Skills for Empowerment by Primrose Matheson
Skills for Empowerment
We love the spring and summer months because they represent new starts, new life and there is abundance everywhere. Everything seems possible and positivity is in the air as the vitamin D levels from the sun soar in our body and the Vitamin C from the lush greens replenish our wintered system.
Whilst things are good and plentiful its easy to forget the other times of year. In the same way when we enjoy pleasure it is hard to believe we will ever endure pain. But as light has dark and sun has moon we will always experience opposites of every experience.
(Although a universal law I often think we believe we can somehow elude it, in the same way when I watch Titanic I live in hope that the ending might turn out differently! )
On a daily life level that is a lot energy being used for resistance that could be channeled into discovering new things, people or skills that can support a more balanced life where we can manage our way through the darker times.
Understanding our environment, plants and the natural world of which we are a part is one of these skills.
Many of the plants growing at this time of year can be picked, dried and stored in order to gain benefits from them in the winter months. It may seem strange to be thinking about the winter when the summer
has just begun but preparation is an important part of self-responsibility and shields us from extremes.
Our ancestors did it in order to survive their winters but in the modern world of agriculture and supermarkets we have taken for granted having food and supplies on tap.
Someone once told me that we are 9 meals away from anarchy and that shops tend to only stock enough food for 3 days. With this in mind it’s a comfort to know that should there be a day in the future where there is no food on the supermarket shelves that we have nurtured our own innate survival skills just enough to keep us going. Learning about the foods growing for free in the wild or ways to make the most of your small plot of land are part of this.
Don’t leave to someone else something you can do yourself. And even if someone else is doing it for you, be interested and curious in learning those skills should you ever need to put them to use.
When we introduce the structures for balance into our lives and experience and learn from them we can then let them go but we need the understanding first and then it becomes second nature and won’t even seem like a chore!
The following herbs can be gathered over the months of May, June and July and August and are easily recognizable. Have a look at our ingredients page to see an image and read about them in more detail.
Cleavers and Nettles
Both of these can be dried and combined to create a tea that will support the liver, kidneys and lymph for removing toxins from the body. Cleansing herbs like this are good to use whilst the moon is on the wane as it supports the process of removing wastes from the body.
Like the berries which we get later in the year the flowers can be dried for use in a tea that can ward off colds, flu and bronchial complaints as well as of course using fresh for cordial, champagne or flavouring ice creams and sorbets.
All rose petals are edible and as well as the beneficial volatile oils they contain which are antioxidant rich they look lovely in teas!
Pick the petals only being sure to leave the centre of the flower so the bees can still enjoy the pollen.
When they have flowered capture the petals and dry. This becomes Calendula, which is one of the most healing plants. Used as a wash on the skin it is a natural anti septic and anti-inflammatory and internally as a tea can reduce inflammation associated with IBS and calm the nervous system.
My favourite tea due to its lemony freshness and its ability to put you completely at ease if your nervous system is feeling strained.
It encourages a restful sleep like chamomile. I keep mine on a window sill in my kitchen next to the kettle!
This is one of my favourite plants as it has been around for 100 million years before the dinosaurs appeared and the young shoots can be cooked like an asparagus substitute. It is a rich source of minerals especially silica so its fantastic for hair, skin and nails.
It’s a great tonic and can be used to support people with debility and anemia. As a diuretic and astringent it is beneficial for bladder and kidney disorders and most famously used to speed up the healing of fractures, ligaments, and tendons and so is an important friend for any athlete.
It can be used internally as a tea, externally as a wash for wounds or added to bath water.
Your garden herbs
The hardiest of herbs that often see themselves through the winter are mint, sage and rosemary so you can leave them to their own devices or dry some and give to friends as teas.
Dried mint with fennel seeds is a nice combination for digestive support.
The ones that need more sun and warmth should be picked at the end of August and either frozen (chives best for this) or dried and stored in airtight containers. You can read more about their benefits in the ingredients page of the website.
The best drying technique if you don’t have a dehydrator is to lay on a baking rack in a fan oven at 100c with the door open for a few hours.
As with all wild foraging be sure to do it sustainably and leave enough of whatever you are picking to ensure it is there for you and the wildlife the following year. Bring a sharp little knife for quickly cutting stems rather than tearing.
It is our duty as its caretaker to respect the natural world and be grateful to it for all it provides. You may like to thank the elder tree in your mind for letting you benefit from its flowers before you cut them, I do!
Happy Harvesting x