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Nettle History, Folklore, Myth and Magic

Nettle History, Folklore, Myth And Magic

Nettle has long been recognized for its bounty of nutrition as well as its sting. Folk medicine and lore worldwide attributes the powers of protection and fertility to this incredible plant. Wisdom handed down from ancient times includes advice on using nettle to protect one’s self from lightning, to enhance fertility particularly in men, to reduce the swelling of arthritic joints, to heal the sick and bestow courage on those who carry it as well as how to avoid being stung by nettle. In Kawaiisu tribal practice as in Celtic lore, nettle serves as a threshold guardian. Nettle fibers have been found in burial cloths from the Bronze age, also closely linking this plant with the threshold between life and death, and giving credence to the various folklore bits that describe Nettle as growing from or near the dead.

Nettle Magic

Nettle magic is the magic of Mothering. With her bounty of nutrition, she offers us the building blocks we need to be healthy, strong individuals. The flavor of nettle tea has been described as akin to milk or mother’s milk; nettle in your life reminds you to take the time to nourish yourself at the most basic levels.

Nettle’s sting, however, reminds us to value our gifts just as we must honor and protect the work of  mothering if we are to remain healthy. Nettle protects herself and her space with a mild sting that can last for days. In this, she asks us to recognize and honor the worth of what she gives; if you’re willing to hazard the sting to gain her treasure, you’re more likely to value what you have taken. When nettle has come into your life, especially around a project you’re nurturing, take time to ensure you and those who might benefit from your work recognize and value your contribution.

Nettle magic is transformation through nurturing and self-worth, like that of a healthy, loving mother. Soggy, wet ground is her favorite rooting place; she’s an expert at turning hard, clay soils into fertile ground. Her ability to undo the effects of an excess of water in the soil speaks to her affinity with water and with conditions of stress, especially of an emotional nature. Just as nettle can turn a situation that appears hard and unloving into one of fertility, so can we. She reminds us of our power to shift our thoughts and deeds into a place of nurturing, encouraging personal and environmental growth, as a mother might shift hers to provide the best possible conditions for her children’s growth. Nettle can bring out the mother in all of us, and our world will be the better for it.

In astrology, Nettle is considered a masculine plant and is governed by Mars. Nettle’s element is Fire. In Ayurvedic medicine, nettle energy is recognized as bitter, salty, cool and dry.


Candace Hunter

Candace Hunter is a self-taught herbalist and artist who never, ever practices on guinea pigs in part because her family and friends are generally up to the job. She is co-author of The Practical Herbalist's Herbal Folio series and author of Herbalism for the Zombie Apocalypse. She edits The Practical Herbalist website and Practical Herbalist Press publications. She has also recently entered into the field of podcasting with reckless abandon. Listen to her on Real Herbalism Radio today, see her work at, or find her on Facebook at Candace Hunter Creations.

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