Dandelion

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“When you look at a field of dandelions, you can either see a hundred weeds or

a hundred wishes.”

    ~ unknown

Many people consider dandelion, the sunny, yellow flower that grows in the middle of their lawn, to be a pest. Dandelion was valued in many cultures all over the world from time bygone. Many myths and legends were woven around this plant.

  Dandelion got its name from French: “dent de lion” or lion's tooth, for the deeply jagged shape of its leaves. Woven into a wedding bouquet, they signify good luck for the newlywed. When dandelions appear in dreams, they are thought to represent happy unions. They are also considered to be symbols of hope, summer and childhood. When dandelion seeds are blown off, they carry good thoughts and affections to loved ones.

One legend surrounding these flowers was that the tallest dandelion stalk that a child could find in the early spring shows how much taller he would grow in the coming year. Dandelions have also been used as a variation on the daisy petal plucking pastime of “he loves me, he loves me not.” If you blow on a white dandelion head and every seed scatters, then you are loved. If some seeds still cling to the stalk, then you are out of luck.

It is also said that if you make a wish immediately before blowing on dandelion, your wish just might come true. Another belief was that the number of seeds left after blowing the seed head indicated the number of children that a girl would have in later life.

Today, dandelion is still revered by herbalists for its many uses as food and as medicine. Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. Dandelion leaves are used to add flavor to salads, sandwiches, and teas. The roots are used in some coffee substitutes, and the flowers are used to make wines.

Traditionally, dandelion roots and leaves were used to treat  urinary and liver problems. Dandelion cleanses the blood and lymph system. It supports the liver after diseases such as jaundice, hepatitis or inflammation, or during recovery from alcohol or drug addiction.

Dandelion is one of the first herbs to pop up in spring. For me it's a symbol of the beginning of a new season. In order to start anew, I feel I need to clear the table from some of the old stuff. Dandelion helps me to do that; it carries away the heaviness of winter from my body, mind and spirit in the same way that it lets the wind carry away its seeds.. Its shiny crisp presence fills my heart with the promise of the new season. No wonder that dandelion was recommended for new mothers. It is highly nourishing to the blood and supports circulation, eases cramps and relieves headache and depression.

“There is a time for everything,

    and a season for every activity under the heavens”

                                                     ~ Ecclesiastes



If you want to enjoy the gifts of dandelion, you will have to know your timing. The leaves should be picked up in early spring, before the flowers emerge. For that you have to know how to recognize the leaves before the flower bloom. The crisp and fresh leaves can be add to salads or sandwiches. They can also be sautéed just like spinach.

The bright yellow flowers can be picked and added to a stir fry or a pancake mix. You can also prepare dandelion wine from them, Dandelion blooms tend to go into seed after you pick them, even while being dried. If you would like to dry dandelion flowers the best way is to dry the separated yellow petals.

The root is dug in late fall after the first frost. It can be cooked with other veggies for a stock or decocted for tea.

“The dandelion is really a kind of messenger from heaven”

~ Rudolf Steiner

Dandelion, a Jupiter plant, contains high levels of silica. The plant's fine radiating flower, and delicate, airy “ball” of seeds  is the expression of the molding forces of Jupiter, through the “hands” of the silica, refined by the help of air. Dandelion releases itself from the rigidity of the silica by developing a hollow stalk and root that contains a milky, potassium-containing sap. In ancient times, potassium was called after the “black goddess Kali” the goddess of destruction that leaves trails of black ashes. The ashes, when dissolved in water, create an alkaline solution of salts that we call potash.



“To the ancient mind, the substances had a consciousness.

Potassium had a consciousness, and the consciousness was that,

when things got destroyed, hidden in them was a secret being

that could resurrect again”

                                                                            ~ Dennis Klocek



Dandelion keeps a well balanced relationship between silica and potassium within itself.  Modeling this balance in the soil enables the other plants to develop the sensitivity to draw from the environment whatever they need.

Dandelion flower essence suits people who have a tendency to cram far too much into their lives. They are so full of enthusiasm for life that they take on too much and become compulsive ‘doers’. They over-plan and over-structure their lives in an effort to fit in everything they want to do, and leave little room for relaxation or reflection. They leave little space in their lives for spiritual or emotional expression, and as they push themselves beyond their bodies' natural capacity, they no longer listen to the needs of their bodies. Such harsh physical demands and unexpressed inner life creates great tensions, especially in the muscles of the neck and shoulders. Dandelion helps to release this tension, allowing the body to relax and emotions to be release and expressed. It can be added to massage oils and used in bodywork. It enables one to listen more closely to emotional messages and bodily needs, and shifts the emphasis from being a human ‘doing’ to a human ‘being’. Energy, activity and enthusiasm become balanced with a sense of inner ease.

Dandelion Blossom Elixir

To preserve the fresh sunniness of the blossoms all year round.

1½ cups Blossoms (only the yellows)

1 cup Honey

12 oz. Brandy

Twist off all the green bits of the blossoms, leaving only the yellow. Place the unwashed blossoms in a glass quart jar. Cover blossoms with honey and stir. Cover the blossoms with the brandy, being sure to leave at least 1” space from the top of the jar for shake-ability. Shake and let infuse in the sunshine for a day or two. Shake daily. After one month, strain out and compost the blossoms, and then bottle and label your elixir! As the honey and brandy are natural preservatives, your elixir will last years.



Dandelion Mead

Mead or honey wine is a great way to create your own alcoholic beverage and preserve the joy of dandelion for a gloomy winter time.

Pour 1 gallon of boiling water over:

(meaning you should have 1 gallon total between both the water and the ingredients listed below)

2 quarts Dandelion blossoms, with greens attached (the green part of blossom, not the leaves)

2 sliced organic lemons

2 sliced organic oranges

1 lb organic raisins minus one handful (reserved to add when cool)

When cool:

add 1 quart local honey (about 3 lbs)

1 1/4 tsp baking yeast

the reserved handful of raisins

Cover and let ferment in a place with consistent temperature, stirring daily. Bottle after 15 days. (Check out bottling instructions if you're not familiar with this process, or better yet, have an experienced friend help you with this lit you're comfortable doing it on your own.) Let ferment at least 6 months.

Sautéed Dandelion

The onion and garlic in this recipe supports the dandelion's role as a vacuum cleaner. Do not over cook them so they can keep their antibacterial quality. Cayenne pepper stimulates the blood and disinfects it. When choosing your dandelion leaves, please remember to pick up the young, soft, light green leaves.

Ingredients:

1 pound dandelion greens

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 whole small cayenne pepper, seeds removed, finely cut.

1/4 cup cooking oil

salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

Discard dandelion roots; wash greens well in salted water. Cut leaves into 2-inch pieces.. Sauté onion, garlic, and cayenne pepper in oil. Drain greens; add to onion garlic mixture. Taste dandelion greens and season with salt and pepper. Serve dandelion greens with grated Parmesan cheese.

You can find more information and recipes in Susan Weed's book “Healing Wise".

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