20 Reasons to Celebrate in April.

This list is from Rituals For Life by Brenda Knight.

April 1: April Fool’s Day

April1: Festival of Kali

April 2: International Children’s Book Day

April 3: Buddha’s Birthday

April 4: Roman festival of Megalesia, celebrating Cybele

April 5: Tomb Sweeping Day in Taiwan (Qing Ming Jie)

April 8: Flower Festival in Japan (Hana Matsurei)

April 9: Feast of Glory for Baha’i

April 12: Roman festival of Cerealia begins, celebrating Ceres

April 14: Thai New Year (Songkran Day)

April 15: Roman festival of Fordicia, for Tellus

April 20: Prophet Mohammad”s Birthday (571 CE)

April 21: International Creativity Day

April22: Earth Day

April 23: World Book Day

April 24: Astronomy Day

April 25: Roman festival of Robigalia, celebrating Robigus

April 26: Leonardo de Vinci’s birthday (1452)

April 28: Roman festival of Floralia, celebrating Flora

April 30: Walpurgisnacht (May Eve) in Germany

Re:focus

Here’s a fun project for anyone who enjoys photography or any art for that matter.  Else Kramer offers a free six day mini email course about photography called Re:focus. Each day a different subject is emailed to you, giving you a subject to focus on that day.

It was great fun having something to think about and look for each day, even if it was unpleasant. (Have you ever sat down and really looked at your garbage?  Thought about it? Photographed it?)

We stretched our project out, giving each assignment a few days instead of just one.

The Alchemical Origins of Chemistry

The origins of chemistry lie in the study of alchemy.  Alchemy has been studied on several continents for thousands of years, predominately Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.  It is said to initially been a spiritual path laid out by the gods Thoth (the Father of Alchemy) and Hermes.

After the fall of the Roman Empire much of the alchemical knowledge was lost to Europe, but the study continued in the Middle East and Northern Africa. During the Middle Ages manuscripts (both old and new)  were brought back from Africa as spoils of war, and people began to translate them. The early European alchemists didn’t understand the original spiritual aspects of alchemy and focused on making gold.  The experiments in making gold didn’t succeed, but many other discoveries were made.  Acids, alloys, alcohols and many compounds were discovered along with the earliest ideas of the periodic table.  After a time, the spiritual aspects of alchemy were slowly rediscovered, causing a strained relationship between alchemists (along with astronomers and other scientists) and the Catholic Church.

Alchemists were attacked, arrested, tortured, and killed by the Catholic Church just as were herbalists, witches, pagans, homosexuals, and others who interfered in the will of God.  Many writings of prominent alchemists such as Roger Bacon, Nicholas Flamel, and Giordano Bruno were banned and destroyed.

The other alchemists, those interested only in making gold were sought out by wealthy benefactors interested in free gold, charlatans employed tricks like coating coins in real gold to obtain financing.  At times alchemy was outlawed, at other times alchemists were highly sought after, this pattern continued until the 1700’s.  The free gold fever allowed some alchemists interested in the spiritual aspects of alchemy to remain hidden or protected from the church.

Another direction alchemy took was to evolve the beginnings of the pharmaceutical practice, called iatrochmistry by it’s founder Paracelsus.  The search for the healing Sorcerer’s Stone led to many developments in medicine.

The slow split between alchemy and chemistry began in the late 1500’s until the late 1700’s.  Chemists focused more on laws of the physical plane instead of the spiritual plane.  Antoine Levoisier is considered to be the father of modern chemistry.

References:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Alchemy, 2008, Dennis William Hauch, Alpha Books.
Wikipedia: Chemistry

Nettle

Nettle: Urtica dioica
Also called fire weed and burning weed.

Nettle is native to Northern Europe and Asia and North America, and some of Northern Africa.  Nettle abounds in areas where the soil has been disturbed and can mark old homesteads, roads, and other areas of human activity. Nettle is also the food or exclusive food for the larvae of several butterflies and moths.

Historical Uses: Nettle was historically used for food, animal fodder, and for medical cures. It was also used in fabric through the early 1900’s.

Culinary Uses: Nettle tea can be used for curdling milk for cheese.  Early nettle shoots don’t sting, and are used in salads.  Cooking or soaking the older nettle leaves removes the stinging chemicals from the leaves, and then the leaves are eaten like any other green.

Medicinal Uses: Nettle was one of the initial “9 Powerful Herbs” of the 10th Century Anglo Saxons and was used as a counter poison and to reduce bleeding.  It was and still is used in the medical practice of “Urtication” where the leaves are applied to the skin to cause irritation to ease the pain of rheumatism. It has also been used as a fever tonic, to reduce asthma, as an expectorant, for blood purification, and to stop nosebleeds.  Nettle is also used for the treatment of colds, flu, eczema, gout, anemia, hemorrhoids, allergies, burns, bites, diarrhea, and various scalp issues.  Nettles are high in vitamins C, and A in addition to iron, potassium, manganese, calcium and amino acids.

Magical Uses: (Fire, Male) Nettle is used for exorcism, protection, and healing. Stuff nettle in a poppet or sachet to remove and return curses.  Add to incense to avert danger, additionally add yarrow to reduce fears. Nettle worn in an amulet keeps negativity away.

Other Uses:  Nettle tea is used to brighten hair.  Feed to chickens to increase egg nutrients.  Nettle leaves used in fertilizer may increase the nitrogen and organic matter in the soil.

References:
Wikipedia:Stinging Nettle.
Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, 1998, Claire Kowalchik and William H. Hylton, Rodale Books.
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, 1985, Scott Cunningham, Llewellyn Publications.