The opium poppy is widely cultivated and its worldwide production is monitored by international agencies. It is used for production of dried latex and opium, the principal precursor of narcotic and analgesic opiates such as morphine, heroin and codeine. Poppy seeds are rich in oil, carbohydrates, calcium and protein.
The earliest reference to opium was in 3,400 BC where the Sumerians in lower Mesopotamia referred to it as Hul Gil, the “Joy Plant.” They, in turn, passed the knowledge of the opium poppy to the Assyrians, who gave it to the Babylonians, who passed it on to the Egyptians. The Egyptians were famous for their poppy fields and the opium trade flourished during the eighteenth dynasty (around 1500 to 1300 BC) under the reigns of Thutmose IV, Akhenaton and King Tutankhamen. Roman gladiators used opium to enhance their fighting … and to die as painlessly as possible if mortally wounded.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, saw opium as a helpful narcotic for treating disease. The great physician Galen cautioned that opium should be used sparingly in 158 AD. He said it was better to endure pain than to be bound to the drug. It wasn’t until 400 AD that opium was introduced into China by Arab traders.
Alexander the Great used opium to help his soldiers march farther because they couldn’t feel the pain in their feet; and they could sleep through the night because the wounded were sleeping peacefully under the influence of opium. He introduced opium to India, where its cultivation flourished. One of the goals of Columbus was to bring back opium from India, as its access had been cut off when the Arabs were expelled from Spain. He didn’t get to India, but he brought back tobacco from the New World and smoking tobacco became common throughout Europe.
In 1803, a German chemist named Friedrich Sertuerner synthesized morphine from opium. Sertuerner’s wife overdosed on morphine and died. He then publically warned against its dangers. But morphine was also a great step forward in medicine. It allowed doctors to do true surgery for the first time. Morphine was heralded as “God’s own medicine” for its reliability and long-lasting effects. By 1827, the E. Merck & Company of Darmstadt Germany was commercially manufacturing morphine.
A new technique for administering morphine was developed by Dr. Alexander Wood of Edinburg when he invented the syringe in 1843. Wood believed that if morphine was injected instead of swallowed, “patients would not hunger for it.” He was wrong; and several of his patients became dependent.
John Witherspoon warned his fellow doctors in a June 23, 1900 article about their indiscriminant use of morphine. The morphine habit was growing at an alarming rate; and doctors were culpable for “too often giving this seductive siren until the will-power is gone.” Pointing to the Great First Physician, he said doctors should “save our people from the clutches of this hydra-headed monster” which wrecked lives and filled jails and lunatic asylums.
In my forthcoming book –
“Daughter of the Dark Lord, Book One, The Burning Sky”
the Dark Lord of the Provinces, a manipulative, heartless and cruel ruler, attempts to control the Denizen people that he rules by allowing them to become addicted to the medicinal serum. His plan is to cut off the supply of the Hul Gil, and then establish it once again, only this time with contingencies tacked on. In essence, he would be creating voluntary slavery with himself as the Dictator. Whenever the Dark Lord wanted something, he would simply cut off the drug until the people complied with his wishes, thereby maintaining power over those he considered to be worthless underlings. His daughter, Katherine, who is aware of the monster that is her father, is still shocked and stunned at the depths of his sadistic inhumanity and is determined once again to thwart his malevolent efforts.
The book takes place on the Provinces of Hell, not a destination that anyone would want to find themselves, and yet to her chagrin, Katherine is not only the Dark Lord’s daughter, but a potential victim of his evil plot. She must find a way to survive and somehow escape this retched place.
The book is in the editing stages right now, but in the meantime, keep checking back for updates and more interesting facts about Katherine and those who choose to fight in her behalf in –
“Daughter of the Dark Lord, Book One, The Burning Sky”
A prequel book to the Dragomeir Series Books One – Three
Also available for purchase at www.solitaireparke.com and various other locations – in multiple formats.
A Dragon is a legendary creature belonging to the world of mythology, storytelling and fantasy. There are stories about dragons in Chinese culture, European culture, South American culture, and many others.
Dragons can look like dinosaurs and other extinct animals. Because of that, it is easy to think that those animals might have been an example for dragons as they were thought of in the history of humankind.
There are many kinds of dragons in the different cultures. In general –
- A dragon has: none to four legs, claws, scales and possibly spikes. Optional wings.
- A dragon can look like a snake with wings, or like lizards
- A dragon has a tail and a long neck.
- A dragon has a wide mouth with big and dangerous teeth.
- Sometimes they have horns and hair.
- A dragon can fly.
- A dragon can perhaps breathe fire (or other dangerous substances).
- A dragon can have special powers.
- Some dragons live in caves.
In a number of stories, dragons are dangerous and attack humans. Other stories have dragons that are looking for help, or giving help. In my Dragomeir Series, the dragons become companions and are lifelong friends to their specific riders. They can be dangerous to those who attempt to hurt the ones they love or their way of life, but to their riders they are the ultimate friend. Here are some interesting quotes about dragons:
It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.
J. R. R. TOLKIEN, The Hobbit
And though I came to forget or regret all I have ever done, yet would I remember that once I saw the dragons aloft on the wind at sunset above the western isles; and I would be content.
URSULA K. LE GUIN, The Farthest Shore
If the sky could dream, it would dream of dragons.
LLONA ANDREWS, Fate’s Edge
The ultimate challenge of a teacher lies not in the slaying of dragons, but rather in exposing them as beasts no longer to be feared.
ALAN BURTON, A Wayward Wizard’s Wistful Words
If you want to conquer the world, you best have dragons.
GEORGE R. R. MARTIN, A Dance with Dragons
O to be a dragon,
a symbol of the power of Heaven — of silkworm
size or immense; at times invisible.
MARIANNE MOORE, O To Be a Dragon
How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.
RAINER MARIA RILKE, Letters to a Young Poet
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you art crunchy and good with ketchup.
Come not between the dragon, and his wrath.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, King Lear
If you see the dragon fly,
best you drink the flagon dry.
GREG HAMERTON, Second Sight
The hunger of a dragon is slow to wake, but hard to sate.
URSULA K. LE GUIN, A Wizard of Earthsea
Imagine a land where people are afraid of dragons. It is a reasonable fear: dragons possess a number of qualities that make being afraid of them a very commendable response. Things like their terrible size, their ability to spout fire, or to crack boulders into splinters with their massive talons. In fact, the only terrifying quality that dragons do not possess is that of existence.
DAVID WHITELAND, Book of Pages
A dragon stranded in shallow water provides amusement to the shrimps.
I desired dragons with a profound desire. Of course, I in my timid body did not wish to have them in the neighborhood. But the world that contained even the imagination of Fáfnir was richer and more beautiful, at whatever the cost of peril.
J. R. R. TOLKIEN, The Tolkien Reader
It is one thing to read about dragons and another to meet them.
URSULA K. LE GUIN, A Wizard of Earthsea
Did not learned men, too, hold, till within the last twenty-five years, that a flying dragon was an impossible monster? And do we not now know that there are hundreds of them found fossil up and down the world? People call them Pterodactyles: but that is only because they are ashamed to call them flying dragons, after denying so long that flying dragons could exist.
CHARLES KINGSLEY, The Water Babies
Here be dragons to be slain, here be rich rewards to gain;
If we perish in the seeking, why, how small a thing is death! DOROTHY L. SAYERS, Catholic Tales and Christian Songs
People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within.
URSULA K. LE GUIN, The Wave in the Mind:
Talks & Essays on the Writer, the Reader, & the Imagination
Do you love reading about dragons? Check out this ongoing series at my website –
“The Emerald Dragon”
“Flight of theAguiva”
“Egg of the Amphitere”
And the forthcoming book –
“Daughter of the Dark Lord”
“The Burning Sky”
Who is this dark-haired beauty that they call ” The Ariella” or Queen Mother? She commands an army of Dragons and Dragon Riders as well as a group of seemingly misfit Creatures that dwell in various mountain locations around the planet. She has their fierce loyalty and is a force to be reckoned with among her global community; all of whom she guards with her life . . . she and her ominous and amazing Dragons, Basiliskos Verminthrax Pejorative – a male black Wyvern, and Invectum Viperathrax Pejorative – a male white Wyvern.
In The DRAGOMEIR SERIES books you can read all about this global population – their triumphs and defeats, while getting to know how “The Ariella” manages to keep them all alive from conflict to conflict. But how long has she been around, and how did she become Queen Mother to this unlikely group of characters?
To answer this question, I am currently writing a Prequel to the series, which will chronicle her life, and rectify some of the myth surrounding her tumultuous journey leading up to her title, “The Ariella” or Queen Mother. The story picks up shortly before her birth and follows her life thereafter. It was her destiny to become the Queen of the Dragons and a champion to the downtrodden misfits in her world.
If you love Dragons, Dragon Riders, Otherworldly Creatures, and lots of adventure and intrigue, I hope you will enjoy the first three books in the DRAGOMEIR SERIES –
AND keep watching for my forthcoming book, the Fourth Book in the Series –
- “DAUGHTER OF THE DARK LORD”
Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions. Happy Reading!
www.solitaireparke.com (Books available at numerous websites)
A leap year, where an extra day is added to the end of February every four years, is due to the solar system’s disparity with the Gregorian calendar.
A complete orbit of the earth around the sun takes exactly 365.2422 days to complete, but the Gregorian calendar uses 365 days. So leap seconds – and leap years – are added as means of keeping our clocks (and calendars) in sync with the Earth and its seasons.
Why Are There Leap Years?
Leap years are needed to keep our modern day Gregorian calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun.
It takes the Earth approximately 365.242189 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds – to circle once around the Sun. This is called a tropical year, and is measured from the March equinox.
However, the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days in a year, so if we didn’t add a leap day on February 29 nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be off by around 24 days!
Who Invented Leap Years?
Roman general Julius Caesar introduced the first leap years over 2000 years ago. But the Julian calendar had only one rule: any year evenly divisible by four would be a leap year.
This formula produced way too many leap years, but was not corrected until the introduction of the Gregorian calendar more than 1500 years later.
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII revised the Julian calendar by creating the Gregorian calendar with the assistance of Christopher Clavius, a German mathematician and astronomer. The Gregorian calendar further stated that leap days should not be added in years ending in “00” unless that year is also divisible by 400. This additional correction was added to stabilize the calendar over a period of thousands of years and was necessary because solar years are actually slightly less than 365.25 days. In fact, a solar year occurs over a period of 365.2422 days.
Fun facts about leap years –
- The Summer Olympic Games are always held in a leap year. This year, they take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- US presidential elections are held every four years, in a leap year.
- In Greece couples often avoid getting married in a leap year, believing it to be bad luck
- Food for thought: If you work on a fixed annual wage, today is just one more day’s work than you would usually have to do for your salary.
- As touched on above, a year that is divisible by 100, but not by 400, is not technically a leap year. Therefore 2000 was a leap year under the Gregorian calendar, as was 1600. But 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not. “There’s a good reason behind it,” Ian Stewart, emeritus professor of mathematics, told the BBC. “The year is 365 days and a quarter long – but not exactly. If it was exactly, then you could say it was every four years.” Pope Gregory and his astronomers’ solution will have to be rethought in around 10,000 years, Prof Stewart points out.
If you know any more Fun Facts about Leap Years, please share!