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The Seer's Path
Beltaine marks the beginning of the light half of the year, it is a time of great energy and renewal. What better time to rejuvenate and cleanse our bodies and our minds after our long winters rest. I can think of no better herb for this than the Dandelion.
The Dandelion, the bright little yellow flower that most feel is the bane of a perfect lawn. I say let them grow! What could be more beautiful than a field filled with the bright yellow heads bobbing joyfully in the wind or the joy on a child’s face when they blow the light fluffy seed heads into the wind letting the “fairies fly”.
The Dandelion majickly brings joy and gaiety to the heart and soul. It is a wonderful plant for our Mother Earth as well, as it is enriching to the soil and is found in almost every community on the planet. There are at least 100 different species of Dandelion around the world and they are originally native to Greece. Dandelion or Taraxacum Officinale in Latin is one of the Sunflower family (Composite). It is easily recognizable by its shiny toothed edged green leaves forming in a rosette near the ground, they have a stem 5-6 inches in length and each stem bears a single many petaled globed shaped yellow flower. When the stem is broken it will ooze a sticky milk white bitter substance. It can be found growing almost anywhere.
Most parts of the Dandelion can be used. The leaves when young are eaten raw in salads or cooked as a delicious side dish of greens. The flower heads make a most excellent wine. I would suggest that the leaves be soaked in salted water for about 30 minutes twice to remove the bitter taste. Then simply saute in a little olive oil with some garlic until tender and enjoy. As a food source Dandelions contain more vitamin A (7000U) than carrots(1275U) and are extremely rich in vitamins B, C, and calcium. Due to their bitter nature eating Dandelions before a meal will greatly stimulate the appetite making them a wonderful addition to the diet of those who are ill or malnourished.
Dandelions have an opening and cleansing effect on the body, often being used as a diuretic. Due to their high potassium content they will rid the body of excess water and toxins while maintaining or increasing the amount of potassium in the blood stream. Herbalists routinely use Dandelion to cleanse and purge the gallbladder, the liver and the blood. They are also excellent for flushing and healing the urinary tract. It has also been discovered that with prolonged use of this safe and wholesome plant will aide those who suffer form rheumatism.
Because of the high vitamin and mineral content they are a marvelous spring tonic ridding the body of unwanted toxins built up over the long slow months of winter while giving us most needed nutrients. Dandelion has also long been use for afflictions of the skin such as eczema and scurvy. Used as a tea either internally or as a wash it is effective.
The most of the plant can be used from the flowers to the roots, the flowers as a wine, leaves as tea and a food source and the roots are mostly used in medicine. Before harvesting this or any herb, make sure that the area has not been poisoned with weed killer, insecticide or chemical fertilizer as these compounds will be found in the plant as well. Also never harvest herbs that are growing close to a road or highway as they will be poisoned by the exhaust from the local traffic and contain high amounts of carbon dioxide.
You can make a simple infusion of the fresh leaves or roots by chopping finely and using one cup of herb to one cup of boiling water. Let this steep for ½ hour and sweeten to taste with honey. This infusion can be drunk either hot or cold. The same infusion can be used as a skin wash, minus the honey.
Dandelion’s gender is masculine, its element is air and its ruling planet is Jupiter. Jupiter rules over the liver, gallbladder, spleen, arteries, kidneys and food assimilation. Healing rituals done to help those suffering from ailments of the blood, lungs, heart and liver should contain Dandelion in their herbal mixtures. Dandelion will also aide in rituals for relief of depression as it gladdens the heart. Have you ever seen the look on a child’s face when they pick a large bouquet for Mom, or the look of love and joy on the face of Mom upon having received such a heart felt gift.
There are a few rules when harvesting any herb. First, please sit among the patch of herbs quietly and exchange energies with them, let them know your need. Never harvest any plant without the permission of the spirit within. Most plants are happy to help you if they know your intent. Herbs are more effective as a medicine when they are harvested willingly. If you receive a negative response, thank the plant and simply move on to another patch and start again. Take neither the Grandmother (oldest) nor the young if you expect them to be there next year. Harvest only middle growth. A good rule of thumb is when you leave a patch it should look as if you have never been there. Harvest only what you need. Too many times have I seen or heard of people with little knowledge or respect harvest the entire patch for the dollars they will receive. An example of this is American Ginseng which is now on the endangered plant list and near extinction.
I have learned 8 principals for most excellent harvesting and I list them as follows:
And as always......... Walk with Wisdom
Measure a quart of the blossoms, DO NOT USE THE STEMS. Put them into a large sauce pan with the water and boil for 30 minutes. Strain into a large pan or crock and when cool add yeast, sugar that has been dissolved in the tepid water, lemon and the orange cut into small pieces.
Stir everyday for 2 weeks, then strain and let settle for 1 day, Then strain carefully and bottle into clean bottles and seal. Let sit at least six months before drinking.