Morning

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 020

Morning in the west of Ireland on a perfect day in late June.

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 021The back door of the cottage is open; wood pigeons call softly to one another as blackbirds swoop noisily in and out of the blackcurrant bushes, feasting on the heavily laden stems.

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 022Morning…full of stillness and promise, the prelude to a hot, dry day of high summer.

The cottage will remain a cool sanctuary, as the heat of the day rises golden over the hill of Ballyfermoyle.

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 024Birds will swoop along paths of shade, wings outstretched catching the earthy updraft of chill. 

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 026“Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape; but most of all, summer was Dill.”
― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird  

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 031“Summer set lip to earth’s bosom bare, and left the flushed print in a poppy there.”
― Francis Thompson 

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 028The hill at the back of the cottage captures the sounds of the birds, holding them close before echoing onto the walls and through the open door into the cool recesses of the stone.

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 029Leaving this sacred place would never sit easy in my heart, for all that is Bealtaine Cottage has been co-created with the great Mother: Earth, Gaia, Nature…whatever insufficient name we draw upon to express the mystery of the Divine.

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 033My dream to plant a forest will come to pass…in some divine way… 

June 2014 permaculture@bealtainecottage.com 036I dream and manifest the vision in sleep and wakedness.

One day, a beautiful morning such as this will shine through onto a young forest floor, illuminating the darkness of a greed-stricken world. 

A Sacred Space

DSCF1479 Early, matrilinear civilizations held certain areas as sanctuaries, for religious purposes.

DSCF1460These were marked out in forests as groves, and mountains with stone, but all bound with markers, many of which can be recognized in the landscape today.  

www.bealtainecottage.comHere in Ireland it is still possible to walk and sit in these sacred places near water, rock and remnants of ancient forest.

www.bealtainecottage.comIn ancient societies the Earth Mother was one of the earliest deities.

www.bealtainecottage.comHer marriage with the Sky God produced life on Earth.

www.bealtainecottage.comThis was a way of understanding the interconnectedness of life, for people evolving societies.

March 2014These are some of the Sacred Spaces that have evolved in the gardens of Bealtaine, each one co-created with Mother Earth.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe alignment of these Sacred Spaces holds particular fascination for me, for I have watched each one come into being and am aware that one must enter from a particular direction and engage the space on a particular alignment.

www.bealtainecottage.com 010Alignments that engage the human interacting within the gardens are particularly interesting…

www.bealtainecottage.com 075I watch where the visitor is attracted to and the position they hold upon entering that space.

www.bealtainecottage.com 039These alignments indicate energy pathways, referred to as Ley Lines.

www.bealtainecottage.com 011Regarding the Earth as sacred, allows one to engage with the possibility of co-creating Sacred Space. 

Autumn in the Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage 013It is a way of opening portals to allow the Earth a sacred space in which she can re-generate herself.

permaculture cottage july 2011 003Abundant energy flows from these spaces, connecting the land around and drawing in more energy.

open weekend sunsetThis is the most remarked upon aspect of Bealtaine Cottage from visitors far and wide.

fairies 028This is the time to create Sacred Space…

chimes and angels…for when we regard Mother Earth as sacred…

kilronan mountain…we will cease to abuse her, or, more importantly, allow her to be abused!

Constructing Raised Beds in Permaculture Gardens

Do you believe in Fairies?

There are times when the only way I have of explaining the growth of everything  here at the permaculture smallholding that is Bealtaine Cottage, is by citing the Fairies as the little workers that sally forth at night, as the sun descends and their Fairy Forts allow them exit…and here’s what I mean…

This bed is less than 3 weeks old, built and planted out on the same weekend…now look at the growth!

Well, it must have been the Fairies, because it wasn’t the chemical companies that most people use to grow food…

Mirrored cottage of Bealtaine Permaculture CottageTalking of which, I was in Lidyl this morning and they had some lovely Rose Bushes for sale.

I did what I always do, I read the label…and oh, the utter disappointment!

It read that the Rose was licensed and one could not grow cuttings from it!

Imagine?

Not grow cuttings?

That’s like telling me not to drink the Spring water from the well, or breathe the clean air on the mountain!

permaculture at bealtainecottage.com 008

So, …these are the raised potager beds in the Magical Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage…

Cardboard straight onto the gravel to stop weeds coming through!

And now to show you a little secret…here’s what I use to line the raised beds, sheep’s wool.

It’s referred to as “shoddy,” which is the parts of the fleece of little or no use for spinning.

It is very rich in plant food and even a liquid feed can be made from it.

It will rot down nicely and the roots of plants can bury themselves into the feast of food that is trapped therein! Fairies are fond of beauty and loathe straight lines…none here!

Just one more little bit of information on this beautiful Sunday in the west of Ireland…

You may be wondering why on earth there are pots sitting on the top of the raised beds…well that’s another brainstorm I had…

Potager bed at Bealtaine CottageCut the bottoms out of pots and plant that on the raised bed, with a plant inserted, so the roots have even more depth!

www.bealtainecottage.com 003Have a lovely day and watch out for the Fairies! Earth Spirits are at work everywhere!

My special thanks and blessings to:

Linda Vassar

John O’Donoghue

Lynne Gruber

and Frederique Llensa

for your wonderful support!

 Please consider supporting Bealtaine Cottage

Building Fireplaces and Growing Your Own Herbal Teas…

For a long time, the small fireplace in the bedroom was closed up.

Then I decided to open it up and build a small surround.

In the true vernacular style I have used stones from the area around the cottage.

These were stones that the earth had simply pushed out…pieces of red sandstone.

I collected up the small bits to make two piers, one for either side of the fireplace.

These piers were then built onto the larger stones used for raising up the fire grate.

On the top of the larger stones in the grate I placed a big flag stone I had sitting around by the back of the cottage.

I put this old fire insert in place.

I had this sitting out the back with plants in it for a long time!

An old piece of wood was placed atop of the stone piers to form a small, compact mantelpiece.

It was then painted the same colour as the walls to bring it all together!

As you can see, it serves the purpose well! 

There is nothing quite so comforting as drifting off to sleep in front of a beautiful, open fire! 

I grow over 40 varieties of herbs here at Bealtaine Cottage. These I store in glass jars in the pantry, pictured above…

As well as the cultivated herbs, there are, perhaps hundreds of wild herbs growing here as well, such as Sorrel and Mint…in fact several varieties of mint!

wild herbs at  Bealtaine Permaculture cottageOther wild herbs are less obvious, but are there when one goes looking for them!

The fact is, more and more people are becoming alarmed at the reliance on modern medicines.

herbs at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Many people are seeking natural alternatives and many of these are already known to us.

sage in the tunnel at  bealtaine cottage herbsIt is important that we pass on the wisdom accumulated  in our lifetimes as much of what was common lore, folklore is fast being lost as the lines of communication between people are closing, for people talk with each other much less these days!

Making elderflower cordial at  Bealtaine Cottage Folk wisdom was founded on a combination of what people knew, what was passed on to them, understanding of the human mind and a very deep understanding of the value of herbs and plants.

candle in the window at  Bealtaine cottageWhat is more comforting than a cup of peppermint tea to soothe a bilious stomach?

Or a cup of Camomile tea to calm the nerves, or tea made from Lemon Balm or Lemon Verbena?

Wild Mint tea, Nettle tea are ancient recipes for various health problems.

herbs at Bealtaine Cottage All these are now dried teas that we now buy in shops, but these are easily grown, cultivated or even collected from the wild!

Herbal teas are very easy to make!

Simply take half an ounce of the dried herb and pour on one pint of boiling water.  

Alternatively use one ounce of a fresh herb to one pint of boiling water and let it stand for five minutes.

One can add honey or sugar to sweeten and any milk or cream…it really is a matter of personal taste!

early morning at Bealtaine Cottage It’s important to pick the herb before flowering and in the early morning, before the sun is at it’s strongest and many of the oils in the plant are weakened.

If you have a particular herbal tea that you enjoy, it would make sense then to grow an abundance of it, dry and store for all year round use.

willow arches and ponds at bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardensIt’s always best to store in either glass, or stoneware jars as these are natural and will not impart any unwanted flavour to the herb.

I often drink herbal teas that I mix with Indian or Ceylon teas…and get the goodness and flavour of both!

Permaculture Cottage ~ The Root of Our Unhappiness…from 2011

It’s a wet evening.

It’s a cold evening too.

I’ve lit the stove and the kettle begins to sing on the top.

It’s a tea and toast kind of evening.

I was thinking about Fairies today as I walked through the Fairy Dell Woodland.

It lies below the cottage, in a natural dell and is a very special place.

There’s a Fairy tree in the centre of the woodland with a huge stone underneath it’s branches.

I’ve often wondered about the history and meaning of that tree and stone.

I have been told that such a tree planted by a stone can mark the resting place of a person whose body was not allowed to be interred in the graveyard…the churches had all sorts of rules regarding who could and could not be interred in so called sacred ground…unbaptised babies, suicides etc…all of great sadness and shown little mercy…


And so, while Jack plays with his football…for some reason he believes I want to steal it…I think about this tree, the Fairy Dell and…fairies…

Fairies are widely regarded as magical spirits who can help humanity get closer to Nature and embrace harmony in the natural environment.

To the Celts, nature embodied the sovereignty of the Goddess.

In comparison, within the church view, Nature is widely regarded as something amoral and fearsome, needing to be dominated and put to service.

All this has led us away from our deep relationship with Mother Earth…we are now in a state of flux and near abandonment and we feel this deeply, with some more aware of the root of our unhappiness and others less, or in severe denial.

My cardigan dries on the back of a chair this evening…

Maybe we need to think again about Fairies, for until we respect the natural world and our precious environment, we are doomed to be cast aside as Gaia struggles on her own…