Another Trip Around The Sun!

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IMG_9956My birthday has passed.

IMG_9961 It was a wonderful day and here I am in a new year of my life, another journey around the sun!

IMG_9951It’s been an extraordinary journey so far and, as usual, it’s been a wonderful time for casting the occasional, cursory glance over my shoulder to the past.

IMG_9960To this end, I have recalled many aspects of my relationship with my parents, especially in my younger years, realising more and more just how wonderful they both were!

IMG_9962When one is in the thick of it all it’s sometimes very hard to see the people behind the parent mask.

IMG_9959As a parent it became obvious to me how much of a mask one had to don, at times…from the tough to the understanding and sometimes with little in-between!

IMG_9963However, I recall much of my memories of my parents with enduring humour, for I now am fully cognisant of what I put them through!

IMG_9965And so my birthday was a time to celebrate with both my parents in mind, especially my Mother! IMG_9969Her permanent optimism must have been difficult to carry at times, especially when faced with loss, grief, unhappiness and the all-permeating poverty.

IMG_9970I admire her more than ever with each passing year of wisdom and reflection.

IMG_9968Love endures.

IMG_9971I am fortunate to have reached a point in my journey where it is possible for me to understand the woman who was my Mother and the man behind the mask of fatherhood…one he rarely let slip, but I was lucky enough to see the interesting and caring man behind that mask.

IMG_9974The celebrations continue into Samhain, the 31st of October.

IMG_9972Tomorrow the fire will be lit and the ancestors invited into the midst of the family and friends who will gather.

IMG_9975The following day will herald in the first day of the Celtic New Year…a great time of renewal, wishes and hopes for the journey ahead.

IMG_9973On another note, I am aware that Thursday will be the first day of November and I have several boxes of calendars here in the study, waiting to be re-homed!

IMG_9978So if you want to think about possible Yuletide gifts, then look no further!

IMG_9979I am happy to post on your behalf to anywhere in the world!

IMG_9980There is also a wonderful selection of Bealtaine Cottage books and a magical, mythical map…here are the links:

 

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.

€17.00

 

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

 

In Search of The Goddess Rising

This is the second book in the Goddess Permaculture series from Colette O’Neill at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland. In this book I explore the ancient landscape, mythology, literature and life around Bealtaine Cottage… in search of the Great Goddess. The price of the book 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.

€19.00

 

“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

Yule

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Moving with Orion Towards Midwinter

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The signs are everywhere…

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

Nights drawing in…

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Unexpected sunshine on frosted mornings.

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The bare beauty of trees silhouetted against clear winter skies. 

Full Moon at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

As Orion strides across the evening sky, we draw closer to the Winter Solstice and the darkest, stillest, nights of the year.

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Winter Solstice celebrations begin on the 21st of December, a time of hope and joy for all, regardless of belief or religious observances.

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Magical Midwinter!

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Ancient tribes all over the world observed rituals around Solstice time.

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We too can  celebrate Winter Solstice, integrating it into our own traditional celebrations.

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A chance to step outdoors and observe the night sky.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture landscape

An opportunity to nurture and develop connections to family and friends.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

From this day, there are 22 days to go before the descent into the Midwinter Solstice.

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Yes, the coldest days precede the Spring, so January rarely feels like the prelude to that beautiful season!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture landscape

But, here in the West of Ireland, with Imbolc on the first day of February, the signs are there for all to see, as new life emerges from the frozen earth.

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The Power of Ritual

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Ritual, everyday ritual, is incredibly powerful!

Examine the ritual of power, be that in the opening of parliament, royal celebrations, religious ceremony…and you begin to see the importance and power of ritual!

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So where does this fit into a sustainable life or a permaculture smallholding?

It is simple to understand in the context of power…

Since the rise of the Age of Technology, our real power as human beings has become diminished.

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We have become reliant on technology, without stopping to assess and filter the bits we really need and want.

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I was contemplating this as I lit the stove this morning, moving to and fro with paper and wood, collecting fuel from the barn, whilst casting my eyes over the pile of long thin trunks, standing erect ready to be sawn into logs. Autumn in the permaculture gardens of bealtainecottage.com 001

My early morning coffee is predicated on lighting the stove and doing small chores, as I wait for the kettle to boil. This is a ritual I choose to partake of.

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I could have kept my electric kettle and simply touched a switch each morning, but chose instead to avail of that great commodity: time!

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Rising a little earlier, cleaning the ash-pan, lighting the stove and waiting, allows my morning to begin a sacred quietness.

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I walk to the back door and stand by the open portal to Nature, as she heralds the morning in with birdsong.

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The power of ritual is our power.

It is what we have forgotten, as technology imbibes us to forget our humanity.

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We need both.

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We need to be selective and thoughtful about what we wish to keep in our lives.

It is our power to choose.

Saint Patrick’s Day Permaculture at Bealtaine Cottage

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Saint Patrick’s Day! The middle of March in the West of Ireland…and there is much to celebrate! For we have enjoyed a mild winter and fast warming Spring.

According to  the old Irish annals, Patrick died in AD 461 on March 17.

And so, it is today that we celebrate the greatest non-Irish person as the greatest  of the Irish… for it is in Patrick that the Irish nurture their sense of national pride.

Much of the landscape of Ireland is awakened into Spring at this point in the year as you can see from the photographs taken this morning here at Bealtaine Cottage.

It has been traditional to plant potatoes on saint Patrick’s Day or thereabouts, so this morning, this is what I shall be doing, having prepared the beds at the beginning of the week, (and sliced through the water-pipe!).

Potatoes in Ireland were traditionally planted into mounds, a form of raised bed.  

Potatoes are planted into the mounds as they have a lower tolerance to frost and this way of planting affords a certain amount of protection. Other more hardy crop,s are Peas, Beans and Cabbage, all of which can be planted out regardless of frost.

Permaculture planting takes into account these variants and straw is placed over the beds of potatoes as both a mulch to exclude weeds and a protection against late frosts, which can be expected right through to May!

All these pics were taken this morning and as you can see, it is a perfect planting day in the west of the country.
The celebrations and parades will all take place this afternoon, so the morning is planned for a little light work, planting!

So, it just suffices to say…A very Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you all, with blessings and love to each and every one of you, from Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland.

On the Eve of Imbolc…

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Imbolc is a time to celebrate the promise of Spring and to think about planting…

On the eve of Imbolc

Imbolc, or St Brigid’s Day  Lá Fhéile Bríde,  is an Irish festival marking the beginning of spring.

Imbolc is celebrated on the 1st day of February, the date that falls approximately halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

Hens at Bealtaine Cottage Jan 2012

The holiday was, and for many still is, a festival of the hearth and home, and a celebration of the lengthening days and the early signs of spring.

Stove at bealtaine cottageCelebrations are focused around hearth fires, special foods, as in a family dinner or feast, candles, invoking a sense of the light to come…

“The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bride,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground.” 

candle and spiral at bealtaine cottageFire and purification are an important aspect of this festival.

Brigid is the Gaelic goddess of poetry, healing and smith-craft. 

As both goddess and saint she is also associated with holy wells, sacred flames, and healing.

The lighting of candles and fires represents the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months.

Laurel arch at bealtaine cottage permaculture gardens

Brigid is said to walk the earth on Imbolc eve.

Before going to bed, each member of the household may leave a piece of clothing or strip of cloth outside for Brigid to bless.

The head of the household will smother (or “smoor”) the fire and rake the ashes smooth.

In the morning, they look for some kind of mark on the ashes, a sign that Brigid has passed that way in the night or morning.

The clothes or strips of cloth are brought inside, and believed to now have powers of healing and protection.

Brigid Cross  Bealtaine Cottage Shop on Etsy

Traditionally, a cross made from pulled rushes is hung inside the home each Imbolc.

You can find these at the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop, at the right side of this page.

Weekend Permaculture Tree Planting at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland.

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Blossom on the Plum and Cherry trees continue to develop at Bealtaine Smallholding.

As I type this blog on a calm and warm Friday evening I am amazed at the continual good weather experienced here in the west of Ireland since the middle of March. The climate is changing…that I know.

Peach blossom covers the tree in the tunnel and all the seedlings are growing well. The bottom line is that food is very easy to grow. A small warm space is all that’s needed to get seedlings up and ready for planting out.

The Fairy Dell is now covered in green growth. Primroses, Mosses, Violets and Ferns are all competing with hundreds of other species to grow. The scents emanating from the warm earth below my feet as I walk the woodland are nothing less than intoxicating!

This is the willow wreath made here in December. I will strip back the winter foliage of Larch and Ivy and re-dress the willow base for the Easter celebrations. This Willow wreath will keep for several years and can be dressed for seasonal celebrations.

The leaves on the Amelanchier tree are out and making colour in the garden.

The weekend is here and I have another five trees to plant. These are all pot grown from seeds, so can be planted at any time of the year as long as they are kept well watered!