5th December

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 welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Onwards and Upwards!


Fortingall, Glen Lyon, Perthshire 2003: Jamie Reid

Moon Phases, December 2014
Full Moon – December 6, 12:27
Last Quarter – December 14, 12:51
New Moon – December 22, 1:36
First Quarter – December 28, 18:31



Saint's Day:
Clement of Alexandria
Sabbas the Sanctified

Day of the Ninja (!)
Faunalia, in honor of Faunus (Roman Empire)
Krampus (Austria)

Flowering Now by Saul Hughes: Ragwort
Botanical Name. Senecio Jacobaea.
Family. Asteraceae.
Gaelic Name. Buachalan bui.
Also known as St James wort, staggerwort cankerwort and mares fart.

The Ragwort comes from the ragged appearance of the plants leaves and wort meaning a healing plant, in reference to this plant being used in herbal medicine. It’s Latin name Senecio means ‘old man’ in reference to the white wooly hairy seeds. The name Jacobaea is meant to come from the phrase of St James ‘Conditio Jacobaea’ (If the lord wills it) which was his instruction to examine all plans to see if they meet God’s will. The saying ‘if the lord wills it’ was often quoted sardonically at creatures and plants that were tolerated on the basis that it was part of God’s will. It was also known as St James weed, because of the fore mentioned saying and also the appearance of St James in art, as being represented as a older man with grey unkempt hair it must of reminded people of the seed heads of this plant. Its Gaelic name means the ‘Wee little fellow’.
Ragwort is a very common plant and a bane to those who keep livestock as it is very poisonous to cattle and horses and has to be eradicated on ground were they feed, despite this ragwort was once believed to cure any stagger that appeared in horses hence its country name staggerwort.
Ragwort is known to contain poisonous alkaloids but due to its unpalatable taste is not a danger to humans, indeed the herb was made into a supposed aphrodisiac in ancient Greece and Rome called Satyrion. It was much used in herbal medicine and was recommended by such illustrious herbalists as Dioscorides, Culpeper and Gerard.
In herbal medicine the whole plant was used, it being cooling and astringent (shrinks or constricts body tissue) the leaves were often made into a poultice and used for washing burns, sores and inflammations of the eye as well as being applied to swellings and inflammation of the joints, it was also gargled for ulcers in the mouth. The root was also made into a decoction and used in much the same way and for treating cancerous ulcers hence its other country name of cankerwort, and it was used as a wash for wounds and bruises, believing to prevent infection.
The leaves yield a non-permanent green dye and the flowers a yellow dye for wool that has been treated with alum. The leaves when handled have a rather unpleasant smell which is where the name mares’s fart arises.
This plant is a valuable food source for the Cochylis atricapitana, Phycitodes Maritima and Saxicolais moths, but is more famously associated with the cinnabar moth Tyria Jacobaeae with whom it shares it names Jacobaeae with, the moths digest the poisonous alkaloids which make them unpalatable to potential predators.*

Also on this day:

1484 – Pope Innocent VIII issues the Summis desiderantes, a papal bull that deputizes Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger as inquisitors to root out alleged witchcraft in Germany and leads to one of the most oppressive witch hunts in European history.

1848 – California Gold Rush: In a message before the U.S. Congress, US President James K. Polk confirms that large amounts of gold had been discovered in California.

1945 – Flight 19 is lost in the Bermuda Triangle.

1952 – Great Smog of 1952: A cold fog descends upon London, combining with air pollution and killing at least 12,000 in the weeks and months that follow.

1978 – The Soviet Union signs a "friendship treaty" with the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.

1979 – Sonia Johnson is formally excommunicated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for her outspoken criticism of the church concerning the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

1987 - Portsdown UFO Incident - 13 people report a flashing sequence of orbs over Portsmouth which seem to correspond to the Portsmouth FC football song Up Pompey.

* 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.