Beneficial Celtic Lifestyle: In Praise Of Urtica Dioica Or Be Nice To Nettles!

20170509 IN PRAISE OF URTICA DIOICA CELTIC LIFESTYLEI’m about to commit a gross error. Yes, for some the humble Stinging Nettle is a weed. There, I’ve said it…..the ‘w’ word. But, only to get that out of the way, right at the beginning.

The definition of a weed, is essentially, any plant that you don’t want to grow!

At the far end of my garden, in the wilderness of north Wales, well, actually just over the unmarked and unannounced boundary of my garden, is a rivulet. On the far side of the rivulet there are ancient trees, shrubbery of all sorts and gorse bushes. Indeed, that wilderness starts just before you leave my otherwise human-cultivated garden, and I like that.

To have some wilderness apparently ‘encroaching’ into my garden, actually reminds me that I’m very much the ‘guest’ in this wild and ancient countryside, and that is extremely humbling.

And so, therefore, in my garden, there is about one-fifth of the land, at the far end which isn’t human-cultivated, and so it grows wild, and that’s where there are some rather nice, wonderful and much under-rated stinging nettles. Yes, I’m happy with them there, and I’m pleased they are growing there…and so by definition they are not weeds! I’m pleased about that, too, especially as the humble stinging nettle gets bad press.

nettleAs a Druidic-Christian I am enthralled, in awe, captivated and even mesmerised at times by nature; dear wild, green, profligate, the absolute ‘fecundaceousness’ of nature.

My encouragement to you, then, is to take time in forests and wooded places, and if in the city, to visit parks, and in the UK to visit ‘commons’, those places where parts, if not all, are ‘overgrown’ and nature is wild, and then look out for stinging nettles, and appreciate them. Really appreciate them.

‘When the nettle is young, the leaves make excellent greens; when it grows old it has filaments and fibres like hemp and flax. Chopped up, the nettle is good for poultry; pounded, it is good for horned cattle. The seed of the nettle mixed with the fodder of animals gives a lustre to their skin; the root, mixed with salt, produces a beautiful yellow dye. It makes, however, excellent hay…And what does the nettle need? very little soil, no care, no culture; except that the seeds fall as fast as they ripen, and it is difficult to gather them; that is all. If we would take a little pains, the nettle would be useful; we neglect it, and it becomes harmful. Then we kill it…My friends, remember this, that there are no weeds…there are only bad farmers.’

Victor Hugo

I accept that Stinging Nettles, like other plants that some people would prefer not to grow, can spread rapidly and need cutting back from time to time, but they are wonderful plants.

Yes, I cut back that part of the garden, and prune trees in that area, periodically, always ‘asking’ beforehand. It would in discourteous not to do so! For some, ‘asking’ is necessary, especially for those for whom elementals inhabit such areas. But, even if one relegates such a belief to a romantic or metaphorical concept, ‘asking’ is still necessary, I believe, as it puts things into perspective: In cutting back undergrowth, I need to ensure that I am sympathetic to nature, to the wildlife and insects that live in and off of such plants, and am not reckless. ‘Asking’ ensures that I am not ‘doing my own thing’, but am in empathy with nature around about me. It encourages and enhances reflection, and that cannot be a bad thing, and encourages ‘oneness’.

The week, 21-27 May is, traditionally, ‘Be nice to Nettles’ week.

Did you know, for instance, that the Stinging nettle is called Urtica Dioica, which comes from the Latin meaning ‘two houses’. This refers to the fact that both the male and female flowers are normally carried on separate plants. Don’t you find that interesting?

It is also possible that the term ‘nettle’ is derived from ‘Noedl’, old English, meaning a needle – referring to the stinging mechanism in the nettle leaves.

That’s the thing about Stinging nettles, they do indeed…..sting. For the chemists amongst you, you may like to know that the plant, which is covered in tiny hairs, when touched break off and ‘transform’ into needles that can inject several chemicals: acetylcholine, histamine, 5-HT (serotonin), moroidin, leukotrienes, and possibly formic acid into the skin. Yes, they sting, and so I wouldn’t advise you go too near. However, if you do get stung, it is said that the leaf of a (nearby) Dock leaf will quell the pain.

butterfly1Did you also know, that Stinging nettles are much loved by butterflies, such as Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral and Peacock butterflies, as well as attracting aphids which are necessary in the food-chain for birds.

‘Butterflies are like angels kisses sent from heaven.’ Malia Kirk

If you have a garden, could you ‘allow’ a small section just for the stinging nettle (or other wild plants), and if you live in an apartment, why not be ‘wild and reckless’, avant-garde and radical and grow a stinging nettle in a pot? Okay, others may find that strange, but now you know different. Now, you know the value of that plant to nature and butterflies, specifically.

Did you also know Stinging nettle tea (and you can always ‘pop’ into a tasty additional tea bag to improve the flavour) is said to have beneficial health properties (of the complementary kind!). Stinging nettle has been used medicinally since at least 3 B.C. And, in medieval times, it was used to treat pain in joints, as well as act as a diuretic.

Today, many use Stinging nettle tea as it is seen by some as a diuretic (water-reducing), and is regarded by many as an analgesic (pain-reducing), paradoxically, and as a depurative (cleansing the body of toxins, and is therefore beneficial to the kidney and liver).

tea1If you want to enjoy a cup of stinging nettle tea, I’d suggest you buy some, say, from Holland & Barrett (rather than make some from the raw plant, unless you’re a qualified herbalist), and if taking prescribed medicine do check with your doctor or health practitioner – there are a few ‘contraindications’ depending on what other medicines you’re taking. But, what a wonderful way to start and/or end the day with Nettle tea?

In ending this, and it could be that you’re (still) not enamoured with the wonders of the Stinging nettle though I can’t imagine why – they are truly wonderful – then, my final encouragement is to urge you to look again at the awesomeness of nature, and especially those parts which mankind has designated as a burden or unlovely. See with a beginner’s mind, become as little children as one commentator on humanity said, and treasure nature in all its beauty – Stinging nettles, as well. Be nice to nettles, please. Brother Nettle, as St Francis might have said! That seems a (more) enlightened, aware, Celtic (Christian), Druidic and Pagan approach. What do you think?

Happy planting, Tadhg.

20170509 IN PRAISE OF URTICA DIOICA CELTIC LIFESTYLE

Herbarium: Dragon’s Blood

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Do you need some ‘spice’ in your life? Would you like a ‘wealth-increaser’? Could your house do with a spiritual ‘uplift’, banishing negativity and encouraging positivity to take root? Dragon’s blood maybe the answer.

As an Anamcara, Tadhg has much experience regarding the traditional use of ancient herbs and ‘power rocks’ etc. Indeed, Tadhg’s Apothecary uses many such herbs and plants etc for clients, today.

Here’s one that may be beneficial to you.

Dragons Blood (Daemomorops Draco) is a resin from the rattan palm. It was known to the Romans of the first century, and was, for them, an important trading commodity.

There is something of the dragon in this. Strong. Powerful. Effective. Albeit benevolent.

It has a bright red appearance, is a good, natural colourant, and so was (and still is, sometimes) used as a cloth dye, or to make waxes and seals.

It has been used by many cultures in various ceremonies, and was used by some, formerly, as an ingestible medicine, but not so, now. If you have not smelled Dragon’s Blood…it is quite fragrant, similar to that of Myrrh and Frankincense, and so, is somewhat reminiscent of a Catholic mass.

Dragon’s Blood is also excellent for ritual and ceremony for your group (or for you), or around the house.

Myth: Ladon was the name of the dragon, who was believed to guard the apples of the Hesperides, appointed to watch in the gardens of the  by Juno, and never slept. The dragon, however, was slain by Heracles; and the image of the fight was placed by Zeus among the stars. Dragons Blood, the red resin, was, according to this myth, the bloody, earthly remain of Ladon.

Usage by Tadhg: From the ancient, traditional and complementary healing arts of the ancient Celts, Dragons Blood was very useful.

Tadhg’s Apothecary works with it, still:

  • preparing mixes for incense for clients and churches for use in specific ritual and ceremonies,
  • preparing ‘air essences’ for ‘locations and placement-uplift’ eg rooms, workplaces, or for rituals etc.

Could it assist you?

Traditionally, it was used for the healing of : various physical ailment (formerly), but is now not used for ingestion or physical use.

It could be said to be the spice of life! It’s said to be an aphrodisiac!

It is said to have the following properties:

  • an aromatic/pungent
  • an aphrodisiac
  • astringent (that which contracts organic tissue, reducing secretions or discharges of mucous and fluid from the body)

It is also viewed, and is still used by some, ceremonially, as important for:

  • bringing back good memories
  • the banishment of negativity
  • a blessing and protection
  • increasing wealth
  • fertility or as an aphrodisiac
  • various rituals

It may be mixed with other herbs, for specific purposes (depending on your requirements) and for definite church (and other) ceremonies or to use around the house as an ‘air essence’, or in a general manner such as one would use in the hall-way or bathroom etc.

Tadhg could prepare this for you as an ‘air essence’ for the home or as incense for ritual and ceremonial uses, and maybe mix it with other herbs depending on your requirements – its usual for 3-5 herbs to be used – or perhaps there’s some other requirement?

Caution: Dragons Blood should never be ingested, nor used externally on the body.

Next step: To find out more, and how Tadhg’s Apothecary can assist you with a preparation of this herb (or a mix of this and others, depending on your requirements), do contact him for more information and/or to book a consultation, wherever you are.

Note: Intentionality is important. Also, the above-mentioned is for informational purposes only. This ministry is complementary, and not an alternative to allopathic medicine. E&OE. Do not self-medicate. Bt, do contact Tadhg for more information.

Herbarium: Mistletoe

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European Mistletoe

As an Anamcara, Tadhg’s specialism is liminality, covering mind, body and spirit; and one way this is used to benefit discerning men and women is through the use of herbs for physical, mind, spiritual and ‘locational’ benefits. What follows, then, is information regarding Mistletoe from a traditional herbalist’s point of view.

Mistletoe is one of my favourites. Surrounded by ‘myth and magic’, bound up in history and the Christmas ‘rituals’ of kissing under it, it has some amazing properties for those with ailments, or those who require it for its  ‘locational’ benefits around the house etc.

Name & Description
The English name is said to have come from the Anglo-Saxon Misteltan, mistel from ‘mist’ and tan meaning ‘twig’. The plant is called Herbe de la Croix in Brittany as legend has it that Jesus’s cross came from its wood.

Mistletoe is an evergreen, plant found on the branches of deciduous trees. Roots growing from the yellowish-green, forked stem penetrate through the bark into the wood of the host. The leaves are opposite, leathery, yellow-green, and narrowly obovate. Pale yellow or green flowers appear from March to May.

Mistletoe ‘is under the dominion of the Sun, with something of the nature of Jupiter…’
Nicholas Culpeper, 1653

Folklore
Mistletoe, especially at Christmastime, is associated with kissing. Many trace this custom back to the Greeks who used mistletoe in the Saturnalia festival. Mistletoe also figures in a Scandinavian legend of Balder, the god of Peace, who was killed with an arrow of mistletoe. He was restored to life, and mistletoe was then given to the goddess of Love, and it was ordained that everyone who passed under it should receive a kiss, to show that the branch had become an emblem of love, and not of hate. Something to think about, this Christmastime. And, ancient Celts, and their Druids used branches of the Mistletoe to announce the entrance of the new year, and as a protection against evil, especially (but not only) by hanging it from the ceiling.

Properties
It is said to have the following properties:

  • antispasmodic [relieves or eases muscular spasms]
  • cardio-tonic [stimulates or otherwise affects the heart]
  • diuretic [increases the volume and flow of urine which cleanses the urinary system]
  • emetic [causes vomiting]
  • hypotensive [lowers blood pressure]
  • narcotic [relieves pain and induces sleep]
  • nervine [has a calming or soothing effect on the nerves]
  • stimulant [excites or quickens the functional activity of the tissues giving more energy]
  • tonic [tones, strengthens and invigorates, giving a feeling of well-being]
  • vasodilator [widens the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure]

Hippocrates and 17th centuary herbalist Culpepper prescribed it for disorders of the spleen.

Uses (previously)
It has been said, formerly, to have been used in the treatment of breast cancer and/or for the side effects of chemotherapy in Europe, for heart conditions, lowering blood pressure, epilepsy, gout, depression and sleep disorders, tinnitus, dizziness, feelings of anxiety etc. However, even formerly, if the dosage was misjudged, then vomiting, diarrhoea and cramping etc could follow, and it wasn’t used for those that were pregnant or breast-feeding. It is for these reasons and others, including the fact that the US Food and Drug Administration lists this plant as ‘unsafe’ and the UK MHRA has Mistletoe berries on its list of banned substances, that we don’t suggest, nor use it (as a tincture) for internal or external bodily usage. We do, however, suggest it for use for ritual and ceremonial purposes (whether formal or informal), and ‘locational’ purposes around the house eg in rooms, home altar etc, workplace, faith-group meeting place.

‘It could have been the steeple bell, that wrapped us up within it’s spell. It only took one kiss to know… It must have been the mistletoe!’
Barbara Mandrell, It Must Have Been The Mistletoe

Current uses
For ritual, ceremony or for ‘locational purposes’, we currently use Mistletoe for the purposes mentioned above, but not in tincture form, as well as for:

  • dispelling negativity by hanging from ceilings etc
  • romance, love and fertility
  • healing
  • protection against evil

It us usual to combine it with an aromatic. Mistletoe can be combined with:

  • Thyme (an enhancer of the main constituent). Thyme also brings the benefits of rest, tranquillity and peace.
  • Myrrh. Myrrh has similar benefits to Mistletoe but also encourages deep spirituality, and is therefore popular for rituals and ceremony.
  • Sage. A sage ‘bundle’ used to ‘smudge’ can ‘hold’ the Mistletoe well, and is said to have the added benefit of making dreams come true.

It can be bought from Tadhg as:

z herbal ais 665 Untitled-1 copy 7

What to do now
For more information about mistletoe and to book a consultation for a herbal prescription and quantity of it, in this case for ritual and ‘locational’ uses only, wherever you are do please contact Tadhg direct.

Tadhg’s work is complementary and not alternative to allopathic medicine. Although we use mistletoe externally for ritual and ‘locational’ purposes, should you have an ailment do see your health practitioner, and should you have done so already and have been given advice and/or medicine, do please continue to use it until told otherwise by them. And remember, ‘intentionality’ is always important when it comes to a herbs effectiveness. Photographs used above are for representational purposes only. Do not self-medicate. Information here is for informational purposes only. E&OE.

Herbarium: Meadowsweet

wiki Filipendula_palmata_meadowsweet_MN_2007As an Anamcara, Tadhg has much experience regarding the use of ancient herbs etc. For him, the benefits of liminality affect body, soul and spirit, and so herbs can be an effective ‘tool’ for ushering you and I into that liminal-imaginal realm of power and potential. His work is holistic.

For discerning men and women, for a variety of requirements, Tadhg makes up different mixtures as part of his ministry.

Here’s one herb/flower that may be beneficial to you.

Meadowsweet (Filipendula Ulmaria), also known as Mead Wort, is one of the best known wild-flowers in England and elsewhere. It is a perennial plant, surviving best in damp locations such as meadows, woodlands and near marshes. Its virtues have been known since the time of Pedanius Dioscorides (a Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist, 40-90 AD)

The fragrant creamy white flowers have an almond scent.

Queen Elizabeth I was so fond of this herb that the floors of her apartments were always strewn with it. Meadowsweet was mentioned in Chaucer’s, ‘A Knight’s Tale’ in the 14th century. And, it is one the three most sacred herbs to the Druids.

wiki millais_ophelia3

The Lady Of The Lake by John Everett Millais (1829-1896)

Myth: According to the myth and magic that abounds in Wales, out of the waters of Llyn Fan Fach in Carmarthenshire, there came a mysterious and beautiful Lady of the Lake. She taught many about the healing power of plants, especially Meadowsweet. Just a myth? Interestingly, the ashes of a young girl were discovered recently, buried with Meadowsweet, near this lake. It is thought these ashes have laid undisturbed for thousands of years, even before before this story about the Lady of the Lake was recorded.

John Gerarde, (a London botanist and herbalist, 1545-1612 AD) wrote ‘for the smell thereof makes the heart merrie and joyful and delighteth the senses.’

Usage by Tadhg: From the ancient, traditional and complementary healing arts of the ancient Celts, Meadowsweet was very useful.

Tadhg’s Apothecary works with it, still, preparing tinctures for ingestion (usually a small number of herbal ‘drops’ added to tea, water or similar), or ‘air essences’ for gentle evaporation (usually several small ‘reeds’ resting in a small bottle of essence)  or incense etc for ‘locations and placement-uplift’ eg rooms, workplaces, or for rituals etc. Could it assist you?

Traditionally, it is used for the healing of :

  • aches and pains, arthritis
  • colds and flu
  • general digestive problems, dyspepsia, indigestion
  • restlessness, thus giving a good night’s sleep
  • skin blemishes, rashes, as an aid to healing of wounds etc.

We have mixed Meadsweet with Boneset, and/or Ginger,  and/or Echinaca, and/or Vervain (tea) as a flu preventative. It mixes well, depending on your requirements.

It is said to have the following properties:

  • an aromatic (producing a nice smell, pungent)
  • an alterative (changes the body’s chemistry, like a tonic, but slowly)
  • an analgesic (reduces or relieves pain)
  • an stringent (tightens body tissue and is useful for cuts, scars etc)
  • an anti-inflammatory [encourages the body to counter the root cause of inflammation]
  • a diaphoretic (promotes perspiration])
  • a diuretic (increases urine flow, so body loses some weight)
  • febrifuge (cools the body, and so reduces fever) etc.

‘…all of these processes…explain the effectiveness of meadowsweet preparations in the treatment of inflammatory conditions’ (Extract from The Pharmaceutical Journal – A Royal Pharmaceutical Society publication)

It is also viewed by some as important for:

  • encouraging dreams, especially lucid dreams
  • promoting peaceful intentions, and love
  • romance, and stimulating the libido.

Contra-Indications: Do not ingest/apply to skin etc if aspirin-sensitive, or if taking anti-congratulatory medicine.

Next step: To find out more, and how Tadhg and Tadhg’s Apothecary can assist you with a preparation of this herb (or a mix of this and others, depending on your requirements), do contact him for more information and/or to book a consultation, wherever you are. Please remember, this page is but an outline, and the prescribing of herbs and their mixture is bespoke and personal to you, and only takes place after a 30-40 minute (‘in person’ or online) consultation. You can benefit wherever you are.

Note: Intentionality is important. Also, the above-mentioned is for informational purposes only. This ministry is complementary, and not an alternative to allopathic medicine. E&OE. We also make a distinction between ‘raw’ herbs and their oils, essential oils etc as both are prepared by us and used differently, though for the sake of brevity the detail is not mentioned here. Do not self-medicate. Do read the notes of ‘Tadhg’s Apothecary’ page

Herbarium: Frankincense

wiki 250px-Olibanum_resin

Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)

As an Anamcara, Tadhg has much experience regarding the use of ancient herbs etc. Indeed, using traditional understanding Tadhg’s Apothecary uses many such herbs and plants for clients, today. Here’s one that may be beneficial to you.

Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), also known as Olibanum, is part of the Burseraceae plant family. It originates from Arabia and Somalia, has been traded for over 5000 years, and is used today, initially, in its resin form.

The ancient Egyptians ground charred Frankincense resin into a powder called kohl, and this was used, formerly, to make the distinctive black eyeliner seen on so many figures in Egyptian art.

Frankincense is a symbol of holiness and righteousness.

Ancient sacred text says: And going into the house they [the Magi, Wise Men] saw the [Christ] child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Usage by Tadhg: From the ancient, traditional and complementary healing arts of the ancient Celts, Frankincense was very useful. Tadhg’s Apothecary works with it, still:

  • preparing mixes for incense for clients and churches for use in specific ritual and ceremonies
  • preparing ‘air essences’ for ‘locations and placement-uplift’ eg rooms, workplaces, or for rituals etc.

Traditionally, it was used for the healing of: various physical ailments, but this is no longer the case.

Frankincense in a thurible

Frankincense in a thurible

Frankincense has a strong, other-worldly aroma that seems to allow a greater depth of thought and meditation. Client use it in the home in rituals, in the home for general purposes, and some churches like us to mix it with other herbs etc, for them.

It is said to have the following properties:

  • an aromatic (producing a nice smell, pungent)
  • an anti-septic (kills or reduces micro-organisms)
  • an aphrodisiac
  • a hypnotic (sleep inducing, soporific)
  • an immunostimulant (stimulates the immune system)
  • a sedative (promotes calmness, tranquillity, reduces stress or anxiety

It is also viewed by some as important for:

  • protection
  • ritual purification
  • blessing of people, places, houses/offices, churches etc
  • increasing spiritual depth and meditation
  • various ceremonies and rituals
  • dispelling gloomy thoughts, depression, despair, lessens anxiety
  • banishing negativity, encouraging positivity
  • soap and perfume

Caution: Frankincense should never be ingested. It is sometimes used externally on the body in a very dilute form and mixed with oil, but care must be taken, and we would advise against this.

Next step: To find out more, and how Tadhg and Tadhg’s Apothecary can assist you with a preparation of this herb (or a mix of this and others, depending on your requirements), do contact him for more information and/or to book a consultation, wherever you are. For general information about booking etc, consultation and product costs, do check here: Tadhg’s Apothecary (main page)

Note: Intentionality is important. Also, the above-mentioned is for informational purposes only. This ministry is complementary, and not an alternative to allopathic medicine. E&OE. Do not self-medicate. Do read the notes of ‘Tadhg’s Apothecary’ page