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Sunday, 24 April 2016

Nettle, Queen of Plants

“So, what’s this whole thing with Nettles” asks Magical Horse, as she pulls another young Hawthorn shoot from the hedge. I tell her “you do know Hawthorn is good for the heart don’t you? And the flowers, especially, for heart break”. “I just like the taste” she mutters, between bites “and get on with it, about the nettles. Stop showing off. Remember, part of being sick and old is giving up the need to be the expert”. This, with a look over the top of her half rimmed glasses. Nothing like a horse to un-mask one. "I'm only a bit sick now, and not that old" I retort. "Well, if you were a horse, we'd have called the horse ambulance ages agoand you know what's in a horse ambulancenothing apart from a twelve bore shotgun" 

“And why do you always call her Mother Nettle, not just nettle”

“Because she told me that’s what she is”. She is a Mother plant. Her roots go deep into the soil, pulling up innumerable minerals, cleansing the soil as she goes, healing the Earth. She has light transmitting silica in the tiny hairs on her leaves and stems, thus bringing in light and energy from the Cosmos and outer planets. This last from Steiner. Nettle was the only soil preparation he didn’t sheathe, and he saw her as the main circulatory plant for the earth. Say that again....The-Main-Circulatory- Plant- for -the -Earth.

She is the plant to turn to if you need cleansing, building up, and healing from just about everything. Rich in chlorophyll (vital if you want to clear heavy metals from your body), protein, 

This from Susun Weed, one of my favorite Herbalists. “Nettle is amazingly rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, especially the critical trace minerals: anti-cancer selenium, immune-enhancing sulphur, memory-enhancing zinc, diabetes-chasing chromium, and bone-building boron. A quart of nettle infusion contains more than 1000 milligrams of calcium, 15000 IU of vitamin A, 760 milligrams of vitamin K, 10% protein, and lavish amounts of most B vitamin.
There is no denser nutrition found in any plant, not even bluegreen algae; and nettle is much more”.

 Ask respectfully, (Please Mother Nettle, may I gather you, and thank you) and she will help you build good blood and bones, strengthen your kidneys, guts, lungs, help you detoxify and bring you vavavoom. If you are pregnant or breast feeding, she will nourish you and your child, prepare your body for birth, boost your milk supply.

Magical Horse rolls her eyes in boredom. “I never touch the stuff myself”. “Well” I reply “I’ve seen the native Polish horses on the heath digging up Nettle root to eat in the winter”. “Oh, them” she sniffs, looks down her nose. 

“Maybe you need to give up the need to be Egyptian Arabian aristocracy” I mutter "and, do you realise it costs a small mortgage to keep you here in horse heaven". Shudders and closes her eyes "Hasn't even got a spa dear….". She turns her back on me and busies herself with the hedge again.... “Do you know who I am...” (This is the kind of ego inflation which results when your registered name is Seraphim)

Nettles were one of the Anglo Saxon nine sacred herbs, and a herb of Thor, associated with fire and lightening. She grows on the boundaries, and knows the boundaries. She’ll teach you boundaries if that’s what you need. Here, at my house, she has placed herself at every doorway. An honour. She’s my personal bouncer. She grows either side of the front door, and people have to pass between her and through her cleansing aura before they enter. Much more subtle than smudging visitors with sage. Anyway, we have enough of our own crap to deal with, without more coming in! I did have to relent last year and cut her back a bit, after Lovely Man pointed out the postman was contorting himself and squeaking in the effort of safely reaching the letter box. 

She is also known for “stinging people into action”. There are times when she wants to go to your heart, quite literally. Place her there, when the time feels right. Press her to your chest, breathe through the pain, keep her there until that spreading warmth and vitality comes. Watch your dreams over the next few days, when there will be times you feel her “reactivating”. After I started doing this, I read in Steiner's agriculture course (no I can’t understand most of what he writes) that “Nettle should be around everyones heart”. 

Trained as a herbalist, I grew used to saying “we use this herb for blah” . Now, a horror of “using” when actually they are helping us, I am trying to train myself out of this. Imagine saying you are “using” your mother for babysitting. So, if you would like Mother Nettle to help you, approach with respect, but not with sentimentality or a grovelling (we awful humans destroying the earth etc) attitude, but with simple appreciation. Find out what she likes. For me, she likes to be stroked. I sit often on the front doorstep and stroke her. She almost purrs. For you, it may be something else.

She will willingly be cooked in dishes where you would normally use spinach, gaily leap into hot water for tea, fling herself into juices, be dried and crumbled into horse feed (err, actually MH you are having nettle in your feed) and for chickens too. Glossy coats and good condition result. She lasts much longer than cut flowers as a table centre piece (how she glories in that), and if you have gathered strangers energies when out in the world, she will gently sweep them away if you swoosh her over your head, or better still leave her on your head for a while.

Finishing with a quote from Hatfields Herbal, from an interview with an elderly lady in Essex.

 “Great emphasis was placed on keeping the bowels open and the pores closed and of cleansing the blood after the rigours of winter, and so in spring we were sent to gather young nettles. Nettle tea we had to drink to purify our blood, Grandpa (unwillingly) for his sciatica and Aunt Rose for her pleurisy. I wondered how it knew which it was supposed to do”

She knows alright, Oh how she knows. (And I love the bit about "bowels open and pores closed". So frightfully British)


  1. Love this post and love nettle. I've been drinking nettle infusion for the last few years to help with my transition into menopause. I also just love the taste of a good nettle, potato, and onion soup!!!

  2. I put my comment under the wrong post! The comment left under the banana skins post was meant to go here, for I truly appreciate this information on nettles. I've made nettle soup in the past, and occasionally drink nettle tea, and this is a good reminder of what a lovely, healing plant it is.

    1. Thank you Terri. She is indeed a healing magnificent plant

  3. Good Morning,
    I was led to your site after you posted to Terri Windling's blog today. Nettlewoman. How nice to know you are here. A kettle is readying herself for my first cup of Mother Nettle in tea. To read your post here, I am refreshed with just how powerful she is. A timely remembrance. Just what is needed. Thank you, Mokihana

    1. Welcome Mokihana, enjoy your Mother Nettle tea


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