Saturday, April 18, 2015

Daffy for Dandelions

I have started offering a service to my friends and neighbors, dandelion removal. The ones in my yard are where I get leaves, flowers, and seeds, I can't harvest their roots. so I have been volunteering to dig up peoples dandelions to get rid of them. My caveat is that they cannot be fertilized or treated. If I feel that the person is being less than forthright I may use those for talismanic work. The rest I will roast and consume. I love dandelions, they grow almost everywhere and they are very useful. Dandelion Spirit is one of my tutelary spirits, a wise sage with deep roots.

Deep Roots

Dandelion, Taraxacum Officinale, has very deep roots, both in actuality and in folklore. Historicallythey are believed to have evolved roughly 30 million years ago in Eurasia. They are considered a hardy, taproot perennial. In other words if you do not remove the root you do not get rid of the dandelion, thus my proposal to friends and neighbors. Some mythological associations include the Sun and Jupiter, in Ayurveda it is attributed to Saturn and air. It is this dualistic aspect that attracts me on the esoteric side.

The roots of dandelions can break up compacted soil and magically that is how one should think of them. They have the power to break through where others cannot. Associations with underworld currents suggest other works that could be accomplished with the roots. Saturnal work is greatly aided by the the addition of dandelion root as materia. The making of an Alruan or root talisman, is described by Sarah Anne Lawless in the article Alraun Crafting: How to Make a Herbal Root Talisman. Personally I just dry them and make a talisman as fits my purposes, but I found her article interesting.

Dandelion roots also have many traditional healing uses and current scientific studies how promise of anti cancer properties. Two chemicals in particular lupeol and taraxinic acid  show promise in clinical trials. Dandelion root is rich in vitamins A, B, C and D and the minerals potassium, iron and zinc. Traditionally it has been used as a diuretic and to treat the urinary tract and filter organs. This includes kidneys, liver and gall bladder. The common method of ingestion is a tisane made from dehydrated roots, sometimes they are roasted and used as a coffee substitute.

 Helios and Saturn

Just as the roots are associated with Saturn, so too are the blooms associated with the sun. At first glance this may seem to make the dandelion double aspected, but upon closer examination we will see that this is not necessarily so. The bright shining face of the dandelion is happy like the sun, bursting forth with the joy of life. In ancient Greece, the Sun was Helios, and in Rome it was Sol, names also attributed to the planet Saturn. Ancient Chaldeans referred to Saturn as Helios and in their own language Alap-Shamas, or "Star of the Sun". What is most interesting about this is that many ancient sources remark upon Saturn's Bright appearance and it was often illustrated with rays or spokes. Some have speculated that there was an astronomical event that created the ring and when it happened a bright disk could be seen around Saturn. I believe there is simpler explanation.

Helios Cthonos is a clue as is Ra as Atum, the ram headed form. Even the Egyptians gave horns to their gods when they traveled the under world. Helios was likewise a traveler of the underworld by night. Saturn is ruler of the underworld, as such he would travel freely across the night. The ancients saw a mirroring of journeys and aspects. Saturn was the secret sun of the dark night. The antithesis of the sun, no longer Sol Invictus, but Sol Niger, the black sun. So back to the dandelion, a cosmos in a flower. Above ground bursting forth and shining bright the dandelion is Sol, Helios, Ra. Below ground digging deep in to Cthonic realms, it is Sol Niger, Helios Cthonos, Atum in Mesektet. This seemingly simple flower has mighty power. It may even help save the world.

One Man's Weed

Many people consider the dandelion a nuisance, just an annoying weed that must be removed. I am a weed. I don't fit in well with manicured society, many would consider me simple and rustic. I am wild and will root where ever I happen to be. Just like the dandelion I find vast riches and freedom on the margins. This often reviled plant has many great uses and benefits. Every part is edible and it has medicinal qualities which I mentioned above. The most commonly consumed parts are the leaves, the flowers and the roots.

I will put dandelion flower petals in salads and I have had them batter dipped and fried. The greens I prefer sauteed like spinach, with olive oil, fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt. The roasted root makes a great coffee like drink, I like mine with roasted chicory. While reading up on this post I stumbled upon Eat The Weeds, which may be my favorite new find this month. 

The leaves are rich in minerals like magnesium, calcium and iron. They aid with digestion and they have vitamins A, C, and E. They are high in beta carotene and contain plant sterols such as beta-sitosterol and stigmasterol. These are fatty compounds that are similar to cholesterol and help block cholesterol in the body.For a good overview I recommend the University of Maryland Medical Center's website, the supporting research is impressive.


Liquid Sunshine

Alternative to fermenter
Growing up, the elders of my family had one treat that they indulged in every summer Dandelion Wine. To me Dandelion Wine is one of culinary treats that every human should try before shucking their mortal coil. There is nothing dandier that Dandelion Wine, It will aid you in communing with the spirit of this plant, literally. Here is a recipe I have used in the past.

DANDELION WINE
Ingredients:
  • 1 package (7 g) dried brewing yeast
  •  2 quarts (230 g) whole dandelion flowers Using 2 quarts+ of just the petals can make for a less bitter wine
  •  4 quarts water (3.785 L)
  •  3 tablespoons (18 g) coarsely chopped orange zest; avoid any white pith
  •  1 tablespoon (6 g) coarsely chopped lemon zest; avoid any white pith
  • Don't do this. Flowers=Bitter Wine
  •  8 cups white sugar 
Wash the flower, remove green bits.
Soak in water, covered for two days.
Bring to a boil with Lemon Zest, Orange Zest and Sugar.
Once you reach a boil, turn off fire and let cool.
Strain. Paper coffee filter are good for this.
Pour into a plastic fermentation container, and attach a fermentation lock. Let the wine ferment in a cool dark area until the bubbles stop, 10 to 14 days. 
Let the wine clarify and then siphon off everything but the lees (sediment).
Bottle and cork, let it sit for about another week in cool dark area before decanting.
Enjoy your exploration with Dandelions. Before I part I will remind you of one bit of lore of the dandelion, blow away its seeds is thought to grant wishes. I personally believe this, because my wish always comes true and I always wish for the same thing, more dandelions. 

 

2 comments:

  1. Fabulous! We are happy to have found her here, even hough only a few...

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    Replies
    1. If I find any really huge roots, I will definitely be making some talismanic pieces.

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