Nettles & Docs

Urtica dioica is the most common species of Nettle found in Europe, commonly referred to as the stinging nettle.

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Its green leaves with their deeply serrated edges are found in meadows, pastures and of course near composts. Nettles always indicate a rich source of nutrients so one may rejoice when finding them on your land. They propagate by an underground root network and are rapid in growth and voracious, easily swamping more fragile species.

Many plants contain toxins in order to save them from predators. In the case of the Nettle, the sting is delivered by tiny hairs on the stems and the undersides of their leaves which embed themselves into our skin. As they break off they release a mixture of formic acid, histamines and other chemicals which cause a stinging sensation.

Most of us know that where nettles grow, so too does the trusty Doc. Leaves of the broadleaved Doc of the genus Rumex, characterized by their large oval leaves with rounded tips, contain an antidote to the Nettle sting. Whilst theories abound to explain why dock leaves appear to help nettle stings, the sap in dock leaves apparently contains an anti-histamine this can soothe the stinging sensation. Look again at the photo — there amongst the Nettles, you can see the Docs flourishing.


Those of us who have come to know Chiron the Centaur, also know that the wound is the medicine.

Life offers us our wounds in order to heal. You could say, well, why not just be well? I believe that we each come here with karmic wounds and one part of our deeper purpose is to heal those wounds. It can indeed be difficult to understand. But when the why me? is gradually replaced with the feeling of having mastered our challenges one by one, not only can we begin to feel a sense of deep inner peace, we can like Chiron, begin to help others on their Healing path.

As I stood in the forest this morning, I could see that beside every clump of Nettles grew another clump of Docs.  I could feel how this forest floor was composed in such a delicate way. Beside every potentially wounding leaf was neatly placed its remedy. Many of us will remember our first Nettle sting, and many of us will remember a parent or a brother or a sister shouting out to look for the nearest Doc. Nettles & Docs offer us a symbol of this universe in which cures are at hand. We simply have to be observant, and this degree of observation is a form of mindfulness.