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

 

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!

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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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

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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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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.

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.

DSC01770

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…

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…

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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