Good Magical Morning!

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The Stone Circle here at Bealtaine Cottage is infused with early morning light.

A wild wind blows in from the West carrying energy and a sense of renewal as it blows Hawthorn flowers in front of it.

The morning is defined by change and renewal.

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Stillness pervades the air at the back of the cottage where shelter holds sway…

Nearby a new sculpture of a Hare holds pride of place in one of the Potager beds…

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The Celts believed in the magical strength of the Hare.

The Hare belonged in essence to the Celtic goddess Eostre.

It was her most favoured animal, representing love, fertility and growth.

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In Celtic mythology the Hare was associated with the Moon, dawn and the belief in the transmigration of the soul. (I have written about this in a previous blog and can be accessed by typing Transmigration of the Soul into the search bar on this page).

Eostre was reputed to have changed into a Hare at the full Moon.

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The poet Robert Graves referred to the Hare as sacred to the White Goddess, the Earth Mother, being regarded as, and considered to be, a royal animal.

“…language of poetic myth anciently current in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe was a magical language bound up with popular religious ceremonies in honour of the Moon-goddess, or Muse, some of them dating from the Old Stone Age, and that this remains the language of true poetry…” ~ Robert Graves

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Boudicca, the Queen of the Celtic tribe of Iceni in England, was said to have released a Hare as a good omen before each battle.

The Druids were said to have been able to divine the outcome of battle by the hare’s movements.

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In some parts of Ireland hares continue to be celebrated, such as  the legendary ‘White Hare of Creggan’, a sculpture of which can be seen at the “An Creagan” Visitor Centre in County Tyrone.

Even in the local community, its white silhouette continues to adorn homes.

We Are At War!

DSCF0805The ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign was started at the beginning of World war two, in Britain,

www.bealtainecottage.comThe people of Britain were urged to use any spare land to grow vegetables.

 www.bealtainecottage.comVictory gardens were planted everywhere…and I mean everywhere!

www.bealtainecottage.com 006All land was considered viable for planting, including gardens, lawns, parks, golf clubs and all public spaces even in the City of London, around the Tower of London, for example! 

www.bealtainecottage.com 004During the height of the war, when food was rationed through scarcity, there were 3.5 million allotments in Britain, producing over a million tonnes of vegetables and it was estimated that in 1944 British gardeners produced between 2 and 3 million tons of food overall!

www.bealtainecottage.com 034People were encouraged to keep small livestock and ‘Pig Clubs’ were formed as a way of best utilizing leftovers to feed the pigs.

Flo, with me holding GloriaHens and Ducks were kept for their valuable eggs.

Autumn in the Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage 034The children growing up through this period of time were the healthiest ever reared in Britain.

apples and sunflowersMy mother was born and raised during this time and lived a remarkably long and healthy life!

Colette in one of the orchardsSo, now we are all in a state of financial hardship and unemployment, I have one simple question to pose.

harvestWhy cannot our governments introduce a similar campaign?

harvesting blackcurrantsWe are at war…with poverty!

The Transmigration of the Soul

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The Romans conquered Europe, but resolutely refused to invade Ireland, despite ruling England, Wales and Scotland for several hundred years.

Angel at sunsetRecently I have made a concerted effort to find out why this was…Why continual Roman Emperors left Ireland alone…?

Sunset through the trees at Bealtaine CottageWhat crops up in my investigations time and again, is the issue of the ancient Celtic belief in the transmigration of the soul.

Sunset at Bealtaine CottageThis was not just something that was taught by the Druids, but an unshakeable conviction in the afterlife…one so strong, that it made them absolutely fearless in battle.

view from a window at Bealtaine CottageTransmigration of the soul is a doctrine of reincarnation.

Flo and JackWithin this belief, spirits may be reborn into any of nature’s forms – human, animal, or even inanimate things, such as trees and water.

Water garden in permaculture at Bealtaine CottageThis is supported by evidence from the ancient Celtic Heroic tales.

Celtic Cross at Bealtaine CottageThe Greek writer Diordus Siculus (c. 60 BC – 30 AD) noted that the Druids believed “the souls of men are immortal, and that after a definite number of years they live a second life when the soul passes to another body.”

Bee on Lunaria flower at Bealtaine CottageThe Greek philosopher Strabo (c. 63 BC – 21 AD) observed the Druids believed that “men’s souls and the universe are indestructible, although at times fire and water may prevail.”

Angel at Bealtaine CottageJulius Caesar wrote of the Celts “They wish to inculcate this as one of their leading tenets, that souls do not become extinct, but pass after death from one body to another, and they think that men by this tenet are in a great degree stimulated to valour, the fear of death being disregarded.”

Buddha at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensThis was most troublesome for Julius Caesar, as he realized this race would not be easily defeated and thence subjugated.

Missy Cat sleeps on the bed at Bealtaine CottageThe Roman Empire was all too aware of what happened when the British Celts,  under their Queen Boadicea, decided to revolt against Roman tyranny.

The standing stone at Bealtaine Cottage February 2013The Celts, led by their Queen, cut a mighty swathe through the Roman settlements, towns and armies in England, almost wiping out Roman occupation!

light a candle at Bealtaine Cottage IrelandThe Romans had raped the daughters of Boadicea, making her watch…the entire Iceni Tribe rallied behind the dignity of their queen and against the tyranny of such barbarians as empire breeds.

Christmas eve moon above Bealtaine CottageAs for the women of the Celts, Roman Diodorus Siculus wrote of them, saying, “Among the Gauls the women are nearly as tall as the men, whom they rival in courage.”

Brigid Cross  Bealtaine Cottage Shop on EtsyAmicus Marcelling states – “A whole troop of foreigners would not be able to withstand a single Celt if he called his wife to his assistance”

Bealtaine Cottage candles in the windowJulius Caesar was frightened of the Celts, despite the mighty legions of Rome.

Bealtaine Cottage before Christmas 2012This is a truth I carry today…to be steadfast and resolute in holding fast to what I believe to be right.

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Blessings X

 

The Easiest Way to Harvest Blackcurrants

It is early July, early evening and it’s cold.

The stove is lit.

The weather systems all over the world appear to have gone wild, but as I sit here, sipping tea and typing, the reality of life is more to do with getting the harvest of blackcurrants into the freezer!

Blackcurrants in the freezer at Bealtaine CottageI have returned from the kitchen with a cuppa and red-tinted fingers from all the handling of the currants as I weigh them into bags.

Bealtaine Cottage Blackcurrants in the Permaculture GardensWhatever the weather is like we have to adapt as best as possible and Blackcurrants don’t seem to mind any way!

There is no sense in this weather here at the moment, or in the fact that Summer in Ireland started in March of this year and ended in April…take a look at the blogs I posted during that time, bearing in mind that I take photographs on a daily basis, real-time so to speak!

However, life at the permaculture smallholding goes on in quite a pleasant way, harvesting, freezing and making chutney.

I have found that the easiest way of harvesting the currants is to cut whole stems and wheel-barrow them over to the veranda where I can sit quietly and harvest the berries, listening to the gentle tinkling of the wind-chimes…it’s pleasant work with lots of time for fleeting thoughts!

It saves a lot of backache and gives the bushes a good pruning too!

The sky seems to be perpetual grey blanket of cloud, with the very occasional peek through of blue sky and sunshine…very occasional that is!

It does remain fairly bright, being that this is the west of Ireland  and we are surrounded by ocean.

Visitors to Bealtaine tell me about droughts in western USA and torrential rain in England.

It does all seem rather mad!

I’m hoping for a beautiful Autumn!

Permaculture Cottage ~ Dividing Rhubarb, Growing Trees and Composting!

Lots of the rhubarb has been lifted and divided recently and planted into the new beds, all loaded with fresh compost from the heaps stacked last year.

Rhubarb is an easy and early fruiting plant to grow. Although the leaves are toxic, various parts of the plants have medicinal and culinary uses.  In culinary use, fresh raw stalks are crisp (similar to celery) with a strong tart taste; most commonly the plant’s stalks are cooked and used in pies and other foods for their tart flavour. Personally, there is nothing equal to a Rhubarb Crumble, or, one of my absolute favourites…Rhubarb Jam!

Did you know that in England, the first rhubarb of the year is harvested by candlelight in dark sheds dotted around the noted “Rhubarb Triangle” of Wakefield, Leeds, and Morley,a practice that produces a sweeter, more tender stalk?

The New Vegetable Beds

The new beds are coming along well…planted out with Chard, Cucumber, Parsley, Tomato and Chives…for starters! I have spread wood ash recently on the beds and continue to build up with compost.

Chard can be harvested while the leaves are young and tender, or after maturity, when they are larger and have slightly tougher stems. Raw chard is perishes quite fast, so it’s best to pick only when about to be used!

Chard has shiny green ribbed leaves, with stems that range from white to yellow to red, depending on the cultivar. It has a slightly bitter taste. Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked  or sautéed; their bitterness fades with cooking, leaving a refined flavor which is more delicate than that of cooked Spinach. I use Chard a lot in my home made soups and curries and as a replacement for Spinach.

Flowering Oregano and Chives

Both grow like weeds here at Bealtaine Cottage, with lots of Oregano now coming up in the gravel driveway. Great for drying and using in sauces and soups and breads!

More Trees Please!

Trees are planted all the year around here at the smallholding. Many are grown from seed and potted on several times before eventual planting out. Many are rescued from the roadside verges and gravel paths. Lots of these trees are given away to those who show an interest in planting. There is one thing for sure though, the Earth needs more trees. Trees protect her.

Compost this morning at Bealtaine

Now working through the second heap and already filled up the first again, so am busy as you can see!

Composting as a recognized practice dates to at least the early Roman Empire since Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79).

Traditionally, composting was to pile organic materials until the next planting season, at which time the materials would have decayed enough to be ready for use in the soil. This is the method I follow and it works every time as you can see!  The advantage of this method is that little working time or effort is required from the composter and it fits in naturally with agricultural practices in temperate climates. Personally I see no disadvantages in this technique. There is no real exposure to excessive rainfall, as the heaps are thatched with lots of straw to overwinter in peace and harmony with all the hibernating insects and frogs!

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 85 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

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Permaculture Cottage ~ Herbs and Cows

I have a fascination with cows.

They are very sociable and family oriented animals.

These belong to my neighbour, Gabriel, here in Ballyfermoyle.

They are contented and very laid back.

At this time of year the land is over-run with wild herbs and flowers and cows are out in the fields all the time.

It’s fascinating to watch them…and they watch me…and Jack, but mostly Jack!

Isn’t the little brown calf and the white one coming along behind, just adorable?

I stood by the fence for about half an hour and they were as interested in me as I was in them.

The flowers of the Rosa Rugusa are in full bloom at the moment and already quite a few hips have formed.

These are packed with Vitamin C and used to make syrup, amongst other foods.

They also make lovely additions to Seasonal wreaths and bouquets.

A spider has encapsulated this plant inside a web, all silky and delicate.

I am reading a book about life in Medieval Times in England and was fascinated to read how soldiers going off to battle would carry a tiny box with them at all times, filled with…spider’s webs!

These would be used, very successfully apparently, to stem the flow of blood from a wound.

Amazing!

Willow arches in a quiet spot near the vegetable garden.

The sun setting over Bealtaine Cottage…