She is abundant in Spring. She loves garden beds, dappled shade, even moisture, and the base of trees. She is bristly and sticky — stem and leaf — with dainty white flowers that bloom and quickly transform into cleaving, small round seeds. She uses her bristles to crawl and climb onto other plants. Although not a vine, she likes to lean on other plants. Her theme song would definitely be “Lean on You” instead of “Lean on Me!”
Her nutritious qualities are great. She has a large amount of trace minerals, flavonoids, fatty acids, certain organic acids, and a good bit of silica for strong bones and healthy hair and nails. She also is a great Spring tonic for the lymphatic system — she gently clears stagnation in the lymph vessels and builds the blood (alterative). She’s good paired with other herbs (such usnea, echinacea, or yarrow) for a urinary tract infection or even bladder infection. She will encourage urination and cleanse the urinary tract.
Cleavers were also used as fillings for mattresses in Old Europe which gave it the name “bedstraw.” Some say that this name may also come from the observation that deer like sleep in patches of cleavers in the spring-time.
There are many different species with the genus Galium. One of my other favorites is sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) which is also a spring herb more common in the mountains. This Galium does not have a bristly body and when picked and wilted, it will start to smell faintly like vanilla. This wilted sweet woodruff was (and still is) infused in wine and drunk at Beltaine (May 1st), an old Celtic observance of mid-spring fertility! This is also called “maywine.”
You can take cleavers in tincture form, fresh plant in 70-80% alcohol (maceration), with a dosage of 15-30 drops 3-5 times a day. She is deep yet gentle, so you could use her for months at a time. You could also make a strong infusion of the dried herb (steep for at least 4 hours) or a decoction of the fresh herb (simmer for 20 min’s) with this herb and drink throughout the day. Sweeten with honey and add some lemon if you want.
The *real* reason I am writing this post, though, relates to a more subtle aspect of the plant. I had a dream about three nights ago. It was a very cleansing dream. I know this because I was excreting a huge amount in a bathroom in my dream — feces and bananas (for some reason). So much was coming out that it filled my stall and went over into the next stall. Of course, in the dream, I was slightly embarrassed, but I could not stop the process.
The next scene of my dream had to do with a classroom. I was talking with this guy. He was venting all of his frustrations about our relationship. I did not recognize him, but knew we had been in a relationship. I listened and when he finished his long, cathartic rant, I basically heard myself say that all relationships were healing in some way. And, that we find each other to resolve and work out something in our recent and ancient karma. Right when I said this, cleavers appeared to me in my dream.
As I woke up, I made note of that. A big part of my spiritual path has been reestablishing a connection with the dreamtime. I do this by journaling about dreams that have a *charge* for me and by enacting something that day that honors or lets the dreamtime know I am paying attention.
That day, at a friend’s house, I made a cleavers infusion and drank the tea. I also made a refreshing green drink with it and other spring herbs. Later on that day, I researched the subtle energies of cleavers. What I found was very affirming. Leila Lees of New Zealand works with plant’s subtle energies and she wrote the following about cleavers:
“This remedy clears the auric field and cleanses. It therefore enables us to receive the support appropriate for us in any given moment. It has the ability to bring to it the things it needs. A reminder that we don’t have to be self reliant in everything, this remedy is helpful in putting in place interdependent partnerships. It can clear a project of negative or heavy energies and is one of the remedies that can be used in house clearing or land healing.
Clearing and cleansing, it helps us reach out to the divine. It enables us to move out from staying in our own rubbish or old patterns of behavior. The other important aspect is the ability to identify and let go of the old patterns and behaviors, letting go of as well as to reach out.
Sometimes there’s a leap in our thinking cleavers can galvanize that thinking. It always calls our attention. Wake up to where you are in your life.”
Based on the revelations of my dream and my own personal work with “old habits and behaviors” around relationships in particular, I definitely resonate with this description. My dream had a “clearing” quality to it. And it had everything to do with recalibrating my energetic system so that I could relate to someone else (regarding an intimate relationship) in a way I have never been afforded in the past. I also know this recalibration has to do with other relationships and community collaborations.
The interesting thing about the word “cleave” is that it has two very different meanings. The noun “cleave” has to do with loyalty and to adhere to firmly and unwaveringly. The verb “cleave” has to do with cutting or splitting. I find this also affirming to what I dreamt.
Basically, I feel that what is not true to our heart-loyalty, our integrity and centeredness, we need to cleave from our lives with clarity and determination, leaving behind a true, raw representation of our true nature. This is true for interdependent relationships, cleaving the rubbish away to leave room for the true dynamics of the relationship to emerge and thrive. It reminds me that no matter how much we let go of (that which is old, worn-out) — something true and lasting will always remain; this true essence becomes more brilliant the more we unveil it and peel back the outer layers that cloud it.
If you are interested in the dreamtime, check out my dear friend Tayria Ward’s website. Also, look into the books/works by Robert Moss. And, most importantly let your dreams know that you are paying attention by writing them down or responding to them in your waking life.