The first thing that strikes me about the little Shepherd’s Purse plant is the way it grows. A floret of leaves grows low to the ground somewhat like dandelion, and then a little blossoming head pokes out from the middle and the stem shoots up with the tiny flowers on the end. And from each tiny flower comes a little heart shaped seed pod that becomes like a stairway to heaven as the flowers grow higher.
The higher the flower gets, the more seeds of heart wisdom it has behind it. Like a living symbol of life’s pathway from earth to spirit. As we grow older, as we grow up, we have more lessons in our medicine bags, more gems of wisdom, more experience in our shepherd’s purse, our handbag.
It is known as Shepherds Purse as the seedpods resemble the leather bags or pouches that shepherds used to carry. Also known as Mothers’ hearts; Witch’s pouches, Lady’s purse, Rattle pouches, Shepherd’s Bag, Case weed, Sanguinary, Clappedepouch, Pickpurse, Pepper and Salt.
The roots, fine and white are small in comparison to the rest of the plant. It lets the earth go easily, is not deeply or strongly rooted, but happy to let go of the earth in its last ultimate reach to the heavens, to the spirit world. Following the heart takes the blossom to heaven
Each choice we make to follow the heart, forms a step on the way to the heavens, to ultimate bliss. When we follow what makes our heart sing, blossom with joy, we are stepping our way up the stairway to heaven/ecstasy.
So what is Shepherd’s Purse’s medicine?
Shepherd’s Purse is in the Cruciferae, the same family as horseradish and it has a slightly similar hot smell. The flowers can be eaten. The leaves at the base can also be eaten before the plant flowers (otherwise they become tough and peppery).
The seeds too can be used as a seasoning (one of its other names is Pepper and Salt). The root can be used as a ginger substitute. Birds love the seeds, and they are often fed to chickens which makes their yolks go a deeper yellow. It has a very high yield of seeds.
It is a “protocarnivorous” plant – the seeds when they get moist from soil go slightly mucilaginous and entrap insects which they then use to feed the seedling! The seeds are effective against mosquitoes – put in water with mosquito larvae attracts and eats them.
Components: High in Vitamin C, A, B complex and Vitamin K. Contains rutin, diosmin, hesperitin; amino acids (proline, tyramine, ornithine), and is high in iron and calcium. Volatile oil is camphor, and also contains vanillic and fumaric acid. Also histamine, choline and acetylcholine.
Seeds Bring You Back In
Seeds are very prominent and I keep being brought back to them. There can be over 4500 seeds on one tiny plant. Seeds carry the essence, the essentials, just like the shepherd’s knapsack, or our handbag. Seeds carry the essence of the whole plant in a contracted, condensed form.
Whatever seeds you focus on they will grow, so focus on the feelings of joy around you, focus on the beauty, the abundance that is surrounding us and create from this space. Let everything else go.
Its medicine is contracting, brings you back to earth, back in. For those too willing to let go their roots and surrender to the heavens, give up and die (haemorrhage). Will rebalance contraction energies. On the other hand for those that are too contracted, need to open up, relax and warm the bones.
Another of its common names is Sanguinary. Its main use has been for haemorrhaging. It was used during WWI when Ergot and Golden seal were unavailable, to staunch wounds and stop bleeding. Can be used on all wounds both big and small (styptic on the skin for small wounds) and especially for head wounds, uterine and internal bleeding. It has been widely used for uterine haemorrhaging. The juice on a cotton ball can also be placed in the nose to stop nose bleeding.
A peptide (proline) may be responsible for Shepherds Purse’s use in bleeding. It is also high in Vitamin K (necessary for blood coagulation). Shepherds Purse is a blood coagulator and vasoconstrictor. Also good for anaemia as it is high in iron.
It has the power to concentrate energies. Wide open and receiving the energies from heaven, from the sky, then bringing them down and concentrating them into form (seed). Astringent and diuretic. Can be useful in diarrhea and urinary tract infections.
Follow your heart
She doesn’t have time for busyness and lack of focus, she wants stillness and focus on what matters. It is heart medicine, medicine for the spiritual heart.
While on one hand it will bring you back in to focus and concentrate energies, it will also help rebalance those that are too contracted, who need to open up, relax and warm the bones.
There is some relationship with time. Constriction and contraction of blood vessels makes heart beat faster, faster, faster. The more fearful (Saturn) we get, the more we contract, and time speeds up, adrenalin flows, the heart beats faster and we race closer to death.
Shepherd’s Purse taken when we are fearful, contracted and cramped, can slow us down, bring balance, open us up again. Helps balance our Saturn energies. Saturn in Libra. Balanced contraction.
On the other hand, if we are too relaxed and open, bleeding ourselves to death, then need Shepherd’s Purse to constrict and contract. It contains acetylcholine, tyramine, and choline which help stop bleeding and lower blood pressure.
The Seed Pods
The seed pods are heart shaped, a signature for the womb (often known as the second heart). The womb is the center of creativity. It receives the energies of a new spirit being and concentrates this into physical form. This coagulating contracting process continues until with the final contraction, a babe is birthed into the world.
Creativity goes through the same process – when we are open, we receive ideas and visions that come through us and if we hold and work on them, we bring them forth into the world.
Everything that makes your heart blossom – take it down to the womb – bring it into form – form the seed to bring that creation into the world, to birth it, to contract it into being.
Shepherd’s Purse contains a polypeptide that acts like oxytocin – contracts the uterus, constricts smooth muscle. Not to be taken in large doses if you are not ready to birth yet!
Regulates menstruation. Used for menorrhagia – excessively heavy periods, balances this out. Will also bring on suppressed menses (amenorrhea). Helps menstrual pain. Big remedy for post partum haemorrhage, bleeding after birth, a dropperful of fresh Shepherd’s Purse tincture has been well used and documented over the years as highly successful.
Opening to Joy
Lighten up, open yourself up to the beauty and joy of life. Open your arms to receive the gifts from above, from the heavens, all the joyful feelings available to you. Everything else, let it go, let it fall away. If it’s not essential, if it’s not worthy of seeding, let it go.
Receiving from heaven and letting all the unessential fall away, letting go the baggage, the material stuff that’s not essential. Letting go the unessential… Shepherd’s purse for letting go what is no longer needed, just as women do each month at menstruation.
Enjoy your life. Bring down heaven’s energies and create but don’t give your life force away in the process – that’s not creating. Open up and receive but don’t give away the essentials, carry them in your purse.
Lighten up, open yourself up to the beauty and joy of life. Open your arms to receive the gifts from above, to all the joyful feelings available to you.
Follow your heart. Everything that makes your heart blossom and expand, follow that. Then bring it in, take this down to your womb, your inner creative space, and here bring it into form, let it seed. Allow these feelings to coagulate into seeds, seeds that will then birth out into the world, energy contracted into form, contracted into being.
Everything else, let it go, let it fall away. If it’s not essential, if it’s not worthy of seeding, let it go. Enjoy your life. Bring down heaven’s energies and create but don’t give your life force away in the process – that’s not creating. Open up and receive but don’t give away the essentials, carry them in your purse!
This article first appeared at the authors blog @WildFlowerWalker and is used with permission.
Heidi Wedd runs various circles and online courses in shamanic herbalism, herbal alchemy, plant spirit communication and flower codes. Author of ‘Wild Flower Walker: A Pilgrimage to Nature on the Bibbulmun Track’, she is passionate about reawakening and deepening our innate connection with Nature. Her history is deeply embedded with plants, herbalism, homeopathy and midwifery. www.wildflowerwalker.com