Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Beltane, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Ireland, Spirituality, Summer, Uncategorized

Bealtaine Eve in Ireland

 

The hen-house is all quiet on the Eve of Bealtaine.
The hen-house is all quiet on the Eve of Bealtaine.

 

The rain taps on the cottage roof as the Eve of Bealtaine draws in.

All the dry, warm weather is ended abruptly with heavy, rhythmic rain.

The lushness of Bealtaine Eve here at Bealtaine Cottage is merely a prelude to Summer and all to come...
The lushness of Bealtaine Eve here at Bealtaine Cottage is merely a prelude to Summer and all to come…

 

This Summer’s Eve will be freshened with Atlantic rain and the dry earth will release scents of green…yes, indeed, colour has a scent!

Honesty, Lunaria in full bloom this day
Honesty, Lunaria in full bloom this day

 

Bealtaine is the oldest festival in all of Europe and was historically celebrated on the Hill of Uisneach in County Westmeath.

looking deep into the gardens of Bealtaine
looking deep into the gardens of Bealtaine

 

This ancient ceremonial hill was, and remains, a sacred place and one of the most significant places of ancient ritual in all of Ireland.

Apple blossom on Bealtaine Eve at Bealtaine Cottage
Apple blossom on Bealtaine Eve at Bealtaine Cottage

 

This was the home of the Goddess Eriu…a place of High Kings and Tribes, a gathering place, where laws were passed and old allegiance re-newed!  

Bealtaine Eve by the Laurel Arch
Bealtaine Eve by the Laurel Arch

 

Bealtaine“Beacon-fires lit upon its summit could be seen over a quarter of Ireland, and in most directions the hills upon the horizons could relay the message of the beacon as far as the sea-coast.  The claim of Uisneach to be the centre of Ireland is thus quite justifiable, even though it may not be mathematically accurate.”[Macalister]

Bealtaine Eve in an Irish  Permaculture Garden.
Bealtaine Eve in an Irish Permaculture Garden.

 

In Irish mythology, the beginning of the summer and the bright half of the year started with the Fire Festival at Bealtaine.

Seedlings and new growth
Seedlings and new growth

 

May Summer be long and joyful for you, with a great harvest all the way through.

Posted in Beltane, Blessing, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Fairies, Folklore, Inspiration, Ireland, Lifestyle, Spirituality, Summer

Happy Bealtaine, the 1st Day of Summer in the Celtic Calendar.

Summer dawn at Bealtaine Cottage IrelandThe Celtic Festival of Bealtaine, also spelt as Beltane, Beltain, Beltainne and Beltaine is a Cross Quarter Day.

Midsummer Magic at Bealtaine CottageThis means,  that it is half way between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice.

Midsummer Magic at Bealtaine 003Of course, as nothing is static in the Universe,  the actual astronomical date is a number of days later.

  This year, 2013, the date when the cross-quarter day falls is May 5th.

Bealtaine Cottage May In Irish mythology, the beginning of the summer season started with the Fire Festival at Bealtaine.

May in the Fairy Wood at  Bealtaine Cottage Great bonfires were held which would herald in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year.

May in the Fairy Wood at  Bealtaine Cottage The bonfires would be accompanied with rituals of cleansing and protection.

A small branch of the Rowan tree was hung over the door to protect from fire and ill health.

may at Bealtaine cottage permaculture wine makingI made a short video this morning to share the sights and sounds of this special day, the first day of Summer, with you…

Posted in Animals, Autumn, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Earth, Inspiration, Ireland, Lifestyle, Lughnasa, Nature, Permaculture, Thoughts

Lughnasa and the Solstice…Ancient Time

At certain times today, as I was working outside, I had a distinct sense of Autumn.

The way the sun shone on a plant, the smell from the earth around my feet…it was quite tangible.

The growing cycle in the west of Ireland adheres very much to the old Celtic calendar.

It is easy to tell the season just by walking the land and watching shadows…

Autumn begins on the 1st day of August.

This cycle is in essence closely linked to the Solstices and Equinoxes of the year.

 It is the  same solar alignment that determines the correct time for Lughnasa and this is also the exact same alignment for Bealtaine.

The ancient calendar is correct, as it follows the sun and planets rather than the time of man.

I am more attuned to Natural Time as I work on the land.

I am also much happier in this time mode.

The midsummer solstice was last month, four weeks ago and harvesting is well under way.

I do believe that animals are more closely tied into these ancient seasons than we care to admit.

I have enjoyed the company of many rescue dogs and cats over the years and often observed their habits, right down to times when they will bury food.

Flo, here, is a little hobo dog and has been used to fending for herself for most of her life…

Flo is a persistent food secreter and will often sit on a stash in her basket!

On that note, I think I’ll just go and check…

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Posted in Celts, Country Living, Folklore, Inspiration, Uncategorized

A Celtic Blessing

May the light of your soul guide you.

May the light of your soul bless the work that you do
with the secret love and warmth of your heart.

May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.

May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light
and renewal to those who work with you
and to those who see and receive your work.

May your work never weary you.
May it release within you wellsprings of
refreshment, inspiration and excitement.

May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected.
May your soul calm, console and renew you.

Posted in celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Country Living, Folklore, Imbolc, Inspiration, Ireland, Uncategorized

Imbolc at Bealtaine Cottage…and the sun is shining!

Today has been the finest day of the year so far!

Imbolc.

The first day of Spring on the Celtic calendar…and it hasn’t disappointed!

Even as I write this journal, at almost 4pm, the sun continues to shine…

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” 
― Margaret Atwood

Nature is awakening from her winter rest – the long winter darkness begins to break as the daylight hours begin to get longer. 

Today is a good time to begin Spring cleaning!

This comes from the habit at Imbolc of getting rid of unwanted clutter and looking forward to the new season.
It is also a good time to finish old habits and make a fresh start,  for the world is full of new opportunities.

Imbolc is one of the four major Celtic Festivals.

It is closely associated with the goddess Brigid,who in turn gave her name to the Irish Christian Saint, Brigid.

Bright Blessings to you all on this beautiful day!

Posted in Autumn, Bealtaine Cottage, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Culture, Ecology, Folklore, Gardening, History, Ireland, Permaculture, Smallholding, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ Lughnasa and the Celtic Calendar

The feast of Lugh, Lughnasa, or Lughnasadh happenssoon…on the eve, which is the 31st of July. A time for a bonfire and celebrations of the harvest…celebrations here at Bealtaine Cottage will be focused around a rather small outdoor fire but with the equivalent gusto of the eve that’s in it!

 The Festival of Lughnasadh

This was  said to have been begun by the god Lugh as a funeral feast commemorating his foster-mother, Tailtu, who died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture. Little changed there then, as most of the agricultural work in many African countries is carried out by women!

In days of old, Lughnasadh was a favoured time for  trial marriages that would generally last a year and a day, with the option of ending the contract before the new year, or later formalizing it as a more permanent marriage.

 Lughnasa is the first of the three autumn harvest festivals. The Autumn Equinox and Samhain, or Halloween, being the other two.

Already there is a feel of Autumn in the air and can be seen in the plant life as harvests begin and fruits ripen on the trees. The days have shortened, now over a month past the longest day.

Here, plums ripen on one of the trees at Bealtaine Cottage and nettles produce their seeds…

And…

Flowers like this Perscaria Bistorta, a late flowering perennial, begin to show a magnificence beyond their humble beginnings!

Irish calendar

is a pre-Christian, Celtic system of keeping the year and still in popular use today to define the beginning and length of the day, the week, the month, the seasons, quarter days, and festivals.

  The meteorological seasons  begin on March 1, June 1, September 1, and December 1.

The Irish Calendar observes the equinoxes and solstices and has a more realistic seasonal observance…

  • Spring – February, March, April.
  • Summer – May, June, July.
  • Autumn – August, September, October.
  • Winter – November, December, January.

These seasons are much more in keeping with the observations I make here at Bealtaine Cottage and I would abide by these dates rather than any other.

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Beltane, Gardening, Growing Food, Herbs, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Permaculture in Ireland, Summer, Trees, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ The Thursday Photo-Diary

A Celtic emblem on my back door. The paint on the door is well scratched and there is a definite patina of life therein. Dogs and children, all attempting to enter the cottage with little patience and no time to wait! I know I have to paint it soon, because the weather demands it, but then this testament to life and laughter and fun and games will be erased…

Moving the tyres in the vegetable garden is a milestone reached this week…converting all to log, deep beds and narrow paths…easier to mulch and now that the soil has improved, I can do this. It has taken 7 years of work and patience, but it has finally paid off!

Apples continue to swell and grow and are, each one, quite perfect. These trees have never had any sprays or chemicals of any kind at all, yet continue to give perfect harvest every single year. Nature knows best!

The beautiful flowers of the remarkable Comfrey plant. This generous herb is not just a pretty face!

Look how well this tiny spider manages to camouflage itself on the Cotoneaster bush…Nature is so very clever!

Flowers have opened on the Fuschia…almost an adopted native plant here in the west of Ireland…

Posted in celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Culture, Earth, Folklore, Inspiration, Permaculture, Poetry, Summer, Uncategorized

A Little Celtic Magic at Midsummer…

Wild Honeysuckle…Woodbine

The Celts believed that endurance and patience were two of the elements in Woodbine, or Honeysuckle as we commonly call it.

The spiral journey could be found within the vine, so to have it growing wild at the entrance to Bealtaine Smallholding is magic indeed!

Winter and Summer…Thomas Telynog Evans

In lovely harmony the wood has put on its green mantle,

and summer is on its throne, playing its string-music;

the willow, whose harp hung silent when it was

withered in winter, now gives forth its melody-

Hush! Listen! The world is alive.

“We honour the land which supports us,

we respect the waters which give us life.”

Amergin the Bard

Here are three things to hold dear on your journey…

Belief in oneself,

Belief in a higher self, and

Belief in the truth.

Celtic Triad

The longest day is almost over…