Otherworld Manifestations

First in the Midwinter Series of stories from Bealtaine Cottage

As promised, here is the first in the stories of Bealtaine series. 

The first story happened in the early years as I worked the land…it’s title…

Otherworld Manifestations

Below is the link to the story, for those who are members of the private website.

https://bealtainecottage.org/2016/11/07/otherworld-manifestations/

If you wish to support the Bealtaine project through membership, here’s the link to join up… 

https://bealtainecottage.com/bealtaine-cottage-good-life/

Portal

dsc03935This portal to the Otherworld: a place of being for the Celts, where life existed, but not as we know it!

dsc03936The portal is the Old Fairy House, which was once the gateway to Kilronan castle.  

dsc03937This ethereal looking gatehouse was created many years ago, when only horses and carriages travelled the roads of the west of Ireland.

dsc03938It was built in the vernacular tradition, using water worn limestone hewn from the surrounding earth.

dsc03939Many years have passed since a horse or carriage passed by…

dsc03940The entrance is no longer a part of the old estate.

dsc03944Here it stands, watching the centuries pass by, unimpressed by progress…and perhaps, if stones could talk…

dsc03933I have a notion to bring my video camera with me next time…would you like a video of this enchanting place?

Below is a beautiful video with music…Fairy Reel…enjoy!

And Then It Snowed…

Snow fell heavy on this Permaculture smallholding in the West of Ireland today and suddenly we were back in the midst of winter.

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The light changed, as the reflective quality of the snow worked it’s magic.

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“Is it snowing where you are? All the world that I see from my tower is draped in white and the flakes are coming down as big as pop-corns. It’s late afternoon – the sun is just setting (a cold yellow colour) behind some colder violet hills, and I am up in my window seat using the last light to write to you.”
Jean Webster

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For some childlike reason, it fills the heart with hope and delight, as though there is something else just waiting around the corner!

Walking over to the polytunnel, I felt a lightness in my step.

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Inside the tunnel there remained an early Spring, untouched by the snow and ice, with vegetables and herbs waiting to be harvested.

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“So all night long the storm roared on:
The morning broke without a sun;
In tiny spherule traced with lines
Of Nature’s geometric signs,
In starry flake, and pellicle,
All day the hoary meteor fell;
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below,—
A universe of sky and snow!”
John Greenleaf Whittier

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Clumps of green, like this native Sedge, rise up from the snow, providing lots of shelter and warmth for birds and small mammals, especially on these cold, late winter nights.

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Snow changes everything!

Even the light on the veranda, as the snow on the roof encloses the space.

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Meanwhile, indoors, Charlie is watched over by a curious fox…a present I received recently.

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All is brighter in here too as the reflected light illuminates a shadowy cottage.

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It is in consideration of the bird life all around Bealtaine Cottage that I deliberately keep the cats indoors, especially in the morning and early afternoon.

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It’s easy to encourage them to do this by simply feeding them a large meal and allowing them to doss at leisure!

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As the evening draws in, the real snow magic begins to manifest…

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Night time across a snow covered landscape emits a strange light.

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“A few feathery flakes are scattered widely through the air, and hover downward with uncertain flight, now almost alighting on the earth, now whirled again aloft into remote regions of the atmosphere.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne

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These are special evenings, when the urge to walk in a snow covered land is pressing.

No torch to light the way, for one can see for miles around.

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The low energy light from the cottage emits an otherworldly glow.

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Magic…

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Blessings

The Collective Consciousness of Hope

Brigid Cross  Bealtaine Cottage Shop on EtsyFebruary the 1st is the feast of Saint Brigid.

Brigid was also a Celtic Goddess, who was venerated for protection of the home from fire.

morning sun at Bealtaine Permaculture Cottage Ireland is full of spring wells named after the Goddess Brigid, who held sway over them.

The Spring Wells are often seen as a portal to the Otherworld and a source of wisdom and healing.

Jack, the rescue dog at Bealtaine CottageThere is a Brigid in all who nurture compassion, hope, love and life.

Buddleia in bloom at Bealtaine CottageThese are aspects of the Divine Feminine and this is the Age of the Awakening of the Divine Feminine in all of humanity.

Governments are the trustees we elect…

They will only do what we allow them to… for we are many and they are few.

Empowerment rests within us.

This Awakening is speeding up through the medium of Social Media.

Rhubarb beds at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensI have observed the transformation of people, from being passive receivers of air-brushed, sanitized information through television, to actively engaging in exchanging information, comment and knowledge through shared social media on the internet.

Polytunnel at Bealtaine CottageThis is the beginning of the expansion of the Collective Consciousness.

Where once there was solitary repulsion towards what was wrong, there is now a growing movement of outrage.

Bealtaine CottageThis Imbolc I shall recall the legacy of Brigid.

There was a Christian Monastery built upon the sacred shrine of Brigid.

It went on to become known as a great European centre of learning and culture, that became instrumental in preserving the ancient learning and literature during the Dark Ages.

Ducks at Bealtaine CottageOften I think we are slowly emerging from the Dark Ages of Greed, Ignorance and Arrogance.

We are all sacred beings on a journey towards the Divine.

Permaculture gardens at Bealtaine CottageCompassion and Joy connects us all to the Divine.

Change is happening.

Hope abounds.

The Celtic New Year Festival of Samhain

It is nearing the end of this beautiful year.

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The transition of Autumn is underway as the end of October arrives with the magical Festival of Samhain…known to many as “Halloween.”

Halloween was derived from the celebration of Samhain, with its myths and beliefs about the “Otherworld” and happily placed into Christian culture through the celebration of, “All Hallows Eve,” or “All Souls Night.”

This beautiful time of the year is extolled in many beautiful poems and odes.

The year was divided in two, with Summer and Winter heralding transition.

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“My tidings for you: the stag bells,
Winter snows, Summer is gone.

Wind high and cold, low the sun,
Short his course, sea running high.

Deep-red the bracken, its shape all gone,
The wild goose has raised his wonted cry.

Cold has caught the wings of birds.
Season of ice – these are my tidings.”


–  Irish Poem, Translated by Caitlin Matthews 

 

My favourite verse…the one that enters my head and repeats itself at this lovely time of year is the evocative verse of Keats…

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.”


–   John Keats,  To Autumn

The summer is officially over as Samhain is celebrated…and winter begins.

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This is a special time, where there is a real sense of renewal and hope.

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Time to light the annual bonfire and celebrate, with songs and games and food.

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Time to write your wishes, hopes or fears onto paper and cast it away into the flames.

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Time to share and bake and dance and laugh.

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Summer is over and we have lived to greet another year.

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And for those we have said goodbye to, wish them well on their onward journey.

As the days shorten and the sun dips low in the sky, our homes become sanctuaries of warmth and comfort.

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The over-wintering begins!

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Permaculture Cottage ~ Compost, Potatoes, The Fairy Tree and a Cold Winter to Come!

Potatoes growing by the east side of the shed. Did you know that there are about five thousand potato varieties worldwide?                            Potatoes do not keep very well in storage and are vulnerable to molds that feed on the stored tubers, quickly turning them rotten.  However, I left potatoes in the ground over the course of last winter, when all was frozen solid for six long weeks…and they were dug out after the defrost and were perfect! I think it may have been the layer of straw that was atop the ground!

Throughout Europe, the most important new food in the 19th century was the potato, which, of course fast became a monoculture among poorer people… I strive hard to avoid planting all the tubers in one area, preferring to plant here and there in a positive way to avoid disease…and it appears to have worked thus far!

Now in its seventh year, Bealtaine smallholding has achieved new heights of growth, meaning that compost is plentiful. This is because there is so much to cut back and use to build compost heaps…I have made two so far and am still using the compost made last year, with loads to go!

At its most essential, the process of composting requires simply piling up waste outdoors and waiting a year or more. This is the method I use and it has benefitted Bealtaine well! The compost itself is beneficial for the land in many ways, including as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, addition of vital humus or humic acids, and as a natural pesticide for soil. Any parts of the heap that have not degraded sufficiently can be added to the next heap…a process I indulge in!

Permaculture planting lends itself really well to bountiful compost production, so even if you do not keep animals for manure, it is still quite possible to maintain a high degree of healthy and fertile soil, using plant compost alone…however, a few hens are easy and happy and productive little workers to have on any smallholding!

Upcycling baked bean tins…making a few holes in the bottom and planting with sedums…these are two years old now and quite attractive when grouped together like this, don’t you think?

Lots of berries on the Hawthorn. last year was the same and I predicted a very cold and long winter…I forecast more of the same for the coming winter based on much evidence around me…

Crataegus,or Hawthorn is one of my favourite trees here at Bealtaine and I have grown all I have planted from seed. Hawthorns provide food and shelter for many species of birds and mammals, and the flowers are important for many nectar-feeding insects.

In Gaelic folklore, hawthorn  ‘marks the entrance to the otherworld’ and is strongly associated with the fairies.   Lore has it that it is very unlucky to cut the tree at any time other than when it is in bloom, however during this time it is commonly cut and decorated as a May Bush or Bealtaine…Irish meaning May.    This warning persists to modern times; it has been questioned by folklorist Bob Curran whether the ill luck of the De Lorean Motor Company was associated with the destruction of a fairy thorn to make way for a production facility.

Hawthorn trees are often found beside clootie wells; at these types of holy wells they are sometimes known as ‘rag trees’, for the strips of cloth which are tied to them as part of healing rituals. ‘

When all fruit fails, welcome haws’ was once a common expression in Ireland.