7th 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:

Día de las Velitas, begins after sunset. (Colombia)
Spitak Remembrance Day (Armenia)
Student Day (Iran)

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:

43 BC – Marcus Tullius Cicero is assassinated.

1732 – The Royal Opera House opens at Covent Garden, London.

1869 – American outlaw Jesse James commits his first confirmed bank robbery in Gallatin, Missouri.

1941 – World War II: Attack on Pearl Harbor – The Imperial Japanese Navy attacks the US Pacific Fleet and its defending Army Air Forces and Marine air forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

1965 – Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras simultaneously lift mutual excommunications that had been in place since 1054.

1972 – Apollo 17, the last Apollo moon mission, is launched. The crew takes the photograph known as The Blue Marble as they leave the Earth.

1982 – In Texas, Charles Brooks, Jr. becomes the first person to be executed by lethal injection in the United States.

1995 – The Galileo spacecraft arrives at Jupiter, a little more than six years after it was launched by Space Shuttle Atlantis during Mission STS-34.

* 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.