My Herbal Ally – Lady’s Mantle

freyaI’ve found my herbal ally. I stumbled upon her some weeks ago. She was nothing more than cloud shaped leaves back then, and yet I knew what she was. I felt her smile at me.

Now I visit her often. She has yellow flowers and tall grasses has grown all around her, making her seem rather insignifcant compared to everything else.

I wasn’t looking for an herbal ally, but something inside me recognized her and she whispered that I needed her, that there was something I needed to learn, to remember.

Whenever I’m near her I get the feeling there is indeed something I’m supposed to remember. Something I once knew, yet have forgotten. It keeps eluding me.

She speaks to me of the Goddess. She feels like gold, like a radiant treasure that most people would not recognize because of her humble appearance.

She is a very magical plant.

I’ve made tea from her dried leaves and flowers. It became liquid gold. It tastes pretty pleasant.

In describing Lady’s Mantle flower essence, Tree Frog Farm writes:

“Brings gentle joyful peace to the mind of your heart and your whole body. Calms emotional shock to the heart, by inviting the Divine into the sympathetic nervous system and corresponding levels of the electromagnetic system. Encourages self-love.”

Reading this renewed my faith in my own intuition. It’s easy to doubt what you feel. But now I’m sure I was meant to meet Lady’s Mantle.

I think my heart broke, many years ago from trauma, from grief. I lost my mom, my dad, my sister. At the same time I’ve hold onto enormous self-hate, always feeling that I was not enough.

I’ve felt like a ghost of my true self for a long, long time. I think I will share more about this later, but during my time of grief I began praying to the goddess, my divine mother. I clung to her and she helped me through the hard times, yet I was afraid of the love I felt from her and I often pulled away.

I think Lady’s Mantle is asking me to not be afraid, to be with the Goddess fully, wholly.

Have you ever felt love from the divine? What did you do? Were you able to embrace it?

Nordens_flora_Alchemilla_vulgaris_cleanThe story behind the name

Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) got its common name from the Virgin Mary. I remember hearing a story about the plant when I was little.

Mary had travelled for a very long time and needed a drink of water, and yet there was none to be found. Then she saw the dew gathering on the leaves of a small plant and was able to quench her thirst, and from then on it was called Lady’s Mantle (perhaps because the leaves looks like a tiny mantle.)

Those were my own words. I’m not exactly sure how the story went.

History

I’ve picked out a few things about Lady’s Mantle from my book on medicinal herbs in Norway.

  • It has long been considered a woman’s herb, a treasure to be used for womens health and was thought to be under the protection of a feminine deity. Up here in the north they believed it to be Freya, goddess of love and fertility.
  • Women would gather the herb during the waning moon to use as medicine for menstrual difficulties and to heal wounds.
  • The alchemists used the drops of water made by the leaves in the attempt to make gold, and gave the drops names such as ‘heavenly rain’ and quinta essentia (light of nature, or fifth element).

It seems to me that there are legends and stories hinting at the spiritual qualities of Lady’s Mantle. Still its true meaning remains hidden, a secret, and I do feel that we’re not suppose to know unless we truly seek to find answers for ourselves. The same way that its always more powerful to personally experience divinity, and the two seem connected somehow.

Uses for Lady’s Mantle

The plant is in the rose family, perhaps that’s why it has such a spiritual affinity to the heart.

  • Eases menstrual pain
  • Heals wounds
  • Used for excess menstruation, and bleeding in general.
  • Tones the cardiovascular system
  • Can be used later in pregnancy to prepare the body for labour. Its astringent qualities can help prevent hemorrage. (Drink 1 cup three times a day about 6 weeks before labour). Can be drunk after pregnancy as well.
  • Stimulates production of milk.

 

Meeting Lady’s Mantle – A Short Story

308px-Bouguereau-Linnocence

It was early morning, a slight chill in the air and the mist was a sliver of silver on the ground. She was barefoot, feeling the wet ground beneath her as she walked.

Something caught her attention. Cloud shaped leaves glittering with drops of morning dew.

As she drew closer she was touched by the feeling of meeting a long lost friend. The plant smiled at her. It knew her and she knew it, though the memory was foggy, distant, a glimpse into a past life.

Intrigued she knelt beside it. What was it whispering to her? What was this wonderful feeling that filled her? It made her want to cry.

The goddess. It whispered. Why have you forgotten the goddess, your divine mother?

The goddess is in me. I exist only for her, and you did too once. Why have you forgotten? Why do you deny yourself to be in her, to be filled with her love?

Tears streamed down her cheeks now. She was beginning to remember. A time of magic, of incredible joy.

She was a priestess in worship of the goddess, and as she worked in the temple she was conscious of every movement her body made. Everything she did was a prayer to the goddess. As she went to the lake for water she did it in the magic awareness of the divine mother. Love was at her finger tips as she rearranged the flowers.

She shook with joy and at the same time she drew away from it. She didn’t deserve to be unconditionally loved, she didn’t deserve to be happy. And she feared feeling so intensely alive, feared the pain that might find her if she didn’t hide behind dark clouds of worries.

She had been in a dark, cold place with only a vague understanding of what her life had become. Now she felt something warm her from the inside, a slow, intense love filling her up. Her whole body trembled. She felt dizzy. She wasn’t used to the energy that was moving through her body. She had felt drained for so long.

It was at though a poison was now reluctantly leaving her body, making her feel naseous and blissfully happy at the same time.

She looked around. Everything was beautiful. She took in the trees outside her window, the wind moving through the leaves and she felt as though she could look at them forever.

Getting to know Nettle

Waterhouse_the_Crystal_Ball-largeShe was looking for healing. In a way she thought she should not need it any more, after all it had been so long since her parents, her sister had passed away. She took a deep breath. Long experience had taught her to listen to her heart. Her mind had lead her into trouble before.

She took a couple of more steps through the wet grass and then stopped, her gaze taking in a beautiful patch of stinging nettle growing against the hillside. It was odd in a way, to find it here. She had been looking for it for so long and then suddenly it had shown itself, after she had decided that she was not yet ready to meet this powerful herb.

Truth be told, she did not understand it. She did not resonate with it, not in the way she was drawn to rose, violet, linden and all the flowers of sweetness. But she had started looking for it after learning what a powerful medicine it was, and had never found more than a couple of plants….until now.

She slid her hands into her gloves and bent down to pick nettle tops with as much gentle focus as she could muster. She had a bag at her feet in which she dropped them one by one, her mind wandering slightly as the wind rippled through the grass, making the trees move behind her and she glanced up at the sky which was grey, wild with clouds of rain and a coming storm.

There had to be a reason why nettle had shown itself now. She felt she had been brought to this beautiful place, far away from the city, to find healing. Being here was not an act of conicidence, somehow she had felt the journey in her heart long before it happened.

Now she was here, wrapped in silence, feeling nature against her skin. She loved it. She was sinking deeper into herself, starting to remember who she was, and sometimes glimpsing who she could one day become, if she did not stray from her path, or rather if she could find the path meant for her.

Again she became aware of how tired she really was. Bone tired. It didn’t make sense in her mind, but she knew she wasn’t making it up. She did not feel like running, or even going for long walks. She would pick her nettle and return home, rest a little before preparing her soup. She always had to rest. It felt like there was a deep hole inside of her sucking all her energy.

Now she hunched down among the nettle, observing it more closely, taking in the dark green leaves, the little needles along the stem. What was it teaching her? Why would it hurt her if she chose to touch it with naked fingers? Why was it created exactly this way?

She got no answers. The only sense she got was that of power. Strong. Bold. Perhaps that’s why she had such a hard time connecting with it. The plant was everything she was not. It had an incredible presence, never apologizing for what it was, never pretending to be less or fearing to be all that it could be.

Yes. It deffinately had a lot to teach her. Her heart swelled with a newfound love for this plant as she continued to gather her medicine.

***

nettleI felt like writing a little story about my experience with nettle. My thoughts often form stories and I decided to write it down this way since that’s what I love to do.

When I came home I made soup. It turned out pretty good and even my husband liked it, to his great surprise. The look on his face when he tasted it made me laugh.

What amazed me was that I could feel energy from the nettle after just the first spoonful. It was intense! It does seem pretty powerful, and of course nourishing. I wonder how I will feel if I start including it more often in my diet, along with other wild greens.

I believe the plants can teach us a lot, if we only spend some time with them. Observe. Sense. Listen. It feels deeply magical to me to connect with them like that.

They can heal the mind, body and spirit. And I do need all of it right now. I’ve been too proud to admit it.

Nettle. A plant I never truly liked. It was one of the first herbs I learned about. I bought it dried and made infusions from it, a strong tea that I hated the taste of.

I looked for it in the wild but it never seemed to grow where I was, that is until I moved to this new place in the countryside of Norway. Even here it eluded me until one day it was just there, growing all over a field that I had passed many times. It semeed like it had just sprung up over night.

Perhaps I’m finally ready to learn from it.

I do want to have a presence in the world. I would love not to be afraid to show myself fully. I always wanted to be bold and to put myself out there, to be fiercly independant. Instead I have no voice, and I shake when I have to speak up and make decisions.

I’m tired of being stuck somewhere inside myself.

Life used to be different. I used to be different. As a child I was couragous and free. I want to be like that again.

I will definitely spend a lot more time with nettle. I’m so grateful to have found it, to know that it will nourish me deeply.

It’s a lot of fun to have access to wild greens at my doorstep, especially since local vegetables are still limited here. Summer is slow in Norway.

And forgive me for not listing the properties of nettle. I don’t feel like listing what I have read somewhere else, but I can say that it’s a powerhouse of nutrition, I have felt it. I remember reading that it has a high amount of iron, which stuck with me since I’ve been told I need more iron in my diet. I feel dizzy a lot.

Here is a beautiful article on nettle.  

Here is the recipe I followed when making my soup.

 

 

What are the benefits of dandelion coffee?

dandelionI’ve been drinking my dandelion coffee for a few weeks now. I’ve been craving it like crazy. Spring is here, though I must admit it doesn’t seem that way when looking out the window. Snow still covers everything and the trees and bare, through I can see a few buds starting to form as a sign of greener days to come.

I long for warmer weather, but the days are still freezing. At night I’m gifted with a clear dark sky filled with stars. King winter still has his grip on the world.

I wanted to write about the properties of dandelion as I was curious about why I always crave it in spring. I read a few articles but I must admit I’m not very good at memorizing all this information. Instead I will write from what I have experienced, what inspires me and what I can understand.

Spring is a time of cleansing. It’s a time for spring cleaning, to clear out dust and dirt from our homes, but it’s also good to do the same thing for our bodies.

Dandelion is a master detoxifier. It cleanses the whole system, but especially the liver. It also helps the digestive tract work better, and is a a mild diuretic and laxative. I love that it gets things moving!

 

Benefits of dandelion

  • Detoxifies
  • Cleanses liver
  • Improves skin health
  • Mild laxative
  • Promotes urination
  • High in iron and zinc. Used in treating anemia
  • Powerful antioxidant

 

I make sure not to drink it before going to bed as it always need to use the bathroom soon after. I notice that it feels soothing on my stomach. Perhaps this is the bitter taste working on my digestion. Dandelion is actually good for several of our organs, but the liver is the one handling all the toxins we get into our bodies and needs a lot of help. I just feel cleansed after drinking it.

When the snow is finally gone and the little green dandelion leaves start , I will happily pick them and eat them. For now I will enjoy my strong dark brew from the root. The funny thing is that I don’t even like coffee, but I love my dandelion and chicory root coffee!

 

I wanted to add that it’s quite tasty to add cinnamon, cardamom and perhaps some nutmeg to my dandy coffee. Usually I just sprinkle it on top. Sometimes I add two cinnamon sticks and a few whole green cardamom pods. I haven’t found a perfect recipe yet, but when I do I will share it here.

 

 

 

 

Soothing oat cookies

I haven’t felt very good lately. My anxiety has been bothering me, and today I also felt that suspicious tingle in my throat which warns of a coming cold. What did I do? I made cookies!

Ok. I also drank a mix of apple cider vinegar for colds, slept for two hours, and then I made some delicious almond flour oat cookies. I love oats as they are very soothing to my nerves. To make the cookies even more full of happiness, I stuck a piece of dark chocolate in the middle.  Yum!

Sometimes my day doesn’t turn out the way I planned. Today was one of those days. I had a list of things to do, but instead I allowed myself to rest and soak in some healing from cookies and rose hips.

And that brings me to rose, one of my favorite herbs. My friend and I went for a long walk the other day and stumbled upon bushes full of rose hips. I stopped to pick some, enjoying the sunlight on my back and the wonderful feeling of being so close to Rose. This is my first time gathering rosehips. In the past I’ve only bought them dried as tea.

There is something special about picking my own medicine though. There is something about being close to the herb throughout the whole process. I suppose this is the invisible part that makes the medicine extra powerful.

I’ve learned that rosehips are full of vitamin C as well as A, and D. Most of all I want the spiritual properties of rose, which I feel is love. I only managed to pick a few rose petals this year to make my rose honey, since I arrived Norway i Autumn. But now I’ll put some rose hips into the mix. I use this honey whenever I feel I need some extra care and love. The rest I will dry for tea.

Rowan Tree Facts

I’ve been wanting to gather some rowan tree facts. I’ve long been curious about this tree, but few seem to know much about it and use the medicine it offers. I’ve admired it’s beauty on my many strolls through the Norwegian countryside. These days it glows a brilliant red among the green and yellow colors of autumn, and I can’t help but think that this tree must hold some powerful magic.

I find it interesting that the name “rowan” comes from the Old Norse word “raun”. It is somewhat similar to “rogn”, which is what we call it in Norwegian.

Medicine

Medicinally the berries seem to get used the most. People would make jam out of the berries which was often eaten as a side to red meat to help prevent gout. Tea was made to heal urinary tract problems, diarrhea and hemorrhoids.

The fruit is very high in vitamin C, and is loved by many creatures of the forest. Eating the berries raw can apparently cause kidney damage in humans, and its therefore best to cook them to neutralize this effect. Rowan berries taste pretty bad in their raw state so its rather hard to eat a lot of them. Freezing them helps reduce their bitter taste. Picking them after the first frost can be a good idea.

Someone told me to use the rowan leaves, especially the new leaves to make tea as they taste better than the berries.

The bark would be decocted to make a drink to treat diarrhea, nausea and an upset stomach.

The wood was traditionally used to make bows, bowls and other objects.

Folklore and Mythology

In norse mythology it is said the first woman came from the rowan tree, and that it saved the mighty god Thor from drowning. He was being swept away in a river when the tree bent down to help him back to shore.

In the British Isles it was used for protection against enchantments. At the tip of each berry there is a tiny pentagram (which I found to be fascinating) and this might have been one of the reasons it was thought to ward off evil. Pentagrams with the right side up, are in themselves protective symbols. I personally use them frequently.

Red was also considered to a color of protection. The rowan tree was as well thought to be  a fairy tree and belonging to the Goddess, because of its beautiful white flowers.

The place in which the tree grew was also said to be protected, and there were strong taboos against removing or harming the tree in any way. Today we don’t think like that. On one of my walks I saw that someone had cut a rowan tree and just left it at the side of the road. It made me feel sad, even more sad than for all the other trees that were also being cut down to make room for houses.

There are many more beautiful myths about the rowan, and it’s a pleasure to read about them.

Gathering all these facts makes me want to connect with it more, and from my own experience feel the magic of the rowan tree.

Rowan Tree Berries

I went for a walk today in the countryside of Norway. Yes I’m back in my home country, maybe or maybe not for good. I’ve only been here a few days but already I feel the change in energy very soothing to my spirit. I feel like resting. Fall seems like a good time for rest and reflection.

I walked past some lovely rowan trees, their branches heavy with red berries. I’ve always felt attracted to the rowan tree though I never really knew if it had a purpose besides looking beautiful. My mom would pick a few branches for decoration in fall and I loved looking at the tree while playing next to the forest behind our house, though I soon realized that the berries were not tasty at all, and I could almost never reach them anyway.

This tree feels magical to me. There are many myths and legends surrounding it. It is said to ward off witches and that it once saved the god Thor from drowning. I suppose it’s not widely used however, because I could not find many recipes using rowan berries, besides making them into jam. I picked a few clusters of berries on my walk and I’ve decided to dry them to later make tea.

It’s such a healing experience to be in nature and to gather herbs. I also picked red clover by the ocean side. Mmm. They smell like sweet honey.

Rose tea

Beautiful rose continues to be one of my favorite herbs. I used to make tea from the dried petals, but I lately discovered an herb shop in San Francisco that seemed to have good quality herbs. I purchased pink rose buds there and the tea I made from them was heavenly! This is my new favorite tea with rose as the only ingredients.

Rose inspires love and self care. To allow myself to be vulnerable and yet seeing the strength in letting myself be honest in the way I act, and in who I am. I’ve suffered a lot of emotional abuse from myself, and also a lot of heart ache from losing my family. I feel I need a lot of healing from lovely rose.

How to Make Composition Powder

It can be a fight sometimes to find time to make herbal medicine. In the East West course manual, one of the first remedies I’m asked to make is composition powder. For one reason or another it took time for me to actually buy the ingredients and make the formula.

I’m waiting right now to take my first sip of my composition powder tea. So what exactly is composition powder? What is it’s purpose? I was wondering the same thing and did some research.

Not very long ago this herbal remedy used to be a staple  in people’s kitchens. They would use it for colds, flues, indigestion etc. It is both stimulating and heating, and is safe even for children.

How to make composition powder

Ingredients

16 parts bayberry root
8 parts white pine bark
8 parts ginger
1 part cloves
1 part cayenne

Grind the herbs into powder and combine. Store in a container of your choice, in a dark cool place.

How to Use

Stir a teaspoon of the powder in a cup of hot water. Let it steep for about 15 minutes. It is recommended to drink the powder as well as the clear liquid for its stimulating effects.

My Experience

My experience with composition powder is still limited. But my first impression is that it aids indigestion. I drank my tea after eating a heavy meal and very soon after I felt things move along in my stomach. The powder also felt nice and warming, and helped against the slightly sore throat and ear ache I was experiencing.

I might experience with different ways of taking the powder. It does not taste bad, but I find drinking the powder to be somewhat unpleasant. I have a feeling I will continue using composition powder a lot for various ailments.

The best place to buy herbs

I’m pretty excited! I just put in an order with Mountain Rose Herbs, which is in my opinion the best place to buy herbs online. At least I haven’t found any other store that give me the same quality herbs. The only time I don’t buy herbs from Mountain Rose is when something is out of stock or they just don’t have that herb I need.

One of my favorite herbs is oatstraw. I drink oatstraw as a strong tea a lot because it tastes good, is deeply nourishing and helps calms my usual overactive nerves. Every time I bought it from somewhere else than Mountain Rose Herbs I got a bag of pale yellow straw that smelled old and tasted like dust. The one I get from Mountain Rose is pale green and smells and tastes delicious!

I’m sure there are other good stores that sell fresh, good quality organic herbs. But I still haven’t found anything to match Mountain Rose, and so it is in my opinion the best place to buy herbs online.

I also want to share with you that Mountain Rose currently has a giveaways each week!