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Open The Many Doors Of Nature

     In my first post I was touching lightly on the idea of perspective and how a change in the fore mentioned can alter our lives dramatically for the better.  This is also equally true when unlocking the doors that lead to the mysteries of the natural world.
     Have you ever stumbled upon an author (not literally...haha) that you just adore....only to find out that they have passed into spirit.  You realise that the joy of discovering each new work will not go on forever.  This is not the case when you turn to the natural world....I have been studying, sensing,feeling, tasting and observing for years, and yet, I still feel there are many more doors to be opened, leading me to new and wonderful insights.  It is a lifetime journey.
     One of the rules I try to adhere to when I give presentations,herb walks..or whatever, is to structure the event in such a way that  those in attendance develop their own awareness and understanding of the natural world.  The idea is not to feed all the answers but develop a sense of how and where to look for those answers, to change their perspective in how they see the natural world.
     I must confess, when I present my experiences to an audience, I feel uncomfortable with the words "lecture" or "expert".  Each individual must speak for himself...but I feel myself more as one rung on a ladder heading upward to increasing awareness.  I make a contribution based on the knowledge and experiences I have gathered along my journey, but I do not see them as definitive.  They are more contributive to the ever growing collective knowledge. 
     Equally, when I read books entitled   " The Complete Book Of Herbs"....or the "Definitve Collection of Herbal Knowledge" ....and so on.....I do privately wee myself laughing (oh..and if you wondered...there are herbs that help against weeing yourself laughing...but that is for another blog...haha!).  As a professional herbalist I do, from time to time, refer to other's knowledge to expand my insight into the nature and workings of certain herbs....and I have never found a single book to date that had all the answers.
     For me, one of the most trustworthy ways to begin to open the doors to the mysteries of nature is to get out there and observe and experience.  Herbs are so complex because we can understand them on so many levels.  It is for this reason that I do not feel we can ever understand them by taking a reductionist approach.  We need a more shamanic approach that brings us closer to a "sense" of what they are about rather than a rigid definition.  Over the years, my observations of the natural world has led me to discover patterns that  leave me in no doubt that some wonderful intelligence has motivated it all into being.  The divine presents itself on many levels...but I wish to start out with some simple examples.  The reason for this is I see learning about herbs as a bit like learning a new language.  You start small, learn a few words, build a few phrases...and soon you are able to communicate in that world...In this case, the plant world.
     The two herbs I wish to bring your attention to are Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) and Clivers (Galium aperine).
     When you start your regular journey out into the natural world you will notice that these two plants grow frighteningly often together.  Why is that?  Obviously, they share a taste for the same environment.  In recognising this we begin to understand the herbs themselves.
     Nettles tend to grow in a special area that I have coined the phrase "the wind shadow" to describe it.  This is the area around the tree and beyond whose boundaries are defined by the dominant direction and ferocity of the local wind patten with respect to the falling leaves .  Naturally, gravity claims the largest collection of leaves directly below the tree itself.  This density thins as we reach the outer limits of the wind shadow.  It is in this space that Nettles "thrive".  I have used the word "thrive" because it expresses another consideration about understanding herbs that I will touch on in another blog.  That Nettles thrive in this environment tells us something about them.  The roots of trees go deep and they bring up many minerals from the deeper layers of the earth and translate them into an organic form that other plants and animals can use.  This is expressed in the surrounding soil of the wind shadow by the falling leaves.  The character of the Nettle for me is a bit like that of an over- indulged child.  It sits within the protection and shelter of the parent tree and is fed a rich diet of nutrients.  Those same nutrients can be passed on to us. 
     Clivers, grow amongst the nettles and depend on them for support to climb towards the light.  Where the stems of Nettles are strong...those of Clivers are this suggests an interdependence.  Translated into the human body we know that Nettles are excellent for improving blood quality.  They bring many nutrients to the body...are cooling (reflecting their moist and shadowed environment) and expel heat, in the form of acids, from the body.  
     Clivers on the other hand are associated more with affections of the lymph system....a system that interacts with the greater circulatory system in transporting nutrients and expelling waste, as well as defending the system as a whole.  This association is well supported by its physical signatures (The Doctrine of Signatures) that I will get into later in another blog.
     That both Nettles and Clivers grow in the same soil and show an interdependence is reflected in their associated interdependent fluids and systems within the body (blood and lymph).
     Both Nettles and Clivers are two of the plants to appear early in spring...and they do so in large quantities.  This reflects what I have mentioned above about suggestions of  an intelligence and of the divine.  For me these plants have been given to us because they play a role in clearing the acid wastes of winter produced by the  easily wintered foods like meat, grains and nuts and improve the quality of blood and lymph.  One sign of poor blood and lymph quality is skin manifestations.
     Once we have opened this door of understanding we can build and act upon it.  Both Nettles and Clivers can be used fresh or dried in tea...Better still, they can be blended into smoothies that bring instant and fresh benefit to our bodies and a sense of well being.
    I could write pages on just these two herbs alone, but we are building a language together.  So this will do for today.
   Become a friend of The Green Man...get out there and experience and develop your own personal relationship with the natural world.
Health and Happiness
The Green Man

10 Comments to Open The Many Doors Of Nature:

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Paul G on 16 June 2013 16:40
That was a very informative article. How would one go about making a smoothie as you mentioned. Do you have a recipe? Are nettles only collected at certain times of the year, i.e. spring vs summer? Great reading though. Keep up the good work.
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The Green Man on 17 June 2013 14:16
Dear Mr. G Thank you for your interest,comments and questions. There is no set recipe for smoothies as such and can be made according to your own taste...but with the stipulation that you are using healthy ingredients. However, there are some considerations that you might want to follow. As a rule, the bulk is usually some green vegetable like Kale or Rocket. To this I will add some cucumber to makes sure there is more fluid in the mix. After this I will gather wild herbs such as nettles, clivers, dandelion leaves, avens, hedge garlic, ground elder, comfrey (small quantity), yarrow..and so on. To this I will add herbs like sage, mint, rosemary, hyssop, lemon balm and so on. You can also add things like banana, red pepper, apple, oats. I will also grind seeds such as sunflower,pumpkin, linseed...and add super foods like Macca root..and kelp powder. I like to put some organic oats in to give it body along with a touch of cinnamon. Squeeze in a bit of fresh lemon juice. Add a little bit of water to blend. You can always add a bit more if it is too thick. You should eat this mixture as soon as it is blended to stop oxidization and increase the benefit in the body. I find two bowls of this mixture at mid-day fills me up and stops the hypoglycaemic roller coaster of hunger for sweets. It is also an excellent and healthy contibution to any weightloss regimen. Like most plants, nettles are much more tender in the spring. However, the older plant also brings benefits in the form of very nutritious seeds that can be eaten fresh. as the plant gets older you can always use the "tea" method and just pick the top four leaves to ensure more tender plants. The plants can also be dried and stored in jars, away from light, for a very fine tea in winter, or throughout the year. Like many plants, they are best gathered when coming into flower so that they are in their prime. Discard any leaves that are not healthy or have been attacked by insects. Hang up in small bunches and dry in a well ventilated place in the shade. The Green Man
Reply to comment on 05 June 2014 23:04
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The Green Man on 06 June 2014 09:41
Dear Thank you for responding to my blog Open The Many Doors of Nature. I am glad that it has opened up a new perspective for you with respect to the natural world. I hope this is a perspective that enriches your spiritual and emotional experience in those natural places you wander. You say you have"one issue" that you are not too comfortable with. That is fine...we are all different and see the world in a different way. You are most welcome to share your feelings here. I promote discussion and exchange of different ideas. It is how we all develop and move forward. Health and Happiness The Green Man

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Lipozene on 28 July 2014 21:00
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The Green Man on 31 July 2014 08:23
Dear Lip Sorry I have not responded sooner. Thank you for your many kind words and encouragement. I am glad that you find my posts interesting and, I hope, useful. Please continue to read on and I shall continue to write. I am presently in the middle of finishing my next posting. Happy reading The Green Man
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