Celtic Ireland~Imbolc Rising

And so the wheel turns towards Spring and its tentative beginnings in the West of Ireland as the sun rises tomorrow morn.

With the rising of the sun comes Imbolc!

Oftentimes it does not look or even feel like Spring, but the light has changed…something that animals see, feel and react to before we do.

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The understanding of the changing seasons grew from the deep connections between us and the natural world, as can be seen in the word itself, for “Imbolc” refers to sheep’s milk in Old Irish.

During ancient times, lactating ewes represented one of the first signs of Spring.

Imbolc is a Cross Quarter Day, which means it is midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

Depending on the year that’s in it, Imbolc can fall between the 2nd & 7th of February…the  calculations vary, despite the best will of man to box it all up into calendars!

Celtic festivals are based on astronomical events!

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Festivals like Imbolc are often claimed to be Wiccan or Pagan, but Imbolc belongs to the ancient peoples of Ireland who were neither Wiccan or Pagan!

Wicca itself is less than one hundred years old

Pagan was a term used to describe those in Ireland before Christianity…a sort of name-calling, in that it became and remains for many, a derogatory term.

My ancestors were never without spiritual beliefs!

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Paganism is a term that developed among the Christian community of southern Europe during late antiquity to describe religions other than their own, Judaism, or Islam–the three Abrahamic religions.

Imbolc (February 2) marks the lengthening days as the growing light awakens the Earth Goddess.

The warmth of the rising, growing sun fertilizes the Earth (the Goddess), and causes seeds to germinate and sprout.

And so the earliest beginnings of Spring occur.

As Imbolc rises on the second day of February, the last quarter moon is in Scorpio, my birth sign.

Now is the time to secure your seeds for the Spring sowing which is now well underway in propagators and sheltered places.

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You can place an order for seeds harvested here at Bealtaine cottage, from the plants seen growing here…all strong and vigorous. Click on the link below that will take you to the selection available:

https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-for-sale/

I continue to clear out spaces in my cottage and renew many aspects of my life…always a good preparation for Imbolc!

Happy Imbolc to you all!

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A Time of Hope

Imbolc is the day that we celebrate the passing of Winter and the return of Spring.

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Imbolc marks the seasonal change, where the first signs of Spring and the return of the sun are noted.

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A festival of light, to celebrate the return of the sun, now gaining power in its’ ascent from its’ low travail across the horizon.

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I walked out across the gardens today, recording in image the day of Imbolc.

The rays of the sun, felt warm upon my face and as I walked away from it, warmed my back.

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This renewal that is Imbolc has cast its’ energy upon the land and myself…here I am re-sculpting the beds near the veranda and creating more of a movable pot garden.

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The hens in the hen-house are sitting against one wall of the building where the sunlight falls warmly upon them.

Even they are aware of Spring and have begun to lay eggs once more.

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Lunaria seed-heads have finally scattered the next generation of flowers and seeds to come.

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Sammy-Bear finds it is his time to be outdoors, almost invisible in the light dusting of snow on this Imbolc morning.

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Many stems of shrubs and trees give off a vibrancy of colour as the sap begins to push up.

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Later today, in the cottage, as the day closes, I shall light candles in each window to celebrate the return of the light and for a brief moment or two, illuminate my home with every light and lamp switched on!

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It is heart warming today to realise that the snow will melt and the warm days lie ahead of us.

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A time to contemplate changes and new beginnings…a time of hope.

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And in tune with that hope, new wine bubbles and ferments in the warm kitchen, ready for warmer days and celebrations.

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Winter projects, such as this knitted throw, are brought to a conclusion…soon to be finished off and gifted to its’ recipient.

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The last days of candlelight are here.

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The dark days are over.

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The sun ascends…

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Illumination, warmth and renewal lie ahead…

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All is light and renewal…

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Prayer for Imbolc
Morgana West
On this Imbolc day, as I kindle the flame upon my hearth,
I pray that the flame of Brigid may burn in my soul,
and the souls of all I meet today.

I pray that no envy and malice,
no hatred or fear, may smother the flame.
I pray that indifference and apathy,
contempt and pride,
may not pour like cold water on the flame.

Instead, may the spark of Brigid light the love in my soul,
that it may burn brightly through this season.
And may I warm those that are lonely,
whose hearts are cold and lifeless,
so that all may know the comfort of Brigid’s love.

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I write to encourage, help and inspire mindfulness for our beautiful world and have photographed and written over 870 blogs on the Bealtaine Cottage site, as well as over 110 videos on YouTube…all free from advertising!

You are very welcome and appreciated by leaving a comment, liking, sharing, or even leaving a small donation.

Blessings X

Rising to Imbolc

The morning in the garden is bitterly cold.

These are the days before Imbolc.

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We have endured the long sleep and are ready to waken to Imbolc…

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Magical days, filled to the brim with anticipation, a sense of urgency too, as the precious days of sleep and hibernation in the gardens comes to a close.

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As I walk around the gardens this morning, I become increasingly aware of short time left in which to prune and cut back, clear and prepare, the gardens for Spring and Summer.

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Ah, Summer, just the thought of Summer on this cold, white morning of late Winter, comforts the bones.

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The days of walking barefoot in the damp grass lie ahead of me.

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The promise of a warm Summer makes the cold of the day recoil.

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Imbolc heralds Spring here in the West of Ireland.

It is one of the four big Celtic celebrations in Ireland.

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Imbolc was also Christianized into Saint Brigid’s Day.

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Imbolc is a festival of purification, hence the “Spring Cleaning” and a celebration of the first signs of Spring.

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Walking along the paths that wind through the gardens, the colours of an all year round planting scheme are evident.

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Here and there are stacked reminders of work to be completed, in this case, wood to be taken up to the barn, to be cut and stacked for the next winter.

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As the snow melts on the upper hill of Ballyfermoyle, so the water flows through the ponds to be carried further into the mighty Shannon and beyond into the Atlantic Ocean.

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Coming round once more to Imbolc, reminds one of the eternal cycle of renewal and one we are all a part of, though less understood today as by our ancestors of past millennia.

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Willows, Birch and Dogwoods fill ground where once only the Rush held sway. This is the new cycle here of regeneration and renewal…a return to a fertile Earth.

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And, where clean water flows, so does life!

To the ancients peoples of this sacred isle, the water was life and honoured in such a way.

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The starkness of these remaining days are etched with beauty…a rare kind of ethereal beauty that is both proud and alone.

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In a garden so welcoming of the sunlight, for this all faces north, each tree receives these low rays with grace.

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The old name Imbolc occurs only in the very old literature, as many have forgotten it’s magic as the move towards modernity was embraced…but what is lost?

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The Ancient Ways have been suppressed by all invaders and religions, and much dogma of uniformity, without thread of meaning.

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For many in the western world this is now Candlemas in non-Gaelic speaking areas.

However there appears to be a revival of many traditions as people seek to understand their tribal ancestry and re-establish the threads of the tapestry to an older time.

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And so we rise to Imbolc, as our faces seek out the sun and count the lengthening days.

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We strain our necks to peep out onto sunsets, remarking on the time that’s in it.

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Rising, from our long darkness, to Imbolc.

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I write to encourage, help and inspire mindfulness for our beautiful world and have photographed and written over 1,000 blogs on the Bealtaine Cottage site, as well as over 110 videos on YouTube…all free from advertising!

Most of you are familiar with this Bealtaine Cottage website.

Bealtaine Cottage is free to all, as it has been for the past five years.  

With over 1,000 blogs and 4,000+ photographs, Bealtaine Cottage continues as a free to access website.

As a way of supporting the work of Bealtaine Cottage, I have developed a second website… Bealtaine Cottage Good Life.

Bealtaine Cottage Good Life is 12 euros per year for full access and allows me a small income, to keep doing what I love doing most…writing about Mother Earth and photographing her.

Blessings

Moving with Orion Towards Midwinter

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The signs are everywhere…

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Nights drawing in…

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Unexpected sunshine on frosted mornings.

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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.

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

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Magical Midwinter!

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

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

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A chance to step outdoors and observe the night sky.

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An opportunity to nurture and develop connections to family and friends.

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From this day, there are 22 days to go before the descent into the Midwinter Solstice.

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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.

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Imbolc and the Ascent of Spring

  Christmas eve moon above Bealtaine Cottage The ancient peoples of the Earth celebrated the seasons by paying close attention to the skies above them, especially at night, when clear, and observation was undertaken.

Bealtaine Permaculture Feb 12 004The Celts were particularly aligned in all aspects of their lives, with the precession of the Equinoxes and the timing of the seasons.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 12 003Time was, and remains, cyclical.

It is only patriarchal religions that have enforced a sense of, and adherence to, Linear Time.

The Gregorian Calendar is an example of this.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 002Solstices, Equinoxes and  Cross Quarter days, such as Imbolc, were of great importance to ancient people for regulating their time.

Rhubarb Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Feb 2011 015The knowledge of when to plant, when to harvest, when to stay and when to move was imperative to the well-being of the Tribe.

Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2011 007Imbolc is celebrated, this year, on the 3rd day of February, at precisely 3.57pm here in Ireland.

Home made wine to celebrate Imbolc at Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2011 005The time differs accordingly across the northern hemisphere.

 The Celts named the cross quarters Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasad and Samhain.

Happy Imbolc!

It Looks Like Spring!

Toad in Bealtaine permaculture garden

The sun shone all morning and there was a hint of Spring in the air.

Mr Toad…not a real toad, you understand…caught the rays of the late winter sun and looked quite animated.

Spring is officially welcomed into the west of Ireland on February the 1st, Imbolc, Brigid’s day.

I would not be surprised to see it arrive early!

Certainly here at Bealtaine Cottage, the Daffodils are ready to open flower and Primroses are out.

permaculture tunnel at Bealtaine CottageClearing the polytunnel formed part of this morning’s work, one of the first dry, sunny  mornings in some time.

This involved scraping the weeds off the paths and composting them.

Then the top layer of last year’s straw was cleared from the topsoil and spread on the beds. it doesn’t take long and the result is worth the small effort.

I use an Oscillating Hoe, which although expensive to buy is a great investment, as it saves a lot of hard work.

The winter has been mild and most of the herbs in the tunnel have kept their leaves, with Fennel beginning to grow already and broccoli making a good show.

January in the permaculture gardens at Bealtaine CottageThe garden took on a mantle of life in the sunshine and the birds all appeared to be very lively.

A beautiful fox has made an appearance over recent nights and even sauntered along the front of the cottage in broad daylight yesterday morning.

I think it’s a vixen as I hear her calling at night from the hill of Ballyfermoyle behind the cottage.

sam playing in bealtaine cottageMeanwhile, indoors, Sam continues to eat, drink, play and sleep.

I make sure that little Flo stays in the lodge with Sam and Che, as being white furred and young, could fall prey to a very beautiful but hungry fox.

I lost a beautiful marmalade mouser called Ossian to the fox some years ago and it was a dreadful experience.

Bealtaine Cottage 001Flo is very territorial and chases all comers!

Jack, as you can see, is very hen-pecked by Flo…he always gives in!

Imbolc at Bealtaine Cottage…and the sun is shining!

Today has been the finest day of the year so far!

Imbolc.

The first day of Spring on the Celtic calendar…and it hasn’t disappointed!

Even as I write this journal, at almost 4pm, the sun continues to shine…

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” 
― Margaret Atwood

Nature is awakening from her winter rest – the long winter darkness begins to break as the daylight hours begin to get longer. 

Today is a good time to begin Spring cleaning!

This comes from the habit at Imbolc of getting rid of unwanted clutter and looking forward to the new season.
It is also a good time to finish old habits and make a fresh start,  for the world is full of new opportunities.

Imbolc is one of the four major Celtic Festivals.

It is closely associated with the goddess Brigid,who in turn gave her name to the Irish Christian Saint, Brigid.

Bright Blessings to you all on this beautiful day!

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.

Rainbows Before Imbolc

 

As I write this, the rain is lashing down around the walls of the cottage. it’s Friday and the weather is almost mid-March in it’s behaviour…wild, windy, mild and wet!


It has been a day of rainbows…I’ve counted four so far! And the sun, when it does shine through, is brilliant!


The rain has now turned to hailstones!

“By early evening all the sky to the north had darkened and the spare terrain they trod had turned a neuter gray as far as the eye could see. They grouped in the road at the top of a rise and looked back. The storm front towered above them and the wind was cool on their sweating faces. They slumped bleary-eyed in their saddles and looked at one another. Shrouded in the black thunderheads the distant lightning glowed mutely like welding seen through foundry smoke. As if repairs were under way at some flawed place n the iron dark of the world.”
― Cormac McCarthyAll The Pretty Horses

Little bits of work has been done over the course of the day, including cleaning out the hen-house and continuing to cut willow.

“Dang! Look at that RAINBOW!” Piper shouted, accidently spewing bits of apple pie from her overstuffed mouth. All quickly turned and saw…
…exactly what Piper claimed, a rainbow.”
― Victoria ForesterThe Girl Who Could Fly

Thomas Hardy

“WEATHERS
This is the weather the cuckoo likes,
And so do I;
When showers betumble the chestnut spikes,
And nestlings fly;
And the little brown nightingale bills his best,
And they sit outside at ‘The Traveller’s Rest,’
And maids come forth sprig-muslin drest,
And citizens dream of the south and west,
And so do I.

This is the weather the shepherd shuns,
And so do I;
When beeches drip in browns and duns,
And thresh and ply;
And hill-hid tides throb, throe on throe,
And meadow rivulets overflow,
And drops on gate bars hang in a row,
And rooks in families homeward go,
And so do I.”
― Thomas Hardy