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Nettle

AKA:

Urtica dioica L. Family: Urticaceae, Common Nettle, Stinging Nettle

Propagation/Description:

Grows nearly worldwide but is mostly found in Europe, North America, North Africa and parts of Asia. It grows mostly along streams, meadows, ditches, mountain slopes, woodland clearings. Anywhere the earth has been disturbed. It is considered a noxious weed as it can quickly take over an acre of land quickly with a dense colony. It feeds butterflies among other larva of very important insects. It needs moist ground and thrives in all lights but seems to do best in full light. Seeds are not dormant and can germinate 5 to 10 days after maturity. Propagation of nettle can either take place by seed or vegetatively by divisions. It can grow anywhere from 1-3 meters tall.


Folklore/History:

Terri Windling, renowned author and folklorist, states that in the Anglo-Saxon “Nine Herbs Charm” it is believed that it was used against “elf-shot” and “flying venom”. Both being illnesses with mystical causes like pains caused by arrows shot by Elvin folk. According to Norse mythology, Nettles are associated with Thor and Loki. During thunderstorms or wild weather travelers threw bundles of nettle into the fire as an offering to Thor, praying for protection against lightning. In medieval Ireland, nettle was known as the Devil’s Apron. Celtic mythology believed it indicated where fairy dwellings were located and thus a place to be avoided. It was also believed that it protected one from fairy mischief, black magic and other forms of sorcery. In Romanian folklore, it is seen as a strong entity associated with the war god Mars, which is why it is also known in Romanian folklore as “the weed of Marţ”. It has distinctive qualities that make it worthy of the war god, such as the stinging hairs (trichomes) that protect it, and resistance to cold and drought.


Medicinal:

It has been used for hundreds of years to treat painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, and anemia. Today, many people use it to treat urinary problems during the early stages of an enlarged prostate (called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). Nettle normally is painful if it comes into contact with skin but it has been found that on an area with existing pain it lessen the pain by reducing levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body, and by interfering with the way the body transmits pain signals. Nettle has been studied sporadically but what was found is that it is beneficial in treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), UTI, Osteoarthritis, Hay Fever and preliminary studies suggest it may possibly lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Even the oh so biased WebMD has admitted the scientific findings and benefits of this plant!

Medicinal Herbs, A Beginner’s Guide; Rosemary Gladstar, Pages 175-179

Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine; Andrew Chevallier, Page 146

Spiritual:

The magickal properties of nettles include protection, healing, strength and love among others. It is believed to keep all malevolent influence and energies out of your home and send them back to where they came from while also filling your home with gentle loving vibrations. For the muddled and unmoored a healthy re-centering can go a long way in helping them to feel better. In addition to re-centering, Nettles also helps us to set boundaries with our selves which, in turn, allows us to set healthy boundaries with others. With the heat and stimulation of Nettles, the fog can lift and the excitement of life come rushing back in.”


Summary:

Nettle, whichever breed you are considering, is a strong herb both medicinally, texturally and spiritually. It has been around and cultivated for many millennia and is not going anywhere any time soon. This power house herb, while on the surface may seem more of a nuisance, can benefit our lives in numerous ways. We each search for a better way. A better way to health. A better way to live our spiritual lives. A better way to connect with Mother Earth. A better way to connect with our happier and higher selves. Nettle is one of the most powerful plants in the universe to help us find our “better way”. Approach cautiously and respectfully as the changes this plant may bring to your lives will shake you up in more than one way. Learn to respect and love it as it is a mother to us all, teaching us lessons that can stay with us for life. Just as our mothers did in our childhoods.

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