The Naming of Cats

dsc04001“The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
dsc04000First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, or George or Bill Bailey –
All of them sensible everyday names.
dsc03999There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter –
But all of them sensible everyday names.
dsc03998But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular,
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
dsc03997dsc03996Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum –
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
dsc03995But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover –
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
dsc03994dsc03993When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
dsc03992His ineffable effable
dsc03991Effanineffable
dsc03990Deep and inscrutable singular Name.”
T.S. Eliot, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

dsc03998Beauty!

The Secret Energy of Midsummer

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As the days of early summer move inexorably towards the Solstice, life at Bealtaine Cottage takes on a brilliant energy.

Everything is growing!

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There’s a bench in my garden,  shaded by many beautiful trees, near to the lower pond, where I enjoy sitting alone, as early in the morning as I can manage… to simply be.

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“I can’t get enough of watching the bees and trying to imagine how they experience the abundance of, say, a blue Campanula blossom, the dizzy light pulsing, every fibre of being immersed in the flower. …”

~ Mary Rose O’Reilly

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Moments of such silence are overlaid with birdsong, a joy-filled backdrop to the main stage, where images manifest peace.

Flowers growing out from gravel and roses creating miracles from old tyres, are as much a part of Midsummer madness here at Bealtaine as some of the ancient celebrations themselves!

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“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,

Where ox-lips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,

With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.”

~ From “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare

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We all know of places where the secret energy of Midsummer holds sway.

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It is to these special places we are continually drawn, where peace is found and imagination set free

Good Magical Morning!

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

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

The morning is defined by change and renewal.

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

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

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The Celts believed in the magical strength of the Hare.

The Hare belonged in essence to the Celtic goddess Eostre.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Visit

Recently, I had the pleasure of welcoming one of my five brothers to Bealtaine Cottage.

Felim had visited very briefly once before, some years back, but this visit was different…something here, on this sacred little piece of Ireland, connected with him.

The energy that thrives here and the sheer joy of the living Mother Nature around him, touched his soul.

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Felim spoke little about his feelings at the time, but this week I received a poem he wrote, inspired by Bealtaine Cottage.

I have decided to share it with you, for it truly expresses an awakening deep in the heart of one who now “gets it!”

Here it is…

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BEALTAINE COTTAGE

A bruised and battered Mother Earth,

Driven to despair by the dearth

Of man’s ignorance of her needs,

Has found a nursery for her seeds

In the soil of this marshy slope.

Here she flourishes in hope-

In this arboreous pottage

Known as Bealtaine Cottage.

Three acres of managed landscape

Has reversed the ruminant rape

Of her natural rotation,

Restoring her to propagation,

Awarding her the well-earned fame

Which we once granted to her name.

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Now a nurturing Mother Earth

Displays the grandeur of her worth:

A forest of young varied trees

Offer feasting to hungry bees;

Small seeds imported from distant shores

Grow to saplings, their hopeful spores

Pollinated, sowing new birth

Within the womb of Mother Earth.

Their young branches shiver and shake

As birds alight, eager to make

Their own claim to the budding feast-

A bounty that will never cease.

At dawn each day, this feathered throng

Praise the earth with angel-song.

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And what about the Water Sprite,

Her sluggish flow a sorry plight?

Her new dug channels’ sparkling flow

Take her to the ponds below,

To spread her silt and rest awhile

Then disappear beneath the stile.

The ponds replace a former bog

And now play host to speckled frog,

While safe beneath the pond-weeds’ root

Swims a little crested newt.

A passing heron stops for tea,

(The food here, after all, is free.)

And willows of all shapes abound

They thrive on such well-watered ground.

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At Bealtaine there is a wealth

Of Mother Earth restored to health.

She shows her true vitality

All over this locality.

She integrates her plants and trees

With cuckoos, wrens and bumble bees;

While Water Sprite, once so random,

Now flows along with her in tandem:

And all because a loving hand

Was laid upon this stretch of land;

A hand with skill to recognise

That Mother Earth is strong and wise;

And if allowed, she will restore

Her bounty to our slopes once more.

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“Bealtaine Cottage” by Felim O’Neill.

Composed on the evening of my return from two days at Bealtaine Cottage.

A Free Festival!

“The poetry of the earth is never dead.” – John Keats

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Amid much conflict in the world, austerity, unemployment and strife, the seamless story of Mother Earth moves across the landscape.

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In these days of early Spring in the west of Ireland, her joyfulness plays out in the changing earth beneath our feet, as sap pushes up stems and trunks, thickening buds as it moves the life force skywards.

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Earlier mornings, filled with birdsong.

Hens back laying eggs.

Sunshine and showers.

There is a deep sense of an Ode to Joy!

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The world of man is in chaos…and always has been in one form or another.

Yet, here in Nature, Great Mother Nature, time continues in an almost unaltered way.

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I say “almost,” because, of course, Mother earth has been greatly harmed by Mankind.

Today, I do not want to write about that, but instead invoke a little of the joy that is manifesting around us all.

The earth, here in the northern hemisphere, is inviting us all to a long party.

The doors have opened, the dance has begun!

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The brown mantle of winter is now cast aside and the greening has begun.

Already there are lambs in the fields and Catkins emerging on Willow.

There are no tickets to be bought for this party…all is free!

You are even allowed to take things away from the party and bring them home…flowers, Catkins, sunshine, food and even music.

Open your doors and windows to the music…it is magical music indeed!

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Mother Earth holds no fear…she sings despite the wars.

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Mother Earth is not impoverished…she keeps giving despite austerity.

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Mother Earth cares not for politicians or governments…she will not be governed or subdued.

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Mother Earth knows no religion, for she is the great Creatrix.

Bring nothing but joy!

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Desiderata for Our Times

bealtainecottage.com 026Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

bealtainecottage.com 002Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

bealtainecottage.com 003Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

bealtainecottage.com 012Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

bealtainecottage.com 013Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

bealtainecottage.com 017Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

bealtainecottage.com 018Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

bealtainecottage.com 021Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

bealtainecottage.com 023Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

bealtainecottage.com 030Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata”

Goddess Rising

www.bealtainecottage.comSummer swells; the Earth heaves a mantle of green over all the land.

www.bealtainecottage.comSwallows dip and turn above tall grass.

www.bealtainecottage.com (2)I see the Goddess rising…

www.bealtainecottage.com (3)Light dances at midnight across the northern horizon.

www.bealtainecottage.com (4)Long swathes of ivy swing from tall branches of goat willow.

www.bealtainecottage.com (5)The Fairy Wood is almost impassable.

www.bealtainecottage.com (6)I see the Goddess rising…

www.bealtainecottage.com (7)Blackcurrants plump to ripening, as apples emerge.

www.bealtainecottage.com (8)The summer is here in all her glory; a feast for the eyes.

www.bealtainecottage.com (9)The Earth, Mother Earth, the Goddess… rises.

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.

€25.00

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.

€10.00

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.

€13.00

Special Offer

In Search of the Goddess Rising and The Bealtaine Cottage Guide to the Deep Midwinter…both books normally cost €32.00 but can be purchased together for for €28.00 which includes P&P Worldwide. Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.

€28.00

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

 

Thank you for supporting Bealtaine Cottage

Bringing Light into your Life

Irish cottages are fairly dark houses, designed to be snug and keep in the heat, working well it has to be said…but I love the light, so have judiciously placed mirrors, here, there and everywhere!

This is one near the north window, reflecting light from the west window.

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A well placed mirror can act like another window in terms of light.

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I never turn down the offer of a mirror, even a broken one and have even used bits of mirror in the garden to reflect light onto plants.

Contentment is often found to be lacking in the world today.

So many people want more and more and, as they acquire material goods, become weighted down with the accumulation of such.

Materialism is like the albatross in the poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

When the mariner finally looked down upon the creatures in the sea around him and recognized their divinity, the dead Albatross finally fell from his neck…he became one with all life…contentment descended upon him.

To free oneself, it becomes imperative to examine the inner self and one’s values and beliefs.

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There is an old saying, a proverb if you like, that I often heard as a young woman growing up in my home town of Omagh.

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Of all we know life to be, three aspects of it will guide your journey: truth, nature and knowledge.

These three things will light the life path and bring you forward, safely and in contentment.

My paternal grandmother had little in terms of money or property, but was immensely wealthy of spirit and generous with all.

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Her own mother was an equally remarkable woman and incredibly attuned to the natural world around her.

She loved the world outside of her little lime-washed cottage and slept in a big, brass bed in the barn, all year round, waking with the birdsong and living a long, contented life.

Happiness, contentment and the recognition of Divinity in all life, were never strangers on her journey.

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