7th February

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!

Winter-ice.jpg

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

Beast-of-Toxteth.jpg

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

Saint's Day:
Blessed Eugenia Smet
Blessed Pope Pius IX
Chrysolius

Festival:
Independence Day, celebrates the independence of Grenada from the United Kingdom in 1974.

Flowering Now by Saul Hughes: Lesser Celandine
Ranunculus Ficaria.
Family: Ranunculaceae. (Buttercup Family)
Gaelic Name: Grain-Aigein.

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Also known as Pilewort, Figwort, Smallwort, Brighteye and Swallow wort; and also named as Ficaria Verna by the botanist William Hudson (1730-1793).
This beautiful plant of the hedgerow and hills and found growing quite happily by the watersides, is amongst one of our earliest flowering plants lighting up the hedgerow with its golden blooms before the winter has been spent and provided much inspiration for the poet Wordsworth who named this as his favourite flower describing its blooms as a ‘Glittering Countenance’, his love for this plant led to its blossoms being carved on his tomb.
The Latin genus name of this plant Ranunculus and the name of the family of plants it belongs to that of the Ranunculaceae were first used by Pliny the Elder, because of the plants preference for marshy locations. The word Ranunculus and Ranunculaceae are derived from the Latin Rana (frog) and culus (little) as this little creature tends to abide were this family of plants thrives.
The name of the species Ficaria is derived from the Latin Ficus meaning fig, as the tubers of this plant resemble them, and it is down to these fully stored tubers that the plant finds the resources to be able to set forth so many flowers and leaves, when most other plants are still dormant due to the cold. The Lesser Celandine was placed in a distinct genus by some botanists calling it Ficaria Verna, Verna being from the Latin for springtime, though the plant is now generally assigned to the Buttercup family.

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The name of Lesser Celandine is applied to this pant to distinguish it from Greater Celandine (Chelidonium Majus) of which it shares no relationships or bears any similarity too, accept for them both sharing yellow flowers, the name Celandine is derived from the Greek Chelidon meaning Swallow (The Bird, Hirundo Rustica); and the name was often applied indiscriminately to both plants leading to much confusion, which is evident in John Gerard’s(1545-1611/12) list of plants that were in cultivation in his garden on Holborn hill, were he ascribes the name of Celandine to both plants. The name Chelidon (Swallow) was applied to both plants because of the belief that swallows would use the plant to restore the sight in damaged chicks eyes, another reason for the name of Chelidon, is that swallows appeared when this plant was fully in bloom, though this reference would be more fitting to the Greater Celandine, as this is most certainly in bloom when the swallows arrive in the summer and continues to blossom throughout the summer whereas the Lesser Celandine blossoms long before these birds arrive and dies down months before the swallows vacate our isles.
The folk name of Figwort is derived from the tubers appearance and the name Pilewort is in reference to the healing properties of this plant in the treatment of Haemorrhoids, Wort being the Anglo-Saxon name for any healing plant. The name Pilewort is also in direct reference to the Doctrine of Signatures as championed by Paracelsus (1493-1541) but also a philosophy which was much advocated from the time of Discorides (Circa 40-90 AD) The Doctrine states that nature or the divine, deliberately made plants to resemble the part of the body that it could cure, it later became known as the doctrine of signatures after the appearance of the book called ‘The Signature of all Things’ wrote by the German mystic Jakob Boehme (1621).
The folk name of bright eye is in reference to the swallows use of the herb in treating the eyes of their young; The Gaelic name of Grain-Aigein is defined by John Cameron in his ‘Gaelic Names of Plants’ (1883) as meaning ‘That Which Produces Loathing’, though Mrs Grieve in her ‘Modern Herbal’ derives the word from the Celtic name of the sun ‘Grian’ referring to the habit of the plants flowers only opening when the sun has fully rose and closing when the sun sets and shutting before the onset of rain.

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Medicinally the whole plant is Astringent (Causes contraction and shrinkage of tissues), contains Anemonin and Protoanemonins, these are compounds that have Antispasmodic and Analgetic (Deadens pain without loss of consciousness) properties. Lesser Celandine also contains Saponin which have a soapy character due to their surfactant (reduces the surface tension of water) properties and as such are Expectorative (Dissolves thick mucus), Anti-Inflammatory (Reduces inflammation), Hemolytic (Destroys red blood cells) and stimulates the Immune system, Saponin also as Antimicrobial properties against bacteria, protozoa and fungi.
The herb is a traditional remedy for piles and has been introduced into the British Pharmacopeia, it was also used externally as an ointment for abscesses, warts and to treat varicose veins. Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) recommends the herb for ‘Haemorrhoids’, ‘Kernels by the ears and throat called the King’s evil’ and ‘Tumours’ Culpeper goes on to say that he cured his own daughter of the King’s evil with this herb.
Gerard quoting Discorides and Galen says that it ‘Blistereth the skin, it maketh rough and corrupt nails to fall away’ ‘Purgeths the head of foul and filthy humours’; though it is very likely that Gerard has confused this herb with that of that Greater Celandine (Chelidonium Majus).
The herb also contains Vitamin C and the fresh young leaves used to be eaten in salads in spring to prevent scurvy and were sometimes boiled and eaten as a vegetable, though this is now strongly not recommended due to the presence of Protoanemonin toxins which accumulate as the plant matures. Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) advised farmers to eradicate this herb from land were cattle graze due to their dislike of it and its injurious effect on other herbs in the meadow, but there is no evidence for these assumptions, though most plants of the Ranunculaceae order contain acrid juices to a very high degree, the acrimony of the Lesser Celandine is of a very mild character, and is much loved as food source by Wood pigeons (Columba Palumbus), it is also a valuable early source of nectar for Bees emerging from hibernation. Magically it was assigned under the auspices of the planet Mars and Culpeper recommends the herb to be hung around the body to ward of diseases of the skin. In the Western Isles of Scotland the roots were thought to resemble the udders of cows and were hung in cow byres to ensure a high yield of milk.*

Also on this day:

1238 – The Mongols burn the Russian city of Vladimir.

1497 – The bonfire of the vanities occurs in which supporters of Girolamo Savonarola burn thousands of objects like cosmetics, art, and books in Florence, Italy.

1842 – Battle of Debre Tabor: Ras Ali Alula, Regent of the Emperor of Ethiopia defeats warlord Wube Haile Maryam of Semien.

1898 – Émile Zola is brought to trial for libel for publishing J'Accuse.

1907 – The Mud March is the first large procession organized by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).

1940 – The second full length animated Walt Disney film, Pinocchio, premieres.

1979 – Pluto moves inside Neptune's orbit for the first time since either was discovered.

1990 – Dissolution of the Soviet Union: The Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party agrees to give up its monopoly on power.

* 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.