July and August nestle into the promise of sultry heat, with visits to the beach and afternoons spent in the shade of maturing trees.Berries continue to ripen, as flowers provide a succession of colour.
Rising on the last morning of Bealtaine and looking out the window of the lodge to be greeted by mist and sunshine.
Between the rain and the sun, the jigs and the reels, the land has grown a mantle of green.
Festivals are held in every village as birds, from thousands of mile away, fly low over the feeding grounds of this small island. Midsummer customs prevail in much of Europe and certainly here in Ireland, where the traditional bonfire is part of the celebration.
The fire is lit exactly at sunset on the eve of the solstice and celebrations continue until sunset on the solstice itself.
The sense of abundance is quite tangible and visible at this time, helping to create a celebratory atmosphere.
Midsummer 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.”
This year I shall be lighting the Midsummer fire with wood cut around the time of Midwinter, in honour of my Mother.
As 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.
“The festival of the summer solstice speaks of love and light, of freedom and generosity of spirit.
forests and woodlands hang heavy in the summer’s heat and our souls become enchanted with midsummer magic.”
For magical crystals…
For Bealtaine Cottage Good Life…
It is nearing the end of this beautiful year.
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.”
The year was divided in two, with Summer and Winter heralding transition.
“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.
This is a special time, where there is a real sense of renewal and hope.
Time to light the annual bonfire and celebrate, with songs and games and food.
Time to write your wishes, hopes or fears onto paper and cast it away into the flames.
Time to share and bake and dance and laugh.
Summer is over and we have lived to greet another year.
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.
The over-wintering begins!
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