The first day of every month is sacred to Hestia (known in Rome as Vesta), the Goddess of the Hearth. With the Graces, Hestia was always honored first, before all others. She was so completely integral to the daily life of the ancients, She rarely appeared in art, but was simply known by the hearth flame in every home and temple. Her Priestesses were, of course, the Vestals, whose ceremonies remain a Mystery to this day.
July is under the protection of Jupiter/Zeus, and in Gaelic is called “an mios buidhe,” the golden month. Once known as ‘Quintilis‘, because it was the fifth month of the Roman year, it became ‘Julius‘, possibly thanks to Mark Anthony, in honor of Julius Caesar (another connection with our Card of the Week, the Emperor).
From Roman times through the Middle Ages, this day was called the Kalends of July. It was said that if rain came on this day, the next four weeks would be rainy too. And Happy Canada Day to our friends in the northern lands! “Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!” (“Thy brow is wreathed with a glorious garland of flowers.”) – French lyrics of “O Canada!
The birthstone of July is the ruby, and its flower is the larkspur.
And speaking of flowers, the beautiful and gracious Thalia, Grace of flowering, continues to guide us onward through the magical garden. Today, we pause to enjoy July’s enchanted flower, the larkspur.
The larkspur (Delphinium spp.). was used in the Victorian language of flowers to indicate “passionate, ardent attachment.” In Europe, larkspurs have been externally used for a variety of medical uses including to help close wounds. A member of the buttercup family of flowers, most of the plant’s species are very toxic, particularly to cattle.
The spur of the blossom gives it its common names of “larkspur,” “lark’s heel,” and “lark’s claw.” One of the most popular annual larkspurs, Rocket Larkspur, owes its Latin name, Delphium ajacis, to the ancient Greek hero, Ajax.
Tomorrow, I’ll share the tale of Ajax and more about this legendary flower of July.