The bright red of the Ruby Chard will add colour to the Samhain feast!
In Celtic Ireland, Samhain marked the division of the year between the light (summer) and the dark (winter).
For me, the customs of my ancestors are important to acknowledge and continue.
This time of tuning into the seasonal shift and preparing for the darkness of the winter months ahead, is important.
Even today, as I stacked these logs in the shelter of the veranda, I couldn’t help but think about Samhain and its meaning as a custom and special tradition.
The Hill of Tara was associated with Samhain in Celtic Ireland, even though it pre-dates the arrival of the Celts themselves!
The passage to the Mound of the Hostages on the Hill of Tara, constructed some 4,500 to 5,000 years ago, forms the entrance and is aligned with the rising sun around Samhain.
This was constructed even before the Celts arrived in Ireland!
And so, as the leaves fall and cover the earth, we reach Summers End and the beginning of the descent towards Midwinter.
The Festival of Samhain marked the end of the Celtic year.
This is the traditional New Year’s Eve!
Walking through the gardens at Bealtaine, takes me on a journey similar to the festival of Samhain, for it is all about ending and beginning…as the land pulls its duvet of leaves across its mantle of green, preparing for the beginning of Winter.
As Samhain marks the division point in the year between summer and winter, it is understood that any point, in the land where there is division or boundary, can be unsafe at Samhain…for it is there that the veil is at its thinnest!
Here at Bealtaine Cottage, the warmth of the sun continues to enchant!
Today, I was feeling just a teensy bit down.
It’s a rare experience for me.
Life is so full on here at Bealtaine, that positivity fills the day, running from one task to the next and looking forward to a brief sit down and a cup of tea.
But today, something caught up with me…a growing feeling of fragility that I had suppressed for a long time.
Weakness in the face of disaster.
I have spent much of my life suppressing fear.
To be honest, most people have too.
Carrying life, caring for life, creates a deep fear…of birth and death, and one that we know we must resist.
Not just resist, but train ourselves to regard this feral fear in as dispassionate a way as we can muster.
We as adults cannot display fear to our young or those in our charge or care…we must be brave, pretend, laugh in the face of fear.
Today I was desperate for water to ensure the plants in the potager beds did not die.
The well had stopped flowing.
The heat of the day was oppressive, as the cloudless sky framed a burning hot sun that evaporated what little moisture was left in the soil.
I drove the car to an ancient spring, lower down the valley, and spent the morning bucketing water back up to the cottage.
It was exhausting, but successful…the plants are still alive tonight, as I write this blog in the cool of a full moon.
The fear has hung over me all day, as I realise how terribly vulnerable we all are, in the face of these persistent, extreme, weather events.
In this state of vulnerability lies a growing awareness of the fragility of life.
We have to do everything we can to protect that life.
Carbon taxes won’t do that…only we can…each and every one of us!
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…
Thank you for supporting this blog
I lit the fire in the bedroom yesterday evening as there was a chill on the night air. This is a deceptive time of year, when the evenings can end up being much colder than during the winter!
It wasn’t long before Jack snook in and laid his head against the bed in a pleading sort of way… “can I just hang around and enjoy the fire too?”
Now, it is hard to resist this friendly mutt, even though he yawns and makes scary, and sometimes funny, noises!
I gave him a bath today, as the sun was shining and the air was warm, for I noticed he was a bit pongy as he warmed himself in front of the fire…
What a difference a bath makes!
Saturday morning, the 5th of November and the mist billows away as the sun heats up the ground…
Today is midsummer. The day is grey with low cloud and soft rain…a steady drizzle.
Summer has magically disappeared, just like in the magicians’ trick. Yesterday was a strange day! The clouds appeared to stand still all day long…
The soft rain has settled in drops on the red Perlagonium…Geranium to you and me! Red geraniums are linked in the minds eye with the Irish cottage. The simple, stark, vivid red stands out against the whitewash of the cottage walls. So much of Irish tradition has become subsumed into the vulgarity that was the so-called Celtic Tiger. One would be heard-pressed to find a traditional cottage that is lived in and cared for…most have been allowed to fall back into the ground.
This is the 5th year of bloom for this lovely white flower, planted into tyres around the veranda rose, it never fails to make a show of itself!
Strawberries in Hanging Baskets…
continue to fruit and ripen and be gorged upon!
The Sun Lounger has been temporarily abandoned…waiting for the sun!
Nasturtiums, emblematic of summer…
Delightful is the season’s splendour,
winter’s rough wind has gone;
bright is every fertile wood,
a joyful peace is summer.
-“Maytime,” Irish, 9th Century.
Nasturtiums in bloom this morning. These are the trailing variety and will grow well in poor soil. Both the leaves and the flowers are edible and add a spicy taste to a salad. These are growing from a pot on the veranda.
Swathes of colour dot the driveway to the cottage as the Valerian, Dog Daisy and Dog Rose all come into bloom.
The Dog Rose, Rosa Canina, will go on to produce rosehips that are packed with vitamin C and are good for making syrup that is traditionally fed to babies and toddlers.
Yellow Flag Iris grows by the Lower Pond. This beautiful flower spreads each year, given the right conditions and makes such a brilliant show in late May, early June…I love this naturalized flower.
Willow through Gunnera Manicata…
The moon last night as the sun was setting, colouring the fading jet stream in the S.E. sky.
There is something special about walking out on a moonlit night. There is a full moon at present in the sky and it’s rising early enough in the evening to enjoy its full beauty and splendour. A glass of wine or cup of tea tastes all the more lovely after a walk that has allowed you to engage with Gaia.
Nostalgia and the moon seem to go together…there is something in the energy of the full moon that appeals to the senses and the power of reflection. The full moon can be mesmerizing and evocative and in permaculture terms is a good time for growth, as the power of the moon pulls the plants up from the earth and keeps the water levels high.
The last light of the setting sun catches the open blossom on the Pear Tree near the cottage. The sky is clear this evening and the week ahead is promised fine. if you look closely you might see the tiny shape of a Pear just under the flower.
Sunlight catching blossom one one of the many Cherry trees at Bealtaine. Each Spring becomes more dramatic than the one before as the many fruit trees begin to mature.
The sun has set and daylight begins to fade into the West as the moon emerges to the East of the land.