“Half of the secular unrest and dismal, profane sadness of modern society comes from the vain ideas that every man is bound to be a critic for life.” - Henry Van Dyke
Today is a Dismal Day but also, the Conversion of St Paul Day (RC).
Dismal days are unlucky or evil days, dismal itself being a word derived from the Latin dies mali (evil days). These days are also known as Egyptian Days as they had been computed by Egyptian astrologers, or as some maintain had some connection with the Biblical Egyptian plagues of Moses. They are: 1/1; 25/1; 4/2; 26/2; 1/3; 28/3; 10/4; 20/4; 3/5; 25/5; 10/6; 16/6; 13/7; 22/7; 1/8; 30/8; 3/9; 21/9; 3/10; 22/10; 5/11; 28/11; 7/12 and 22/12.
The birthday of:
St Edmund Campion, scholar and jesuit martyr (1540);
Robert Boyle, Irish physicist/chemist (1627);
Joseph Louis Lagrange, mathematician (1736);
Benedict Arnold, famous spy/traitor (1741);
Robert Burns, Scottish poet (1759);
Lord Lonsdale (Henry Cecil Lowther), sportsman (1857);
William Somerset Maugham, writer (1874);
Virginia Woolf (Adeline Virginia Steven), writer (1882);
Wilhelm Furtwängler, conductor (1886);
Paul Spaak, first president of the UN (1899);
Witold Lutoslawski, composer (1913);
Antonio Carlos Jobim, Brazilian composer (1927);
Edvard Schevadnaze, Russian perestroika foreign minister (1928);
Maria Corazon “Cory” Aquino, Philippino politician (1933);
Jacqueline du Pré, British cellist (1945);
Gloria Naylor, writer (1950).
Motherwort, Leonurus cardiaca, is today’s birthday flower. It symbolises concealed love. The astrologers give this plant to Venus in Leo. The herb has several medicinal uses relating to gynaecological diseases (hence motherwort) and also relating to heart problems (cardiaca).
The first New Moon of the year after New Year’s Day should be greeted in the following manner: Go out and stand astride a gate or stile and while looking at the moon say:
All hail to the Moon, all hail to thee!
I prithee good Moon, reveal to me
This night who my husband (or wife) must be.
You must then go to bed and you shall dream of your future consort.
The following divinatory rhyme was in the past recited on St Paul’s Day:
If the day of St Paul prove clear
Then shall betide a happy year;
If it chance to snow or rain
Then shall be dear all kinds of grain;
But if high winds shall be aloft
Wars shall vex this realm full oft;
And if thick mists make dark the sky
Both beasts and fowls this year shall die.