Folk Herbalism & Plant Healing, Folk Traditions & Recipes, Seasonal & Natural Living

Grasp the Nettle – Greim ar an Neantóg.

Is mise neantóg
I haven’t always been understood
I have stung you to sustain myself
Underneath the skin that protects me
Is so much nourishment and medicine
I grow so abundantly in harsh conditions
Although often overlooked
I offer myself unconditionally to the world
Is mise neantóg
I have nourished the people’s since time began
”.

It’s that time of year again… Where the Nettle returns, bringing with it, it’s many gifts of medicine and healing. Nettle is a plant that we as humans have had a love/hate relationship with, due to it’s perceived stingy hostility, and association with poverty. However, an Neantóg (As Gaeilge for Nettle) is an ancestral miracle plant. It really has been with us through thick and thin. Providing so many different forms of nourishment and practical use for survival, this plant although so common, should never be overlooked. Often we look for what is rare, what is seen to be valuable or expensive. What if I told you that the most magic of things can often be found on your doorstep, and are readily available to all? Nettle is a plant for the people, accessible to everybody, whether you live on land or not.

The Spirit of an Neantóg

The medicine of an Neantóg calls us into the present moment – anois(now). To commune with the nettle is to commune with the aliveness of the now. The sting of an Neantóg is a reminder to move slowly, whilst grasping the nettle(life) firmly! 

”Grasping the Nettle” is an old folk “trick” as such, in order to not get terribly stung. This involves grabbing the Nettle confidently as opposed to sheepishly brushing off of it. However, ”grasping the Nettle” is also a ‘‘seanfhocal” (old saying) which tells us to seize the moment, to make the most of what is here now! This is reflective of the medicine that an Neantóg shares with us. 

The times we live in call us deeper into relationship with the land and the plants. We live in an overstimulated world which is feeding us a certain narrative of reality through the news and media. We are constantly being fed a vision of what is truth, which is often laden with fear and trauma. The land and the plants call us into what is truly alive, and real – and the medicine of Nettle can assist us with this shift in awareness. 

An Neantóg also helps us to have boundaries. Although so abundant, and generous with it’s teachings, Neantóg knows how to sting! They really stand in their power and presence. If you are unmindful around an Neantóg- you will feel it. They help us to stand in our own personal authority and space, whilst also openly sharing our medicine with the world. An herb of protection due to it’s ability to hold strong boundaries with it’s sting, an Neantóg is a wonderful ally to cleanse & protect against negative energies.

An Neantóg is a people’s plant that has been nourishing us since time immemorial. It is always found where humans have once lived. You will often find them in piles where human settlements once existed. A source of food, medicine, fibre, nettle is and has been our ally for thousands of years here on Earth. It kept us alive and nourished during an Gorta Mór (The Great Hunger/Famine) it clothed us, helped us start fires (yes nettle dried nettle fibres are great tinder), a reliable and abundant food source, dye, rope and twine, etc etc .. These are a few of the many reasons why you should get out and ”grasp the nettle”!.

Yarn made from Nettle fibres. Image from ”Promostyl”

𝑯𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒕𝒉 𝑩𝒆𝒏𝒆𝒇𝒊𝒕𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝑵𝒆𝒕𝒕𝒍𝒆

Nettle is one of the most accessible super foods of today! There are all these rages about Chlorella, Spirulina, and other health food items. 

However, have you come to know the potency of this abundant and ancient Plant ally? 

Nettle is SO rich in vitamins and minerals. It certainly packs a punch! 

𝑽𝒊𝒕𝒂𝒎𝒊𝒏𝒔

A, C, K, including several B Vitamins including Folate. 

𝑴𝒊𝒏𝒆𝒓𝒂𝒍𝒔 

Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Potassium & Sodium. 

They are also rich in 𝑷𝒐𝒍𝒚𝒑𝒉𝒆𝒏𝒐𝒍𝒔 & 𝑨𝒎𝒊𝒏𝒐 𝑨𝒄𝒊𝒅𝒔! 

Nettles are anti-inflammatory and have high levels of anti-oxidants. 

Detoxification: As Nettles are diuretic they also assist in cleansing and flushing toxins out of the body. They are a total Spring (or any time) cleanse! 

Nettles can also provide relief from inflammatory issues like Hay Fever, PMS or menstrual cramps, and arthritis.

A Plant truly rich in Chi, Life force, Nettles give a huge boost and enrichment to the lives of all those who love them. 

𝑭𝒐𝒓 𝑮𝒂𝒓𝒅𝒆𝒏𝒆𝒓𝒔

As if all the above wasn’t enough! 

Nettles are a perfect plant fertilizer. Because they are rich in Chlorophyll, Nitrogen, Calcium, etc… They make the best Plant food! 

You can make a tea for your plants by harvesting some Nettles in a bucket, submerging them in water and leaving for at least a moon cycle to 6 weeks. You can strain and then use it (diluted in water) to feed your Plants!! 

𝑯𝒐𝒘 𝒕𝒐 𝒊𝒏𝒄𝒐𝒓𝒑𝒐𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒎 𝒊𝒏 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆

Harvest them on a dry day around midday (if possible). Connect with them and really take in how strong and full of life force they are. They are best “grasped” and not lightly touched. Use gloves if you’re fainter hearted. Harvest just the very top sprigs for tea or ingestion. When you harvest the tops, they will continue to grow back! 🌿

Nettles can be used as a replacement of any other green in meals. Instead of Kale or chard, use Nettles. Teas, Pestos, Crisps and Soups are most common uses for them. You may need to blanch them if you’re using them as a semi-raw green.

Nettle baskets made by Jeanette Nowak, image from ”Nettles for Textiles”.

Leave a Reply