Nettle in the Mint–the shadow side of self

31 Jul

I like to taste words.  To roll them over my tongue.  Notice their flavor.    The emotions they evoke.  This morning over at windthread Grace posted briefly around the idea of “regret.”  I noticed the way that little six-letter word made me feel. The brief moment of sadness that wanted to arise.   And just as I was heading down a road of my own, lined with what I could have called regrets,  Grace flipped the concept on it’s back–answered my comment–clarified the idea of not applying the concept of “regrets” to things one has done — but to future things that would cause “regret” if NOT done. She re-framed and presented a more constructive use of the word…and i’m quoting “i realized i have a tendency to think of regret in…what would i regret NOT doing in any given situation?”  A total about face.   And this struck me as such a profound reflection–a moving away from a negative spin towards the positive.  From the ingrained response to a liberated restructuring of the concept of regret.  A point-of-view that implies if we know in advance what actions would cause regret, then we can take steps to circumvent it–or not.  But still it feels like a choice.

I’ve had my own word lurking around lately.  “Shadow,” as in the shadow side of self.   My shadow side specifically.  The not-so-pretty, often problematic part.  Bats in the belfry and all that.   They’ve been asking for attention. Persistent.  Clearly holding an important message.  Right now I sit here listening to the rain. Noticing what, in the past,  I would have called “weeds”–common nettle– growing on the bank right in the middle of mint and lemon balm. nettleThe nettle in the mint–bottom right hand corner.

It has meaning for me now. because nettle can be used as a dye plant.  It changes things. Improves cloth when used in a certain way.  I will harvest it just as I harvest the mint.  Now it has value to me. But the value of shadow?

Then I think of my grandson who totally loves his physical shadow.  He plays with it.  Runs full steam while watching it over his shoulder.  Sometimes it gets in front of him, sometimes it stays behind.  And sometimes he trips himself up in the process of watching it.  But he’s always aware of where it is and it delights him to no end.  Obvious I can’t actually see my own shadow side — although I can see the fallout from it, from time to time.    But I do see that it’s just like the nettle in the mint.  To be looked at as nuisance/weed–or something instructive and useful. An agent for change.

Oh Sunday I sat with seven women for seven hours in a workshop conducted by Jude Lally.   We discussed a lot of things. And we made felted objects. This one is actually a holder of sorts. Right now it’s holding memories. Old memories that seem to be arising from another place and another time. And it holds a feather.  felted piece

And this cloth, muted, eco-dyed fabrics in the early stages of becoming,  feels like it’s arising from that same ancient place.

the sisterhood

12 Responses to “Nettle in the Mint–the shadow side of self”

  1. helen July 31, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    There is so much to enjoy in this post Patricia. I am so glad that you have changed your view on our most wonderful nettle. It is one of the best healing herbs too….

    and I soak it to make a great liquid fertiliser for our veggies growing in the garden…..very stinky though!

    Oh! and you probably know that it has also been used to make cloth.

    It’s sting helps control my hayfever too. You can probably tell, I’m a bit of a fan :~)

    I am so with your grandson about playing with my shadow…..reading this made me go and put a little post on my blog just for him…..

    I love the felt memory holder you made, and the second image has me most intrigued….is it the triple goddess aspect…..maiden, mother, crone?


  2. Patricia July 31, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    hi Helen. i’m just beginning to explore nettle so please feel free to provide as much information about it as you care to share. i also viewed your shadow video and found it delightful–will share with gs.

    as far as the image of 3 women. i don’t know what it is. i did another cloth about a year ago and it too had 3 women figures. and as i’m one of 3 sisters, i sort of thought maybe that first one was about sisterhood. but this one, i wondered myself. more like 3 women contemplating the unknown–and they feel a bit misty to me–seers or something like that. but i do like your interpretation — it’s all just so odd. i never quite know what will arise–or why. and usually that’s just fine with me! much love


  3. karmadondruplhamo, (grace) August 1, 2013 at 1:50 am #

    just my mood of the moment i guess, but, everything has its own kind of glow…even
    thoughts about Regret.
    the cloth with the 3 figures is extraordinary. everything about it. it is so much how your
    hand makes cloth, but its really going beyond that. it’s stunning.
    and nettle makes such an elixir as a tea…good for Everything Tea


    • Patricia August 1, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

      thank you for mentioning nettle in this way. it made me realize i know just enough to be dangerous. what i was calling nettle–meaning common nettle–is actually horse nettle–and probably not good for drinking. love and thanks.


  4. Nancy August 1, 2013 at 4:12 am #

    Your work feels so real, so raw. I really like it. Also like your reframing ‘regret’…good idea…good idea to think on.
    The 3 women is very, very moving.


    • Patricia August 1, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

      hi Nancy. i thank Grace for providing the seed for the “reframing regret”– like the turn of that phrase–and very comforted that you like the 3 women. much love to you


  5. deanna7trees August 1, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    i did think your cloth was a painting, Patricia. it is wonderful and very other worldly. anxious to see what kind of stitch you will add.


    • Patricia August 2, 2013 at 10:23 am #

      i seem to get this far with a piece and then just have to sit. wait for further information. i’ll be anxious to see the stitching too. so glad you visited here.


  6. Mo Crow August 1, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    Oh my this new cloth Patricia brings to mind the poem “Revelation” by Kahlil Gibran, I wrote it out when I was 18 along with a bit of Shakespeare, Neruda, Donovan, Swami Sivinanda and my favourite, the one I know by heart “The Walrus and the Carpenter”


    • Patricia August 2, 2013 at 10:24 am #

      i’m going to look up Revelation. it wasn’t in any of my Gibran books, but i did spend time with him last night. thanks for the reminder.


  7. Marti August 2, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    Three images, are they plural or singular?: For me, it is all one woman, beginning a journey to knowing herself. The steps leading to an acknowledgement that while one may be a solitary woman, she is also a planetary woman. I have often used these words, planetary woman, to convey the sense that we belong to so much more than the self; that there is a tradition of knowing and womanhood as old as time and at a certain point in our lives, we hear the call and move toward a place of recognition, mutual respect and communal understanding…what an extraordinary cloth this is Patricia; it simply vibrates for me as I recognize this story of path finding…..


    • Patricia August 3, 2013 at 11:09 am #

      i am truly grateful to have your perspective on this cloth. much of what you say really resonates with me. it’s true that my pathfinding trip is changing–and i’ll hold firm to the image of moving into planetary woman. thanks Marti


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