Posted in Celts, Folklore, Ireland Celtic festivals, Permaculture, podcast

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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Posted in ancient, Autumn, Bealtaine Cottage, Earth, Folklore, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Woodland

Transition

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The transition has begun.

Knitting has been brought out from hibernation.

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The final seeds have been sown.

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And  the flowers and herbs continue to thrive in the potager beds, the warmth of the gravel and stones keeping them in a summer state.

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Seasonal adjustments are happening all over the northern hemisphere, as the days draw close to balance and equinox. 

 

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Berries are in abundance this year, some say a sign of a harsh winter, but that’s to be seen.

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Cotoneaster, Hazel, Blackcurrant and Fuschia all here together.

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The changing colours are so very gentle and subtle, but they’re there if one looks…

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Blackberries ripen near the stone circle, as the leaves mottle and turn towards Autumn.

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The Sloes on the Blackthorn are ready to pick…these will make some fine Sloe Gin for Midwinter.

The Sloes are pricked with a pin and pushed into a bottle half-filled with Gin.

The bottle is then sealed and buried in the earth until Yuletide celebrations, when it is ceremoniously dug up and partaken of!

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Deep within the Fairy Wood, Autumn creates some more magic…

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These tiny mushrooms are growing on a dead branch of Goat Willow.

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Crocosmia Monbretia in all its Autumn glory.   

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Cottage, Country Living, Culture, Earth, Fairies, Folklore, History, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, photography, Summer, Uncategorized

Midsummer Rising

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Farewell Bealtaine!

Rising on the last morning of Bealtaine and looking out the window of the lodge to be greeted by mist and sunshine.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe heat of yesterday rose in a mist over the valley and mountains beyond.

www,bealtainecottage.comRising towards Midsummer is a most magical time in the west of Ireland.

Between the rain and the sun, the jigs and the reels, the land has grown a mantle of green.

www.bealtainecottage.comFestivals are held in every village as birds, from thousands of mile away, fly low over the feeding grounds of this small island. www.bealtainecottage.comMidsummer customs prevail in much of Europe and certainly here in Ireland, where the traditional bonfire is part of the celebration.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe fire is lit exactly at sunset on the eve of the solstice and celebrations continue until sunset on the solstice itself.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe sense of abundance is quite tangible and visible at this time, helping to create a celebratory atmosphere.

www.bealtainecottage.comMidsummer  was seen as a time when the veil between this world and the next was thin, and when the spirit of the land itself held sway.

This is encapsulated in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

www.bealtainecottage.comThis year I shall be lighting the Midsummer fire with wood cut around the time of Midwinter, in honour of my  Mother.

www.bealtainecottage.com It is a time for gathering and spending time together and a celebration I look forward to…

www.bealtainecottage.comAs I walked I the gardens this morning, there arose a great sense of peace and harmony, again something which seems to be released from the very Earth herself each year, at this time of ascension to Midsummer.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe promise of a good harvest holds firm as the beautiful weather continues.

www.bealtainecottage.comHere is one of my favourite quotes by Carole Carlton…

“The festival of the summer solstice speaks of love and light, of freedom and generosity of spirit.

www.bealtainecottage.comIt is a beautiful time of year where vibrant flowers whisper to us with scented breath,

www.bealtainecottage.com (2)forests and woodlands hang heavy in the summer’s heat and our souls become enchanted with midsummer magic.”

www.bealtainecottage.com (3)

 For magical crystals…

https://bealtainecottage.com/charged-crystals-for-sale/

For seeds…

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For Bealtaine Cottage Good Life…

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Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Blessing, Celts, Cottage, Culture, Folklore, Gaia, Garden, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Spirituality

The Most Sacred Thing

   

DSCF1716Marija Gimbutas was a most extraordinary Archaeologist, perhaps the first archaeologist to look at how life was lived in the days before war!

DSCF1717Yes, it is amazing to think that such a world ever existed, but one needs to listen to some of the recordings of her work to understand the magnificence of this discovery.

DSCF1718What Marija has to say, in light of my ten years of experience here at Bealtaine, makes perfect sense to me!

I have added a link to some of her recordings and lectures at the end of this blog.

DSCF1719The work of Gimbutas may act as a template for the future…

DSCF1724There are revelations I have experienced here at Bealtaine Cottage, that I can only link to a strong female presence, describable only as an Earth Goddess or Earth Mother.

DSCF1725Last week visitors from Queensland in Australia walked the gardens…the energy of the land was palpable.

DSCF1729Many visitors remark immediately on the luxuriant growth here at Bealtaine, as well as the warmth and aura.

DSCF1731All agree that these are the Goddess Gardens, the most sacred thing.

DSCF1732Those who welcome the Divine Mother into their gardens will understand this extraordinary energy. 

DSCF1733This link will take you to the first part of the talk and is part introduced by Starhawk…enjoy!

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Fairies, Folklore, Winter

Ghosts

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Winter has finally gripped the land.

Frost has dipped icy tentacles into the earth itself, no longer content to dust the trees and whiten the slates.

www.bealtainecottage.com 016The evening sky turns a cold blue.

Freezing, white mist swirls up the valley from the deep waters of Lough Allen.

Winter is here!

www.bealtainecottage.com 017Sliabh An Iarainn Mountain catches the dying rays of a winter sun.

Cleaving  the south eastern shores of Lough Allen, Sliabh An Iarainn sits humped and heavy, a brooding reminder of ancient tales and times.

 Ancient  legend tells of the Tuatha De Danann landing in Ireland in this very place.

 Descending in a thick mist, the Tuatha De Danann found the mountain and the lough.

The mountain contained deposits of iron, and so the magical people proceeded to forge the first metal weapons in Ireland.

There followed a mighty battle with the Tribe of the Formorians, nearby at Magh Tuireadh…and so the legends began.

www.bealtainecottage.com 010Willful and determined, like ancient tribes who once battled on this land, Fuchsia continues to hold their flowers, in sheltered parts of the gardens.

There are pockets of Bealtaine that refuse to give up Summer, protecting and nurturing flowers through to Spring.

www.bealtainecottage.com 001Kilronan Mountain holds sway to the north of Bealtaine Cottage, washed with shades of purple in the early evening thin winter air.

www.bealtainecottage.com 003Of all of Ireland, the mountains and valleys of this part hold most history, legend and mystery.

The Tuatha De Danann, as legend tells us, never died, but were banished underground.

They became the Sidhe…the Fairies.

On an evening like this, the ethereal energy of the Tuatha De Danann is almost tangible…

 

A video from Bealtaine…Towards Midwinter…enjoy X

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOu72QAAkro

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Blessings X

Posted in Abundance, Autumn, biodiversity, Birds, Cats, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Country Living, Edible Gardens, Folklore, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Seeds, Trees, Uncategorized, Woodland

Country Living and Magic

www.bealtainecottage.com 002Red berries and silver light, weather changing frame by frame and night skies opening up to endless stars…country living, or maybe just observing.

www.bealtainecottage.com 003For as I type, a fierce storm moves across the tree tops, sweeping leaves before it like a Samhain broom!

Yet in the stillness of the sheltered gardens of Bealtaine, Perscaria blooms stand tall and erect, like soldiers guarding Summer…but not for long!

(Persicaria amplexicaulis is a species of flowering plant in the family Polygonaceae, native to the Himalayas.)

www.bealtainecottage.com 008Che-Mousey-Bear chases around the gardens, delighting in Autumn and curiously keeping watch as I take photographs this morning.

www.bealtainecottage.com 006Willow arches have thickened this year…something I will plant many more of, as the Autumn progresses and leaves fall away, to reveal the best stems to cut and plant.

www.bealtainecottage.com 017  The fallen Rowan tree continues to grow strong and multiply it’s stems, year after year.

This beautiful tree had fallen in a storm over nine years ago, but now grows in the more sheltered gardens.

www.bealtainecottage.com 020The Rowan tree has long been regarded to possess magical and protective qualities and often was planted near Irish cottages.

www.bealtainecottage.com 028This may have something to do with the fact that there is a small five-pointed star, or pentagram, opposite the stalk of each berry.

www.bealtainecottage.com 023Pentagrams have long been considered symbols of protection.

www.bealtainecottage.com 035The berries’ red colour is also regarded to be the best protective colour against enchantment.

www.bealtainecottage.com 013The covering on the tunnel is in need of washing, for the algae has settled on the outside…a task to add to my weekly list!

www.bealtainecottage.com 031 The berries on the Ivy are ripening fast.

These are a welcome source of food for blackbirds and if not eaten, remain on the plant until spring, providing an important food-source for young birds.

Ivy makes a magical decoration for the home towards midwinter… I always look forward to gathering and decorating the mantelpiece with this wonderful greenery, leaving plenty for the birds!

Posted in celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Fairies, Folklore, Inspiration, Ireland, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Half Light and Shadows

www.bealtainecottage.com 039The apricot glow of a fading October sky, merged with the heavy rustling of cows on the field across the lane, drawing me outdoors.

This is a magical time of enchantment, with Nature and late evening light.

www.bealtainecottage.com 027Any noise on such a still evening exudes an eerie quality of something not understood…always best to go out and uncover the mystery.

As it was, the cows and their calves had nuzzled in close to the hedgerow, to bed down for the night.

The heaviness of their bodies crushing branches, as they leaned into the conspiratorial thorn hedgerow.

www.bealtainecottage.com 056The stillness of the evening makes one want to tip-toe on the lane.

Peering back in through the window of the cottage, lit only by a candle, illuminating the kitchen, it is easy to believe in the fairy folk…

It was remarked by many in 1950s rural Ireland, that the newly installed electric light drove the fairies away…

www.bealtainecottage.com 048The light is on its descent towards Samhain and deeper still to midwinter.

This passing of the light should be a signal for us all to slow down and embrace the stillness of the year, allowing ourselves time to reflect on our sacred journey.

www.bealtainecottage.com 031The Fennel looks to all intents and purposes the magical plant it is said to be, in this half-light.

It is so majestic, scented, beautiful and useful, that I have a mind to plant it all over the gardens!

www.bealtainecottage.com 058…the warmth of the kitchen beckons me towards the light, as the apricot shadows fall back into night.

Posted in Autumn, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Folklore, History, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, photography, Spirituality, Thoughts, Trees, Woodland

The Girdle of Green

www.bealtainecottage.com 002An old castle on an island in the forest, not far from Bealtaine Cottage, and where I walked today with my daughter, Cara, whose birthday we celebrated, with a walk through this magical landscape on a glorious autumn day.

www.bealtainecottage.com 007This is Lough Key and the castle once belonged to the MacDermott clan who lived here hundreds of years ago.

www.bealtainecottage.com 003The castle is mentioned frequently in the ancient annals, being a focus for both fighting and partying.

Brian of the Carrick, Chief 1585-92, is reported to be last head of the clan to live on the island.

www.bealtainecottage.com 004 There is reference to Castle Island in the annals of Lough Ce as early as 1184.

During this time the park was called Moylurg and the Kings of Moylurg were the MacDermotts.

www.bealtainecottage.com 017The real pleasure lies in walking among the mighty Oaks that guard the Lough.

www.bealtainecottage.com 031This Oak tree was warm and welcoming…an ancient heart holding the history of the land within.

www.bealtainecottage.com 021Just resting against this tree made me feel joyous…what amazing energy and strength emanates forth from trees like this!

The mighty  Oak has had importance and great significance to the Celts, from ancient to modern times.

www.bealtainecottage.com 034This is where the ancestors worshipped and held important events in the old calendar, for the Oak Grove was considered sacred.

www.bealtainecottage.com 048Oak trees grow in almost every part of the world.

The Druids made their magic wands from only three woods…Yew, Oak and Apple.

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As the sap begins to drop in the trees and the leaves turn colour, Ivy, that has previously been shaded out by canopy, emerges into its own, as a permanent reminder to us all that spring will return.

www.bealtainecottage.com 057The evergreen girdle of Ivy, on many trees, keeps a host of small birds and insects warm and fed over the dark days of winter.

www.bealtainecottage.com 043Similarly, the girdle of Moss, around the base of the mighty Oak, will secure the winter for many small creatures.

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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Country Living, Folklore, Gaia, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Samhain, Spirituality

The Night of the Thin Veil

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September has been an extraordinary month of sun and still air, little has moved and time has appeared to stand still. www.bealtainecottage.comSunrises and sunsets have been spectacular.

www.bealtainecottage.comIndeed, September 2013 will be remembered here in Ireland for the “Indian Summer,” often promised and rarely received!

www.bealtainecottage.comTomorrow is the last day of September.

We are now past equal day and night and on the descent to Samhain and the night of the “thin veil”…

www.bealtainecottage.comI have spent as much time outdoors as possible, walking and watching the light play with the changing seasons.

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The Celts believed in the sacredness of times and places “in between”.

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The places, “in-between,”  the shore and land, thresholds, night and day, life and death.

The place between life and death was honoured in the form of a wake, for the soul took time to depart and journey onwards.

www.bealtainecottage.comBealtaine and Samhain are in-between times, when time stands still, as transition occurs.

Bealtaine is the transition to summer and Samhain the passing into winter.

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‘Tis a pity that Samhain has been so commercialized, into the freak show of Halloween…it is not to be tolerated! Samhain is a lovely time of remembering and honouring the ancestors and all those who have passed from our lives during the year.

www.bealtainecottage.comI hope you take the time to celebrate with a gathering of family, friends, feast and fire…reclaiming our precious traditions from the corporate nonsense of plastic pollution and Hollywood freak show!

(All photos today were taken by me, in the local area around Bealtaine Cottage.)

www.bealtainecottage.com

Blessings

Colette

Posted in Celtic Mythology, Celts, Fairies, Folklore, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Trees, Uncategorized, Woodland

Discovery in the Fairy Wood…

fairies 021Yesterday afternoon and evening was spent down in the Fairy Wood, cutting back the paths and lifting the canopies on some of the bigger trees.

fairies 022My work was intensive and totally absorbing, as you can imagine.

fairies 023It wasn’t until several hours of hard labour had passed that I began to look around me…

fairies 026… for I had moved about ten metres through the wood, without taking much note, other than look at what I was sawing.

fairies 027Taking a breather, I stopped and looked around at the unfamiliar surroundings…I was in a place unknown to me in all the nine years I have worked and planted this land!

fairies 028This is the most amazing aspect of the Fairy Wood…that it had transformed itself as I planted, worked and took daily walks through this magical place.

fairies 029I walked around to the far side of this ancient Ash tree, one that had stood in among the briars and thorns, alone, for all the time I have planted here.

The tree looked totally different on the other side…

fairies 031The Ash tree has been coppiced at some point in the past and has grown into a multi-stemmed tree which now has an underground cave.

fairies 037Almost all kinds of trees found in the Celtic countries have been thought to have special powers, or to serve as the abode of the fairy folk, but especially the magical trio of the Oak, Ash and Blackthorn.

fairies 035The Ash was a sacred tree to the Druids and it’s wood was highly prized in making wands.

This a a very special tree and quite magical as you can see…

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Hi Colette,

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Love and best wishes

Terri

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We can’t let Bayer and Syngenta get away with this blatant threat while the bees disappear. Sign the petition to tell them to drop the lawsuits now!

Sign the Petition

Posted in Celtic Mythology, Celts, Cottage, Folklore, Garden, Lughnasa, Organic Garden, Permaculture, photography, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers

Celebrating Lughnasa

The carved head of Lugh looks in all directionsLughnasa (earlier, Lughnasadh) was the feast of Lugh.

Lughnasa Lugh, carved by Michael Quirke A harvest festival, its celebration marked the end of the period of summer growth and the beginning of the autumn harvest.

Lugh, carved by Michael Qirke of SligoIts original name does not survive in popular tradition, that being now the common word in Irish (Lúnasa) for the month of August. 

Lugh of LughnasadhThe festival is rather known as the Sunday of Crom Dubh (the god of harvest), or in varying areas as Lammas Sunday, Garland Sunday, Bilberry Sunday, or Fraughan Sunday.

Burlap and lace flower arrangementThe first weekend in August marks Ireland’s changing-of-the-season festival of Lughnasa.

Burlap and lace flower arrangementThe Irish playwright, Brian Friel, wrote the now famous,“Dancing at Lughnasa” which is all centred around the pivotal point in the Celtic calendar, Lughnasa.

Bealtaine flowers at LughnasaThe Celts regarded the Earth as a fertile Goddess, to be nurtured and honoured…a way of living I now follow, as a care-taker and care-giver to Mother Earth.

flowers for MichelleThe gate-keeper to the sanctuary of Bealtaine Cottage.

Lughnasa flowers for Michelle's weddingToday is the final day of summer in the Celtic Calendar…Happy Lughnasa!

 

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Posted in Cats, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Cottage, Fairies, Folklore, Inspiration, Ireland, Woodland

In Search of Fairies on a Summer Eve…

In search of fairiesIt could be the way the light hangs in the sky this evening…

Lysimachia Punctata and stone stepsOr the stillness of the air as a mist starts its’ way up the valley…

Entrance to the Fairy WoodOr may even be the predominance of moths fluttering in the still air down in the Fairy Wood, in the gardens below the cottage…

entrance to the fairy wood at bealtaine cottageI’m walking the gardens in search of the Fairies.

entrance to fairy wood at bealtaine cottageAlthough most people here in the West of Ireland will tell you they’ve left the fairy faith in the past, there is a lingering moment, between asking whether or not they believe in the Fairies, and the reply in the negative.

That moment of hesitation is all one needs to be aware of!

The Fairy Wood at Bealtaine CottageFairy faith is the belief in fairies, of course.

fairy wood at bealtaine cottageWhen the Milesians, the mythical race described by an 11th century scholar in Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of Invasions), came to Ireland they banished the natives to the underground and they became the Sidhe, the fairy folk.

Fairy cats in the fairy woodThey reside in old ring-forts, stone circles and inside and under magical trees like the Hawthorn, or Fairy Thorn as it is known here in Ireland…particularly one growing alone in a field.

A path from the Fairy WoodNo farmer disturbs the Fairy Thorn, for to do so brings almighty bad luck!

In the Fairy Wood below Bealtaine CottageThere is a Fairy Thorn in the wood below the cottage, hence the name, Fairy Wood or Dell, as it lies in a hollow, well below the cottage.

Willow Fedge leading away from the Fairy WoodAnd so I ramble the gardens, quietly, patiently looking here and there for movement or unexpected light.

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I would really appreciate if you’d take the time to vote for me in this Irish award…

Colette O’Neill

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Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 110 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

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Posted in Angels, Animals, Buddha, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Folklore, Gardens, Inspiration, Ireland, Saint Bridget Cross, Spirituality, Thoughts

The Transmigration of the Soul

back door of the cottage

The Romans conquered Europe, but resolutely refused to invade Ireland, despite ruling England, Wales and Scotland for several hundred years.

Angel at sunsetRecently I have made a concerted effort to find out why this was…Why continual Roman Emperors left Ireland alone…?

Sunset through the trees at Bealtaine CottageWhat crops up in my investigations time and again, is the issue of the ancient Celtic belief in the transmigration of the soul.

Sunset at Bealtaine CottageThis was not just something that was taught by the Druids, but an unshakeable conviction in the afterlife…one so strong, that it made them absolutely fearless in battle.

view from a window at Bealtaine CottageTransmigration of the soul is a doctrine of reincarnation.

Flo and JackWithin this belief, spirits may be reborn into any of nature’s forms – human, animal, or even inanimate things, such as trees and water.

Water garden in permaculture at Bealtaine CottageThis is supported by evidence from the ancient Celtic Heroic tales.

Celtic Cross at Bealtaine CottageThe Greek writer Diordus Siculus (c. 60 BC – 30 AD) noted that the Druids believed “the souls of men are immortal, and that after a definite number of years they live a second life when the soul passes to another body.”

Bee on Lunaria flower at Bealtaine CottageThe Greek philosopher Strabo (c. 63 BC – 21 AD) observed the Druids believed that “men’s souls and the universe are indestructible, although at times fire and water may prevail.”

Angel at Bealtaine CottageJulius Caesar wrote of the Celts “They wish to inculcate this as one of their leading tenets, that souls do not become extinct, but pass after death from one body to another, and they think that men by this tenet are in a great degree stimulated to valour, the fear of death being disregarded.”

Buddha at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensThis was most troublesome for Julius Caesar, as he realized this race would not be easily defeated and thence subjugated.

Missy Cat sleeps on the bed at Bealtaine CottageThe Roman Empire was all too aware of what happened when the British Celts,  under their Queen Boadicea, decided to revolt against Roman tyranny.

The standing stone at Bealtaine Cottage February 2013The Celts, led by their Queen, cut a mighty swathe through the Roman settlements, towns and armies in England, almost wiping out Roman occupation!

light a candle at Bealtaine Cottage IrelandThe Romans had raped the daughters of Boadicea, making her watch…the entire Iceni Tribe rallied behind the dignity of their queen and against the tyranny of such barbarians as empire breeds.

Christmas eve moon above Bealtaine CottageAs for the women of the Celts, Roman Diodorus Siculus wrote of them, saying, “Among the Gauls the women are nearly as tall as the men, whom they rival in courage.”

Brigid Cross  Bealtaine Cottage Shop on EtsyAmicus Marcelling states – “A whole troop of foreigners would not be able to withstand a single Celt if he called his wife to his assistance”

Bealtaine Cottage candles in the windowJulius Caesar was frightened of the Celts, despite the mighty legions of Rome.

Bealtaine Cottage before Christmas 2012This is a truth I carry today…to be steadfast and resolute in holding fast to what I believe to be right.

Bealtaine Cottage bog garden 

Blessings X

 

Posted in Animals, Cats, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Culture, Dublin, Fairies, Folklore, Ireland, Leitrim, Lughnasa, Permaculture, Tea, Thoughts, Woodland

Towards Lughnasa and an Open Weekend!

Stone planter at Bealtaine CottageThe festival of Lughnasa honours the Celtic god Lugh of the Tuatha de Danann.

Barn and Potager at Bealtaine CottageLugh was the  god of arts and crafts among Celtic tribes and Lughnasa sat high in the Calendar of festivals.

Polytunnel this morning at Bealtaine Cottage with Che Mousy Bear strolling through!Lughnasa ushered in the harvest season.

Che Mousy Bear rolls over in the tunnel this morning at Bealtaine CottageLughnasa was a celebration of, and for, the Divine, for a successful harvest.

Cats in the shade at bealtaine cottageThis ancient festival marks the first day of autumn in the Celtic Calendar, and thus the start of the harvest season.

The Fairy Wood at Bealtaine CottageIn Britain Lughnasa is known as Lammas, from the Anglo-Saxon hlaef-mass meaning ‘loaf-mass’.

Wild Hypericum in the Fairy Wood at Bealtaine CottageHere in Ireland the nearest Sunday to Lughnasa was known as Cally Sunday, the traditional day to lift the first new potatoes.

Astrantia by the Fairy Wood at Bealtaine Cottage this morningThe man of the house would dig the first stalk, while the woman of the house would don a new white apron and cook them.

Nettle seed forming at Bealtaine CottageThe floor would be spread  with fresh, green rushes in their honour.

Wild roses and Valerian at Bealtaine CottageLughnasa was celebrated on the hills and mountains as well as the valleys.

Valerian in abundance around the cottage this morningClimbing a hill or mountain and celebrating with lighting a bonfire was, and remains, a tradition.

Valerian this morning around the cottageIn addition to climbing hills, Lughnasa was also a time for visiting holy wells.

Front of cottage and porch surrounded with Valerian this morning.Lughnasa falls on August the 1st and the evening before is usually when the celebrations begin…

Che Mousy Bear today at BealtaineI am hosting an “Open Weekend,” for anyone who wishes to visit the Permaculture gardens of Bealtaine Cottage.

Bealtaine Cottage this morningThis will be over the weekend of the 7th and 8th of September and in aid of The Leitrim Animal Welfare Shelter, so there will be charge of ten euros per adult…and will include tea and home made cakes!

Bealtaine CottageThis wonderful animal sanctuary is where I have adopted two dogs from, including Jack!

Bealtaine Cottage this morning.If you would like to visit Bealtaine Cottage on this special open weekend, please let me know in advance, so I can make arrangements for cakes, teas and coffees to be available!

This is a link to a short film made by RTE TV all about this wonderful animal sanctuary!

Hopefully we can raise much needed funds for this cause so close to my heart!

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Thanks to the following lovely people who have donated to the Leitrim Animal Sanctuary…

Carole (wspines) from Whispering Pines Farm

Vivien Cruickshank

Posted in Angels, Bealtaine Cottage, Blessing, Cats, celebrations, Cottage, Country Living, Earth, Folklore, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Spirituality, Summer, Wild Flowers

A Magical Midsummer Morning…

Solstice morning at Bealtaine Cottage 2013Happy Solstice everyone…

Midsummer morning at bealtaine cottage, IrelandIn this special year of the return of the Divine Feminine…

Angel on Midsummer morningThere will be a full moon on Sunday, June 23…

Bealtaine Cottage on Midsummer morning 2013And it’s a rather special one…

Midsummer at Bealtaine CottageThe biggest moon at Midsummer

Bealtaine Cottage on Midsummer morningIt will not only be the largest full moon of the year…

Midsummer morning at Bealtaine Cottage...and MissyIt will also be the moon’s closest encounter with Earth for all of 2013.

Missy on midsummer morningThe moon will be at it’s peak on Sunday…

Bealtaine Cottage midsummer morningCelebrate this Solstice…it’s a rare one!

Bealtaine Lodge on Midsummer morningI’m heading to the ocean for a long walk along the Atlantic shoreline…

Midsummer morning at Bealtaine CottageMy Midsummer Treat!

Happy Solstice Everyone!

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 110 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

Over 550 blogs from Bealtaine Cottage in the archives here.

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Posted in Beltane, Blessing, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Fairies, Folklore, Inspiration, Ireland, Lifestyle, Spirituality, Summer

Happy Bealtaine, the 1st Day of Summer in the Celtic Calendar.

Summer dawn at Bealtaine Cottage IrelandThe Celtic Festival of Bealtaine, also spelt as Beltane, Beltain, Beltainne and Beltaine is a Cross Quarter Day.

Midsummer Magic at Bealtaine CottageThis means,  that it is half way between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice.

Midsummer Magic at Bealtaine 003Of course, as nothing is static in the Universe,  the actual astronomical date is a number of days later.

  This year, 2013, the date when the cross-quarter day falls is May 5th.

Bealtaine Cottage May In Irish mythology, the beginning of the summer season started with the Fire Festival at Bealtaine.

May in the Fairy Wood at  Bealtaine Cottage Great bonfires were held which would herald in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year.

May in the Fairy Wood at  Bealtaine Cottage The bonfires would be accompanied with rituals of cleansing and protection.

A small branch of the Rowan tree was hung over the door to protect from fire and ill health.

may at Bealtaine cottage permaculture wine makingI made a short video this morning to share the sights and sounds of this special day, the first day of Summer, with you…

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Folklore, Food, Garden, Health, Herbs, Ireland, Organic Garden, Ostara, Tea, Uncategorized

Dried Herbs and Some Uses…

 Oregano, Origanum vulgare, is also known as Common and Wild Marjoram, Greek Oregano and Winter Oregano.

Oregano in flower at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensOregano is a warm and aromatic yet slightly bitter herb in the mint family.

The name is derived from the Greek, meaning “mountain of joy.”

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureOregano can be made into a tea, tincture, and has powerful anti-bacterial properties.

The Oregano I harvest comes complete with flowers, so is especially potent for tea!

Oregano before harvesting at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensSome interesting folklore concerning oregano…

The Greeks and Romans used it for a variety of benefits.

~Among the Greeks, if Marjoram grew on a grave, it augured the happiness of the departed, and among both the Greeks and Romans, it was the custom to crown young couples with Marjoram.

~Oregano corresponds to Venus and air.

~It is an herb of happiness, tranquillity, good luck, well-being, and protection.

Dried oregano from Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Gardens Ireland~Promotes joy, strength, vitality, and added energy.

~Make a Tea or burn as an incense.

~Plant Oregano around your house for protection, and scatter it inside the house to protect it.

~Carry it in a sachet or charm to bring good luck and vitality.

~It is also said to protect and promote psychic dreams when worn on the head during sleep.

~A protective herb with the power to ward off troublesome and meddling individuals, especially those who may wish to interfere with one’s personal financial dealings.

Lavender drying on the back door of my cottage

Dried Lavender is also available.

The use of Lavender goes back into the mists of time…

~Both the Greeks and the Romans had many uses for it, the most popular being for bathing, cooking, as an ingredient in perfume, for well-being, and as an insect repellent.

~English folklore advises a mixture of lavender, mugwort, chamomile, and rose petals to attract sprites, fairies, brownies, and elves.

~Lavender is used in teas, tinctures, and added to baked goods.

~Lavender is an aphrodisiac, and is still one of the most recognized scents in the world.

~Put two handfuls of Lavender Flowers into a square of cheesecloth and tie with a white ribbon.

Use this aromatic “wash-cloth” in place of your usual one.

Dried Rosemary at bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Gardens


Rosemary, or Rosmarinus Officinalis, is also known as Romero, and Dew of the Sea.

Dried Rosemary is also available in 1/2 ounce bags from the gardens of Bealtaine Cottage.

Rosemary is most famous for its use in cooking.

Bees love Rosemary!

Burn Rosemary  for a restorative incense.

In place of more costly incense, the ancients used Rosemary in their religious ceremonies.

An old French name for it was Incensier.

I use dried Rosemary in my Wheaten Soda Bread!

It is delicious!

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Posted in Art, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Country Living, Crafts, Folklore, History, Imbolc, Ireland, Lifestyle, Saint Bridget Cross, Spirituality, Spring

Saint Brigid’s Day, Imbolc and the 1st of Spring!

Brigid's Cross made at Bealtaine CottageMaking a St. Brigid’s cross is a special traditional ritual here in Ireland.

The ancient festival of Imbolc reminds us that deep in the earth lie the dormant seeds of new life and creativity

Brigid, the goddess of fire, whose manifestations were song, craftsmanship, and poetry, which the Irish considered the flame of knowledge.

 Bealtaine Cottage stone circleThis ritual marks the end of winter and the beginning of early spring, 1st February.

Bealtaine Cottage SpringBrigid’s crosses are made of rushes that are pulled from the ground and made on the day.

The rushes must be pulled,rather than cut.

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture It is the custom to hang the cross by the door, as this is regarded to protect the house from fire and all negative energy.

Imbolc marks the centre of the dark half of the year.

Following the darkness of midwinter it is the time to prepare for growth & renewal

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture According to tradition a new cross is made each St Brigid’s Day.

Bealtaine Cottage spring wellThe old one is then burned to keep fire and all bad energies away from the house. Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture winter sun

Imbolc fell midway between the winter solstice & spring equinox of the Celtic calendar, but now falls on 1 Feb in the Gregorian calendar.

I have been making Brigid’s Crosses today  for sale in the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/BealtaineCottage

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Cats, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Christmas, Cottage, Country Living, Family, Folklore, History, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Spirituality, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Winter

Winter Solstice Gathering at Bealtaine Cottage

winter solstice 2012 at Bealtaine Cottage

Fires are lit and food prepared for this, the longest night of the year…the Gathering at Bealtaine Cottage.

Loved ones meet again to join the celebration from as far away as Canada, London, Belfast and Dublin.

Missy, the solstice catA night to gather around the fire and light the candles around the home.

Missy has found her warm spot and will not be moved…we celebrate around her!

The Solstice Feast at Bealtaine CottageAs preparations for the winter feast are under way, we join together in toasting the year and the time to come.

In Latin, solstice means sun set still. This is the still night, the silent night, the longest night of the year…

The turn of the wheelWinter Solstice is the great stillness before the turning, as the days grow longer.

yuletide tree decked with lights at Bealtaine CottageThe cottage is small, so the tree stands on the veranda outside the window.

This is the celebration of the silent night, a sacred time of rest before the awakening, and the slow build toward longer days.

solstice treeThe human race has observed the solstice for millennia.

This night is a continuation of that sacred tradition.

Inside the cottage Tomorrow we are past the dark and facing into the light.

The ascent to Spring will begin once more.

Happy Solstice Everyone!

Posted in Baking, Cats, Country Living, Folklore, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Herbs, Inspiration, Life, Permaculture, Smallholding, Tea, Thoughts, Vegan

Keeping Good Health This Winter with Dracula!

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureOne of the mainstays of good health…organically grown onions here at Bealtaine Cottage on the veranda, drying out before stringing.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Onions, Apples and Blackcurrants, organically grown, will provide an enormous amount of protection from colds and viruses and at the same time help to keep the blood free from oxidants.

All this because prevention is better than cure!

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureA pot of tea, comforting and refreshing as well as being a powerful anti-oxidant

organic garlic, Bealtaine CottagePermacultureGarlic…not just for keeping vampires away!

Garlic at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture garden 015Traditionally, whole bulbs of wild garlic were placed under the thatch of Irish cottages, just above the door, to keep away evil!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

It is no surprise that the writer of the book, “Dracula,” was, in fact an Irish man, Bram Stoker.

Garlic keeps the blood clean…apparently!

A slice of garlic placed on a cut will kill all infection!

rosehips Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureStudies now suggest that Rose-hip extract can reduce the pain of osteoarthritis.

Rosehips at Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureIn the past this was used to make a poultice which was then applied to painful joints in hands, knees and hips.

 Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureIt has an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect and will successfully treat the inflammatory condition AND is free of any side-effects.

Rose Arch at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensThis is a very easy to grow cure and has many other uses…for example, the hips are packed with Vitamin C!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture breadAnother case of prevention being better than cure…sunflower seeds, used in bread-making will provide a good source of Omega to the body and be powerful in the protection of good health all round.

I add the hulled seeds to bread and flapjacks.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture catsWe should enquire of the older generation what it is that has kept and continues to keep them in good health.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture home made soupHome made vegetable soup is one of the best sources of goodness to keep good health throughout the winter.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture pumpkinsI make this in batches, using pumpkins from the pantry and keep it in the fridge, along with home made bread.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture PumpkinsPumpkins will keep for the entire winter if stored in a cool pantry.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture TreesThe Elder tree was used as the mainstay of good health in village life long ago.

The leaves, bark, flowers, berries and roots were all used in folk medicine and herbal cures.

Bealtaine Cottage interior designThis is another easy to grow tree that keeps on giving…Elderflower Wine is absolutely scrumptious!

If you wish you can subscribe to the latest website from Bealtaine Cottage…”Bealtaine Cottage Good Life”…simply make a donation of 12 euros for a full year and access the long list of blogs now on site. Quote: “Bealtaine Cottage Good Life” with your donation.

(Please note that this small donation sustains the work on this website, Bealtaine Cottage YouTube, Bealtaine Cottage Podcast and Bealtaine Cottage Magical Gardens FaceBook.)

 

Posted in Childhood, Christmas, Cottage, Country Living, Folklore, Inspiration, Ireland, Poetry, Winter

A Christmas Childhood

A Christmas Childhood

by

Patrick Kavanagh

(Bealtaine Cottage in the snow…looking down the driveway in the week before Christmas, 2010.)

One side of the potato-pits was white with frost-

How wonderful that was, how wonderful!

And when we put our ears to the paling-post

The music that came out was magical.

The light between the ricks of hay and straw

Was a hole in Heaven’s gable. An apple tree

With its December-glinting fruit we saw-

O you, Eve, were the world that tempted me.

(Bealtaine Cottage in the winter of 2010, just coming into the driveway.)

To eat the knowledge that grew in clay

And death the germ within it! Now and then

I can remember something of the gay

Garden that was childhood’s. Again

The tracks of cattle to a drinking-place,

A green stone lying sideways in a ditch

Or any common sight the transfigured face

Of a beauty that the world did not touch.

My father played the melodeon

Outside at our gate;

There were stars in the morning east

And they danced to his music.

(A winter sky at Bealtaine Cottage in the frozen winter of 2010)

Across the wild bogs his melodeon called

To Lennons and Callans

As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry

I knew some strange thing had happened.

(The Blackbird at Bealtaine Cottage.)

Outside in the cow-house my mother

Made the music of milking;

The light of her stable-lamp was a star

And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.

A water-hen screeched in the bog,

Mass-going feet

Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,

Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.

(Moon-rise before Midwinter at Bealtaine Cottage, 2010.)

My child poet picked out the letters

On the grey stone,

In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,

The winking glitter of a frosty dawn.

Cassiopeia was over

Cassidy’s hanging hill,

I looked and three whin bushes rode across

The horizon-the Three Wise Kings.

An old man passing said:

‘Can’t he make it talk’-

The melodeon. I hid in the doorway

And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.

I nicked six nicks on the door-post

With my penknife’s big blade-

There was a little one for cutting tobacco.

And I was six Christmases of age.

(Bealtaine Cottage in a snowstorm, Christmas 2010.)

My father played the melodeon,

My mother milked the cows,

And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned

On the Virgin Mary’s blouse.

by Patrick Kavanagh

You have been reading a blog from “Bealtaine Cottage”.

The Bealtaine Cottage Press presents…

“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.

€27.00

Magical Mythical Map of Bealtaine Cottage and Gardens

Beautiful map created by the artist David Gascoigne, especially for Bealtaine Cottage. The picture shows one side of the map…it is printed on both sides, see the photos on this page. The price includes all Postage and Packing to wherever you live in the world! Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.

€12.00

Bealtaine Cottage Guide to the Deep Midwinter

A little Yuletide book filled with colour photographs, recipes, reflections, lore, poetry and mirth to guide you through the wonderful days ahead. Fifty pages of sheer delight from Bealtaine Cottage to you. The book is fully bound and can be posted direct as a gift. Price includes P&P worldwide. Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.

€15.00

Special Offer: Goddess Book and Midwinter Book

In Search of the Goddess Rising and The Bealtaine Cottage Guide to the Deep Midwinter…both books normally cost €36.00 but can be purchased together for for €32.00 which includes P&P Worldwide. Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.

€32.00

SPECIAL OFFER! Reduced to clear… Bealtaine Cottage Calendar for 2019

Price includes postage and packing worldwide! The calendar hosts a page of colour photographs from Bealtaine Cottage for each month of the year. The months of the year are written in Celtic script…ie: May is Bealtaine, August is Lughnasadh and so on…many of you are already familiar with the Celtic Calendar. The pictures on each month also feature some added wisdom from Bealtaine Cottage and information on the ancient festivals of Celtic Ireland.

€9.95

Calendar and Map

Special offer: Purchase the Calendar and Map together! Cost was €27.00…Special Offer €20.00! Price includes postage to anywhere in the world!

€20.00

Calendar and Midwinter Book

Special Offer! Purchase the Calendar together with the Bealtaine Cottage Guide to the Deep Midwinter for the special price of €23.00 The usual price is €30.00 Price includes postage to anywhere in the world!

€23.00

 

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Posted in Animals, Birds, Folklore, Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, photography, Wildlife, Winter

When a Fox Comes Calling…

The winter deepens.

We are but four weeks away from the midwinter.

This is a time to leave out food scraps for the birds and mammals facing into the cold short days and bitter long nights.

The plight of hungry animals was literally brought home to me during the winter of 2010.

Snow had fallen on frosted ground.

There was no thaw.

The frozen ground held sway for six long weeks.

One very beautiful, but frozen day, a handsome fox boldly walked up to the back of the cottage.

Food that was put down on the ground for the birds had tempted the hungry animal.

As I snapped these photographs, the fox looked up and stared right at me.

Hunger fuelled courage.

Posted in celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Christmas, Culture, Folklore, Garden, History, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Wildlife

Midwinter, Newgrange and Sacred Light

Mornings arrive later as the sun struggles to climb above the eastern horizon…we slowly descend into winter.

Blackbirds swoop low across bushes in the garden, as they protect their territory from other hungry birds.

The hours between dawn and dusk grow thin and precious light appreciated.

Our ancestors appreciated the light of the day and made great effort to welcome it.

Newgrange was erected as a passage-grave and aligned to receive the first rays of the midwinter sun.

Our ancestors knew the importance of the midwinter solstice and the importance of light to all life on Earth.

Newgrange is the place to be on this auspicious morning of the winter, the solstice…

Midwinter can be a magical time here in Ireland, as this photograph shot from my kitchen window last year shows.

The light is different from all other and must have held a sacredness for our ancestors as the darkness engulfed them through November and December…

Newgrange was built around 3,200 BC and belongs to a time before metal was used.

Despite this, the construction was specifically aligned using knowledge that included details of the tilt within the axis of the earth and the exact information to design and build a window above the door lintel to receive the light from the rising sun on the solstice day.

So, as the light becomes increasingly important to us during this slow descent into Midwinter, can I make these small suggestions?

Find time to be quiet.

Explore in your environment a peaceful, comfortable place.

In this sacred space keep comfort with you.

Place a little bell here.

When you take time out to be quiet, light a candle, ring a soft sounding bell and meditate on the season of welcome light.

Posted in Art, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Folklore, Garden, Inspiration, Life, Lifestyle, Spirituality, Thoughts

The Colours of the Celts

Creativity was associated with orange, as well as sexuality and fertility.

Think of the egg yolk…only a deep orange yolk is really healthy and full of goodness.

Invoke this colour in areas of your home where you want to express these elements.

Wind Spiral in the Fairy DellGreen is infused with beauty and fertility, but also prosperity.

In Feng Shui, it is advised to paint the front door of one’s home red so as to attract prosperity, but my door is painted green and the real prosperity is quite tangible at Bealtaine Cottage.

As for beauty, well, that speaks for itself, for what is not beautiful in the flowing greens of Nature?

Brown is the essence of earth and the home.

The very centre of the home is the “hearth,” or home earth.

Brown is also for animals.

In old cottages in Ireland the animals were brought near to the “hearth,” or home for the winter.

Winter begins tomorrow in the Celtic Cycle.

The prosperity of purple is long associated with the royal families and indeed was not to be worn by lesser mortals in Europe, upon pain of death…not so the case today where we recognize the equality in all human life and the real meaning of wealth and power being unique to each one of us.

The blue of heaven heralds healing…I keep a long piece of blue silk to lay on a pillow or seat especially for those feeling poorly.

Blue also invokes peace and the sacredness of all under it’s mantle.

There are many colours that represent other aspects of our sacred journey.

As we wear a particular colour, our understanding of how it makes us feel infuses us with a little more knowledge and understanding of its importance to us.

We each have a favourite colour that we wear, one that looks good on us, matches our skin tones and brings out a certain energy.

That is a good place to begin to relate to the energy of colour.

Posted in celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Folklore, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Nature, New Year, Spirituality, Thoughts

The Consciousness of All Things

There is a stillness in the air tonight…a preamble towards Imbolc.

These last days of the Winter in the Celtic Cycle are a time of reflection…

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Spirals fascinate me, as they fascinate so many people.

We are drawn towards them.

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They mean something to us, something we have forgotten.

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My Celtic ancestors carved Sacred Spirals on stones…and so they appear to us today, a message from the past, but we have lost the key to understand their meanings.

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They, too, would have gazed up at the night sky and tried to understand their world.

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They, too, would have intuited a connectivity in all life…we continue to subconsciously embrace all life, yet we struggle against great odds, for we have been told for millennia that we are superior, and so removed from that life force.

And so we try to make our way back to where we can, once more, connect to life.

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For we now know, on a deeply spiritual, non-religious level, that we are one.

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We are one, as the spiral depicts an eternal connection, we are one.

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Spirals are full of symbolism.

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The spiral is found all over the natural world and indeed is also the symbol of life itself, as represented in the famous double helix, the molecular structure of life.

April 2011 Bealtaine 013The belief among the Celts, was that communication with nature was the chief priority in their lives, and the sound, immovable belief in the consciousness of all things.

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They did not fear death as we do in this present time.

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Everything was connected, there was no beginning and no end.

Every single thing upon and in the earth had a consciousness and was a part of, a fragment of, the one cosmic entity.

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The sacred spiral, I believe, was a representation of this belief.

Stones were considered to be old before time itself…a fascinating thought and a manifestation of a deep spiritual understanding, if not connection.

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The Winter is almost at a close…just another fifteen days left.

The joy of Spring awaits to be welcomed in on the first day of February…Imbolc!

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As in the nature of the Sacred Spiral, we move inexorably along the path of our life, but not alone, for we are one with the Universe…

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We now know we are made of that oneness, stardust itself!

The Celts recognized the great sight held by someone who was physically blind.

That person had the greatest sight…inner sight.

www.bealtainecottage.com

Perhaps it’s time for us to connect with our own inner sight and begin to see with our intuition.

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Posted in Books, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Culture, Folklore, History, Inspiration, Ireland, Spirituality, Thoughts

The Prophecy of Merlin and the Vatican

The spiral, so long viewed as a mystical symbol…associated with the ancient Celts.

Merlin was one of the great mythological figures, also associated with those ancient people.

I say, “mythological,” only because we have no written proof…or do we?

Merlin, according to the Celts, was reported to have made many prophecies in his mythological lifetime…

Nonsense, I hear you say…but, read on, for this is where it all gets rather tangled and interesting!

It is interesting to note here that any writing to do with prophesy is of great interest to an old institution, famous for the suppression and burning of women and especially those with healing and esoteric knowledge at around the same time as this book was published…and into the centuries that followed.

A patriarchal institution of great secrecy…

You see, there is a book in the Vatican Library, amongst many hundreds of thousands of books, that are not to be read, or studied, except under the prescriptives of the higher echelons of that closed, patriarchal institution.

This book is a copy of an original manuscript, dated 8 October 1474.

The extraordinary title of this closed document is, Merlini Prophetica.

  This title, simply translated from the Latin, reads, “The Prophecy of Merlin.”

Amazing importance given to someone who was said not to have existed, don’t you think?

Posted in Celtic Mythology, Celts, Culture, Fairies, Folklore, Garden, History, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Spirituality, Trees, Woodland

The Magical Garden

This is the magical Stone Circle at Bealtaine Cottage.

It lies at the southern edge of the land and was, until recently, part of a form of ancient stones that had been cleared from the surface of the soil and pushed back into the recesses of the hill.

Some of the stones are huge and took several people to move them into position.

I worked alongside an archaeologist friend of mine, who had shown an interest in this particular site for some time.

It was he who urged me to allow himself and some colleagues to move the stones back into place.

The site was chosen following careful study of the alignments of several megalithic structures within the area, including a cairn on top of Kilronan Mountain, which lies to the north of the circle, in a direct line with the centre.

Although the Celts did not build the megalithic structures found within their lands, they were certainly aware of them.

The Fairy Rings are as much a part of Irish folklore as the Celts themselves…with stories of the mysterious lights that are seen within them when the Sidhe or Fairy Folk dance on moonlit nights.

These monuments were attributed to the the Tuatha de Danann, whom, it was said, disappeared, underground, into the hills and mountains.

The ancient stone sites are portals, where entrance to the human world can be made…and vice versa!

So, the Fairy Ring is now restored…just what Bealtaine Cottage was missing!

 It sits well in the landscape of trees and Nature that abounds the land.

With a stone seat nearby to sit and wait for the Fairy Folk on a moonlit night!

 

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Posted in Autumn, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Country Living, Folklore, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Nature, Samhain

The Celtic New Year Festival of Samhain

It is nearing the end of this beautiful year.

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The transition of Autumn is underway as the end of October arrives with the magical Festival of Samhain…known to many as “Halloween.”

Halloween was derived from the celebration of Samhain, with its myths and beliefs about the “Otherworld” and happily placed into Christian culture through the celebration of, “All Hallows Eve,” or “All Souls Night.”

This beautiful time of the year is extolled in many beautiful poems and odes.

The year was divided in two, with Summer and Winter heralding transition.

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“My tidings for you: the stag bells,
Winter snows, Summer is gone.

Wind high and cold, low the sun,
Short his course, sea running high.

Deep-red the bracken, its shape all gone,
The wild goose has raised his wonted cry.

Cold has caught the wings of birds.
Season of ice – these are my tidings.”


–  Irish Poem, Translated by Caitlin Matthews 

 

My favourite verse…the one that enters my head and repeats itself at this lovely time of year is the evocative verse of Keats…

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.”


–   John Keats,  To Autumn

The summer is officially over as Samhain is celebrated…and winter begins.

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This is a special time, where there is a real sense of renewal and hope.

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Time to light the annual bonfire and celebrate, with songs and games and food.

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Time to write your wishes, hopes or fears onto paper and cast it away into the flames.

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Time to share and bake and dance and laugh.

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Summer is over and we have lived to greet another year.

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And for those we have said goodbye to, wish them well on their onward journey.

As the days shorten and the sun dips low in the sky, our homes become sanctuaries of warmth and comfort.

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The over-wintering begins!

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Posted in Celtic Mythology, Celts, Country Living, Folklore, Garden, History, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Samhain, Spirituality, Vegan

A Way of Living in Circular Time

Hazel nuts ripen on small trees near the orchard at Bealtaine Cottage.

Many of the Hazel trees were planted at the beginning of the land conversion to Permaculture and some have been planted on a fairly continuous basis since, being eight years in total.

As a Vegan, nuts are important in my diet, and as Hazel Nuts are indigenous to Ireland, these would be the most compatible to the diet.

Nuts are easily added to food and form a tasty part of any home-made burgers and roasts.

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The Hazel is a small, deciduous tree and is native to Ireland.

They take up little space and are suitable for coppicing, as the wood can be used in different projects, especially for pea supports and woven fencing.

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Hazel has always been regarded as a ‘magical’ wood, with the stems used historically as ‘wands’.

William Butler Yeats used the Hazel as imagery in some of his poetry and writing.

“I went down to the hazel wood, because a fire was in my head…cut and peeled a hazel wand…”

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The hazel tree in Celtic Mythology is associated with wisdom, intuition and creative energy.

It is no surprise then that the Hazel Wand has such magical connotations!

Permaculture…living in harmony, understanding our natural environment and helping it all to come together…a way of living, of looking at our world as our paradise of plenty.

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I have been trying to explain all this to a visitor today who came to see permaculture in action, but, sometimes it’s best not to go seeking, instead stopping to look…

After heavy rains here in the west of Ireland, the sky has cleared to reveal a beautiful sun rising in the East.

The colours of Autumn are like a technicolour display of Nature at her best.

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As the moon wanes in the evening sky and the earth cools, mists encroach on the morning air.

winter sunrise at Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardens

The past nights have been clear and bright and very cold.

Even the waning moon has shone bright.

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The Celts respected the moon and rather than speak openly of it, alluded to it instead, calling it ‘gealach’, meaning ‘brightness’.

The Celtic calendar was based on the lunar cycles, in that a month began with the full moon.

The Celts believed in circular, not linear, time.

Maybe, just maybe, that is where we have gone astray…

Posted in Animals, Art, Autumn, Books, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Country Living, cows, Folklore, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Suibhne, the Wild Man in the Forest

As the wild and vivid colours of autumn consume the landscape around me and the nights draw in, illuminated by a full moon, I have been reading 12th century Irish verse…my ancestors had a deep respect for the natural world as displayed in these extracts…

“Little antlered one, little belling one, melodious little bleater, sweet I think the lowing that you make in the glen.

Home-sickness for my little dwelling has come upon my mind, the calves in the plain, the deer on the moor.

Oak, bushy, leafy, you are high above trees; hazel-bush, little branchy one, coffer of hazel-nuts.

Alder, you are not spiteful, lovely is your colour, you are not prickly when you are in the gap.

Blackthorn, little thorny one, black little sloe-bush; water-cress, little green-topped one, on the brink of the blackbird’s well.

Saxifrage of the pathway, you are the sweetest of herbs; cress, very green one; plant where the strawberry grows.

Apple-tree, little apple-tree, violently everyone shakes you; rowan, little berried one, lovely is your bloom.

Bramble, little humped one, you do not grant fair terms; you do not cease tearing me till you are sated with blood.

Yew, little yew, you are conspicuous in graveyards; ivy, little ivy, you are familiar in the dark wood.

Holly, little shelterer, door against the wind; ash-tree, baneful, weapon in the hand of a warrior.

Birch, smooth, blessed, proud, melodious, lovely is each entangled branch at the top of your crest.

Aspen, as it trembles, from time to time I hear its lovely rustling, and think it is the foray…

Taken from: ‘Suibhne the Wild Man in the Forest’   

           Irish; author unknown; twelfth century

Posted in Autumn, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Country Living, Culture, Earth, Fairies, Folklore, History, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Poetry, Samhain, Spirituality, Thoughts

A Time of Early Shadows

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

Scents of woodsmoke and compost fill the air.

Samhain is close.

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The Celts divided the year into two parts…the light and the dark.

Samhain is the crossover point into the dark.

Seamus Heaney wrote a wonderful collection of poetry entitled, “Into The Dark.”

One of my favourite reads at this time of the year.

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Poetry is like that…it can be turned over again and again, extracted from the past into the present and enjoyed afresh.

The turning of the year towards the light is heralded in the Feast of Bealtaine.

www.bealtainecottage.com 054Bealtaine also means, “May,” in Irish and is why I named this cottage Bealtaine Cottage…for it was in May I first spied it!

Bealtaine celebrates the beginning of summer as we turn towards the light and short shadows.

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In Ireland the Tribes gathered for Samhain, at the ritual centres across the land to celebrate this most important festival of the year.

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It was a time to reconnect with the past, a time of early shadows and light veils of separation.

A time of magic.

Posted in Climate, Country Living, Folklore, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Health, Herbs, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Nature, Organic Garden, Permaculture, polytunnel gardening, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Vegan, Wild Flowers

My Herb Garden

I grow lots of herbs in the gardens at Bealtaine Cottage, picking freely wherever I walk along the paths.

Herbs grow very easily in the Irish climate, as the fairly constant temperature agrees with the plants.

Herbs have a variety of uses that include culinary and medicinal.

The crossover line is blurred, as much of what we cook with does so much good and is easily integrated with everyday food.

Think of Garlic for example, or Parsley, both great for the blood!

Herbs can also be used in spiritual practice too, usually through the method of burning to release scent and as a cleansing or purification ritual.

Many herbs release anti-bacterial oils into the air, thus cleansing, so again, the crossover line is easily blurred, as herbal oils released into the air can have a tremendously uplifted effect upon the senses.

This can also be in the form of strewing underfoot, as was the practice during medieval times, to combat pungent smells and general sickness.

Here at Bealtaine Cottage I grow over fifty different herbs, including perennials  such as Thyme, Lavender, Rosemary, Fennel, Lemon Balm and Mint.

The list goes on to include: Chervil; Angelica; Borage; Catnip and Chives.

Include in this list, Dill, Elderflower and Garlic. Lavender, Lovage and Salad Burnet.

Parsley is a good permaculture herb, coming up each year and growing steadily for two years as a biennial plant.

Most herbs self-seed easily.

Feverfew and Borage, once introduced to your garden will grow always.