Nature Journal

Bealtaine - Summer Solstice

 
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Moons

  • New Moon in Taurus 4th May

  • Full Moon in Scorpio, 18th May.

  • New Moon in Gemini, June 3rd.

  • Full Moon in Sagittarius, June 17th.

Plants

The most prolific plant of this cycle has to be the Hawthorn Sceach gheal; Crataegus spp.Rosaceae and her flowers

The Hawthorn is a very common plant in the west of Ireland, a small thorny tree in the Rose family.

In Irish culture the Hawthorn is a noble tree, also known as the ‘Fairy Tree’, a sacred tree associated with the ‘otherworld’. They are often seen beside ‘holy’ wells and sacred places.

There are many hundreds of species in the Hawthorn genus. Most botanists are not so concerned with specific species however, due to there being so many! All species are edible and medicinal which probably precludes the necessity for individual concern.

The Hawthorn has been used by many cultures, both east and west for hundreds of years for it’s medicinal qualities:

“There is ample literature on hawthorn’s use as a cardiotonic, with its wide variety of flavonoids present in the fruit, flowers and leaves. The flowers and berries are also used for more energetic heart maladies, including grief and loss.” (Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine)

The flowers of the Hawthorn are prolific and in full bloom during this time between Bealtaine and the summer solstice, they beam with beautiful pink and white blossoms scattered over every townland. There were so many reddish pink flowers this year to be seen on the landscape.

The flowers are alluring offering a glimpse of hope, security and brightness. There is something very solid about these fragile looking beautiful blossoms.

At the turn of Bealtaine the flowers were bursting into life, as we approached the solstice and by the last full moon of this cycle they had all but gone.

Other plants around Baile Mheiriceá that made themselves known to me between Bealtaine and the Summer Solstice were:

  • Calendula

  • Lemon Balm

  • Elderflowers

  • Red Clover (beginning to appear)

  • Foxgloves (appeared around the first full moon)

  • Meadowsweet (just beginning to bloom on the last full moon)

  • Pine Cones …Oh Pine Cones… Lets talk a little about Pine Cones, my plant ally.

Pine cones came to me in a profound way during this cycle. It was during this time that I was studying Intuitive Plant Medicine, so I found myself to be very open, even more so than usual to the plants around me - Pine cones will get their very own journal post soon, as I sense our journey is only beginning…

Light/Weather

There is something about the light in May that never fails to stop me in my tracks, especially that beautiful unique, low golden romantic evening glow - It is full of possibility.

The first week after Bealtaine there descended an eerie daytime silhouette light as the weather turned cooler and unsettled, this lasted for most of the time until the solstice.

Sounds

  • Birdsong / the Dawn Chorus

  • Bees

Scents

  • Soil

  • Elderflower

Insights

Retreat, grow and blossom. I found this to be a great time time for observation, there is so much to see and so much energy to harness during this cycle, nature is well and truly ALIVE all around us.

It is a wonderful time for deep learning and to develop an understanding and connection to the natural world and plant realm.

The ground was buzzing with an energetic fizz of growth and development. Towards the end of the space between bealtaine and solstice as the last full moon appeared, there was a sense of levelling, a strong feeling of being even, grounded, content and GRATEFUL.

Medicine

  • Hawthorn Blossom Tincture

  • Pine Cone Flower Essence

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Two Things:

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1.

G O R S E Ulex europaeus, Fabaceae. Such a misunderstood plant. It is prolific in the West of Ireland and all around Baile Mheiriceá and Connemara. For a native wild thorny plant it offers such an exotic, subtle and sophisticated flavour. Once you brave and pass the thorny spikes, this plant offers the most delicate, sweet smelling tropical blossoms.

For the past two years the Gorse flowers have bloomed earlier than the previous 4 years. They have been at their fullest bloom around February / March and have begun to disappear and go to seed in April and May. Since Bealtaine and during this moon cycle the flowers of the Gorse have nearly all dissapeared, especially those growing near the coastal areas around south Connemara. Between 2013-17, we would still have be picking Gorse flowers well into June.(FYI our last batch of Wild Gorse Syrup for this flowering season is now available online and in our Tasting Room).

2.

B O G M Y R T L E Myrica Gale, Myricaceae. Bog Myrtle, along with Gorse will be a plant which we will focus on for our Wheel of the Year notes. The image above, taken in early April captures the illustrious orange catkins of the plant. Now we are in May, Bog Myrtle has developed green foliage and has become more camouflaged amid the local terrain.

With each year comes more of an appreciation and deeper understanding of the beauty of this plant and its aromatic, resinous charms.

The Wheel of the Year

One thing that we have learnt from folklore is that those who came before us were deeply rooted in celestial patterns and the rhythms of nature. We have dis-connected. I believe that in our modern world there is a need to re-connect with these simple, nourishing natural rhythms. Living a conscious life in tune with the natural world brings us clarity, connection and space.

As part of this Journal we will delve deeper into the cyclical change of the seasons, the ‘Wheel of the Year’ and observe how nature behaves throughout the seasonal cycle. We will be keeping notes on plant behaviour during each cycle - what grows and how, the moon cycles, daylight, darkness and moods…