May 19, 2011
"The leaves are the part used in medicine. They contain bitters, tannins and salicin. The taste is moderately bitter and astringent, with a warm undertone. The combined bitter/astringent taste reminds one of the aspirin-like salicin compounds which it contains. This component is often found in plants that grow in wet places or expel water. The leaves are water-repellent. These properties point to the use of Lady's Mantle to dry up and expel water from the tissues, hence its use in stopping hemorrhage, diarrhea, excessive menstruation, leucorrhea and infection."
I have had "The Book of Herbal Wisdom" by Matthew Wood for quite some time but never took it off the shelf and sat and read it much. One of my favorite things with books like this is to just open them randomly and know that I will be guided to the right pages at the right time. This chapter on Alchemilla vulgaris is a perfect example of that kind of delicious synchronicity that I live for. It tied in many current things in my life and lead me on to new discoveries. The chapter goes on to talk of the "Dew of the Philosophers."
"The fact that dew drops bead up on the leaves is unusual.. and maintains these droplets for many hours after the dew has burned off other plants. Lady's Mantle may encourage the subtle chemical bonding which makes the surface of a drop of water more cohesive and less capable of evaporation. ...why alchemists found so much interest in Alchemilla. ...they saw a plant which was able to generate and preserve one of the most precious substances of all, the mercurius."
"According to alchemical doctrine, mercurius is one of three primal substances which stand at the foundation of the universe. It corresponds to the essence, the archtypal/genetic/cellular matrix which gives rise to different individuals and species. It gives a person a sense of identity and direction. Sulphur stands for the combustible portion, which corresponds to the life force that burns like a candle, from cradle to grave. On the psychological level it stands for the soul and psychological passions that animate life. Salis or salt corresponds to the body, not just the physical vehicle, but the principle of embodiment on any level - thus with the spiritual body as well as the physical. It stands for the principle of integrity or character."
I was going thru some of my old clippings from years of gleaning and realized one of my favorite prints was "the little alchemist," Alchemilla, Lady's Mantle. Also I was reading "The Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness which is concerned with alchemy among other things. And after finishing that and "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostovo, it has reignited my love of scholarship and research. Then googling Matthew Wood and discovering his website and further readings, especially the doctrine of signatures. So very interesting and magical. I thank my muse for leading down this path and with honor look forward to more intellectual journeys. Yay!