Speaking from the experience of not doing this - please remember to wear gloves and long sleeved top when foraging for nettles!
Perennial nettles (Urtica dioica) and the annual nettle (Urtica urens) are usually considered to be weeds, although if you have the space to leave some, they can be an excellent source of food and habitat for butterflies such as the red admiral, peacock and small tortoiseshell. Seed-eating birds, including bullfinches, serins and siskins, benefit from nettles that have been left to go to seed.
Nettles are also useful for gardeners wishing to make their own high nitrogen liquid fertiliser.
Famous for its stinging properties, the nettle plant has been used for years by herbalists, for example Nicholas Culpeper, as a diuretic, antispasmodic, and expectorant, in the treatment of asthma, hair growth when applied to the scalp, extracts of the leaves used topically for the treatment of rheumatic disorders.
Nettles are a rich source of iron, calcium, magnesium and nitrogen, which makes it incredibly nutritious for both other plants and humans. An extremely simple, effective tonic to give your body a boost at any time of the year, as perennial nettles can be found growing in sheltered spots even in winter, is nettle soup –
You'll need about 200g of fresh nettle tips.
Add 450g of potatoes, peeled and cubed, a dash of cream and one litre of stock.
Boil the potatoes until soft and steam the nettles.
Drain the potatoes and add the nettles and stock. Bring the boil, whisk with a hand blender, add a dash of cream and season.
They can also be used in the same way as spinach, any recipe containing spinach could contain nettles as an alternative. For a simple side dish, steam them for around five minutes.
Even easier, make a refreshing nettle tea. Just steep a few fresh tips in boiling water, until the water goes slightly green, as this avoids the tea being too bitter. I add a teaspoon of honey to mine.
Magical Correspondences of Nettle
Zodiac – Aries, Scorpio and Libra
Planet – Mars
Element – Fire
Gender – Masculine
Deities – Thor, Loki, Cernunnos and Hades
Magical Properties of Nettle
Nettle is used for protection, carry a sachet with dried nettle in, sprinkle dried nettle around your home. Throw dried nettle into a fire in order to ward off danger. Make an amulet with nettle and yarrow to keep fear at bay, especially useful if you have a presentation or are speaking in public.
Other Magical Properties of Nettle -
Sources and further reading –
The Hedgerow Handbook: Recipes, Remedies and Rituals by Adele Nozedar
Hedgerow Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies by Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal
Homegrown Revolution by James Wong
Culpeper's Complete Herbal: Illustrated and Annotated Edition
The Secret Craft of the Wise - Magical Herbalism by Scott Cunningham
A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Plants & Herbs by Rachel Patterson