Just in perfect timing for Bealtaine cross-quarter day, on our bank holiday weekend here in Ireland, the hawthorn blossomed in all its blushing beauty. I was over at Newgrange for Wise Woman Ireland Weekend. Walking along the lane that leads to the Brú, the air was heady and heavy with the blossom's scent.

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We were a group of about forty-five women from around Ireland who meet annually to celebrate our creativity and wisdom in community. The theme for this weekend was Passion, Purpose and Purification. Over the past fourteen years, from its inception in Leitrim, Wise Woman has met at various venues around the country. This year we could see Brú na Boine from our venue, the Newgrange Hostel.  The river named after the goddess Boan ran before us, just across the lane. Over the weekend we drummed, danced, had ritual, took workshops, made art and wrote poetry. We also feasted and made and renewed friendships.

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Meanwhile, in the same county, at Uisneach another Bealtaine ritual was taking place. There 100 women processed to meet 100 men in a symbolic ritual sacred union of the masculine and feminine. The sacred Bealtaine fire was lit by our own diminutive President Higgins, who stood in for the High King of Ireland.

This has been a bumper year for blossom. My lane here in Corrogue is awash with hawthorn and cow parsley. Today, I noticed the first of the wild roses in bloom. Last week, on another lane in the parish I saw the early purple orchids.

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After cross-quarter day we had a long dry spell for us in Ireland. And then the smoke rose. It is customary to 'burn off the whins' in these upland areas.  Burning off the gorse and heather is part of an upland tradition. But this year some spruce plantation caught fire in the unusual for us tinder dry conditions. But it recalled the old ways where cattle would be run between two bonfires to smoke out the pests in them.

Atatvisms.  These ways may transmute, but they are hard dying in this land.

So this Bealtaine we have had smoke, mist and heat haze. Everytime you look out the window some plant or other has yomped on. I swear the trees bolted overnight so happy they were with the heavy showers yesterday.

Which brings me back to the Wise Woman Weekend themes. These fires were for purification. The sacred marriage of the masculine and feminine united in passion. But they also had a wider and wiser purpose. The seeds sown are growing, blossoming and blooming.

Here in Corrogue we are surrounded by nature and supported by Her. How does passion,purpose and purification prosper in your townland? This crone is still learning.