Christmas Eve in the West of Ireland

There was  a full moon on the Winter Solstice, an unusual event and not occurring in my lifetime again, so, very special to me. 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. The youngest member of my little tribe was here, forming a focal point for us all as we gathered to celebrate. She is displaying a love for the natural…

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

The Celtic Festival of Bealtaine, also spelt as Beltane, Beltain, Beltainne and Beltaine is a Cross Quarter Day. This means,  that it is half way between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. Of 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. In Irish mythology, the beginning of the summer season started with the Fire Festival at Bealtaine. Great bonfires were held which would herald in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in…

Saint Brigid’s Day, Imbolc and the 1st of Spring!

Making a St. Brigid’s cross is a special traditional ritual here in Ireland. The ancient festival of Imbolc reminds us that deep in the earth lie the dormant seeds of new life and creativity Brigid, the goddess of fire, whose manifestations were song, craftsmanship, and poetry, which the Irish considered the flame of knowledge. This ritual marks the end of winter and the beginning of early spring, 1st February. Brigid’s crosses are made of rushes that are pulled from the ground and made on the day. The rushes must be pulled,rather than cut. It is the custom to hang the…

Stonehenge, Newgrange and the Cycle of Life

The autumn continues to progress through it’s mellow display of earthy colours. Tomorrow is the Equinox and the beginning of the descent towards midwinter. The time of year denotes the slowing down of all that is life as we know it. Time to sort out the winter woolies and hang the heavy curtains to keep out the drafts. One of the big tasks I have lined up here at Bealtaine Cottage is the coppicing of the majority of the trees that were planted eight years ago, in the first flush of restoring the fertility of the land. Trees are one of the…

The Festival of Bealtaine

Aquilegia, now growing all over the permaculture gardens and driveway of Bealtaine Cottage, from its beginnings here 8 years ago, with a handful of seed, saved from a some flowers growing in a garden in North London. The time is near…Mayday, known as Bealtaine here in Ireland. It is pronounced “Be Al Tan Ah” Irish mythology marks the beginning of May as the  the start of the summer. This was  heralded in  with the Fire Festival at Bealtaine. Great bonfires would mark a time of purification and transition. There was the hope of a good harvest later in the year,…

Making and Using Compost on a Permaculture Smallholding.

Here’s a 5 minute video from Bealtaine Cottage on making and using compost on a permaculture smallholding.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLkBREOi8hE&feature=plcp&context=C4035676VDvjVQa1PpcFOWi9w1WJ3Ko7EephcqjG1KM5MBe0Xa1V8%3D

A Dog’s Life

I lit the fire in the bedroom yesterday evening as there was a chill on the night air. This is a deceptive time of year, when the evenings can end up being much colder than during the winter! It wasn’t long before Jack snook in and laid his head against the bed in a pleading sort of way… “can I just hang around and enjoy the fire too?” Now, it is hard to resist this friendly mutt, even though he yawns and makes scary, and sometimes funny, noises! I gave him a bath today, as the sun was shining and…

On the Eve of Imbolc…

Imbolc is a time to celebrate the promise of Spring and to think about planting… 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. 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. Celebrations are focused around hearth fires, special foods, as in a family dinner or feast, candles, invoking a sense of the…

Permaculture Cottage ~ Many Magical Trees

The Life Force of Trees It was a common belief, long ago, that many conditions could be cured by bringing the patient into contact with the powerful life force or MANA represented by trees… Nearly 800 trees have been planted here at Bealtaine and there is something so awesome about trees that makes me want to get more land and keep on planting.  Today has seen the transplanting of another 20 or so Birch trees, seedlings rescued from the road verge before the tractors mow the grass. More Buddleias for FREE! Managed to pull up 3 tiny Buddleias from the…