What are your nine powers? Name them… eight…

earth-nettle: our lady of stability

I arise today through

The stability of the earth

i am old.

i stand tall,

only a slight stoop.

years of breaking 

through the rubble.

i am prolific,

but only in the 

borders and badlands,

the straight

ordered rows

were never for me.

although i was happy to

throw a few wild babies in.

a “contaminant” 

they called my children,

but 

i called them loved 

and

round 

and 

full of life.

see what they offer you –

strong blood,

bones and muscles.

you need no other lovers.

my flowers could build a robust girl or two,

or three,

or thirty.

but not ones to be ruled over

or squished into

shapes of male desire.

no,

not my girls.

we are generous.

we slide over our edges.

we are abundance 

but

please do not confuse us with 

common.

tough,

they called me.

troublesome.

but that was only 

because i

am wilful

and uncontained.

have you seen 

my sturdy yellow boots,

and my beautiful threads,

fine as silk or

strong as rope?

but 

I understand.

i can curdle milk

with a look.

i can sting

like a hollow bee.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Nettle for practicality. It was always so. From the Old English, “netele”. The root, “ned” meaning to bind or tie. Lady Urtica Dioica. A good name. Urtica from the Latin meaning to burn or sting – the tiny aggravating hollow hairs that can itch like crazy. To nettle also meaning to irritate or provoke. Dioica, from the Greek, meaning of the two houses – having separate staminate and pistillate plants. If you want to pick her, do not do so cautiously, for she will sting. Hence the phrase from Aesop’s tales, “grasp the nettle”. Be direct, as she is.

Nettle is a plant of the egdelands. Of forgotten places. She grew in abundance at field edges but not so much in the crop itself. She likes riverbanks, hedgerows, near buildings (especially empty ones), in rubble and grassy places. She is seen as a weed. She is seen as troublesome. But really, she is just incredibly tough.

She is full of iron, calcium and magnesium. Use strong infusions of her leaves and she will supercharge your adrenals. Her stems will provide fine linen and rough rope. She has strong yellow roots and creeping stems. Her seeds can sit dormant for five years and still be ready to be activated. Her rhizomes overwinter well, even when broken up. She re-roots easily. Poking green shoots in spring, dying back above ground each year. Her light seeds catch on fur or clothes to hitch a ride to the next growing place. Or in worms, cattle deer and magpies. They can float on water for week, waiting to find their new homes. In earlier times, she was used as rennet to harden cheese. Her tiny, hollow hairs sting like a hypodermic needle filled with histamine and other chemicals.

She is called upon in the Anglo Saxon “Nine Herbs Charm”, in the Lacnunga, a 10th century manuscript containing 200 charms and recipes for healing. It is at once an incantation and recipe for medicine against poison and infection. The words contain lots of references to threes and nines, sacred numbers in those heathen times. In Old English she is named stiðe:

The herb is called nettle, it grows upon the stone—

standing against poison, crashing against pain.

It is called stiff, dashing against poison,

avenging cruelty, casting out venom.

This is the herb that fought against the worm—

this can avail against poison, this can avail against contagion,

this can avail against hated things that fare throughout the land.

Their and Loki fashion a magical fishing net out of nettle. In The Wild Swans fairy tale, a sister sees her brothers turned into swans. She has to gather, spin and knit coats of nettle for them all so that they can turn back into humans. Whilst not speaking. She nearly manages it, but runs out of time. Her youngest brother is left with a swan wing. It speaks to the courage to bear pain. Of inner strength. Of the use of silence to keep safe. Of how gentle persistence can win.

Nettle, your magic is comfort and duality. Know that I honour you.

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