“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? 

It is to listen to the stories.”

                                –J.M. Barrie


There are 60 Hedge Guild Otherworld cards, whose purpose is to make more clear the elements, factors, potential consequences and results, available lessons and practicable aids that are to be found in any context or situation – equipping us with what we personally need to make choices, moving forward with awareness, and in wholeness.  With some similarities to Tarot, it is its misfit relative, reinterpretations of perennial symbology, insights and lessons reinterpreted in contemporary times.

This deck draws wisdom, example and inspiration from inspirited nature and ecologies of place and mind, from ancient and evolving revelatory archetypes, telltale fauna from the Honey Bee to The Bear, and the healing actions, and implicit medicines, inspirations and lessons of medicinal herbs and other plants and trees.

All cards are significators, in that all speak to an aspect or potential of the inquirer.  Each calls for us to locate its qualities and abilities in ourselves, as well as indicating the possibility of such a plant or animal ally, valued example, timeless instructor, clarifier or catalyst existing or newly appearing in our lives.

The cards can tell us two things in particular: First, that we may need more clarity about ourselves and our feelings, about some situation, some effort of ours, some influence or threat, or some chances we would rue to miss.  We are especially being flagged when we know so much about something already that our perceptions rigidified and it has become hard for us to notice new aspects or take in new information.  Secondly, they remind us what abilities we already come equipped with, encourage our manifestation and action, and suggest a direction for the fulfillment of our hopes and dreams.

Hedge Guild Arcana Cards

1    The Innocent        2    The Seeker    3    The Seer    4    The Hedge Guide    5    The Ancestors    

6    The Changeling    7    Our Lady of the Hedge        8    The Hedgewise    9    The Queen of Elfhame

10    Hearth Keeper    11    The Hedge Witch            12    The Shire Folk    13    The Hedge Counsel

14    The Enchanter    15    The Trickster            16    The Selkie        17    The Misfit    

18    The Creator        19    The Hedge Dancer        20    The Rhythmist    21    The Woods Bard

22    The Lover        23    The Bone Mother            24    The Plant Healer    25    The Slumber

26    The Awaking    27    The Alchemist            28    The Portent        29    The Woods Guardian

30    The Wildling    31    The Reveler


Hedge Fauna Arcana Cards

32    The Hedge Fox    33    The Hedge Hare            34    The Crow        35    The Medicine Bear

36    Woods Mouse    37    The Snake                38    The Lynx        39    The Honey Bee

40    The Marten        41    The Hedge Toad            42    The Stag        43    The Hummingbird

44    The Wild Boar    45    The Woods Wolf


Hedge Flora Arcana Cards

46    The Blackthorn    47    The Bramble                48    The Sweet Flag    49    The Stingin’ Nettle

50    Cayenne Pepper    51    The Datura                52    The BloodRoot    53    The Yarrow

54    High John Root    55    The Violet                56    The Vervain        57    The Elder

58    The Rowan Tree    59    The Magic Mushrooms        60    The Oak

The cards can tell us two things in particular: First, that we may need more clarity about ourselves and our feelings, about some situation, some effort of ours, some influence or threat, or some chances we would rue to miss.  We are especially being flagged when we know so much about something already that our perceptions rigidified and it has become hard for us to notice new aspects or take in new information.  Secondly, they remind us what abilities we already come equipped with, encourage our manifestation and action, and suggest a direction for the fulfillment of our hopes and dreams.

Sample Card Text

 The Stingin’ Nettle



• Moving through pain, to obtain awaiting blessings & lessons

• When & when not to be defensive, who you sting & who you spare

• Enriching the soil & source of our being, giving back to the earth

• The medicine of restoration, revitalization, zest & verve


The Meeting 


The Stinging Nettle is the fierce green resistance of the Hedge, the feral burn that grows in vacant lot and forest alike.  This is the emerald light that glows in liminal spaces and invites us to look deeper into where shadow and illumination meet at the boundary between city and forest, human and more than human, the here and the beyond.  Its leaves are as nutritive as its burn is painful.


Lessons of The Draw


In Norse and Germanic cultures, The Stingin’ Nettle was associated with Thor, the powerful god of thunder.  Folks made offerings to him during frightening thunderstorms, tossing bundles of nettle onto their fires to win his protection from the lightning strikes that he sparked.  And the trickster god, Loki, was said to spin nettle fibers into magical fishing nets. 

 

The Stingin’ Nettle is gangsta, in that it is tough and tested, streetwise, in need of no special treatment, resistant to all efforts to constrain or incarcerate it, nearly impossible to stomp out, disrespectful of authority, unmoved by the tame and the domestic, fond of its bling, and known to pack a concealed weapon without a permit.  It unselfconsciously puts the hurt on aggressors and trespassers, yet many have found it an ally, and employed it as an aide to help protect them from rape and other violence.  Its common name, Nettle, likely comes from the Anglo Saxon noedl meaning the needle, for the innumerable tiny hairs that inject its stinging uric acid, and the scientific name Urtica derives appropriately from the Latin ‘uro' meaning “I burn.”

 

The relationship between humans and Stingin’ Nettle goes back a very long ways.  A Danish grave dating from the Bronze Age (2200–700 BCE) included a body wrapped in woven Nettle cloth, and archaeologists have discovered vanished settlements by exploring areas flagged by their Nettles patches which still flourish there.

 

The folklore of the Romany suggests that The Stingin’ Nettle grows next to those underground passages that lead to where the Pcuvus, the Earth faeries, abide.  Thriving patches of Urtica were said by the Celts to indicate the presence of faery dwellings close by, whilst serving as protection against all manner of sorcery and Otherworldly mischief.  By the 10th century they were being described as a magical ward against the pains believed caused by being “elf shot” – inflicted by the arrows of elven folk – and against one of the four assumed causes of illness, the so called ”flying venom.”

 

Urtica dioica medicine was recommended as a diuretic and laxative by ancient Greek physicians Galen and Dioscorides, and was later cited in the most of the earliest European Pharmacopeias.  It was likely the Romans who first introduced it to the British Isles for use in curative flogging, and according to the Roman scribe Caius Petroniusa a man’s virility got a needed boost if he bore his lower torso being whipped with a bunch of them.  In Middle Ages Ireland it assumed the name Devil’s Apron, with the story being that Nettles sprouted wherever one of Satan’s fallen angels had landed after being tossed out of heaven above.  The Yogi and Buddhist saint Milarepa was called the Green God because of the verdant color of his skin, brought about by having eaten nothing but a diet of nettles during his many spiritual quests and deep meditations. 

 

Among the Slavic cultures, Nettle banya brooms were thought essential in the treatment of bodily aches including rheumatism, with a generally beneficial on illnesses – Likhomanki – of all kinds.  On Agrafena Kupalnitsa day, Nettle was shoved into the cracks around a house’s doors and windows to guard against grudge bearing witches.  Seeds were burned atop coals to rid a family of the “evil eye.”  Paradoxically, they also believed The Stingin’ Nettle when worn around one’s neck could contribute to their peace of mind and thus put an end to sleepless nights.

 

Stingin’ Nettle is usually seen to be a warrior herb that does not continence entitled, aggressive or cowardly people, stinging them the worst of all.  And it prefers to share its gifts with those least frightened of being stung.  Practiced wildcrafters are fortunate in this way, knowing that they can largely avoid being hurt by only handling the plants in a single direction, from the stems upwards.  This card says for you to learn how to approach and handle the potentially harmful things in your life, and to not let the possibility of a little pain stand in the way of discovering and benefitting by their concurrent blessings and gifts.  It strongly suggests that you be selective when it comes to how prickly you are to others, when and when not to be defensive, who you sting and who you spare.

 

Gardeners are well aware of the Nettle’s ability to fix and enrich poor soil.  What does the earth dependably provide for you and your purposes?  And how can you give back to nature, the land that gives?

 

This card says to fear not the short lived pains and arrows, but to move through it in the direction you have chosen, with the intentions and aims you hold, push on through and forward to experience its long lasting blessings and lessons. 

 

As much as or more than anything else, The Stingin’ Nettle is an emblem and inspiriteur of vitality.  It is a tonic for restoration and revitalization, the burning fire that repels those who would predate on us, impelling us onwards through the challenges and difficulties of our existence, propagating in even the harshest environs and terrains, injecting zest and verve into us, our lives and purpose.  Invoke this card when you feel weakened or depleted, undernourished or overwhelmed, dispirited or defeated …and it will help restore and reenergize you. 


Herbal Tales

 

While sometimes associated  with evil or even the devil himself, The Nettle is often considered effective protection magic against evil or harm, and is even sometimes used in banishing spells to remove harmful elements from one’s life.  Growing them in the garden or around the house can provide a protective barrier against negative or malevolent influence as well as enriching the soil and providing food and myriad other benefits to the household. 

 

Urtica has been known for a multitude of practical uses both historically and currently, providing fodder for livestock, spun into fiber, fermented into beer, brewed as a rich tea, infused into soups, cooked down into porridge, used for dying cloth, and as cures readied from root, leaf, and seed.  Traditionally considered a blood cleanser of great renown, this weedy remedy is utilized to reduce joint pain, clear the skin, soothe gout, and otherwise increase the elimination of waste products from the body.  A mineral rich tonic, The Stingin’ Nettle has a longtime reputation for strengthening hair, lessening exhaustion, and rebuilding resilience after an illness or similar period of weakness.  Purposeful stinging or urtication with the plant has proved a counterirritant to lessen joint pain and increase overall vitality.

Hedge Guild Arcana Cards

1    The Innocent        2    The Seeker    3    The Seer    4    The Hedge Guide    5    The Ancestors    

6    The Changeling    7    Our Lady of the Hedge        8    The Hedgewise    9    The Queen of Elfhame

10    Hearth Keeper    11    The Hedge Witch            12    The Shire Folk    13    The Hedge Counsel

14    The Enchanter    15    The Trickster            16    The Selkie        17    The Misfit    

18    The Creator        19    The Hedge Dancer        20    The Rhythmist    21    The Woods Bard

22    The Lover        23    The Bone Mother            24    The Plant Healer    25    The Slumber

26    The Awaking    27    The Alchemist            28    The Portent        29    The Woods Guardian

30    The Wildling    31    The Reveler


Hedge Fauna Arcana Cards

32    The Hedge Fox    33    The Hedge Hare            34    The Crow        35    The Medicine Bear

36    Woods Mouse    37    The Snake                38    The Lynx        39    The Honey Bee

40    The Marten        41    The Hedge Toad            42    The Stag        43    The Hummingbird

44    The Wild Boar    45    The Woods Wolf


Hedge Flora Arcana Cards

46    The Blackthorn    47    The Bramble                48    The Sweet Flag    49    The Stingin’ Nettle

50    Cayenne Pepper    51    The Datura                52    The BloodRoot    53    The Yarrow

54    High John Root    55    The Violet                56    The Vervain        57    The Elder

58    The Rowan Tree    59    The Magic Mushrooms        60    The Oak