29 May 2013

Nettle Lore

I've been busy today making nettle cordial. It's very simple to make and has an interesting green, earthy taste. Apparently it is good for the stomach and for arthritis. There are lots of different recipes, some more complicated than others, so I just adapted them and made my own:


  • 200 ml water
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g young stinging nettle (common nettle, urtica dioica) tops, washed - pick about a carrier bag full - wear gloves!
  • a wedge of lemon


  1. Make a syrup by bringing to the boil the water and sugar.
  2. Blanch the nettle tops for a short while with the lemon wedge and about a tablespoonful of extra water until they go like cooked spinach.
  3. Chop them up in the pan using kitchen scissors
  4. Add the syrup, stir, cover and leave to cool, stirring occasionally.
  5. Strain the liquid off into a bowl and then bottle.
  6. Keep in fridge - don't know how long it will keep.
  7. Serve diluted to taste with sparkling water. 
In magical lore nettle is (obviously!) used for protection, and to avert malign energy. It was sewn into bags and carried, or powdered and sprinkled around the corners of the house. You can also hold it in your hand to ward off ghosts, but I'm not sure if facing the ghost might actually be preferable!

Nettles need soil rich in phosphates and so they like to grow near human habitations, near animal pens, graveyards, compost heaps, bonfire sites etc. Patches of them are very good indicators of ancient human settlements. You can boil up the young leaves and eat them like spinach, or make them into a quiche. As country children we often had painful encounters with them and swore by rubbing on a dock leaf to cure the itch and sting.

22 May 2013

Snakes in Dreams

A dream about a snake is a really good example of why I always emphasise that your dream is personal to you and only you can really unravel its meaning. Dream oracles can help, but you need to go deeper than that. Freud would no doubt have seen the snake as an obvious phallic symbol, and more or less left it at that. But when I thought about a friend's snake dream this morning I very quickly came up with quite a few alternative ideas:
  • Supposing you live in a country where you might easily encounter poisonous snakes. Then your dream might be based on a perfectly ordinary, real life fear, or even a phobia. You might dream about snakes because you had seen one the day before. Or the snake might be an inner warning of a situation that is making you feel afraid.
  • The snake is a common symbol of the Goddess in pagan mythology, so your snake might be symbolic of getting in touch with deep feminine power and intuition.
  • A snake sheds its skin as it grows, so your snake might symbolise important changes and personal growth.
  • We often refer to a treacherous or devious person as a snake. Is your dream warning you about someone? Listen to your intuition.
  • In Christian mythology the snake is associated with temptation and the fall. Are you being tempted in some way to do something that goes against your moral code?
  • Snakes are rather cunning, often hiding until they want to pounce on their prey. Maybe you need to mimic this behaviour?
  • They also spend a lot of time basking and lazing about in the sun - maybe you need a holiday!
  • And finally of course, Freud just might be right...
If you have a snake dream, write it down in as much detail as you can, and then sit with it. How does your snake make you feel? What associations do you have? Making some art work based on your dream might help too. And for more idea about exploring your dreams, see my dream book.

15 May 2013


When I was three a slightly older little girl, who was probably five, told me that she was taking me to see the kingcups and I knew, without anything else being said, that something of great importance was about to happen.

Children had a lot more freedom in those days so we toddled off down the lane together hand in hand, and there, in a wet ditch at the bottom of a marshy field full of rushes, she showed me the kingcups. I was utterly stunned, mesmerised. To me at three years old the flowers were vast suns, spinning magical glowing energy from the dank mud and silence. It was one of the earliest shamanic experiences of my life, and in that moment I already knew everything that I know now.

I have never forgotten that day, and still grow kingcups by the pond in my garden. I am using them at the moment to help me with pranayama (breath work) - adults sometimes need a little gentle assistance to get to that place that children simply exist in. Take time today simply to BE. It is one of the most important things that you can do.