Sunday, 13 March 2011

Wild n Wicked Workshops N Walks...

We’ve just had 2 wonderful weekends of workshops, one in Herts and one down in Dorset.

In a YHA building set in the lovely Lea Valley Park and in a little industrial estate tucked out of the way in the back end of Dorchester in a room with fantastic views out over the hills we met to learn about Sensory Herbcraft.

Sensory Herbcraft is our way of working with herbs whereby you use your senses and intuition to determine the actions of herbs emotionally, spiritually and physically.  Each herb has a character and through connecting with the smells, tastes and observing how the plant grows we can get indications or notice signatures denoting to their actions. 

The groups studied (using their senses) 4 plants, one loosely representing each of the elements earth, air, fire and water and wrote down their feelings and responses.  What is always really amazing is the common experiences within the groups.

Yarrow left one group feeling heady and spaced, all found it bitter and therefore digestive and extremely aromatic.  Nettle was earthy, grounding and ‘fishy’.  We put this down to the high mineral content, like that that you find in the shells of shell-fish.  Cleavers was watery and peppery, for movement around the throat.  We use it a lot for swollen tonsils.  Dandelion leaf was light green and bitter, the root more sweet and earthy. 

We looked at yarrow, dandelion, cleavers and nettle in Saturdays workshop and saw them in their natural habitats the next day.  
We decided to focus the walks on making herbal vinegars because they capture the essence of spring and all of the minerals from the spring greens so well. There was lots of delicious fresh greens to tickle our taste buds and fill our vinegar jars and best of all the sunshine came out.

Some of the herbs we saw apart from the magic 4 in Lea Valley, Herts were daisy, horseradish, burdock, coltsfoot, comfrey, willow, snowdrop, blackberry, hawthorn, plantain and rosehips amongst others.

And in Dorset in the lovely Weymouth Lorton Meadows we saw bittercress, pilewort, chickweed, horsetail, wild carrot, alexanders, rosehip, sloe, blackberry, ground ivy, brooklime, hawthorn, sheep sorrel, dock, horehound, daffodil, plantain.  And we learnt not to taste lords and ladies because it burns your tongue.  We ate Ian's druid bread in the sunshine and chatted vinegars and aching joints over a picnic.

These workshops offer us all a chance to learn more about connecting with the world that grows around us so that we can learn how valuable it is and therefore how much it is worth protecting.  They are a forum to inform people and discuss the politics of herbalism in the current climate. How, more than ever it is important to take responsibility for your own health, to make simple home remedies and harvest from natures bounty in a sensitive way.

We have to protect ourselves and nature through learning about the plants and using our knowledge, passing it on to friends, family and children alike, enjoying and appreciating nature.

Thanks for making it so good everyone that was there and for being so enthusiastic. 

Monday, 7 March 2011

Digging up Dandelions

The weather has been glorious -and I have been out there making the most of it digging up dandelions roots on the nu moon -these extremely long resiliant tap roots came out easily from the damp soil, just breaking off and leaving tiny sections that will grow into more of this valuable herb in the future.

A perennial, the Dandelion is a member of the sunflower family, the name comes from the French, 'dents de lion' ("teeth of the lion") due to the shape of the leaves.

 As a herb of Jupiter  - it has to do with growth and expansion.

Elementally I have it as an Earth plant -because of the impressively long tap root...

Dandelions are popular with beekeepers as they are an early source of nectar.

Dandelion leaves also known as 'piss the bed', are of course diuretic but spare potassium unlike their chemical counterparts -often prescribed in hypertention. -these leaves are grown commercially for salad greens tasting a little bitter -go pick some n have a try- they are high in vits and iron and calcium.

Dandelion root is a fantastic liver tonic especially at this time of the year, when our livers need a bit of a cleanse from the winter riches of heavy fatty foods and sweets. Medicinally the root can be used for gallstones, constipation and other toxic conditions such as chronic joint and skin inflammations.

The white sap may be applied directly to warts.

All parts of the Dandelion plant give off ethylene gas which can have an allelopathic effect on surrounding plants. Some fruit producers grow them below the canopy of their trees to promote even ripening. The leaves and flowers can be placed in a bag with fruit to help it to ripen.
I was diggin em up thinking happily to myself that no law or legislation can ever stop me from doing this

-muddy fingered wide smiling witchi brew making hehe

I took em into the kitchen washed the roots well and then grated them into a jar and covered with Vodka -next nu moon I shall strain them out and have my wonderful dandelion root tincture..

This tincture is one of the ingrediant in our Drops of Courage -
These extremely supportive drops help to stay focused and upbeat through challenging times

Dandelion helps to ground and centre strengthening the emotional body, giving a clearer sense of self. It gives the ability to be strong in our convictions and through directly supporting the liver helps to dissolve confusing, often 'irrational' feelings that might arise from there.

Both Borage and Dandelion are ruled by Jupiter which has a creative, expansive energy. Borage is traditionally used for courage and supports the adrenal glands making all of life's challenges (those that happen inside as well) easier to face.

Daisy brings joy to those who take it and as a herb of the sun cleanses and lightens, they are constantly being trodden down, but always bounce back. It's diuretic action means the daisy is used to eliminate toxins helping to clear the skin and promote immunity.