Rituals of Midwinter

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

BgQ7qv3CEAAL835Preparation is everything.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And Then It Snowed…

Snow fell heavy on this Permaculture smallholding in the West of Ireland today and suddenly we were back in the midst of winter.

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The light changed, as the reflective quality of the snow worked it’s magic.

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“Is it snowing where you are? All the world that I see from my tower is draped in white and the flakes are coming down as big as pop-corns. It’s late afternoon – the sun is just setting (a cold yellow colour) behind some colder violet hills, and I am up in my window seat using the last light to write to you.”
Jean Webster

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For some childlike reason, it fills the heart with hope and delight, as though there is something else just waiting around the corner!

Walking over to the polytunnel, I felt a lightness in my step.

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Inside the tunnel there remained an early Spring, untouched by the snow and ice, with vegetables and herbs waiting to be harvested.

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“So all night long the storm roared on:
The morning broke without a sun;
In tiny spherule traced with lines
Of Nature’s geometric signs,
In starry flake, and pellicle,
All day the hoary meteor fell;
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below,—
A universe of sky and snow!”
John Greenleaf Whittier

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Clumps of green, like this native Sedge, rise up from the snow, providing lots of shelter and warmth for birds and small mammals, especially on these cold, late winter nights.

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Snow changes everything!

Even the light on the veranda, as the snow on the roof encloses the space.

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Meanwhile, indoors, Charlie is watched over by a curious fox…a present I received recently.

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All is brighter in here too as the reflected light illuminates a shadowy cottage.

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It is in consideration of the bird life all around Bealtaine Cottage that I deliberately keep the cats indoors, especially in the morning and early afternoon.

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It’s easy to encourage them to do this by simply feeding them a large meal and allowing them to doss at leisure!

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As the evening draws in, the real snow magic begins to manifest…

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Night time across a snow covered landscape emits a strange light.

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“A few feathery flakes are scattered widely through the air, and hover downward with uncertain flight, now almost alighting on the earth, now whirled again aloft into remote regions of the atmosphere.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne

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These are special evenings, when the urge to walk in a snow covered land is pressing.

No torch to light the way, for one can see for miles around.

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The low energy light from the cottage emits an otherworldly glow.

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Magic…

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Blessings

Days of Hibernation

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Snow fell today.

As I stood by the front of the cottage, the mountain of Sliabh an Iarainn appeared to suddenly rise up in a shroud of white.

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More often than not it merges into the sky in shades of grey and sometimes blue, but today it stood out proud, gleaming white.

This mighty mountain, where once the ancients mined iron ore and ushered in the Iron Age, rises from the shores of Lough Allen to the North East, as Kilronan Mountain faces the cottage, sentinel-like, to the North.

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It too was dusted with a covering of light snow.

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I retreated to the warmth of the cottage and watched the snow fall.

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By the time I went into the bedroom to make the bed, Sammy-Bear had made a nest and curled up for the day…I exited the messy room and closed the door!

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Sammy-Bear often sleeps in my bedroom to escape Charlie, who often makes great sport from terrorizing his betters!

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Charlie and Jack are quite good friends now.

It’s a hierarchical relationship…Charlie’s the boss!

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The evening has drawn in fast…there is not much to notice yet in the stretch of the day…it slowly manifests when we are busy getting used to the new year.

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Now is the time to make the most of the days of hibernation left to us, for they are few in number…the Spring moves in faster than we realise.

Charlie knows this…in fact, looking into his eyes, I’d say that Charlie knows an awful lot!

Circling Celebrations

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Winter is the time for comfort, for
good food and warmth, for the touch
of a friendly hand and for a talk beside
the fire:  it is the time for home.

Edith Sitwell

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                   And so the story of Autumn and Winter begins, not in cold and dark, but comfort and light.
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                                                 A time to take stock and nestle into home.
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                                 A time for simplicity of food before the excitement of Samhain.
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                We move inexorably through the year, circling around celebrations, family and friends.
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         This is what it means to be part of a society…planning and sharing the days we look forward to, as well as bringing camaraderie and support on days less well favoured. 
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                As I uploaded these photographs this morning, I enjoyed a sense of timelessness.
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            Even as I move around Bealtaine on my own, the sense of ‘with others’ pervades the air.
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                              Perhaps, in the world we cannot see, there are many around us.
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                                                             This would not surprise me.
                        My mother often said she felt surrounded by people here at this little cottage.
                                                                              I do too. 
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                                      “In a way Winter is the real Spring–the time when
the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature.”

Edna O’Brien

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                                                           Like Edna, I look forward to the
quiet time of Winter, for the quiet solitude; a time for contemplation. 
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Earth Art

I work for the Great Earth Mother.

I feel honoured to capture images of her and post them through Bealtaine Cottage.

I believe that more and more of human life will come to honour the Great Mother through these images.

This is her Art…Earth Art.

(These images were captured here at Bealtaine Cottage during the Winter of 2010)

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“Remain faithful to the earth,

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my brothers and sisters,

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with the power of your virtue. Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth. sun 19 12 10 032

Thus I beg and beseech you. Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. 

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Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away.

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Lead back to the Earth the virtue that flew away,

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—back to the body,

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back to life,

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that it may give the Earth a meaning,

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a human meaning.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

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Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…I have posted over 120 videos about Permaculture, Sustainable living practice, planting, growing and living.

I write to encourage, help and inspire mindfulness for our beautiful world and have photographed and written almost 800 blogs on this Bealtaine Cottage website.

As an advocate for Mother Nature, Permaculture, Sustainable Living Practice, trees and wildlife, the smallholding of Bealtaine Cottage receives no grant aid from either the Irish government or EU.

Everything created here is self-funded, with a little support from occasional donations..

Any donation, no matter how small, goes a long way in sustaining and developing this site.

Blessings

Permaculture in Perpetuity

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Permaculture Gardens grow all the year around.

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The integration of water as a harvest system brings both light and warmth to the land. 

Intensive planting creates so many micro-climate zones that encourage and nurture plants even in the severest of  weather.

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This was never more apparent than on my garden walk yesterday…a fine day, after all the flooding and torrential rain experienced this week.

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Sheltered spots harboured mushrooms, many of which were edible.

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Wild herbs continue to flourish near waterways and on banks, particularly Wild Mint and Sorrel.

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Perpetual harvests of food, fuel and water, with little or no input at this stage of development, for once the sculpting and planting are complete, the eco-system of perpetual food and abundance takes over!

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Permaculture is a clever system which copies Mother Nature at her finest.

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There are few parts of the world where she is allowed to truly be herself.

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The Rainforest is one of the few remaining ecosystems where this remains governed by the Wise Mother.

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My journey into Permaculture began along practical lines, but as I became immersed in planting and sculpting, my life transformed with hardly a blip, as Sacred Permaculture merged the boundary lines between the practical and the ethereal.

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Perhaps the pictures I took yesterday best sum this up…walk with me…

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Thanks and blessings to those of you who support this site…it’s good to be appreciated XXX

Blessings

 

Money…Lots and Lots of Money!

midwinter cottage 013The New Year party dust has settled.

People have returned to work and credit card bills are dropping on doormats all over the  world.

The reality of living has dawned, after a long party season, where many have struggled to just buy necessities.

midwinter cottage 006Recent figures released have stated that the rich have got richer and the poor poorer, with the severest erosion of the middle classes ever witnessed.

Profits announced by corporations defy any understanding of mathematics.

www.bealtainecottage.com 011I read the other day, that Bill Gates earns more profit on his investments, than himself and Melinda can insert into their foundation.

Bill has not actually worked in 14 years.

All this as many workers, already working overtime,  are having to apply for welfare and charity to keep their families out of extreme penury.

www.bealtainecottage.com 004I do not understand this form of economics and am not ashamed to say so…I really do not understand!

Here at Bealtaine I have lit the stove, on a grey, wet and windy day in early January.

As the fire roared up under a spitting kettle, my thoughts turned to those who rely solely on fossil fuel or electricity for warmth.

www.bealtainecottage.com 025Escalating costs for fuel is now prohibiting many from keeping a warm home.

Governments have failed, to put in place any substantial remedial action, that may help alleviate the burden of fuel costs.

There have been small measures, like attic insulation offered to those on minimum income…little indeed as the energy costs spiral.

www.bealtainecottage.com 022The cost of wind-generated energy must be very small indeed, compared to say, Nuclear.

I say this because I witness the one man in a white van, who services the Wind Turbines on the mountain opposite Bealtaine Cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.com 030He attends to these as and when they need attention…not on a daily basis, by any means.

I imagine  the maintenance costs, say, compared to power stations, are very minimal!

So where does the escalating costs of that electricity, generated by those turbines, actually go?

www.bealtainecottage.com 004There appears to be a lot of money in the world, with but a few holding the purse-strings…and that makes no sense at all!

We are surrounded by solutions to the most grievous and pressing poverty.

We are surrounded by wealth, held tightly by the few.

New Moon, New Year…All Change!

www.bealtainecottage.com 005The time of a New Moon is a time to set intention for the coming month.

We start this New Year with a New Moon in Capricorn, a very auspicious beginning, a fresh start!

It is rare that a New Year begins at the same time as a Lunar New Year, so, in preparation, I am clearing space all around the cottage, clearing away the decorations of Yuletide and opening up lots of space to embrace this new energy!

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This New Moon brings with it hope for those feeling tired and low by all the negativity experienced over the past year; change is on the horizon.

This is a powerful time to make resolutions and implement change!

www.bealtainecottage.com 001This is a rare opportunity to begin anew…a time to clear all old intentions that never materialized and start afresh! www.bealtainecottage.com 002The last time we had a New Moon at the start of the New Year, was nineteen years ago, in the early nineties.

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New Moon, New Year

The New Moon greets the New Year
Saying “let go of the past”
For the things that are worth keeping
Will in their beauty last-
Yet that that does not serve us
Must be released and shed
The fear, anger and patterns
Which hog space in our head-
And when we call our Spirit
To release them to the Earth
The New Moon greets us with her light
And offers us rebirth.

Jen Reich
Flagstaff, AZ 12-28-13

http://poetry-not-poverty.blogspot.ie/

A truly beautiful website filled with inspirational poetry by Jen…

www.bealtainecottage.com 006However, it won’t just be one New Moon in January, but two!

The month comes to a close with a second New Moon!

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Energy begins to seep back into the earth and plants.

Winter is not yet over, by any means and frost can be devastating, but the little signs of hope are there… Daffodils have begun to throw up green shoots!

www.bealtainecottage.com 014Light has begun to play with shadows here in the shower room (there is no bath in this tiny cottage!) and even the hanging crystals are catching and reflecting the strengthening sun.

www.bealtainecottage.com 004Fruit continues to occupy its Yuletide celebratory place on tables throughout Bealtaine.

Time to eat healthy food and build health for the year ahead!

www.bealtainecottage.com 011Time to clear out the old and bring in the new and time to clear the laundry basket…I wash clothes daily, for I do not possess a washing machine, so will spend a little more time than usual to ensure an empty basket for New year!

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The lengthening of the days has already begun.