Thursday, 15 September 2011

Thankyou (and foraging)

I seem to be unable to reply to comments at the moment, either due to my incompetence and inexperience or a problem with Blogger, but I wanted to thank so much everyone who responded to my last post.

I received a deluge of messages, mostly via e-mail or on facebook..(it's also ok to comment here) offering words of love and support. It felt like a huge step, not only to start the blog, but also write publicly about such personal and emotional issues. I had thought about posting about Lily again today and in some ways it would seem appropriate.

However, in my life, grief, memories and feelings of loss are inextricably woven into a larger tapestry, and the colour of the weft threads changes day by day. Sometimes the weaving is bright and shining, sometimes subtle and dulled. The woven cloth is still there on the loom but each new row is different.
And so today, the sun shone and Leo and I went......foraging


With the new school year come new routines and rhythms. Thursday is Leo's Mummy Day. With sister and brother at kindergarten and school all day, Leo gets some rare time alone with me, and woe betide anyone else who wants to have a conversation with me on that day which lasts longer than five minutes! We sometimes do special trips, often just enjoy home... but today it was warm, bright and some of my herb jars needed filling.

I had nettles on my mind as I dropped the older ones off this morning. Leo is a very rewarding foraging companion and I wanted to take advantage of what I call the second Spring of early autumn. Plants that have been cut down some time ago send out a last flush of fresh spring like growth, providing supplies to see me through the winter. Usually at this time of year a nettle will have run to seed and look very different
 but today didn't want the seeds..I will soon..only the soft leaves.

The energy in these leaves feels weaker than those fiery, thrusting, ferocious new shoots of the true spring, but as I wasn't very organised then, I am relying on these frailer autumn progeny to fill my jars for teas and oils and vinegars.

As always on a foraging expedition, there was a sense of excitement. Yet there was also a feeling of empowerment to be able to provide food and medicine for my family for free and I felt blessed to live in beautiful Devon which provides me with plentiful weeds!

Our first patch of nettles were still dewy, shyly fresh from their night under the moon. I picked these for tonight's dinner. Preserving wet plants by drying or storing in oil causes mould problems, but for nettle risotto they are fine.

Leo checked in that I had asked the nettle fairy permission (I had) but his gentle reminder made me pause to remember the times when I hadn't. I usually get stung, and the energy surrounding the harvesting feels clunky and awkward. Harvesting medicine is a chance for us to connect with the universal flow of energy which unites us all,(including nettles) and it is very humbling to honour the plants in this way. Today there were no stings
and we found several sunny dry patches of lovely leaves to process back at home.

My hair feels quite neglected most of the time and I have promised myself to give it some new autumn energy. Once I had put together some of our other pickings to make tea,
From right, clockwise, nettles, rose petals, plantain, comfrey

I found my extremely battered and beloved copy of Healing wise by Susun Weed and made nettle hair oil. My leaves were totally dry and, gathered just after the dew had dried, at optimum picking time. I gently snipped enough to fill and old tahini jar, and filled again with olive oil (could be almond) pushing them down under the oil with a wooden spoon to dislodge bubbles. Is is important for the plant material in any oil to be totally submerged or they will mould.
On a window sill for a moon cycle (and I should have started the oil  at new moon to take advantage of the waxing energies and forces of the moon) and I shall massage some into my scalp a couple of hours before I wash my hair and rinse with nettle lotion to finish.
I divided the remainder of my harvest in two and while half made dinner, lovely risotto, the other I dried for winter teas. How wonderful to open a jar of home gathered herbs in January, and how pale and wan a tea bag seems!


  1. I am very impressed to see Leo getting in there with his bare hands and permission from the nettle fairies. I find that eating a lot of nettle seems to dissipate the power of the sting as well as approaching the plants respectfully.

    Do you make your own nettle hair lotion (recipe perhaps??)or do you buy one that you could recommend? I make a hair rinse with nettle infused in cider vinegar to use with my herbal shampoo bars (I shall never toss out another plastic shampoo bottle!!) but have never tried nettle oil a la Susun Weed.

    By the way, commenting on this blog has proved challenging as well. Perhaps you can add the name/URL option to make it easier?

  2. So sorry about the commenting issues, the technical side of setting up a blog is still a source of frustration, I just want to get on and blog! Hope it's better now.
    My hair rinse sounds similar to yours, but just has 1/4 cup cider vinegar to 4cups nettle infusion made with 1oz dried nettle. Keep refrigerated. I also add a few drops rosemary essential oil


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