Thirteen and The Eternal Return

IMG_1913Evening descends.

IMG_1973 The cottage stands silent on the little hill.

IMG_1976Jack, SammyBear and I head off down the cottage lane for a walk.

IMG_1962The clock salutes the hour of ten, as night begins its descent in the west of Ireland.

IMG_1959As we move towards Midsummer, the light holds sway.

IMG_1953I carry words in my head as we make the descent along the little lane, planted on either side with generous intent.

IMG_1951The words were spoken by a Native American many years ago, but are as relevant today as they were then…perhaps more so.

IMG_1950“Wherever forests have not been mowed down, wherever the animal is recessed in their quiet protection, wherever the earth is not bereft of four-footed life – that to the white man is an ‘unbroken wilderness.’

IMG_1947But for us there was no wilderness, nature was not dangerous but hospitable, not forbidding but friendly.

IMG_1940Our faith sought the harmony of man with his surroundings; the other sought the dominance of surroundings.

IMG_1937For us, the world was full of beauty; for the other, it was a place to be endured until he went to another world.

IMG_1935But we were wise. We knew that man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard.”
Chief Luther Standing Bear

IMG_1933We carry words and music in our heads, most of which seems trivial in reflection.

IMG_1934I have turned many of my favourite poems, quotes and words into mantras of meditation.

IMG_1920Some, like this one, become prayers.

IMG_1926They were wise.

IMG_1981Their wisdom makes our so-called civilisation appear trite in comparison.

IMG_1982As I climb the lane towards Bealtaine, the air is silent.

IMG_1986Birds have gone to roost.

IMG_1983Night is drawing in.

IMG_1987Bats have taken flight.

SammyBear watches with solemn intent.

IMG_1995As Bealtaine Cottage prepares to celebrate it’s thirteenth Midsummer, the tide of life amidst it’s trees and woodland swells.

IMG_1997In this year of the feminine thirteen, I dedicate this sacred space Mother Earth, free from impoverishment of spirit and death…

IMG_1996the eternal return!

Heart Awakening…Are You Experiencing This Too?

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To say we live in strange times is an understatement!

dsc04710Recent conversations and experiences have led me to expect the unexpected in life at present!

dsc04705This morning, as I drove back from Mohill, another “experience,” happened.

dsc04708It was good that I had already pulled in by the side of the road!

The Bealtaine Project is a full-time labour of love for Colette O’Neill, aiming to encourage and support those wishing to live more sustainably “with” rather than “on”” Mother Earth. To this end, Colette writes, photographs, films and podcasts regularly every day in multi media form.

If you enjoy all the stuff shared from Bealtaine Cottage here and on FaceBook, Youtube, Pinterest and Twitter…why not consider a small donation.

 

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.

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…

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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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.

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!

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.

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…