23rd January

Welcome to the Eightfold Year. Every day a different painting will appear, along with moon phases, saints days, seasonal plants and other festive celebrations.

You can find out more about the concept of the Eightfold Year here.

We hope you enjoy this website. We will be adding content as we go through the year and welcoming your feedback and suggestions.

Onwards and Upwards!


Apocalypse In Knotty Ash, 2007: Maria Hughes

Moon Phases, January 2015:
Full Moon – January 5, 04:54
Third Quarter – January 13, 09:48
New Moon – January 20, 13:14
First Quarter – January 27, 04:49



Snow-at-the-plot.jpgSnow at the plot, Liverpool, January 2011: Jamie Reid

Saint's Day:
Blessed Marianne of Molokai

Bounty Day, celebrate the burning of the Bounty in 1790 (Pitcairn Island)

Flowering Now by Saul Hughes: Groundsel
Senecio Vulgaris.
Family. Compositae/Asteraceae.
Gaelic Name. Am Bualan.


Also known as Ground Glutton, Old Man in the Spring, Simson, Sention and Ascension.
The Groundsel plant is well known and found throughout these Isles to the bane of many a gardener and were ever Europeans have travelled over the world this plant has tagged along. The Name Groundsel is derived from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Grounde-swelge’ meaning ground swallower, so called after its very invasive and spreading nature. The name of the Genus, Senecio is derived from the Latin Senex (Old Man) in reference to the downy seed heads which resemble the grey shaggy head of old men till the seeds are blown in the wind and they become like bald men. The name of the species Vulgaris is derived from the Latin ‘Vulgus’ meaning common. The name of the family group of plants Groundsel belongs to Asteraceae is derived from Greek Aster for ‘Star’ in reference to the star like appearance of the flowers of plants in this family, the name Compositae an older but still a valid name for the family means composite in reference once again to the characteristic inflorescence of these plants.
The folk names of Simson and Sention are considered by some to be a corruption of ‘Ascension’, this being its name in Eastern countries, probably arising from Ascension day forty days after Easter when the seeds of this plant begin to blow away in the warm air. Sention has also been suggested as being derived from the Latin senex for old man. The Gaelic Name of ‘Am Bualan’ literally means ‘the remedy’ and testifies to the healing properties the Celts attributed to this herb.


Though this plant is very prolific, it also, as is often the case is overlooked; it was once held in high esteem by the ancient herbalists and was much employed by country folk.
Medicinally the plant is Purgative (causing evacuation of the bowels), Antiscorbutic (cures scurvy), Diaphoretic (increases sweating), Emmenagogue (stimulates blood flow in the uterus and stimulates menstruation) and Anthelmintic (expels parasitic worms). The plant was much employed externally as a poultice for skin complaints and swellings, it is said to be very efficacious against wounds to the flesh caused by iron. It was also stated that the roots are an effective cure for headaches and migraine providing that the plant is dug up without the use of iron and the roots used straight away. Another curious remedy of groundsel is its power to heal tooth ache, providing once again the roots are dug up without the aid of iron and then to touch the afflicted tooth five times spitting three times after each touch and then afflicted tooth will be at ease.
The Greek Herbalist Dioscorides recommended this herb for fighting ‘pains in the stomach that arise from bile, ‘jaundice’, ‘epilepsy’, ‘expelling gravel from the kidneys’, ‘sciatica’ and ‘colic. Culpepper recommends it for ‘all diseases coming from heat’ and ‘as an emetic to remove bilious trouble’. Gerard states that it is good for ‘the dressing of wounds’, ‘the kings evil’ (scrofula),’ and ‘the red gums and frets of children. It has also been used against boils, and knots and kernels of the flesh, the water from the infused plant was also used for chapped hands. A homeopathic remedy is used in the treatment of nose bleeds and menstrual disorders.


The herb is much loved by small creatures, rabbits being an example and its seeds and leaves afford food for many of our wild creatures and birds, especially in the leaner winter months, though horses and cows are not partial to it, goats and swine will freely eat it, indeed there is evidence to show that the alkaloids in this plant can cause the liver of cattle and horses to stop functioning when ate in large amounts as the alkaloid can culminate to toxic levels, though a cow weighing 700 pounds would have to eat 50 pounds of herb for this to take effect. Sheep and goats have rumen bacteria that detoxify the harmful effects of the alkaloids and are often put into fields were groundsel grows as a way of keeping the plant down and out of harms way for the cows and horses. Despite this the herb is also used for treating the stagger in horses and as a cure for bot-worms.
It is now recommended that the plant not be used internally because of the presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids as they can accumulate in the body over time.
Magically the plant was used as an amulet and was put amongst dairy products to stop theft from witchcraft; to abuse this plant would bring retribution from the fairies as they held it in high esteem. An amulet of it would also be carried to ward of toothache, relive pain and to promote heatlh. It is under the dominion of the planet Venus.
Groundsel is the food plant for the Flame Shoulder Moth (Ochropleura Plecta), the Cinnabar Moth (Tyria Jacobaeae) and the Ragwort Plume Moth ( Platptila Isodactlya). It is host to the Flea Beetle (Longitarsus Jacobaeae) the Seed Fly Anthomyiidae, and the Gall flies, of the Diptera and Tephritidae orders.*

Also on this day:

971 – In China, the war elephant corps of the Southern Han are soundly defeated at Shao by crossbow fire from Song Dynasty troops.

1510 – Henry VIII of England, then 18 years old, appears incognito in the lists at Richmond, and is applauded for his jousting before he reveals his identity.

1546 – Having published nothing for eleven years, François Rabelais publishes the Tiers Livre, his sequel to Gargantua and Pantagruel.

1570 – James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, regent for the infant King James VI of Scotland, is assassinated by firearm, the first recorded instance of such.

1656 – Blaise Pascal publishes the first of his Lettres provinciales.

1870 – In Montana, U.S. cavalrymen kill 173 Native Americans, mostly women and children, in the Marias Massacre.

1897 – Elva Zona Heaster is found dead in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. The resulting murder trial of her husband is perhaps the only case in United States history where the alleged testimony of a ghost helped secure a conviction.

1907 – Charles Curtis of Kansas becomes the first Native American U.S. Senat

1937 – In Moscow, 17 leading Communists go on trial accused of participating in a plot led by Leon Trotsky to overthrow Joseph Stalin's regime and assassinate its leaders.

1943 – Duke Ellington plays at Carnegie Hall in New York City for the first time.

1986 – The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts its first members: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.

2006 - ‘Dragons of the Pool’ unveil plaque to Chinese Liverpool merchant seamen who were forcibly repatriated in 1945.

* All information regarding the uses of the plants is exactly for that informational purposes only, and that the author and owners of the web do not encourage anyone to be eating, or disturbing wild plants, but merely to admire them in their natural environment and to ponder on their rise and fall within human culture.