Today and the past two days, I’ve been eating these lovely gifts from our yard–dandelion leaves. They are best to eat before the bright yellow flowers appear, so you have to search for them by their pointy leaves arranged in a starburst pattern. I asked the plant for permission to pick them, so that they might become a good medicine for me, and then picked some of the leaves from several plants.
Dandelion leaves are a blood purifier, great spring detoxing for the liver, have a lot of vitamins and minerals, and are full of anti-oxidants. (But be sure you pick them from a place with no chemicals or road run-off.) I am just beginning to try eating them, so I rinsed them off and chopped them up, and mixed them into some kale I was stir-frying for breakfast, after the kale was already pretty much cooked. They have a really mild flavor, and I enjoyed them. You can also eat them raw or in salads.
So often, we just ignore the so-called “weeds” in our yard, or worse yet, try to eradicate them. What if we saw them as gifts sent to us from the earth, to help our bodies with what they need? This is what I learned from herbalists–the plants appear when we need them. So, to ignore them or not use them would be rude, wouldn’t it?
I first began to understand this when the St. John’s Wort started appearing in our yard last summer. St. John’s Wort has traditionally been understood as useful for depression and wound healing. Last summer, at the Healing the Wounds of Turtle Island ceremonies, the spiritual wound that revealed itself to me was the Great Forgetting: first there was a great disconnection of my ancestors from their relationship with all of creation, and then there was a great forgetting so that the people would be unaware that they were wounded and disconnected, and thus never even seek to understand that they had once been connected. I heard in my mind, “St. John’s Wort can help when you remember the wound of disconnection from the earth, and when you open to the pain underneath the great forgetting.”
And the St. John’s Wort is returning to the yard this spring as well. The flowers are best picked just after the Summer Solstice (feast of St. John the Baptist, which is where they got that name), but now the plants are starting to put forth new stems and leaves around the old stalks we picked the tops of last year. I think picking them has helped them to grow and expand.
I like learning about the plants in this way, one by one, as they make themselves known to me here in this land I call home.
[St. John’s Wort]