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…

Remembering…

As the days grow shorter and the evenings longer there is a quietness in the gardens and around the cottage that is rather haunting. Much of what I do now is centred around preparing for the Midwinter Feast and the continuing festivities of Yule. Family and friends will be arriving from as far away as Canada.  A house has been rented for the days that are in it, for Bealtaine Cottage is small! Baking 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…

Yule and the Turning of the Wheel

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. 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. “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… Although the ground was cold, it would soon be warm again and…

The Night of the Thin Veil

September has been an extraordinary month of sun and still air, little has moved and time has appeared to stand still. Sunrises and sunsets have been spectacular. Indeed, September 2013 will be remembered here in Ireland for the “Indian Summer,” often promised and rarely received! Tomorrow is the last day of September. We are now past equal day and night and on the descent to Samhain and the night of the “thin veil”… I have spent as much time outdoors as possible, walking and watching the light play with the changing seasons. The Celts believed in the sacredness of times…

The Quickening

As we approach the Equinox, the sun appears strong and bright in the morning sky, a clear sky at that, gathering together the ingredients for a perfect Autumn day. A day for walking, stopping often and observing the quickening of change, in all that grows and flies. I watched the Swallows flying high in the clear sky above the cottage…one of many preludes to the incredible migratory flight to Africa. I looked down, earthwards and noticed the Sedum opening clusters of pink, one of the last meals of the year for the bees. All is change. All is good, on…

A Time of Early Shadows

Autumn is a time of early shadows as the season of summer passes over. Scents of woodsmoke and compost fill the air. Samhain is close. The Celts divided the year into two parts…the light and the dark. Samhain is the crossover point into the dark. Seamus Heaney wrote a wonderful collection of poetry entitled, “Into The Dark.” One of my favourite reads at this time of the year. Poetry is like that…it can be turned over again and again, extracted from the past into the present and enjoyed afresh. The turning of the year towards the light is heralded in…