In praise of nettles

In praise of nettles

As it’s the Spring Equinox, it seemed appropriate to write about plants and growing. I have dabbled in herbalism for the past few years and have made a few tinctures and dried plants to use in teas. It’s one of those things that I’m going to get around to doing properly ‘one of these days‘, but of course, unless I push myself, ‘one of these days‘ will never arrive!

So, I’ve made a commitment to myself that this spring and summer, I will get ‘out there’ and explore at least three plants as thoroughly as I can. My current three are Nettle, Plantain and Elder.

Nettle is a brilliant plant. I’m already taking nettle seed (along with other things) for anxiety, but the whole plant has many uses. The leaves (the top 2 or 3 sets in spring and early summer), are highly nutritious as a food, and as a medicine. The seeds, as already mentioned, have some great qualities too, and the root can also be used as a medicine. The great thing about nettle is it’s abundance – certainly in the UK, you can find it fairly easily.

This YouTube video gives you an introduction to some of the benefits of the humble Nettle, along with useful information on when and how to harvest it.

 

Beyond food and medicine, there is also the possibility of using nettle as a fibre too. I went to a talk a month ago, where the speaker showed us some nettle thread which had been spun. Nettle cord is another use and is quite easy to make and incredibly strong.

According to the website, nettlesforhealth.com the Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) contain the following:

Vitamin A, C, E, F, K, P
Vitamin B- complexes as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B-6 all of which are found in high levels and act as antioxidents.
​Zinc, Iron, Magnesium, Copper and Selenium
Boron, Bromine, Calcium, Chlorine, Chlorophyll, Potassium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Iodine, Chromium, Silicon and Sulfur

Sixteen free amino acids have been found in the leaves as well as many carotenoids such as beta-carotene, luteoxanthin and lutein epoxide.

Stinging nettle is indeed a powerhouse of nutrients. Along with the nutrients mentioned above, it contains on average:

22% protein 4% fats 37% non-nitrogen extracts
9-21% fiber 19-29% ash.

The actual content will of course vary according to the soil quality and particular strain of the plant, but you get the idea that it’s just packed full of good stuff. I would encourage you discover the benefits of seeing nettle as an ally and use it!

Cat Scramble by Elen Sentier

Cat Scramble by Elen Sentier

Every so often I hear some great, inspiring poetry or writing. I posted Tom Hiron’s poem, “Sometimes a Wild God” which still inspires me, especially the performance of it by storyteller Mark Lewis which is at the bottom of the page on this link:

https://hawthornrising.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/sometimes-a-wild-god/

But last week, I caught this, ‘Cat Scramble’ by Elen Sentier. Like she says in the story, “this place speaks to me”, and this writing does to. It speaks of wild places that are good for the soul, of taking and giving back, of the cycles of life. Continue reading “Cat Scramble by Elen Sentier”

Rooted in this land, in my land

Rooted in this land, in my land

Recently, I was extremely priviledged to attend a Sunday service at a Buddhist temple. I was made very welcome and told I could join in as much or as little as I wished. The service lasted around an hour and included chanting, singing, a walking meditation and much more.

One of the things talked about was how, as a Buddhist, you attain to be like the Buddha, who was so full of love that there was no room for hate or jealously or other negative emotions. What a wonderful thought!

Afterwards, we had tea and biscuits and chatted. These people were beautiful and gentle people who were also full of love and I was so grateful for their time, affection and help.

But, in amongst it all, I felt like I was in a foreign land. Buddhism is a beautiful religion, but it is an Eastern religion and doesn’t try to hide that in any way. For some people, that might be significant part of what being a Buddhist is all about, but for me, I was struggling to get a deep connection, perhaps because it is not from my land, my roots, my place.

I’m so glad I went – to have had that experience was brilliant, but I’m also glad I went because it made me realise that my spirituality comes from the Earth around me. Here in Britain and in Ireland where my ancestors are from.

And so it is with renewed enthusiasm and connection I continue my studies and practice of Druidry. /|\

P1030258

 

Disconnection from technology and destruction

Disconnection from technology and destruction

 

In the past week, an author I admire, Paul Kingsnorth (he’s also a co-founder of the Dark Mountain Project) announced that he was starting a gradual withdrawl from social media.

He was starting by deleting his twitter and personal facebook accounts, keeping his ‘professional page’ up for a while. He’s drawn a mixed reaction from people, some admiring him (whilst also stating that they couldn’t do that…), others deriding him and pointing out that without social media, he would not have managed to get some of his work published (a fact he accepts).

Then last week, author and ‘Moneyless Man’ Mark Boyle said that he was doing the same after a ‘not so sober’ meeting with Kingsnorth. Here’s what Mark said on Facebook:

Mark Boyle. 29 November at 20:52

 

Goodbye, facebook.

After a few afternoon pints with Paul Kingsnorth, in our little nook in the wilds of Ireland, we came to the not-so-sober conclusion that the time was long past for leaving the realm of social media, and to instead spend those precious hours doing the things we dearly love doing, with people we dearly love doing them with.

Unlike most decisions made after an ale or stout, this one seemed like an even better idea the next morning. So from next Friday onwards, I shall be on social media no more.

Instead, I intend to spend those hours rewilding myself and the land; creating sanctuaries for people who, like I, have had enough of industrial civilisation and the violence it inflicts on Life; to spend time observing the natural world, and becoming part of it once again; making love unrushed; reading by the glow of a wood fire; and writing – from now on with a pencil and paper – about things I care about, on the off-chance they may be useful or enjoyable to someone else. Fiction, from here on, methinks.

Paul has written an excellent short blog on his website (where you can find his excellent writings) about why he is doing the same. Ditto to all Paul has said, as he says it better than I:

http://tumblr.paulkingsnorth.net/…/134078691…/what-would-ted

I also intend to move away, one step at a time, from all complex technologies, whose production lays waste to all I love, and to reclaim my life from the bombardment of emails that we’ve somehow accepted as normality.

If you’re ever in this neck of the woods, or need respite from the city and the speed of industrial civilisation, there is always a bed and a hearty meal for you here in The Happy Pig at An Teach Saor. I can’t always guarantee I’ll be free to hang out, but you’ll be welcome nonetheless. If you want to know where that is … find out the way we used to before social media was invented a few short years ago, and then follow your nose. Lets reclaim our sense of adventure.

Lots of love to you all, and thank you for all the wonderful interactions over the years.

One of the things that both Kingsnorth and Boyle have managed to do with social media is get their message out and promote what they were doing.

For example Mark Boyle used crowdfunding, promoted heavily through social media to get the money he needed to build his ‘free pub’. It’s fairly likely that without the exposure afforded through social media, whether directly or indirectly, he may not have been able to proceed.

So what does this say about these guys? One might say that they are selfish and now that they have what they want, they’re telling everyone to ‘get stuffed’, or could it be something else?

Personally, I think they have decided that it’s time to do what you love. Be with the ones you love and spend your time very wisely. There are many, particularly in the environmental movement, who feel that it’s impossible to effect change through government. We can see this right now at the COP21 climate talks in Paris as governments lobby for the ‘best’ result for them – one which doesn’t affect them too much and certainly doesn’t affect their ability for economic growth.

Maybe Kingsnorth and Boyle have accepted that change will not happen this way, that you can’t change the course of consumerism and capitalism, so you need to create your own reality and watch the rest crash and burn?

As Boyle says “Instead, I intend to spend those hours rewilding myself and the land; creating sanctuaries for people who, like I, have had enough of industrial civilisation and the violence it inflicts on Life; to spend time observing the natural world, and becoming part of it once again; making love unrushed; reading by the glow of a wood fire; and writing – from now on with a pencil and paper – about things I care about, on the off-chance they may be useful or enjoyable to someone else. Fiction, from here on, methinks.”

So where do I stand on this? In truth, I’m not sure! There is a part of me that has given up on governments and most people making rational decisions about the future of humanity, and in that sense, there is no point banging on about stuff on Facebook or Twitter (or WordPress!). But there’s also a part of me that would not want to loose the ‘connection’ to people that social media has given me. Perhaps, these electronic friends are surrogate friends and maybe, in an appropriate community, I would be awash with real friends, negating the need for electronic friends. Maybe, but when you get to know people, and like people, real or otherwise, it’s hard to give them up isn’t it?

I’ve also written a little more about Mark Boyle in this blog.

 

Feeling lost

Feeling lost

 

I’m feeling very ‘lost’ at the moment. It’s hard to be precise about the feeling, but those from the UK might have heard the word ‘discombobulated’ and I think that’s a good fit for me!

It doesn’t help that I’ve had a cold for 5 weeks (my first one in over 4 years) and whilst it’s on its way out, I still get bouts of coughing and headaches or earaches which pull me down.

But there is something deeper – a deeper pull for real and meaningful connection with the Earth, with the Source. I can’t get motivated by work, in fact, jobs that should be taking a few hours are taking days – suddenly work doesn’t seem important.

A number of the books I’ve read recently, or am reading right now have touched on this and made me realise that I am missing something.

Maybe this phase will pass.

Maybe this is a wakeup call.