Christmas Eve in the West of Ireland

37

IMG_1123

There was  a full moon on the Winter Solstice, an unusual event and not occurring in my lifetime again, so, very special to me.

IMG_1117

As my ancestors before me, I celebrate the Solstice, marking the longest night of the year and with the promise of all that lies ahead…

The ritual of fire and feast, music and drink, gathering of family and friends are all important aspects of the Winter Solstice.

faa095f3-3444-4ff8-85d7-2ed42b2e309cThe youngest member of my little tribe was here, forming a focal point for us all as we gathered to celebrate.

8d34b1d6-9432-4e19-8499-c3160d377e92She is displaying a love for the natural world in her wish to be carried around outside and shown the many aspects of the woodland sanctuary, engaging with me as I show her the trees and birds.

Then, in the blink of an eye, the gathering disappears off to their own homes and further adventures of Yule and I am, once more, alone with Jack, birdsong and the increasing energy of the Otherworld all in and around the cottage.

kClN706URJ+1eNruuPNAmAI venture out to collect a few necessities from town and on my way home am enchanted to pull over the car and embrace the quickening evening.

NHNCj+B7T7Se8fht8X3sBQ93tItTHpRliAEKBZcXUm3gtQpjx2JDRxaCSAQzgCpXcQHMUg9TYOktiVFSwN

Dragon’s Breath as is known, moves silently over the fields.

The evening before Christmas Eve is preparing for a quiet slumber in the way in which only happens at this time of year.

A+%uXWYfRx6NgK5Y3AJXhgMist is rolling in across the lough.

t4c5%4z2Sx60AC3mj67xXgIn the rush that is corporate Christmas, most people have not the time to stop and take in this ethereal beauty…I find myself alone in the blue twilight of an Irish evening in late December.

pPzX8S4KGmhOc53T+CgnUKlVuoXR0eLf0ZPbPZayAThe days that follow a gathering are eerily silent.

The sheer contrast of it all!

mhJKVbkqToSCHLxMv9FUXgI am reminded of my solitude.

E3Od4xkFSJqXBfm6a+gdBAThis is a physical solitude, I remind myself, for I am immersed in many lives at Bealtaine Cottage.

uZAezoSuQJq%s3yu72byHALike the time of year, a reminder that days of quickening light lie ahead, when the light and sounds of Spring will make the quiet evenings something to look forward to.

HMUg9TYOktiVFSwNAnd so I make my way home, immersed in the silence of the land itself, at one with this ancient land, my home.

******

There are some Bealtaine Cottage calendars for 2019 still available.

 

Calendar and Map

Special offer: Purchase the Calendar and Map together! Cost was €27.00…Special Offer €20.00! Price includes postage to anywhere in the world!

€20.00

Calendar and Midwinter Book

Special Offer! Purchase the Calendar together with the Bealtaine Cottage Guide to the Deep Midwinter for the special price of €23.00 The usual price is €30.00 Price includes postage to anywhere in the world!

€23.00

SPECIAL OFFER! Reduced to clear… 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.

€9.95

Remembering…

10

dsc05339As the days grow shorter and the evenings longer there is a quietness in the gardens and around the cottage that is rather haunting.

winter sunrise at Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardens Much of what I do now is centred around preparing for the Midwinter Feast and the continuing festivities of Yule.

BgQ7qv3CEAAL835 Family and friends will be arriving from as far away as Canada.

dsc05353 A house has been rented for the days that are in it, for Bealtaine Cottage is small!

cropped-bealtaine-cottage-dec-11-011.jpg

dsc05352Baking is underway in the kitchen, making full use of the hot oven in the even hotter Stanley stove that is burning constant to keep the cottage warm.

bealtainecottage.com permaculture 043

dsc05329Cakes and bread are then being moved to the freezer in the barn and will be ready to assuage the hunger of visitors and guests alike. dsc05349The cake stand has been dusted off for the festivities.

dsc05331I am transforming the Lodge into a big dining room, moving beds and other furniture out and a huge extending dining table in.

cropped-sitting-room-at-bealtaine-cottage-bealtainecottage-com-008.jpg

dsc05333dsc05334This was brought over from the tunnel where it had been in use for years as a potting table, but a good clean down and polish, followed by the adornment of a starched table cloth, has lent the old table an air of noble gentility.

dsc05335dsc05336Candlelight will soften the decrepitness of the piece and even add a touch of shabby chic!

dsc05337In the event it isn’t really about grandeur or showing off, but about coming together to celebrate…something we have almost forgotten how to do.

dsc05338The remembering that less is more…that a pot of well made soup and home baked bread is unique to that day and all who partake of the feast.

dsc05348

dsc05345It is not about shop bought, ready-made food, or flashy decorations that will still be intact in the landfill when you are long gone from this sacred Earth. dsc05343

dsc05344My little bathroom has had a coat of paint applied and a polish-up!

dsc05346Remembering the importance of gathering and celebrating…this is real civilisation!

 

 

The Other Website… https://bealtainecottage.com/bealtaine-cottage-good-life/

 

 

 

Yule and the Turning of the Wheel

7

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Garden at Midwinter

Origins of Yule

The great Festival of Yule, beginning at the time of the Winter Solstice and lasting for a full twelve days, summed up the cycle of the Celtic year.

Bealtaine Cottage candles in the window

The word Yule, according to the Venerable Bede, came from the Norse word Iul meaning ‘wheel’ and suggested that this was the time when the Great Wheel of Existence had completed its circle.

barn window reflection Permaculture @ Bealtaine Cottage 015

“In later Celtic folk-belief, Yule had a dual meaning, it symbolised the death of the old year and heralded the birth of the new…

winter sunrise at Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardens

Although the ground was cold, it would soon be warm again and Nature would burst forth at the festival of Imbolc.

The low-point of the period of Yule became the central festival of a number of formal religions, one of which was Christianity.

Bealtaine Cottage Midwinter Garden

 

After Yule, the Great Wheel began to turn again, bringing the festival of Imbolc around once more. Gradually some festivals assumed less importance and four great functional festivals – Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasadh and Samhain dominated the Celtic year. Many of these became major Christian holy days – Imbolc became Candlemas (1 February) with its own rhyme: ‘On Candlemas Day, Throw a candle away’.

Christmas Eve in an Irish CottageChristmas Eve, 2012 at Bealtaine CottageChristmas eve moon above Bealtaine CottageChristmas Angel 2012In Ireland, because of its close association with the goddess Brigit, it became Saint Brigid’s Day.

Where the festivals of local deities persisted, they became ‘pattern days’– the feast of a local or patron saint.”

From Complete Guide to Celtic Mythology by Bob Curran

winter solstice 2012 at Bealtaine Cottagemidwinter cottage 015midwinter cottage 012

The winter solstice, the rebirth of the Sun, is an important turning point, as it marks the shortest day, when the hours of daylight are at their least. It also the start of the increase in the hours of daylight, until the Summer Solstice, when darkness becomes ascendant once more.

Midwinter mist at Bealtaine Cottage

This Yule, my family will gather at Bealtaine Cottage for a coming together, a “gathering,” to celebrate and mark the Great Turning of the Light, before dispersing to celebrate with others the wonderful celebration of Christmas.

friday 10 12 10monday morn 6 12 10 014monday morn 6 12 10 006Yuletide continues to be marked at Bealtaine Cottage through to it’s end on the first day of January. A time of great hope and lifting of one’s head towards the ascending sun.

For lovers of Bealtaine Cottage, there is a second website, growing daily and now with over 85 new blogs and hundreds of unseen photographs, as well as podcasts and stories… Visit:

Bealtaine Cottage Good Life Membership~ Subscribe Today!

Country Cottage Journal

9

Preparing the cottage for Yuletide and the Midwinter Feast has been underway for the past week or so.

A smaller stove has been installed in the sitting room and much of the furniture in the cottage has been moved around…a great swap has taken place!

The end of all this turmoil is almost in sight…I breath a big sigh of relief, for the organising of sleeping arrangements, food and fuel is next on my “To-Do” list!

This is a great time of the year for working indoors and in many ways it’s also a good time to prepare for the year ahead, get work done and a sense of order into the cottage.

The weather has been stormy and wet, leaving little time for any works outdoors anyway.

Despite this, it’s lovely to walk in the aftermath of such weather, as mists arise and sunsets glimmer…

Presents are made and wrapped and put to one side, to be taken out after the feast and distributed amidst excitement and anticipation.

Many of the gifts are cherished, home-made and unique.

It’s interesting to note that this appears to be much of a trend now as the big manufacturers are attempting to emulate the same “home-made, folksy, country craft” look.

It also shows that people are tired of the commercial glitz!

As I write, sitting here in the small study at the front of the cottage, the rain pours down from the heavens.

Storm Desmond is casting it’s remains down upon us!

I have posted Ancient Bog Oak pendants, hand crafted by my brother Hugh O’Neill, to many countries.

There are a few left should anyone want a gift posted from Bealtaine Cottage on their behalf, though time is limited to a few days for posting in time for Christmas.

This is the link…

https://bealtainecottage.com/craft-shop/

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Blessings to you all on this stormy Saturday…keep snug and warm!

Yule

2

Read Bealtaine Cottage Good Life latest blog…YULE

Sign up today at…

https://bealtainecottage.com/bealtaine-cottage-good-life/

Moving with Orion Towards Midwinter

12

017

The signs are everywhere…

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

Nights drawing in…

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 003

Unexpected sunshine on frosted mornings.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 055

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.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 001

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

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 040

Magical Midwinter!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 015

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

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 007

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

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

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.

Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2011 006

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.

*************

Thanks for your support in sustaining and developing this site.

 

Who Controls You?

26

www.bealtainecottage.com 005

Midwinter approaches.

www.bealtainecottage.com 002

The holiday season draws near.

www.bealtainecottage.com 005

There is no television here at Bealtaine Cottage, so I am unaware of the masses of advertising you are being bombarded with!

www.bealtainecottage.com 001

I realise that the pressure is upon you to spend, spend, spend!

www.bealtainecottage.com 005

But, hold on a minute or two and think about this… Every pound, euro or dollar you spend this Yuletide will put you deeper and deeper into debt and force others to compete with the madness that is gift-buying!

www.bealtainecottage.com 030

As you spend, so the debt piles up around you, pressing you down, deeper into the mire of anxiety!

www.bealtainecottage.com 022

Many people spend to the limit on their plastic cards and spend the entirety of the following year just paying it back.

www.bealtainecottage.com 010

This represents the most insidious form of control on what should be a life of choices and freedom.

midwinter cottage 012

All the time you are controlled by debt you are enslaved…and for what?

midwinter cottage 004

Most of what is bought at Christmas ends up in landfill sites over the ensuing months. www.bealtainecottage.com 014

Mother Earth pays a huge price for your debt slavery.

www.bealtainecottage.com 011

Who controls you?

www.bealtainecottage.com 028

The same corporations who pollute Mother Earth?

midwinter cottage 002

Change begins with you and me and the freedom to choose!

The Great Collapse

31

Autumn permaculture at bealtainecottage.com 017

The great collapse of society, as we know it, is under way.

bealtainecottage.com 001

Most people are unaware of this.

bealtainecottage.com permaculture (3)

Every aspect of controlled living is the same as ever it was.

Sammy-Bear says "Hello!"

The television keeps pumping out much of the same.

Supermarkets hum with shoppers.

Christmas lights flicker in shopping centres.

DSCF1237

The madness of more predominates a world in crisis.

DSCF1002

The populations of countries, channelled to look one way, as governments and the one percent carry on their relentless rendition of acquisition and destruction.

www.bealtainecottage.com

Look at how we live compared to a few decades ago…

There is no longer a mentality of saving for one’s heart’s desire.

All is instant, right down to the way we satisfy our hunger.

www.bealtainecottage.com

Hunger?

Merely a concept to most people in the western world.

www.bealtainecottage.com

I dare not say developed, for that implies evolved and the fact is, we are not in the least bit evolved!

We devour resources, as we revolve.

March 2014

Society is revolving on a mad merry-go-round of consumption.

Revolving, not evolving!

March 2014

We all know, in our mere moments of sanity, that this cannot go on.

Eco-systems around us are collapsing.

Species extinction is a runaway train-wreck.

www.bealtainecottage.com

Another Christmas looms, as people prepare to celebrate the birth of a baby with an orgy of consumerism!

www.bealtainecottage.com

We should take a bit more notice of that collapse and extinction, for anyone with common sense knows who’s next!

www.bealtainecottage.com

Future generations will look back upon this time and refer to it as the Great Collapse, much in the same way as we refer to the death of millions in The Great War.

www.bealtainecottage.com

And, as we all know, there was nothing great about it!

*************

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…I have posted over 120 videos about Permaculture, Sustainable living practice, planting, growing and living.

I write to encourage, help and inspire mindfulness for our beautiful world and have photographed and written almost 800 blogs on this Bealtaine Cottage website.

As an advocate for Mother Nature, Permaculture, Sustainable Living Practice, trees and wildlife, the smallholding of Bealtaine Cottage receives no grant aid from either the Irish government or EU.

Everything created here is self-funded, with a little support from occasional donations..

Any donation, no matter how small, goes a long way in sustaining and developing this site.

Blessings

Angels and Animals in an Irish Cottage on Christmas Eve

9

www.bealtainecottage.com 001

Christmas Eve at Bealtaine Cottage.

Snow has fallen.

The air is cold and a bitter wind blows.

It rained hard last night and the streams are in flood.

The blackbirds are hungry and have taken to stealing cat biscuits from the bowls on the veranda!

www.bealtainecottage.com 009

The blackbirds are clever creatures and have watched both cats enter the lodge through the cat door, where they now sleep away the day, their bellies filled with food and milk.

www.bealtainecottage.com 007

Jack stays by my side, in and out of the cottage, as I work.

Jack looks out for me and is a wonderful friend and guardian angel!

www.bealtainecottage.com 005

This is a difficult Christmas for many who are without basic necessities.

I am thankful to have a well stocked pantry and woodpile.

For many, food and heat are major problems in their everyday lives.

www.bealtainecottage.com 002

 It’s good to give thanks for a warm home and a full plate.

May you all enjoy both this Christmastide…

www.bealtainecottage.com 003An Irish Christmas Blessing

The light of the Christmas star to you
The warmth of home and hearth to you
The cheer and good will of friends to you
The hope of a childlike heart to you
The joy of a thousand angels to you.

Happy Christmas!

**********************

This will be my last blog for a little while as I am taking some time out.

Blessings to you all X