Posted in celebrations, Christmas, midwinter, Yule

Why I No Longer Celebrate Christmas!

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Christmas fever is widespread as the orgy of spending takes hold.

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Ordinarily sane people are in-debting themselves to a year ahead of pay-back as they tread wearily around shops filled with Chinese imports!

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Some years ago I made a decision to opt out of mainstream.

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I had come to the conclusion that much of what I lived by was the result of not questioning, but merely going along with everyone else.

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Now, I must point out that once one begins to question the status quo, all sorts of issues raise their Medusa-like heads…religion, education, government, consumerism, et al! www.bealtainecottage.com 014

Every aspect of how I lived, and what moved me, was called to the fore of my interrogation.

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In much the same way as I gave up eating meat, smoking and spending our civilisation out of recession, I gave up Christmas.

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Christmas became something older and gentler for me…it morphed into Midwinter.

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I say “morphed” because there are aspects of Christmas I continue to appreciate, such as gift-giving.

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These are not the small-mortgage gifts however, but gifts of warmth and food and home-made trinkets.

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Midwinter lasts longer too, for this is the time of Yule.

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Yule marks the rebirth of the sun.
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It is a potent symbol of death and rebirth – going from the darkness into the light.
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Yule starts before the Solstice and continues on until New Year’s Day.

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There’s no rush, no crazy dash for the check-out.

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Yule is a time and a time that makes sense to me.

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An Irish Christmas Blessing

The light of the Christmas star to you
The warmth of home and hearth to you
The cheer and good will of friends to you
The hope of a childlike heart to you
The joy of a thousand angels to you.

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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, celebrations, Christmas, december, family and friends, holiday, midwinter, Permaculture, season

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. 

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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!

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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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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Christmas, EU, midwinter, Winter, Yule

Circling Celebrations

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Winter is the time for comfort, for
good food and warmth, for the touch
of a friendly hand and for a talk beside
the fire:  it is the time for home.

Edith Sitwell

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                   And so the story of Autumn and Winter begins, not in cold and dark, but comfort and light.
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                                                 A time to take stock and nestle into home.
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                                 A time for simplicity of food before the excitement of Samhain.
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                We move inexorably through the year, circling around celebrations, family and friends.
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         This is what it means to be part of a society…planning and sharing the days we look forward to, as well as bringing camaraderie and support on days less well favoured. 
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                As I uploaded these photographs this morning, I enjoyed a sense of timelessness.
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            Even as I move around Bealtaine on my own, the sense of ‘with others’ pervades the air.
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                              Perhaps, in the world we cannot see, there are many around us.
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                                                             This would not surprise me.
                        My mother often said she felt surrounded by people here at this little cottage.
                                                                              I do too. 
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                                      “In a way Winter is the real Spring–the time when
the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature.”

Edna O’Brien

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                                                           Like Edna, I look forward to the
quiet time of Winter, for the quiet solitude; a time for contemplation. 
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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Celts Celtic Festivals, Christmas, midwinter, night sky, solstice, stars, Yule

The Midwinter Archives

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Midwinter, past and present…all here for you to see!

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Feeling a touch nostalgic, I decided to share some of the magic of Midwinter with you from previous years.

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The silvery light of a midwinter sun captures a sense of magic indoors.

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We are all deeply affected by light and respond in varying ways to it, though mostly it makes us feel happier and more positive about life.

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The light of both the sun and moon proved so important for our ancestors that they integrated all aspects of both into their spiritual lives.

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Somewhere in the depths of Winter was born a sense of the light returning and the cycle beginning once more. Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

At midwinter, the sun appears to stand still, for three days, before rising on its ascent back up into the southern sky. Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

The light changes. Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

Shadows grow shorter. Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

Our bodies and minds ascent with the sun towards Midsummer, filled with joy and optimism.

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Much of humankind has forgotten the importance of observing the heavens and being mindful of our connection to them.

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The star that flashes red and green, (I was told was Arcturus), has moved from its midsummer position above Kilronan Mountain to the north, to one high in the south eastern night sky.

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I have come to be more aware of the night sky over recent years…

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As we continue on the descent towards Midwinter, with clear, cold night skies, this can be a good time to look to the heavens.

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Midwinter will pass soon enough and the cycle will begin once more.

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The darkness will lift.

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Days will lengthen.

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And life emerge anew!

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Posted in Christmas, control, Debt, Earth, gifts

Who Controls You?

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Midwinter approaches.

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The holiday season draws near.

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There is no television here at Bealtaine Cottage, so I am unaware of the masses of advertising you are being bombarded with!

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I realise that the pressure is upon you to spend, spend, spend!

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But, hold on a minute or two and think about this… Every pound, euro or dollar you spend this Yuletide will put you deeper and deeper into debt and force others to compete with the madness that is gift-buying!

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As you spend, so the debt piles up around you, pressing you down, deeper into the mire of anxiety!

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Many people spend to the limit on their plastic cards and spend the entirety of the following year just paying it back.

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This represents the most insidious form of control on what should be a life of choices and freedom.

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All the time you are controlled by debt you are enslaved…and for what?

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Most of what is bought at Christmas ends up in landfill sites over the ensuing months. www.bealtainecottage.com 014

Mother Earth pays a huge price for your debt slavery.

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Who controls you?

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The same corporations who pollute Mother Earth?

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Change begins with you and me and the freedom to choose!

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Bloom, Cottage, Country Living, Earth, Edible Gardens, Fairies, Frugal Living, Garden, Home Made Wine, Inspiration, Life, Lifestyle, Nature, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Summer, Uncategorized, Wine

Bottling Summer

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com

The old tin bath has been taken down from the wall of the barn.

Used wine bottles are left to steep for a few hours in rainwater.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (3)Washed and clean, ready to be filled with home-made Blackcurrant wine.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (4)There is always at least one day during the Summer, when one feels enthusiastic enough to overcome the reluctance to get stuck into bottling wine…today, all the right chords were struck and the work began!

Cork stoppers were duly washed and left to soak and soften, till, finally…

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (2)the wine was securely bottled! All that remains to be done is labelling…Chateau Bealtaine!

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (2)Outside the back door, Summer continues in layers of sheer abundance…Feverfew splurges on masses of tiny, daisy-like flowers.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (5) Midsummer has only just crossed over and the garlic is ready to pull, with the first batch of Garlic and Oregano Olive Oil infusing.

Summer just keeps on getting bottled!

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (4)There is so much food and flowers, it’s sheer Heaven!

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (5)Walking around the cottage is a feast for the senses!

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.comEven the ancient Polygonum is covered with bright red flowers…one of the very few plants here that has nothing for the Bees…but a delight for me!  

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (6)Yellow Loosestrife stands tall in the casual cottage borders.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (7)Roses fall over in a drunken Summer stupor, heavy with scent and bees.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (8)Petals cascade onto stone steps, ivory wraps for blushing fairies.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (9)Valerian falls onto the gravel path, dropping seeds and heavy flower-heads onto the visitor’s shoe.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (10)And the Summer that was bottled today, will be brought out amidst smiles and raised glasses in the depths of Midwinter.

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Blessing, celebrations, Celts, Inspiration, Permaculture, Winter

Midwinter Blessings

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The ancients believed winter, especially Midwinter, was a time of tremendous spiritual power.

And so the shortest day has passed and we are looking forward, at last, to the ascending sun, from tomorrow.

The greenery on the mantelpiece will stay a few days longer, as the days slowly lengthen.

Work on the potager beds and orchards begins in the next week or so.

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Cloud and mist have enveloped Kilronan Mountain today, between snow falls and dark skies…the sun has shone intermittently.

Of the Solstices and Equinoxes, the Winter Solstice was the most important among the Ancients, since it marked the rebirth of the sun after the shortest day.

The worst of the winter is yet to come though…Kale and Parsley stand proud in the Potager beds, not yet diminished by prolonged frost.

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The small Yuletide tree, at the end of the veranda, tied to the supports, stands stout against the wind and storms of the past week.

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The sky changes dress in spectacular fashion from winter to summer and all in-between!

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And jewels of melted sleet decorate the skeletal Fennel.

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Yule marks the rebirth of the sun.

It is a potent symbol of death and rebirth – going from the darkness into the light.

Yule starts before the Solstice and continues on until New Year’s Day.

Midwinter Blessings to you all XXX

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, Cats, Christmas, Climate, Country Living, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Wild Flowers, Winter

Midwinter in an Irish Cottage

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Rain is falling, softly, silently, onto a warm land.

The air is still.

Birds sing out loud.

A touch of Spring is in the air as Midwinter approaches.

It often happens this way, birds singing in the still air near Solstice.

The cold is saved for January…the biting winds that bring the snow.

I have spent much time indoors, making cards and packaging seeds.

www.bealtainecottage.com 001This is a quiet, yet productive time, a chance to reflect as work proceeds.

www.bealtainecottage.com 004Yesterday was the last day for posting abroad in time for Christmas.

I am already thinking of the New Year, as I make these cards and planning out a few lovely walks to enjoy over Midwinter.

Walking at this time of year really clears the head and clarifies life in general.

There is a silence around Solstice that creates harmony in all things.

www.bealtainecottage.com 015The chimney in the kitchen remains blocked.

Armed with a borrowed crowbar, I shall attempt excavation of resin like tar this morning…something I’m not looking forward to!

Still, once cleared, the stove will heat the cool air and a sense of Yuletide be conjured up in a less smoky kitchen!

www.bealtainecottage.com 006The air is so still that even the Rocket Stove smokes and billows!

www.bealtainecottage.com 005After harvesting the seed from the Lunaria, translucent seed heads decorate the window ledge in the Lodge, and…

www.bealtainecottage.com 010Outdoors, in sheltered spots, the empty seed heads create interest and beauty…

www.bealtainecottage.com 008Despite the delicate beauty, the little flowers that produced these seed-heads are strong and enduring!

www.bealtainecottage.com 009Sheltered in the Laurel Archway…

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Posted in Animals, Art, Bealtaine Cottage, Buddha, Cats, celebrations, Childhood, Christmas, Crafts, Inspiration, Life, Personal, photography, Spirituality, Thoughts, Winter

Midwinter Cottage

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The air is still.
The storm has passed. 
Stillness and silence pervades the cottage.
Jack is in his bed, and the boys continue to doss away the morning in the Lodge.
A midwinter scene repeated all across the northern hemisphere.
midwinter cottage 006Someone remarked on the increasing silence they noticed in the world around them.
Midwinter is a silent time, suffused with echoes and occasional sounds from strange places.
Places that are more difficult to pinpoint on the landscape…it’s a trick played on us by Mother Nature as she paces the dormitories of sleep and hibernation.
midwinter cottage 014Candles illuminate the darkness, dispelling matt grey for moving shadows.
Jingles of Christmas on the radio, some lovely, most rapaciously dreadful, urging the listener to get out now and spend, spend, spend!
And so the radio is switched off and music switched on, low and evocative.
Midwinter enchants us all with memories of stillness and light, fires and food…times past, selected for our personal album of memories.
midwinter cottage 005I found this photograph recently.
It was taken around Midwinter, in a photo-booth in London, when I first ventured away from home and Ireland.
Scents were what I most missed.
The scents of home, like turf and coal smoke, wisping out of chimney pots on rows of terraced houses.
London was filled with new, more exotic scents, especially places like Portobello Road Market on a Saturday morning, where Patchouli oil perfume lingered in the air.
midwinter cottage 004Working patchwork, brings me back to early days, in London and the sheer wealth of fabric shops and stalls, Laura Ashley and the love of William Morris retro!
midwinter cottage 007Colours, fabrics and textures continue to fascinate.
midwinter cottage 003Natural fabrics hold most memory…perhaps because they are from the natural world, where energy is hosted.
midwinter cottage 009Sackcloth and old lace cover a jam jar, filled with Honesty.
midwinter cottage 010Cotton gingham of various colours in the kitchen.
midwinter cottage 012Willow, wood and clay pottery, mugs and bowls.
midwinter cottage 015The morning, washed by soft midwinter light…not to be bought and packaged for Christmas, but absorbed by the celebratory soul.
midwinter cottage 013Blessings from this midwinter cottage…
 
Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Birds, Christmas, Country Living, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Thrift, Uncategorized, Winter

Kandinsky, Stars and Solstice Preparations

Bealtaine Cottage, Midwinter 2012

As the winter moves towards the Solstice and Midwinter festivities grow closer, cleaning and painting the cottage is taking up most of my time.

Doors have been painted, along with window frames and furniture.

Bealtaine Cottage PantryThe thing is, once started, painting just goes on and on, as more things look grubby alongside freshly painted wood!

This is the newly decorated pantry…with a piece of art on the wall by Kandinsky, one of my favourite artists.

Bealtaine Cottage Shower roomThe shower room, (I don’t have a bath), was also given a complete makeover, including some stencilling on the walls.

The stencil was cut out of cardboard for free.

Bealtaine Cottage VerandaThis morning here in the west of Ireland is filled with sun, clear skies and frost.

The weather has been frosty, but mild enough to keep the blooms on the Geraniums.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture midwinter 2012It’s the kind of day that should be bottled and sold as perfect Midwinter weather!

I have just started putting out food for the birds, in the form of rolled barley.

Barley grows here in the British Isles, so there is little transportation involved.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture midwinter 2012The birds love this and one big sack from the farm store costs less than 10 euros and lasts all winter.

There is plenty of food in the garden, but this is a supplement as many small birds use Bealtaine Cottage as a food stop.

Posted in biodiversity, Christmas, Earth, Gardens, Inspiration, Ireland, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Thoughts, Trees

A Nation That Destroys…

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureA nation that destroys its soils destroys itself.

Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture No-one can dispute that statement.

We are all enlightened as to the importance of trees in our world.

Every time we breath it is because of the great lungs of our Earth.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture It really is a wonder why it isn’t the standard thing to do on the birth of a child… plant a tree…perhaps this should be mandatory, as a way of reminding every person on the planet about the life link between ourselves and trees.

Trees at Bealtaine, June 2011 004The battle we have fought, and are still fighting, for the forests is a part of the eternal conflict between right and wrong. – John Muir

Trees at Bealtaine, June 2011 007I only wish that I had more land to plant trees!

A few more acres and then some more.

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureI would be happy planting trees until the day I die…and then to be planted into the ground with a beautiful tree to grow from me!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture So to be completely practical in the season I find myself in, I make a midwinter wish to my friends and family…a tree would make a lovely present!

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureA growing investment for you, me and every lovely baby born today!

If you would like me to plant a tree on your behalf, or for someone dear to you, please contact me through my Etsy Shop…

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

Posted in Animals, Birds, Folklore, Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, photography, Wildlife, Winter

When a Fox Comes Calling…

The winter deepens.

We are but four weeks away from the midwinter.

This is a time to leave out food scraps for the birds and mammals facing into the cold short days and bitter long nights.

The plight of hungry animals was literally brought home to me during the winter of 2010.

Snow had fallen on frosted ground.

There was no thaw.

The frozen ground held sway for six long weeks.

One very beautiful, but frozen day, a handsome fox boldly walked up to the back of the cottage.

Food that was put down on the ground for the birds had tempted the hungry animal.

As I snapped these photographs, the fox looked up and stared right at me.

Hunger fuelled courage.

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 celebrations, Celts, Christmas, Cottage, Country Living, Uncategorized

Midwinter Cottage and Solstice Celebrations

The Plants of Christmas

The plants traditionally associated with Christmas were  Holly,Mistletoe, Ivy  and Common Yew. These trees and plants have had special roles in earlier religions and past cultures.

The Celts in Ireland  had midwinter festivals to celebrate the return of the sun from the shortest day.

In the 4th and 5th centuries, 25 December was gradually adopted as the date for Christmas in Europe in order to superimpose on the existing mid-winter festivals.

Evergreens

 The Roman festival of Saturnalia was a week of public feasting, dancing, singing and gambling. Houses were decorated with evergreens and bunches of holly were given as tokens of friendship. When this festival was absorbed into the Christian calendar, Holly and the other evergreens were absorbed as well.

Fire and Celebration

Midwinter Solstice marks the rebirth of the suns power.
The midwinter fire is the  symbol of death and rebirth – going from the darkness into the light.
I celebrate the Midwinter Solstice with a traditional fire, food and drink with family and friends.

In The Bleak Midwinter

 In the bleak mid-winter 
  Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, 
  Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, 
  Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
  Long ago.        
 ~ Christina Rossetti

Ascent To Spring

The fire will burn into the night and as is the custom, I will use an ember to light the stove here at Bealtaine Cottage in the morning.
So the ritual of the Midwinter and the longest night will be over.

Tomorrow will begin the ascent to Spring and the light.

Posted in Christmas, Country Living, Inspiration, Ireland

The Enchantment of Midwinter

bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

Hot tea, midwinter and poetry. 

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

Ensconced as I am in the silver light of a near Solstice afternoon, this seems a good way of passing the time.

Outside the jewels of winter hang on the pine trees and the air is cold.
Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

I hear the cars move slowly, cautiously along the frozen road.
A near Solstice Sunday.

Tables high and low in the cottage are decorated with green and candles, a celebration of this dark, still time.

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The descent towards the Solstice continues unabated.

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For a few days time will be still as the world turns  and the sun completes it’s downward drift…

Willow lies cut and ready to be stacked into neat bundles for basket-making in the early Spring.
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The tasks of winter continue to resonate around the cottage, calling me to do their bidding…

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Low lies the sun in the winter sky.

Posted in Cottage, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Country Living and Gingham Curtains

New curtains, made from cotton gingham and hung on the newly cleaned windows, all ready for the festive season and visitors arriving on Christmas Eve…

There is a plethora of fabrics available to use in sewing, but many of them are produced as by-products of the petro-chemical industry and carry with them many pollutants infused into the fabric itself.

These pollutants then become infused into the very atmosphere of the home and part of the air we breathe…so, I choose natural fabrics for my sewing and decorating efforts.

Midwinter light, candles and greenery collected from Nature and placed on window sills as a reminder that life is eternal…

There is a soft beauty in the midst of winter. A quiet time of contemplation and renewal, re-charging the life force…

Paper stars, a simple form of decoration…
I read that the Beckhams had spent $35,000 on a tree and decorations for their home this month. Now, I bet that the Beckham children would have enjoyed making decorations, collecting their own tree and decorating it for themselves!

During the great sort out of the cottage recently, I came upon an unfinished jumper that started life as a cardigan…a natural evolution when you think about it!

The logs are burning well in the stove in the kitchen, warming the cottage, water, radiators, boiling the kettle, cooking and baking!

Posted in Birds, celebrations, Christmas, Crafts, Uncategorized

Christmas Hearts and Bird’s Nests…

Here’s the hand made hearts made from scrap material, hanging above the hearth in a festive, jolly way…So easy to make and fun to create!

The last rosehips of the year hang ready for the birds and their midwinter feast.

My friend Thomas has recently made these shelves for me, for the pantry. They are made from 100% recycled wood, all collected and saved over the past year, from skips and builders yards.  The shelves are a great addition to the pantry and enable me to store a wider variety of food.

While cutting back some of the willow recently I came across this bird’s nest…aren’t birds ingenious at finding some great places to nest-build?

The wind turbines on Kilronan Mountain are shining white in the afternoon sun. The light is getting weaker as midwinter approaches but on days like today it’s worth being outdoors!

Posted in celebrations, Christmas, Country Living, Inspiration, Music, Uncategorized

Midwinter Light and Country Comfort

A simple tea-light in a paper bag.

Comforting and warming.

A table decoration made using greenery from the garden, with a candle in the middle of the oasis.

Judy Collins sings a beautiful rendition of “In the Bleak Midwinter,” …I scoured the web for the best version and I do believe that this is it!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THRaaR0Z_oo

So many traditions and cultures across the globe celebrate this special time…a time of rebirth and renewal.

As we prepare for the shortest day, let’s celebrate in light…

Posted in Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Country Living at Bealtaine Cottage, Ballyfermoyle, Ireland.

Laundry washing has taken a new twist with the predicted demise of my washing machine!

I say “predicted” because, quite frankly, these machines are not built to last and form an integral part of the “throw-away” society that is ruining the Earth upon which we live! 

So…I have reverted to hand-washing…

                  I have rinsed the washed clothes in this rainwater barrel…and there’s no need to empty this as the over-flow runs away into the ditch, so there’s always fresh water…well, this is the west of Ireland!

This is, by the way, the very best way to soften clothes and dismisses the need for softening chemicals!

Walking around the gardens on this fine Friday, I have become aware of the huge amount of young trees, planted fairly close together that will need coppicing. This is good news as I am reliant on the gardens for providing the stove with wood to burn. Once coppiced, the trees will grow multiple stems and continue to provide.

There’s lots of cones on the pine trees that will look great in Christmas decorations. Table decorations are easy to make and can look stunning!

 

The leaves on the Flowering Cherry Tree on the North bank have finally dropped and now brighten the ground with their autumn colour. Autumn has lingered this year and it remains quite mild in the descent to Midwinter.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Posted in Baking, Christmas, Garden, Growing Food, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Country Living in the West of Ireland ~ Sunday Notes

Apples out from the store and in the kitchen ready for a little magic that lies in the art of an Apple Crumble!

So what is the special ingredient?

Oats!

Ivy…one of the essential parts of midwinter decoration.

This beautiful plant was traditionally brought into the home around midwinter to remind all that life continued and the green abundance would, once again, in Spring, return…

    Home baked cake…

Shop bought/factory food, is mediocre compared to even the simplest home-baked cake…

Well worth a good pot of tea, don’t you think?


  Home-grown vegetables, fresh from the garden hardly need washing…

  Sunday…it hardly feels like winter really! It’s so warm and pleasant outside…

Posted in Christmas, Country Living, Crafts, Frugal Living, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Thrift, Uncategorized, Winter

Country Living in Ireland and a Frugal Christmas…

midwinter cottage 013
As the days darken and midwinter approaches, I find myself spending more and more time in the craft room at Bealtaine Cottage…

It’s a warm and cosy room and painting it orange makes it seem even more so…no better place to be on a winter’s day!

missy in the kitchen by the stove
 Melting wax on the kitchen stove to make an abundant supply of Christmas gifts… 

And continuing to enjoy the beautiful colours of a late autumn through the kitchen window as I work…

Bealtaine Cottage wood burning stovethe best things in life are free, so be frugal this Yuletide and make, bake, share!

Posted in Abundance, Autumn, Birds, Ecology, Gaia, Garden, Gardening, Inspiration, Permaculture, Smallholding, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers, Wildlife, Woodland

Permaculture Cottage ~ A Walk on the Wild Side

Ivy loops and twirls around the trees in the Fairy Dell woodland. Ivy that feeds the birds in the depths of midwinter. Ivy that shelters the pheasant in the heat of midsummer. Strong, natural and wild…

Ivy and Lichens, so perfect in the gardens at Bealtaine that it can only be the hand of Nature…no gardener can create this perfection…

Another sacred part of the land at this permaculture smallholding…a small field of Devil’s-bit Scabious, the natural habitat of the rare Marsh Fritillary Butterfly. Nature working her pure magic and being encouraged at every turn!

Now is the time to plant Willow. This is something which is easy to do and will serve the eco-system around you well. So many insects, birds and bees depend on this plant. Simply cut a wand of Willow and push it into the ground as far as you can…about 1-2feet will do! Manure it well and it will grow fast and strong! Some people surround it with plastic to stop weeds and grass, but, personally I do not approve of this as the earth under plastic is not beneficial to wildlife and anyway, the Willow will soon shade out any unwanted weeds!

Cotoneaster…planted, but soon takes on the mantle of wildness and becomes a feeding station for birds and insects alike!

Posted in Abundance, Autumn, Bealtaine Cottage, Current Affairs, Eco-Living, Fracking, Growing Food, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ Beyond Consumerism…Life after Debt.

Friday…always a good feeling!

The weekend lies ahead and there lies the potential for something happening and all sorts of possibilities.

Many people look forward to going out and many go shopping, as a form of retail therapy!

However, change is happening…and it is good!

This is a time of change.

The Equinox is upon us and the day itself is changing as we enter the descent towards Midwinter.

An equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth’s equator.

The day and night are equal…

Consumerism is slowing down.

People are buying less and are turning more and more towards growing and foraging food.

The social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts has failed us all.

This may appear to be a bad thing to some people, but the Earth has been given a break…the first real break in a very long time.

The flowers at the front gate are beginning to replace the  concrete walls, iron gates that are closed and an intercom service that you have to speak into in order just to drive or walk up to the house!

The idea of neighbours and helping one another is slowly catching on…

Today has seen several visitors to Bealtaine Cottage, including a neighbour concerned about ‘Fracking’ and wanting more information.

The times we live in are all about change…

Change is happening and happening fast.

We either embrace the change in our living circumstances, taking time to evaluate our lives, or we continue on as mere consumers, or in the present scenario, unhappy people without the money to keep consuming.

The choice is ours.

 Today is the actual Autumn Equinox…the descent towards Midwinter begins…a time to nurture, bake, cook, sew and…rest a bit!

What was it that Bob Dylan sang about…oh yes…

The Times They Are A Changin’

http://youtu.be/9vou4qUu5YY      Go on…