Does anyone not love the Spring? Leaving aside that speaker in Eliot’s Waste Land, of course, who claimed that April is the cruellest month – and in fact s/he did have a point, because breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, can be a painful reawakening if you’ve opted for perpetual hibernation. So yes, there probably are people who don’t love this season, much as people who are grieving or heartbroken sometimes experience the beauty of Earth or the happiness of others as only one more wound. But Spring won’t have any of that – the divine fires of life and creativity have been pouring down into Earth for some time now, and the plants and trees are responding, each by radiating its particular powers and gifts into our world. That’s what we need to be doing, too. We are, after all, the descendants of our ancient and wiser ancestors the plants – we’ll feel better if we learn from them, and when it comes to Spring we need to find our own ways of doing the things they do. So turn your face up to the Sun and let its divine fire flow into you, into your heart which is your own sun, your personal counterpart to the sun in our heavens.
If you like to use the word ‘God’ then this is certainly a good time to meet him or her, and indeed a great time for meeting all the gods, and those great spirits who look upon this world with compassion and a wish to see its peoples flourish. By ‘peoples’ of course I include all plants, animals, birds, stones, waters and humans. This tremendous inpouring of creative fire is anchored into Earth by the trees and plants waking and blossoming now, and by certain plants in particular, about whom I might talk another time. Right now I want to point out the help available for those of us who are feeling a bit sluggish, a bit on the heavy or toxic side, and altogether preferring, like Eliot’s speaker, the covering of ‘forgetful snow’.
Take heart, at least you dwellers in the dis-United Kingdom (and in many other places where the heavy feet of the British have trod), because just outside your door are the powerful allies you’ve been waiting for! The breath-taking triad of nettles, wild garlic and cleavers are occupying the woods, hedgerows and many areas of waste ground at the moment. They are friends, they grow and work together, and all of them work in different ways to cleanse the blood, the liver, improve the digestion, stimulate the life force and generally bring you just what you need to feel alive and part of things. But first, please don’t pick a leaf without taking a moment to feel your gratitude to these generous spirits. Speak to them, ask permission to take some of their bodily gifts, and listen to make sure the answer is yes, before you grab. And don’t forget to say thank you. Then you can put a few nettle leaves with a couple of leaves of wild garlic in a mug and add hot water for a delicious and cleansing tea; make nettle soup; throw in chopped wild garlic for the final minutes of cooking just about anything; or put the garlic and its beautiful flowers with chopped cleavers on your salads. Use your creativity.
And if you’re willing to make just a tiny bit more effort, make yourself tinctures. Here’s a rough and ready way to make a tincture for home use which is amazingly effective and provides a quantity of powerful medicine. I suggest you make three separate tinctures of nettles, wild garlic and cleavers, then combine them in smaller dosage bottles as needed. If you just want to experiment with one, fine. OK: to make a tincture, you need a thoroughly clean dark glass bottle or jar with a tight-fitting lid. For instance, a 500ml bottle will mean you end up with a bit less than 500mls of tincture. If you really can’t get a dark glass bottle, use a clear one but make sure you keep it in the dark. Before you go gathering your plants, greet them, explain what you wish to do, and ask permission. This is the absolute least you can do, isn’t it? So please don’t forget. And never pull up the plants, there is no need, just take a few leaves from each. When you have finished, thank them. Gather your nettles or whatever, pack them fairly tightly into the bottle, completely fill the space in the bottle with vodka, put on the lid tightly, and put it somewhere cool (and dark if not using a dark glass bottle). Every day or two, give the bottle a shake, thanking the plant for making this medicine for you. Take this thanking seriously. After three or four weeks, strain the contents of the bottle into a bowl through muslin in a sieve, wringing out the cloth to get all the liquid. Then wash the bottle and return the liquid to it. You now have a wonderful medicine, which you can put into a dosage bottle with a dropper, and take about fifteen drops once or twice a day. If you make all three tinctures, to make a dosage bottle for a powerful spring cleanse, I suggest combining about 40% nettle tincture with about 40% wild garlic and about 20% cleavers. Make sure you make enough of your tinctures to have some for next year, then you can start taking the combination regularly in March, or even February, and you’ll be able to make the most of next Spring!