Sunday, 5 May 2019

Bealtaine and a ‘Gentle’ Tree


Bealtaine and the Mountain Ash is blossoming in the ditches and on the mountains of Ireland. 

Associated with good luck, Caorthann, the Mountain Ash or Rowan was considered to be protection against malevolence and the unwanted attention of the Good People, particularly at Bealtaine.



With it’s white blossom and red berries, both colours associated with the Otherworld, 
the rowan is firmly rooted in Irish folklore & mythology.


Mountain ash boughs were scattered on the threshold of houses on May Eve to deprive the fairies of their power to harm the butter or the baby. 
In Co. Clare boughs were hung over doors and windows to protect the home and bring good luck for the ensuing year.

In many places on May Eve sticks of mountain ash were placed in the four corners of gardens and fields to protect the home and crops and a twig was dropped into the well as a precaution against skimming the luck from the household.


Sprigs of rowan were worked into a charm, best made after sunset on May eve, 
to safeguard the milk from witchcraft and the Good People.


Throughout the year the tree was said to be lucky. 

Red berries were scattered under the cows




And a branch put on the roof with a piece of timber to keep the home safe from storms 
for twelve months.

To ensure people’s health a sprig of mountain ash was placed in the thatch to ward off sickness for a year whilst the berries, boiled with new milk and strained, was drunk as a cure for stomach pain.





On the eves of Samhain and Bealtaine, when Otherworldly forces were abroad, a piece of rowan was carried in a pocket for protection. 
Horses were also vulnerable to the attentions of the Good People who were known to steal them, 
ride them through the night, then return them the next morning lathered and exhausted. 
To counteract this fate a slip of rowan would be tied to their manes.


The tree however also had links to Na Daoine Sidhe and was known as a ‘gentle’ tree.




Sprigs of the tree when twisted into a ring and held to the eye would enable the user to see
the fairies clearly and despite their apparent benevolence certain ‘gentle’ rowan trees were known to be gathering places for the Good People and cutting them had consequences - 




Recent years have seen a rise in the popularity of Ireland’s folk traditions with the making 
of BRIGID’S CROSSES at Imbolg and the decoration of MAY BUSHES at Bealtaine.

Perhaps the Mountain Ash will take it’s place besides the may bush once again.




Mountain Ash cross and spring flowers besides the front door at Bealtaine.

  
'A year in the life of a Rowan Tree'




Monday, 11 February 2019

WISDOM OF THE CAILLEACH - ORACLE CARDS




It has been a while since I wrote here and with the growing light of a new year I wanted 
to re-connect & to tell you about my latest project.


Over the years, like a tiny green flame, the seed of an idea has grown. 
15 years ago I experienced a vivid dream in which I saw a set of images, which formed an oracle of sorts, a tool for self awareness and discovery. 
At that time I was still fairly new to Ireland and although I was excited and inspired I didn’t want to impose any foreign ideas or structures but attempt to find a way of creating an oracle that was firmly rooted in this land. 
The dream idea needed to ripen and mature, and so did my connection to the island and her people.

So I took my time.

 Slowly images emerged to become symbols which recurred throughout 
my thoughts, my writing and my paintings.

In my travels I found myself revisiting special places.


A hidden sacred well.



Mounds opening to darkness within.



A silhouetted hill against a sunset sky.



A yearly harvest from the hedges



The lonely wind bent thorn.


As I began painting for my exhibition, Tales from The Cailleach, my idea for the cards surfaced again.
This time the images felt strongly rooted in folklore and research, in my visits to sacred places and my own connection.

So WISDOM OF THE CAILLEACH was born ~ 
a Journey with the Old Woman through 31 oracle cards. 




There will be a limited edition of 250 sets of these cards plus a booklet, printed here in Ireland. 
Wisdom of The Cailleach will be launched in Summer 2020 at Loughcrew Megalithic Centre, 
Co. Meath, Ireland. 

Below is a glimpse of the first images just after they had been finished - snapped with my camera so 
the colours are inaccurate - I hope you enjoy them.

FIRST SHOOTS




FIRST FRUITS



CROSSROADS


"A rise in the road reveals Rowan at the crossing of the ways. 
Protection, courage and good fortune go with you, whichever path you choose."


LONE THORN


"A million stars above the lonely valley where Lone Thorn stands. 
Silver in the moonlight, bent and twisted, a survivor of many winters. 
Deep rooted in the land she is resilient and speaks to you of age, of strength and 
the courage to continue."


FIRST SNOW


“Grey white wisdom colours of the first snow.
A pause then calm preparation before surrendering to her silent embrace.”


There is much work yet to do, lots of painting, writing 
and imagining so I hope to keep you updated here and on the Facebook page with works in progress as they emerge.





If you have questions or are interested in ordering the oracle cards you can add your name to a pre-order list on 

Alternatively, you can send me an email with your name & 
contact details by completing the form at the foot of my Homepage here on the blog.