Lughnasa Eve Blessings

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Today is the final day of summer in the Celtic Calendar…Happy Lughnasa!

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May the days of harvest be filled with abundance and delight!

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As the Earth offers up her bounty, may your heart be filled with thanks.

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Enjoy the coolness of the early morning air as the days move inexorably toward Autumn.

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Take time to preserve your harvest for the months ahead…

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Bless you all!

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The Month of Lughnasa

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Lughnasa heralds the beginning of Autumn in the Celtic calendar.

Leaves have already begun to drop, with the gentle Birch tree being the first to shed.

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There is so much fertility in this annual drop…Bealtaine now boasts reasonable soil, compared to ten years ago!

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The change is equally gentle this year, as the summer gradually fades. 

Sedums are developing their flower heads, slow to open, with big, flat, pink flowers coming through.

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Pockets of light mist occur in the early evening, shrouding valleys and dips.

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Lughnasa is my favourite month as the transition into Autumn begins.

Tonight a full moon will rise.

The air is still. Woodsmoke drifts lazily from the old stone chimney and bats begin to venture out.

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I am half-sick of the daily news and the threat of war.

I have started knitting again, as a form of relaxing therapy and a choice to be constructive in the face of impending destruction!

Just handling the pure wool and staring at the colours and textures is both a comfort and a delight!

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As we enter Autumn we are ready for change.

As we are driven into unstable times, so we need to prepare too.

Creating is important.

It keeps us grounded and optimistic.

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The seasons continue, undisturbed by the vagaries of man.

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And so shall I!

 

 

 

Lughnasa Gardens and Weddings

cow parsley at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensAs early Lughnasa transforms the permaculture gardens of Bealtaine Cottage into a colourful abundance and the harvest continues, the early days of an Irish autumn unfold.

Berries on the HawthornThe berries on the Hawthorn are turning colour and the magic of a warm autumn fills the air!

Mushrooms at Bealtaine gardensThese mushrooms are growing today near a clump of Birch trees in the woodland gardens further down from the front of the cottage.

willow archway in the permaculture gardensThe willow archway here has closed in on either side as the summer growth has cast even more shade in the new woodland. early autumn in the permaculture gardens of Bealtaine CottageBamboo and Dogwood have almost merged to close this path. As you can see, the leaves are beginning to drop.

entrance to the Fairy WoodThe entrance to the Fairy Wood is closing too…there is a lot of work ahead this Autumn as the cutback begins!

New beds by the front door of the cottageHere are the new beds by the front door of the cottage. They are filled with home-made compost and planted with Birch and Cotoneaster, both grown from seed.

New bed by the entrance to Bealtaine CottageI love the simplicity of creating gardens around an old cottage…fuss-free and free!

Bench by entrance porchOne of the evergreen trees originally by the front door has been planted in the corner. It had grown far too big for the terracotta pot.

sitting room at Bealtaine CottageI love the way the silvery autumn light changes the way the sitting room of the cottage looks. This is my best-loved season!

With my beautiful grandsonsI have just returned from the wedding of my son, held over three days at Markree Castle in Sligo. My beautiful grandsons are here with me in the picture. weddingThe flowers were grown here at Bealtaine Cottage and all the guests were gifted with bags of seeds.

It was a lovely, lovely wedding!

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wedding cakeAnd yes…the bride wore yellow wellies!

Images on the First Morning of Lughnasa

bealtaine Cottage windowThe first day of Celtic Autumn has arrived.

It’s cool.

Last night seen the hot water bottle come out of storage and be filled.

Rudbeckia at Bealtaine CottageRudbeckia has opened its beautiful deep orange petals…a marker of the time of year. This has been grown from seed, this year.

I started it off in the tunnel in February, from seeds I collected last Autumn.

Sammy-BearAs I walked the gardens, Sammy-Bear walked in front of me, finally stopping in the tunnel and rolling in the dirt!

Sammy-BearFor a white cat, he can be a dirty little rascal at the best of times!

Sammy-Bear passing BuddhaOn the plus side, he doesn’t seem to mind the rain, so cleans up well!

bee on Lavender at Bealtaine CottageSeed-saving continues apace and the bees keep up the good work, even on a wet morning like today…

Bee on lavender at Bealtaine Cottage…this is where the tunnel works really well!

purple-Sprouting Broccoli seed headsThese are seeds from the three year old Purple Sprouting Broccoli, still in the pods, drying.

These seeds are big and plump and represent the very strongest, biggest, most productive and oldest of the Purple Broccoli.

Monsanto eat your heart out!

Pom-Pom Dahlias at Bealtaine CottagePom-Pom Dahlias are making a show of themselves.

This is the first year I have grown these.

Buddleia growing in two tyres at Bealtaine CottageThis Buddleia was grown from Bealtaine Cottage seed and planted in the tyres two years ago.

Lunaria seeds drying on the veranda of the Lodge Many followers of Bealtaine cottage ask me for Lunaria (Honesty) seeds…and here are some drying on the veranda of the Lodge, hung up last evening.

This is a nice airy place to start off the drying process, though I may need to bring them indoors, if the wet weather prevails for much longer.

Apple havest at Bealtaine CottageThe Apple harvest continues to delight as the fruit appears so healthy and untarnished for another year.

Apple harvest at Bealtaine Cottage, IrelandI NEVER spray my Apple trees, or, for that matter, ANY of the fruit trees, and am rewarded with a bountiful, healthy crop year after year!

Truly Organic!

Leaves of the Crocosmia MontbretiaThe rain settles onto the leaves of the Crocosmia Montbretia, a beautiful harbinger of Autumn!

Bealtaine CottageA pot of tea beckons…

Sammy-Bear CatSammy-Bear is sad to see me go indoors…

 

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Celebrating Lughnasa

The carved head of Lugh looks in all directionsLughnasa (earlier, Lughnasadh) was the feast of Lugh.

Lughnasa Lugh, carved by Michael Quirke A harvest festival, its celebration marked the end of the period of summer growth and the beginning of the autumn harvest.

Lugh, carved by Michael Qirke of SligoIts original name does not survive in popular tradition, that being now the common word in Irish (Lúnasa) for the month of August. 

Lugh of LughnasadhThe festival is rather known as the Sunday of Crom Dubh (the god of harvest), or in varying areas as Lammas Sunday, Garland Sunday, Bilberry Sunday, or Fraughan Sunday.

Burlap and lace flower arrangementThe first weekend in August marks Ireland’s changing-of-the-season festival of Lughnasa.

Burlap and lace flower arrangementThe Irish playwright, Brian Friel, wrote the now famous,“Dancing at Lughnasa” which is all centred around the pivotal point in the Celtic calendar, Lughnasa.

Bealtaine flowers at LughnasaThe Celts regarded the Earth as a fertile Goddess, to be nurtured and honoured…a way of living I now follow, as a care-taker and care-giver to Mother Earth.

flowers for MichelleThe gate-keeper to the sanctuary of Bealtaine Cottage.

Lughnasa flowers for Michelle's weddingToday is the final day of summer in the Celtic Calendar…Happy Lughnasa!

 

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Towards Lughnasa and an Open Weekend!

Stone planter at Bealtaine CottageThe festival of Lughnasa honours the Celtic god Lugh of the Tuatha de Danann.

Barn and Potager at Bealtaine CottageLugh was the  god of arts and crafts among Celtic tribes and Lughnasa sat high in the Calendar of festivals.

Polytunnel this morning at Bealtaine Cottage with Che Mousy Bear strolling through!Lughnasa ushered in the harvest season.

Che Mousy Bear rolls over in the tunnel this morning at Bealtaine CottageLughnasa was a celebration of, and for, the Divine, for a successful harvest.

Cats in the shade at bealtaine cottageThis ancient festival marks the first day of autumn in the Celtic Calendar, and thus the start of the harvest season.

The Fairy Wood at Bealtaine CottageIn Britain Lughnasa is known as Lammas, from the Anglo-Saxon hlaef-mass meaning ‘loaf-mass’.

Wild Hypericum in the Fairy Wood at Bealtaine CottageHere in Ireland the nearest Sunday to Lughnasa was known as Cally Sunday, the traditional day to lift the first new potatoes.

Astrantia by the Fairy Wood at Bealtaine Cottage this morningThe man of the house would dig the first stalk, while the woman of the house would don a new white apron and cook them.

Nettle seed forming at Bealtaine CottageThe floor would be spread  with fresh, green rushes in their honour.

Wild roses and Valerian at Bealtaine CottageLughnasa was celebrated on the hills and mountains as well as the valleys.

Valerian in abundance around the cottage this morningClimbing a hill or mountain and celebrating with lighting a bonfire was, and remains, a tradition.

Valerian this morning around the cottageIn addition to climbing hills, Lughnasa was also a time for visiting holy wells.

Front of cottage and porch surrounded with Valerian this morning.Lughnasa falls on August the 1st and the evening before is usually when the celebrations begin…

Che Mousy Bear today at BealtaineI am hosting an “Open Weekend,” for anyone who wishes to visit the Permaculture gardens of Bealtaine Cottage.

Bealtaine Cottage this morningThis will be over the weekend of the 7th and 8th of September and in aid of The Leitrim Animal Welfare Shelter, so there will be charge of ten euros per adult…and will include tea and home made cakes!

Bealtaine CottageThis wonderful animal sanctuary is where I have adopted two dogs from, including Jack!

Bealtaine Cottage this morning.If you would like to visit Bealtaine Cottage on this special open weekend, please let me know in advance, so I can make arrangements for cakes, teas and coffees to be available!

This is a link to a short film made by RTE TV all about this wonderful animal sanctuary!

Hopefully we can raise much needed funds for this cause so close to my heart!

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Thanks to the following lovely people who have donated to the Leitrim Animal Sanctuary…

Carole (wspines) from Whispering Pines Farm

Vivien Cruickshank

Lughnasa and the Solstice…Ancient Time

At certain times today, as I was working outside, I had a distinct sense of Autumn.

The way the sun shone on a plant, the smell from the earth around my feet…it was quite tangible.

The growing cycle in the west of Ireland adheres very much to the old Celtic calendar.

It is easy to tell the season just by walking the land and watching shadows…

Autumn begins on the 1st day of August.

This cycle is in essence closely linked to the Solstices and Equinoxes of the year.

 It is the  same solar alignment that determines the correct time for Lughnasa and this is also the exact same alignment for Bealtaine.

The ancient calendar is correct, as it follows the sun and planets rather than the time of man.

I am more attuned to Natural Time as I work on the land.

I am also much happier in this time mode.

The midsummer solstice was last month, four weeks ago and harvesting is well under way.

I do believe that animals are more closely tied into these ancient seasons than we care to admit.

I have enjoyed the company of many rescue dogs and cats over the years and often observed their habits, right down to times when they will bury food.

Flo, here, is a little hobo dog and has been used to fending for herself for most of her life…

Flo is a persistent food secreter and will often sit on a stash in her basket!

On that note, I think I’ll just go and check…

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The Magical Festival of Lughnasa…

The land approaches Lughnasa, (Lughnasadh), August and the beginning of Autumn.

Looking at the apples today on the trees at Bealtaine Cottage, it is easy to see how this is.

Harvests continue to be gathered and develop, ripening to plumpness and fullness.

Tomatoes, like the ones above, grown outdoors in areas of micro-climate warmth and shelter, continue to flower and produce.

The weather is promised good for the week ahead, as grass moves in the gentle breeze of a July afternoon…the only missing part of this picture is the beautiful Butterflies, so decimated by rain last year and almost finished off with rain and cold this summer.

There is little I can do to help this situation, other than continue to grow and plant out Buddleias and other shrubs and flowers much beloved of these fairy creatures with coloured wings.

Herbs are harvested, tied into small bunches and hung to dry in the warmth of the tunnel, with lots of air circulating, as both doors remain open day and night during summer.

Lughnasa is a harvest festival, marking the end of the period of summer growth and the beginning of the autumn harvest.

This is the time to save seed…as you can see, seed-heads have formed beautifully on the Leeks in the tunnel today.

I will save the seed of the strongest plant, for sowing next year.

Jostaberries are almost ready to harvest.

They come into season just after the Blackcurrant.

Many people think  that Lughnasa was a fire festival, but it was not.

Lughnasa was associated with water and earth, as seen in decoration of wells, making of corn-dollies, decorating and adorning with flowers, and climbing mountains.

Many of the most beautiful flowers come into flower at this time…the Crocosmia by the door of the tunnel will flower over the next week or so, as will the gorgeous Shasta Daisy!

The plant just peeping into the tunnel is Lemon Balm.

Wonderful scents arise as one brushes past it!

Wood cut last winter will be ready for the barn by Lughnasa.

It dries well when stacked like this!

Lughnasa is a Celtic cross-quarter festival, meaning it is not a Solstice or an Equinox, but falls between.

Perhaps this Lughnasa you will climb a mountain, visit a Holy Well, collect Bilberries, bring in the first potatoes…all celebrations of this special, magical, Celtic Festival!