden as you can see, but one deeply nourished and inspired by the Goddess.

DSC00039For me there is a spiritual, otherworldly, ethereal force at work and play here.

DSC00040This is the rational (for me) way of explaining the extraordinary growth and extreme revving-up of biodiversity that has happened at Bealtaine.

DSC00041All beyond my control…not that I ever wanted to control this magnificent force!

I leave that to the Planet-Wreckers!

DSC00042As 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!

DSC00043So I mulch and cover Her with as much tenderness as befits the Great Mother.

DSC00044You will never see any of Her precious skin exposed.

DSC00045Her mantle remains in place.

DSC00046And so this brings me to the second part of this story…

DSC00047The wonderful success of No-Dig Gardening…

DSC00050And 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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Celtic Ireland~Imbolc Rising

And so the wheel turns towards Spring and its tentative beginnings in the West of Ireland as the sun rises tomorrow morn.

With the rising of the sun comes Imbolc!

Oftentimes it does not look or even feel like Spring, but the light has changed…something that animals see, feel and react to before we do.

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The understanding of the changing seasons grew from the deep connections between us and the natural world, as can be seen in the word itself, for “Imbolc” refers to sheep’s milk in Old Irish.

During ancient times, lactating ewes represented one of the first signs of Spring.

Imbolc is a Cross Quarter Day, which means it is midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

Depending on the year that’s in it, Imbolc can fall between the 2nd & 7th of February…the  calculations vary, despite the best will of man to box it all up into calendars!

Celtic festivals are based on astronomical events!

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Festivals like Imbolc are often claimed to be Wiccan or Pagan, but Imbolc belongs to the ancient peoples of Ireland who were neither Wiccan or Pagan!

Wicca itself is less than one hundred years old

Pagan was a term used to describe those in Ireland before Christianity…a sort of name-calling, in that it became and remains for many, a derogatory term.

My ancestors were never without spiritual beliefs!

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Paganism is a term that developed among the Christian community of southern Europe during late antiquity to describe religions other than their own, Judaism, or Islam–the three Abrahamic religions.

Imbolc (February 2) marks the lengthening days as the growing light awakens the Earth Goddess.

The warmth of the rising, growing sun fertilizes the Earth (the Goddess), and causes seeds to germinate and sprout.

And so the earliest beginnings of Spring occur.

As Imbolc rises on the second day of February, the last quarter moon is in Scorpio, my birth sign.

Now is the time to secure your seeds for the Spring sowing which is now well underway in propagators and sheltered places.

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You can place an order for seeds harvested here at Bealtaine cottage, from the plants seen growing here…all strong and vigorous. Click on the link below that will take you to the selection available:

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

I continue to clear out spaces in my cottage and renew many aspects of my life…always a good preparation for Imbolc!

Happy Imbolc to you all!

I’m happy to write, photograph, podcast, Youtube and Facebook on behalf of Mother Earth…it would be great if you could take a second or two to press the LIKE button, leave a comment, or even subscribe to Bealtaine Cottage Good Life…thanks for the appreciation! X

Between Worlds We celebrate

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

As with all things Celtic, the merging of time and place meant boundaries became thin and blurred…

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Known as “The Night of the Thin Veil…a time of “between worlds”…the fertile edge when all is possible!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

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From Lughnasadh to Samhain

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We have entered the final month of Lughnasadh and the wonderful Indian Summer continues here in the west of Ireland!

Permaculture Cottage

As we journeyed through the Equinox and welcomed a spectacular moon, the nights seemed to draw in dramatically.

The Seed Site on Bealtaine Cottage has been updated today and now includes Willow.

I will be adding to the site as more and more seed becomes ready to be packaged.

Shabby chic at Bealtaine Cottage

Today I have collected Flat Leaf Parsley and will be adding Celery seed this weekend.

October 2011 permaculture Cottage 010

As we begin to make plans for the final Harvest Feast…From Lughnasadh to Samhain…enjoy today’s Podcast…

Seeds and Willow   https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-for-sale/

Podcast :

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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.

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Good Magical Morning!

permaculture at bealtainecottage.org 020

The Stone Circle here at Bealtaine Cottage is infused with early morning light.

A wild wind blows in from the West carrying energy and a sense of renewal as it blows Hawthorn flowers in front of it.

The morning is defined by change and renewal.

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Stillness pervades the air at the back of the cottage where shelter holds sway…

Nearby a new sculpture of a Hare holds pride of place in one of the Potager beds…

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The Celts believed in the magical strength of the Hare.

The Hare belonged in essence to the Celtic goddess Eostre.

It was her most favoured animal, representing love, fertility and growth.

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In Celtic mythology the Hare was associated with the Moon, dawn and the belief in the transmigration of the soul. (I have written about this in a previous blog and can be accessed by typing Transmigration of the Soul into the search bar on this page).

Eostre was reputed to have changed into a Hare at the full Moon.

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The poet Robert Graves referred to the Hare as sacred to the White Goddess, the Earth Mother, being regarded as, and considered to be, a royal animal.

“…language of poetic myth anciently current in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe was a magical language bound up with popular religious ceremonies in honour of the Moon-goddess, or Muse, some of them dating from the Old Stone Age, and that this remains the language of true poetry…” ~ Robert Graves

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Boudicca, the Queen of the Celtic tribe of Iceni in England, was said to have released a Hare as a good omen before each battle.

The Druids were said to have been able to divine the outcome of battle by the hare’s movements.

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In some parts of Ireland hares continue to be celebrated, such as  the legendary ‘White Hare of Creggan’, a sculpture of which can be seen at the “An Creagan” Visitor Centre in County Tyrone.

Even in the local community, its white silhouette continues to adorn homes.

As Pleiades Rose…

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A fabulous sunset on Bealtaine 2015.

A Bealtaine filled with much love and sunshine, as visitors came and went all through the day. bealtainecottage.com open gardens 018

First arrivals walked up the lane at 10am, with the last leaving at 8pm.

At Bealtaine the star cluster known as Pleiades rises in the early morning sky, just before dawn. Bealtaine Cottage interior design

The Pleiades is a cluster of seven closely placed stars, the seven sisters, in the constellation of Taurus.

Bealtaine, was always regarded as a time of “no time” when the veils between the two worlds are at their thinnest.

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This morning, as the Pleiades rose, I walked the gardens, tea in one hand, steadying myself by holding onto trees, as I gazed up into the brightening sky.

Today was a Bealtaine of great renewal as the Summer moved into the Northern hemisphere.

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I want to say a massive “Thank You!” to those who made the journey in person and especially the good people who sent beautiful wishes and messages from all over the world.

There are times when I feel totally over-whelmed by the love and support you show for this little piece of Ireland.

Today was such a time.

Bless you and thank you from the bottom of my heart XXX Colette

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