The Cave of The Cats…a Samhain Journey.

Today is the day after my birthday. The morning is clear and sunny, a brightness fills the air. The woodland gardens are filled with birds eagerly seeking breakfast after a long cold night…and a Sparrow Hawk is hunting for his breakfast too.

He sits atop the bird table, very still, eyeing up the landscape. The small birds have felt his presence and flown! He may have to hunt further afield this cold morning for his breakfast!

To see such a hunting bird visit one’s garden is to witness the re-balancing of Nature in a once impoverished landscape. A very fitting celebration of my birthday, for my heart’s desire was to help Her become restored, vital and once more, abundant!

Rich woodland now surrounds the cottage…a mere few steps from the front door.

Those who talk about leaving Nature to regenerate on Her own in an impoverished landscape know little of the struggles She faces in a world where we have taken everything from Her and then tell Her to get on with it! Fifteen years of careful nurture, love and planting, planting, planting has brought Her back to healthy abundance…now She regenerates!

In the early days of the Bealtaine Project I cut the rushes, millions of rushes…and kept the land clear for my planting, so as the young trees would not be strangled by the monoculture mess of rushes left behind after decades of meat raising.

Yesterday, the day marking my 64th year with Mother Earth, I visited one of the most sacred sites in all of Ireland, Rathcroghan and Oweynagat, The Cave of the Cats…the portal into the Otherworld. Unlike all other cultures, the Celts believed we could cross back and forth to the Otherworld. It was not to be feared, but existed parallel to our own world.

This is from Wikipedia:

Rathcroghan (IrishRáth Cruachan, meaning “fort of Cruachan”) is a complex of archaeological sites near Tulsk in County Roscommon, Ireland. It is identified as the site of Cruachan, the traditional capital of the Connachta, the prehistoric and early historic rulers of the western territory. The Rathcroghan Complex (Crúachan Aí) is a unique archaeological landscape with many references found in early Irish medieval manuscripts.

Located on the plains of Connacht (Mag nAí/Machaire Connacht), Rathcroghan is one of the six Royal Sites of Ireland. This landscape which extends over six square kilometres, consists of 240 plus archaeological sites, sixty of which are protected national monuments.

These monuments range from the Neolithic (4000 – 2500 BC), through the Bronze (2500 – 500 BC) and Iron Age (500 BC – 400 AD), to the early medieval period and beyond. These monuments include burial mounds, ringforts and medieval field boundaries amongst others. The most fascinating of these are the multi period Rathcroghan Mound, the mysterious cave of Oweynagat, the Mucklaghs – a spectacular set of linear earthworks, as well as the Carnsmedieval complex.

There are many interesting historic references to Rathcroghan (Ráth Crúachan) recorded in early medieval manuscripts, including the 12th century Lebor na hUidre. Rathcroghan is recorded as the location of one of the great fairs of Ireland, as well as being one of the island’s three great heathen cemeteries. It is also the location for the beginning and end of a national epic tale – an Táin Bó Cúailnge, and the royal seat of Medb (Maeve), Connacht’s Warrior Queen.

Rathcroghan is said to provide entrance to the Otherworld, via Oweynagat (the Cave of the Cats). Sadly, the newly arrived Christians name-called this sacred site, “The Gates of Hell,’ despite the fact that Hell was a new concept to the Celts! The cave is the starting point for the ancient festival of Samhain, as well as being described as the “fit abode” of the Morrigan, a Celtic Goddess of pre-Christian Ireland.

I want to say a big “Thanks and Blessings!” to all who sent me good wishes and birthday presents!

I want to thank all of you who have supported me through Patreon during the past year…Bless you!

Also those of you who donate apart from Patreon…bless you!

Blessings to those who support the Bealtaine Cottage Press through the purchase of a book, map or calendar!

Samhain Blessings to you all

XXX

Colette and Jack

In Honour of Lyra McKee

I left Bealtaine Cottage this morning to travel to Derry, a city in Northern Ireland I last visited when my mother was ill and in hospital there.
Poignant memories, but brightened and lightened by the glorious sunshine of the morning, as I drove alongside Upper and Lower Lough Erne and across Boa Island…do check them out on Google maps if you get the chance for the scenery is simply stunning!

I am in Derry for the Vegan Festival and will be happy to report all to you on my return home. As you can see from the photos, home is very much in full bloom!

Driving into Northern Ireland from the west of Ireland brings back memories of my youth, much of which involved “the troubles,” as they are referred to…bombings, killings and the constant uncertainty of war.

My father was a Civil Rights leader and our tiny home was a hub for much social and political activity.

I learned over the course of my growing up in Omagh that the world was not fair and equality did not exist in social terms…it had to occupy one’s being instead, like an essential component of one’s own integrity.

My moral backbone grew strong in this respect, as I ventured into the world.

My love of Nature stemmed from this time also. Born at home, delivered by my father into a tiny room where he had himself been born, was a singular honour. I was named Frances after my father, whose name was Phelim Francis O’Neill. The tiny terraced house had only a small concrete yard enclosed by a tall brick wall…there was no garden, or indeed gardens in the area. The grey streets made up a larger area known as “Gallows Hill,” …you can guess what used to happen there in days of old!

So, driving into this part of Northern Ireland brings back memories, none of which are particularly sad. That said, this journey allows me the space and small time to look back over my shoulder and understand why I am this woman and what evolved in me to bring me to where I now find myself. The past is indeed a foreign country, as L.P. Hartley wrote:

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” So runs the famous first line of L.P. Hartley’s novel, “The Go-Between.”

“But men still shoot each other, don’t they?”

Lyra Catherine McKee was a journalist from Northern Ireland who wrote for several publications about the consequences of the Troubles.

She also served as an editor for Mediagazer, a news aggregator website.

On 18 April 2019, McKee was fatally shot during rioting in the Creggan area of Derry.

My journey today has helped me understand who I am…and why I plant trees and tend Mother Earth.

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In a time of destruction, create something: a poem, a parade, a community, a school, a vow, a moral principle; one peaceful moment.

— MAXINE HONG KINGSTON

When I return home to Bealtaine Cottage, I will plant a tree in honour of Lyra, in hope the tragedy of her death will be the last of so, so many acts of senseless violence and destruction.

Heart Awakening…

Heart Awakening at Equinox 2019

Spring is here…once the Ribes are in full bloom around the cottage, the Bees are ready to make an appearance.

“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.” 
― John O’Donohue

from: A Little Book of Celtic Wisdom

Heart Awakening Podcast (audio)


Heart-Awakening…recorded in November 2016 at Bealtaine Cottage.

We approach the Equinox and the promise of longer days and shorter nights…the dark days are over.

The Bealtaine Cottage Press supports The Bealtaine Project, advertisement-free and open source on all social media platforms. Books and printed material are available below.


See more from Bealtaine Cottage Press: https://bealtainecottage.com/bealtaine-cottage-publications-books-and-maps/

February in the Goddess Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland.

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Work has continued unabated all this week. I managed to get a load of cardboard to begin mulching the problem bed over by the Lughnasadh Garden.

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Here I have laid the aboard and mulched with chipping from the garden shredder and laid another layer of cardboard.

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The progress is fairly rapid, with the exception that all the chipping come from the gardens, so pruning and shredding has to happen in conjunction with the mulching…and that takes quite some time!

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These are the magnificent red dogwoods that I am pruning at the moment…providing lots of mulch.

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The shredder is electric, second hand and the cheapest one on the market. It serves me well, but capacity is limited!

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The Robin keeps me and Jack company as I work.

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All the Laurel pruned last week is now laid as weed-suppressant mulch, as well as small mammal habitat. Goddess permaculture is about ALL LIFE!

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This week has been both cold and wet, so the occasional sunshine is worth photographing…I keep my camera with me as much as possible.

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The days are getting longer, with dark drawing down around 5.30pm.

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The sap is rising in the plants, developing a depth of lovely colour!

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Work in the tunnel continues, as I move from task to task in order to remain enthused with energy…small results are energising!

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I walked down through the gardens this morning and took these photographs.

IMG_1541It was delightful to see the first catkins on the willow.

IMG_1547IMG_1552Heavy rain fell last night, so the pond was gushing!

IMG_1554IMG_1556IMG_1557Back up to the cottage to write this blog and upload some of the photographs. I have heaps more that I may put on a slideshow on YouTube.

Thank you for your continuing support…I will continue to happily share freely.

Blessings X Colette

Thanksgiving Blessings from Ireland

IMG_0557Fourteen years ago at the beginning of the Bealtaine Project, I had no contact with anyone in the US.

IMG_0559My perception of American people was very much decided by all things Hollywood and the news broadcasts that informed me of all that was negative.

It’s shocking how our view of the world lies in the power of so few!

IMG_0561As the years here at Bealtaine Cottage have passed and the great work of planting so many hundreds of trees has changed the land and fortified the future, I have blogged and vlogged the journey to anyone who was interested.

In this way, through interaction with so many subscribers, friendships have formed and many have made the journey to Bealtaine Cottage to visit for themselves…in fact many summers have been filled with regular visitors from all over the world!

IMG_0564It is difficult to keep up at times!

The kindness of strangers has overwhelmed me on countless occasions, as I received gifts…some arriving on the darkest of days for me!

(Living alone can have its downside now and then).

IMG_0568I have come to value the sincerity and genuine kindness of people, many of whom live in the United States.

IMG_0569I am amazed at the spirit of the real American women I have got to know, so hardworking and stoic, so resilient and kind…a force to be admired!

IMG_0570This morning I have stepped out to take these photographs for you as a sharing gift on your Thanksgiving Day.

IMG_0571The men of America who have found their way to Bealtaine Cottage proved surprisingly wonderful too…unlike the Hollywood macho nonsense so often portrayed as representative and so, so wrong!

IMG_0575From my perspective it takes a fully formed human being to show kindness, compassion and respect…qualities displayed again and again in those men who have made the journey.

IMG_0572I’m rambling, I know, but this little blog is simply to say, “I feel honoured to have met so many of you here and on YouTube, for you have opened my world and my mind!”

IMG_0574Blessings to each one of you for your love and support.

IMG_0576May your Thanksgiving be filled with love and laughter.

IMG_0577May the days to follow be filled with hope, for your optimism in the face of hardship is the true Spirit of America!

IMG_0578Blessings to you all XXX

IMG_0591Colette and Jack and all the life-force that is Bealtaine Cottage XXXIMG_0556

Enjoy the rest of this morning’s photos…

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(Bealtaine Cottage books, map and 2019 calendar are available using the link at the top of this page).

Magical Wild Herbs and Other Things

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Hawthorn is one of the sacred Ogham trees of Ireland. It goes by the name Huath in Irish,  being the tree that symbolises Bealtaine, the merry month of May! This is also a wonderful, magical herb of abundant medicine. Hawthorn, or whitethorn, is easily identifiable during this time as her creamy blossoms brighten hedgerows, stone walls, fields and sacred sites.

IMG_0087Hawthorn is also known as the fairy tree for it is believed, especially a solo tree in a field, that it is a place that fairies would stop to rest (or party!) as they traversed across the land.

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There was a frost this morning, as you can see from the roof of the cottage. Insulation in the loft keeps the frost on the roof. You can always tell a poorly insulated home from the state of the roof on frosty mornings!

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An icy cover on the rain barrel by the lodge!

IMG_0165Myself and Jack set off for a morning stroll in the woodland gardens.

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I was reminded of the many herbs growing freely at Bealtaine Cottage and all along the roadsides here in the west of Ireland, as I walked along the woodland paths.

IMG_0169Dandelion, another exceptional wild herb growing abundantly here, with Its young leaves that can be used to make a tea with potassium-saving diuretic properties, so very useful for treating people suffering from high blood pressure.

IMG_0170Consumption of the bitter leaves will also aid digestion and act as a general laxative, while eating the ground root helps detoxify the liver.

IMG_0172It’s good to remember that the sticky, milky- white latex contained within its stalks can be used externally to kill warts and veruccas.

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The fire pit near the cottage has lots of precious wood ash to be spread out into the gardens. I continue to burn some of the dried blackcurrant stems from last year.

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The tidy up continues as I move the rusted bin over to the back of the old compost heap near the tunnel.

IMG_0175There are many wild and naturalised herbs growing in this semi-wild area, such as Comfrey, Nettle and Wild Garlic. Sweet Bay is planted to the right of the path in this picture. The Potager Bed is filled with many other cultivated herbs, growing happily alongside their wild cousins!

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Growing here at Bealtaine Cottage, in damp, grassy places, from July to September, this majestic, sweet- scented perennial, Wild Angelica, is known as Gallfheabhrán in Irish. Here it is, covered in frost this morning…

IMG_0178Wild Angelica was eaten in past times as a vegetable and used for dyeing cloth.

IMG_0182Traditionally it was used to treat rheumatism, gout and indigestion or to flavour liqueurs.

IMG_0184It really is amazing the vast quantities of wild herbs that are growing all around us. We have forgotten many of them and know very little of the edibility and uses of many of the recognisable plants. You can see some of the Chives spilling out from one of the Potager beds here by the Sedum.

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The colour wash across the woodland gardens continues this morning, the second day of Samhain as the progression of winter moves across the land. Flat Parsley is visible to the front of the bed! I moved all the Nasturtiums this morning from near the old Hen House, as the great tidy-up continues.

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Burdock, Nettle and Meadowsweet all grow with wild abandon here at Bealtaine Cottage. Meadowsweet contains essential oils, flavonoids and tannins. It is renowned for its anti-inflammatory, astringent, diuretic, analgesic, and relaxant qualities. Just walking among it during the heady days of summer induces all of the above!

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Wild Oregano, or Marjoram, Yarrow, Coltsfoot and, Mullein…still in flower in the Lughnasadh Garden by the way!

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I shall post a photo of this over on the Twitter account for Bealtaine Cottage later on…

Bealtaine Cottage Goddess Permaculture Gardens

@PermaGoddess

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Plantain, Herb Robert and Feverfew can be added to the extensive list…I am now imagining a Bealtaine Book of Herbs and their uses, as I realise what a Herb Sanctuary this little acreage has blossomed into!

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Books, map and calendar can be accessed through the link at the top of the website.

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The calendar is packed with 46 photographs! The months of the year are all in Irish and there is room enough to write notes and appointments daily.

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The map is printed back and front on thick card with beautiful detailed artwork just waiting to be coloured in!

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Moon phases for 2019 and 2020 are all included!

The Walls are Alive, The Cottage Breathes…

IMG_8667Morning at Bealtaine, infused with tasks and rituals as the hands on the clock move towards midday on this last Thursday of September.

There was a full moon last night.

IMG_8666This was the true Mabon or Equinox moon, casting light through the trees that surround the cottage, illuminating the landscape, lighting the way.

IMG_8645The air remains still and warm, much the same as when I walked through the woodland gardens at twilight last night, making a video as I went.

IMG_8643The cottage is immersed in quiet contemplation as I write…yes, these walls are alive and incubate the vibrations of life within, so reflecting my mood.

No radio, no music, just the occasional brush of wings from birds flitting to and fro as they feed on the wing or in the trees that surround these thick stone walls.

There is a consciousness in all life, something my ancestors held to be true.

IMG_8577In recent years we have rediscovered that truth as Quantum Physics has advanced in understanding our relationship with our world and universe.

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(Home-grown Micro-greens)

Noise interferes with our vibrations, often to the point of our feeling nauseous, confused, even panic-stricken.

Be still and know thyself…a saying so true!

IMG_8507Many of us seek endlessly for a meaning in life, a spiritual awakening.

A ‘Vibrational Shift’ occurs when our consciousness raises from lower to a higher vibration.

This usually happens during a spiritual awakening.

During these next few days as I close my Juice Fast, I feel the need to immerse myself in stillness.

Peace, solitude, quietness, stillness…all sadly lacking in our lives.

Making time to indulge in these is more important now than ever.

Blessings to you all

Colette

coletteoneill2010@hotmail.com

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Thank you Fireheart Tavern.

Thank you  Sumathy…did you receive what you asked for?

Thank you Simon.

 

Mabon Moon

Much of the day has been spent in the garden, working, head down, cutting back and meditating as I chop and drop. It’s been a long day and tiredness has forced me indoors. This is the first day of a seven day Juice Fast and, as always, my energy levels are high. Working hard enables me to sleep deeply and restoratively.

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There is something incredibly magical about working in the garden during Autumn. It is the scents arising from the earth that trigger memories and feelings. Then the hot tea, so well earned after hours of work.

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There is also the light that seeps into the trees and plants during Autumn. I stood outside last night and watched the full moon shine like a bright lamp onto the trees. This was a Mabon Moon, special, magical, conjuring otherworldliness among the woods that now surround the cottage.

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And the colours…oh, the colours!

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The Stone Circle seemed a fitting place to sit and drink my tea…there is an enchantment within…

 

…and without.

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Indoors there are some of the most magical photographs I have ever seen, framed and ready to hang on the walls. I am pondering the best way to exhibit them. This is all the work of Beth Trepper. I made a video of her work at the Clifden Arts Festival…you may have seen it on the Bealtaine Cottage YouTube channel…

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Calendars continue to be available…the link is at the top of this page.

Blessings to all XXX

Colette

Return

IMG_8473The evening has drawn in without my noticing, a sure sign of Autumn quickening towards Samhain.

IMG_8474I have walked the woodland gardens this evening and made a video.

IMG_8471It’s so much easier to upload videos with my new laptop now that both phone and laptop are compatible.

IMG_8460I have missed the regular writing I do here on the website and was pondering on what to do in order to make the time for this?

IMG_8457This website was my very first and enduring foray into the world outside of Bealtaine Cottage.

IMG_8456I have decided to make this website a priority above FaceBook and Twitter…those who want to will find and subscribe here.

IMG_8452I may even get back to a daily journal of sorts…we shall see!

IMG_8454There are stories to be told and pictures to share…

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You may have noticed the change of title at the top of the website…this is because Bealtaine has evolved and is very determined to be a woodland…She was always wilful!

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Link to the calendar is at the top of the page…

2019 Calendar Now Available