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 Art, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Country Living, Crafts, Folklore, History, Imbolc, Ireland, Lifestyle, Saint Bridget Cross, Spirituality, Spring

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

Brigid's Cross made at Bealtaine CottageMaking 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.

 Bealtaine Cottage stone circleThis ritual marks the end of winter and the beginning of early spring, 1st February.

Bealtaine Cottage SpringBrigid’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.

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture It is the custom to hang the cross by the door, as this is regarded to protect the house from fire and all negative energy.

Imbolc marks the centre of the dark half of the year.

Following the darkness of midwinter it is the time to prepare for growth & renewal

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture According to tradition a new cross is made each St Brigid’s Day.

Bealtaine Cottage spring wellThe old one is then burned to keep fire and all bad energies away from the house. Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture winter sun

Imbolc fell midway between the winter solstice & spring equinox of the Celtic calendar, but now falls on 1 Feb in the Gregorian calendar.

I have been making Brigid’s Crosses today  for sale in the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/BealtaineCottage

Posted in Autumn, Celtic Mythology, Gardens, Inspiration, Life, Permaculture, Samhain, Thoughts, Uncategorized

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.

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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.

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Trees are one of the most important connections we have to the Divine, embodying the sacred fertility that anchors us all on this planet.

Where trees grow, life is abundant…without them we are bereft of all that makes life comfortable and good.

One of the great delights of the shorter days is the ritual lighting of the stove and the chance to sit around the fire and enjoy the scent of woodsmoke on the air.

There are few pleasures in life quite so comforting.

From this point in time the autumn will wend its way through to Samhain and evolve into the dark depths of winter, finally rising towards the light in the deep midwinter, a time of renewal, hope and promise.

Life is cyclical.

The builders of Stonehenge and Newgrange knew all about that.

Posted in Abundance, Animals, Bealtaine Cottage, Birds, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Country Living, cows, Current Affairs, Earth, Fairies, Folklore, Inspiration, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Wildlife

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, and celebrations were accompanied with rituals to protect the people from any harm by otherworldly spirits. Cattle would be driven through the dying embers of the great bonfires, to protect them from disease.

The Ancient Races who constructed  Newgrange in Ireland aligned their monuments to the major solar events.

These were the Winter Solstice, the Spring Equinox, the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox.

The solar year was further divided to mark the half way points between the major solar events giving the cross quarter days of Imbolc,  Bealtaine,  Lughnasadh and Samhain.

Click on the link below for today’s video from Bealtaine Cottage

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiyT1TSbaU&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp

Posted in Cottage, Food, Garden, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Smallholding

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

Posted in Animals, Life, Uncategorized

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 the air was warm, for I noticed he was a bit pongy as he warmed himself in front of the fire…

What a difference a bath makes!

Posted in celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Culture, Folklore, History, Imbolc, Inspiration, Ireland, Poetry, Saint Bridget Cross, Spirituality, Spring, Uncategorized

On the Eve of Imbolc…

Imbolc is a time to celebrate the promise of Spring and to think about planting…

On the eve of Imbolc

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.

Hens at Bealtaine Cottage Jan 2012

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.

Stove at bealtaine cottageCelebrations are focused around hearth fires, special foods, as in a family dinner or feast, candles, invoking a sense of the light to come…

“The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bride,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground.” 

candle and spiral at bealtaine cottageFire and purification are an important aspect of this festival.

Brigid is the Gaelic goddess of poetry, healing and smith-craft. 

As both goddess and saint she is also associated with holy wells, sacred flames, and healing.

The lighting of candles and fires represents the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months.

Laurel arch at bealtaine cottage permaculture gardens

Brigid is said to walk the earth on Imbolc eve.

Before going to bed, each member of the household may leave a piece of clothing or strip of cloth outside for Brigid to bless.

The head of the household will smother (or “smoor”) the fire and rake the ashes smooth.

In the morning, they look for some kind of mark on the ashes, a sign that Brigid has passed that way in the night or morning.

The clothes or strips of cloth are brought inside, and believed to now have powers of healing and protection.

Brigid Cross  Bealtaine Cottage Shop on Etsy

Traditionally, a cross made from pulled rushes is hung inside the home each Imbolc.

You can find these at the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop, at the right side of this page.

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Ecology, Folklore, Ireland, Permaculture, Smallholding, Trees

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 gravel around the cottage…gravel makes an ideal seeding ground for many plants and trees.

These too have been potted on and will make fine specimens for planting out next year.

Birch Trees

This is a little Birch sapling planted only a few weeks ago and already grown over a foot in height and spread.

Grass cuttings have been spread around the base to deter weeds and provide food for the fast growing tree.

Apple Trees and Verbascum

Apple trees under-planted with Blackcurrants and perennial flowers…here is the Verbascum in bloom with Geranium  and Calendula amongst others.

Many Magical Trees…

Willow, Birch, Copper Beech, Twisted Willow, Oak and Pine, all planted in very close proximity to one another…this is the permaculture way and very quickly excludes weeds and provides an excellent source of coppiced wood for the stove.

Ash trees were traditionally used in Folk Medicine against poison and evil. Lightning runs to the Ash…’Avoid the Ash, it courts the flash!’

Long ago, in many parts of the Highlands of Scotland, on the birth of a child, the midwife would take a green stick from the Ash tree and hold it in the fire. As the heat worked on one end of the stick, the sap would ooze from the other. This was administered to the newborn baby as the first liquid to pass its lips!

I write about, film and photograph Mother Earth, for Mother Earth, opening little portals of healing energy all over the world.

Blessings and thanks for your support.

Posted in Cottage, Country Living, Current Affairs, Dublin, Family, History, Inspiration, Ireland, Leitrim, Personal, photography, Politics, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Disappearing Ireland…Pictures from the Edge…

Generations of people have lived in the west of Ireland, generations have left…and those who remain are fast fading into a sparse population…

This is the story of one abandoned dwelling in the North West of Ireland. Government policy appears to militate against people living here…

Nature begins to consume the little stone barn…

This would have been a pretty little cottage once upon a time.

The roof would have been thatched, flowers planted around the door…

Warm fires would once have welcomed the visitor to this home…now only the eerie silence befalls the traveller…

How many feet once trod a path to bed along this staircase?

Ireland needs people living in the west.

Our government needs to introduce policies to ensure that, or one day many of the present day homes will look like this!

If you would like to support the work of the Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture website, Youtube (ad-free) videos and Open Gardens project, please feel free to…

or visit the Etsy shop and purchase a hand-made or vintage product.