2nd February

Imbolc - the first stirrings of Spring, new hopes, new light. Things moving onwards in the outer world and in our hearts, starting afresh with renewed purpose and fresh possibilities...alllove j

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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.

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Onwards and Upwards!

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Iceglace, Wenlock Edge 2009: Jamie Reid

Moon Phases, February 2015
Full Moon - February 3, 11:09pm
Third Quarter - February 12, 3:50am
New Moon - February 18, 11:47pm
First Quarter - February 25, 5:14pm

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CURRENT MOON

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The Beast of Toxteth, Liverpool, January 2011: Jamie Reid

Saint's Day:
Cornelius the Centurion

Festival:
Anniversary of Treaty of Tartu (Estonia)
Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple or Candlemas (Western Christianity), and its related observances:
A quarter day in the Christian calendar (due to Candlemas). (Scotland)
Celebration of Yemanja (Candomblé)
La Chandeleur or Crêpe (Pancake) Day (France)
Our Lady of Navigators (Brazil)
Virgin of Candelaria (Tenerife, Spain)
Constitution Day (The Philippines)
Earliest day on which Shrove Monday can fall, while March 8 is the latest; celebrated on Monday before Ash Wednesday (Christianity), and its related observances:
Bun Day (Iceland - sounds good)
Fastelavn (Denmark - not so good)
Rosenmontag (Germany)
Groundhog Day (United States and Canada)
Imbolc in northern hemisphere, Lughnasadh in southern hemisphere
Inventor's Day (Thailand)
World Wetlands Day (International)

Flowering Now by Saul Hughes: Flower for Imbolc - Snowdrop
Galanthus Nivalis.
Family. Amaryllidaceae.
Gaelic name. Blaa Sniaghtee.

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Also known as Candlemass Bells, Fair maid of February, Bulbous violet and Death flower.
No other plant is more associated with the sacred festival of Imbolc than this plant, traditionally the first flowering plant of the year it was the herald of spring and a symbol of the Goddess Brighid, later Christianised into St Brigid(Ireland) or St Bride(Scotland) and she was given the role as nursemaid to the infant Jesus in Christian legend, even though in the Catholic tradition she was said to be born in the 5th -6th century and to have founded a monastery in County Kildare, and was laid to rest alongside St Patrick in the Church of Saul in County Down. The feast day of St Brigid was celebrated on the first of February the date of Imbolc, and the snow drop was known as the Fair Maid of February in honour of this plants association with the Goddess and the Saint.
The Name of the genus Galanthus comes from the Greek Gala (milk) and Anthus (flower) the Latin name of the species Nivalis is an adjective meaning resembling snow. The name of the family of plants that snowdrop belongs to Amaryllidaceae (lily family) is from the Greek word Amaryssein meaning to sparkle and is also the name of Amaryllis who was a shepherdess in Greek myth who loved a vain shepherd who would only return her love if she created a flower, so she stabbed herself in the heart and the blood that fell forth created the red Amaryllis flower which gave the Lily family its name.

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The Gaelic Name of Blaa Sniaghtee also means Snow (Sniaghtee) and Flower (Blaa), the name Bulbous Violet is the name it was known as by the botanists of old.
There is some contention as to whether the snow drop is a native to these isles or was introduced; it is a true wild plant of France and may have been a sparsely distributed flower in these isles, but was later extensively spread by the organised planting of the medieval Catholic Church, whom held the flower in high regard. Gerard the Herbalist speaks of the plant as not being a native of these Isles though was found throughout the land in many a garden. The Medieval Church adopted the purification rituals of the pagan festival of Imbolc and the snowdrops were viewed as symbols of hope and purity and were associated with the cleansing of the earth after winter and gave rise to the tradition of spring cleaning and removing the old cobwebs to start afresh.
The purification ritual of Imbolc and the snowdrops association with purity was took over by the Church and became celebrated as St Brigids day (1st of February) and Candlemass day (2nd of February) Candlemass became the feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary which in Jewish Law took place 40 days after a birth, hence Candlemass takes place 40 days after Christmas, parishioners would form a procession on this day and would bring candles to be blessed, lit and set before the icons of the Virgin, this was later replaced with the snowdrop flower which became known as Candlemass bells, and great quantities of snowdrops can be found in abundance around old monasteries , ruined abbeys, priories and church yards. Snowdrops were readily adopted as flawless symbols of purity and cleanliness and became the perfect symbol for the Virgin Mary and St Brigid as reflected in its folk name of the fair maid of February.

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Another Christian legend says that the Snowdrop was the symbol of hope when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, Eve was about to give up all hope at the prospect that winter would never end, when an Angel appeared and transformed the snowflakes into snowdrop flowers showing to Eve that the winter will end and give way to spring and the rebirth of life.
In Victorian days Snowdrops became associated with the dead, probably because of them growing in close proximity to the ground (being close to the dead) and their frequent appearance in the cemeteries of the early Churches; and to see a single Snowdrop growing in a garden was supposed to foretell of impending doom and disaster and hence how the folk name of Death Flower Arose. It was also because of its association with the cemetery and the dead that it became unlucky to bring Snowdrops into the home.
Because of its Ambiguity as a native plant, and the fact that Culpeper fails to mention it and Gerard stating that it has no medicinal uses the plant very rarely features in Herbals, Though according to Mrs. Grieve in her herbal she states it was mentioned in a old glossary of 1465, referring to it as Leucis i viola alba and classing it as an Emmenagogue (Stimulates blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus) its healing properties were stated as being ‘digestive, resolutive and consolidante’. Being classed as an emmenagogue it increases menstrual flow and can be used to induce abortions in the early stages of pregnancy.
It has also been suggested that the Snowdrop is the herb ‘Moly’ spoke of by Homer in his work the Odyssey; and was used as an antidote to the poisons of Circe, as Snowdrops contain the active substance of Galanthamine which acts as Anticholinesterase (prevents the destruction of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine) and could act as antidote to poisons. Galanthamine is also used in the treatment and management of Alzheimer’s disease, and is also used in treating traumatic injuries of the nervous system. The Snowdrop lectin (Sugar binding proteins) is also being studied in regards to its potential activity against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
It is also used for treating Poliomyelitis (Infantile Paralysis), Nerve Pain and Myasthenia (Neuromuscular Disease) In the Caucasus Mountains people there are known to eat the bulbs of the snowdrop to strengthen their brains and help them feel younger, some people rub the bulb directly on to the forehead to cure headaches; though Lampe and McCann 1985, Fuller and McClintock 1986 state that the plant contains the alkaloid lycorine which can cause poisonings and that some individuals were poisoned after ingesting the bulbs during leaner the times of World War 2 in Holland, and its general symptoms in humans being Diarrhoea, Nausea and Vomiting.
Snowdrop Lectin is also used as an effective insecticide and is used against insects of the Coleoptera (beetles), Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths) and hemiptera (Aphids and Leafhoppers) orders. It is also being studied as a candidate for Genetically Modified Crops, being engineered to such crops as tomatoes and tobacco to increase resistance to insects that target such crops. Snowdrops are the markers of the foot prints of the Brighid, the Goddess of fertility in nature, livestock, crops and protector as mid-wife to all newly borns.*

Also on this day:

1461 – Wars of the Roses: The Battle of Mortimer's Cross takes place in Herefordshire, England.

1653 – New Amsterdam (later renamed The City of New York) is incorporated.

1901 – Funeral of Queen Victoria.

1922 – Ulysses by James Joyce is published.

1943 – World War II: The Battle of Stalingrad comes to conclusion as Soviet troops accept the surrender of 91,000 remnants of the Axis forces.

1972 – The British embassy in Dublin is destroyed in protest at Bloody Sunday.

1990 – Apartheid: F.W. de Klerk allows the African National Congress to function legally and promises to release Nelson Mandela.


* 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.