25.7.11

den klog kone

mushrooms
rowan berries
in the sixteenth century, danish villages often had a person they called "den klog kone" (literally, the clever wife). to be den klog kone was a positive thing - they knew about herbs and worked to heal people who were sick - these women were strong and capable and essential to a village. but there was a fine line between being den klog kone and being a witch - get on the wrong side of someone in the village and that line would be crossed and one would be persecuted (and maybe even killed) for being a witch.

i've been fascinated this year by foraging. the idea of finding food along the roadside, in the forest, or on the beach is very appealing. partly, it's about getting something for nothing, but even more, it's about that knowledge that den kloge kone had.  it's about knowing what plants are good for what. if they have medicinal qualities. are they edible? what flavors they have and what flavors they go with. how the plants can be used.

it strikes me sometimes that we've lost so much knowledge - so much that people once knew. so much about nature and how to really do things and make things. all those things that den kloge kone of the village once knew. or ma and pa in the laura ingalls wilder books.

for me, a big part of living more sustainably involves relearning some of those things. which mushrooms are edible, which of the plants growing in the ditch might be used to spice up some schnapps or make a tasty jelly or if those flowers would make a nice cordial.  i'd like to know just enough to be den kloge kone, but definitely not a witch.

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