In my earlier blog series Weeds of Wonder I wrote about the concept of plants growing together, and in degrees of abundance, relative to our need. This repeated pattern of plant interrelationships suggests a divine intelligence that is whispering its wisdom to us through the natural world, if only we should stop to listen. In the earlier series I illustrated this idea using the connection between Nettles and Clivers. These two plants are found growing together early in spring. Their influence on the blood and lymphatic system work to remedy the toxic accumulations of winter.
In some archaic belief systems, Nettles are believed to embody the masculine, while Clivers embody the feminine. At a physical level this is reflected in the plant structures. Nettles are physically coarser and stronger in their leaf and stem,while the Clivers are more delicate. Each plant has its own unique function, but they are most effective when they are applied together.
In the picture above we see the common sight of Nettles and Clivers growing together at a location near me. However, we see a third plant that is also dominant at this site and growing among the other two. If you look closely you will recognise it as Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria). Ground Elder, like Nettles, is a remedy for removing acid from the body and is a specific, in folk medicine, for gout.
At a simpler biochemical level, it is not at all significant where each of these plants grow or with whom....as long as they contain the relevant combination of constituents. Yet, these vital substances, if we can ignore for now other forces at work within our realm of existence, do not come into being of their own volition. These biochemicals evolved in quality and quantity under the influence of the environment the plants thrived in. When these herbs choose to thrive on a specific site we must ask ourselves, what do they gain individually? But when specific herbs regularly thrive together on a defined site we must also ask ourselves, what do they gain collectively....and logically, what do they offer collectively? If we develop this idea on, such considerations would support localised harvesting from specific sites, especially when matching our remedies to individual patient needs. Such an approach is the strength of the truly holistic herbalist....creating hand-picked medicines, from specific, well known local micro environments, to heal our community. To truly understand the influences and workings of our medicines we need to get out into our local areas and map out the locations where the various herbs known to us survive, but better still....those special places where they thrive. We need to understand that natural environment and what it brings to the plants we use with respect to their constituents, their energetics, and the elements that govern all things. We need to understand these herbs, not just in isolation but within their collective community. This is not a new concept, but is well established in many native and ancient cultures. As an example, the whirling... swirlings...and the webs woven by ancient Celtic art is a testament to their understanding of the interconnected nature of both physical and spiritual existence.
The medicines we need to regain a healthy balance grow around us naturally in the gardens, fields, woods, seashores and wetlands where we live. They have a story to tell that is still unfolding....
Health and Happiness
The Green Man