Artemisia vulgaris-photo by Louise Harmon 2012
It seems long-overdue for our column’s namesake to be the center of attention. So this month’s herbal star is Mugwort-Artemisia vulgaris.
Mugwort is well known for its magickal properties. Added to a dream pillow with other herbs such as Hops and Lavender, Mugwort can enhance prophetic dreaming and astral projection. An infusion of Mugwort is often used to wash crystal balls and other divination tools. It can be added to fluid condensers: complex mixtures which include gold flakes or tincture of gold that help attract and hold energies. A small pillow stuffed with Mugwort is an excellent cushion on which to rest your crystal ball. Mugwort can be used as a smudge to clear energies and consecrate space. A bundle can be hung in the home or the dried herb can added to a medicine bag for protection. Mugwort -infused oil is quite lovely to use to anoint the Third Eye before any magickal undertakings.
Traditionally, Mugwort has been used in the beer brewing process, as a beverage used in place of tea or added as a flavoring to meat and fish. In Japan, it is added to a special type of mochi (rice cake) served at the Doll Festival in March.
I must admit that although I understood the magickal uses of Mugwort quite well, I really did not know much about its healing properties until recently.
Artemisia vulgaris is in the Asteraceae or Compositae family, the same family which includes asters, daisies and sunflowers. Its flowering tops are warming and bitter, and the plant is considered anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, a bitter tonic (aids digestion) as well as an emmenagogue (helps to stimulate menstruation). Taken after a heavy meal, Mugwort’s digestive stimulant properties help to alleviate gas and bloating. It is mildly sedative as well as helpful for muscle aches.
Artemisia vulgaris is quite easy to grow in the garden. A perennial, the plant enjoys full sun and rich soil, propagating by rhizomes. Mugwort’s growing tendencies have ‘big plant’ attitude. I have cut it back rather severely at times, ignoring it a bit for several weeks only to find it bursting forth again with amazingly full, large and vibrant growth.
Although Artemisia vulgaris is the Mugwort we are most familiar with for magickal applications, there are several other members of the Mugwort’s genus Artemisia deserving of an honorable mention.
Wormwood or Artemisia absinthe is an important ingredient in the liqueur Absinthe or “la fée verte” – Green Fairy, a popular drink with Ernest Hemingway, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh and Aleister Crowley. The psychoactive property of wormwood’s constituent, thujone is reputed to affect the brain much like THC. It is used in the manufacture of Vermouth and is sometimes added to Moroccan Mint Tea for its bitter flavor.
Wormwood is very bitter and as such, in small doses, stimulates digestive enzymes. It is also used to repel moths and as a treatment of intestinal parasites. I do advise caution when using Wormwood as this is an herb best used with the oversight of a qualified herbalist or other professional.
On a recent hike in an area of high desert in Oregon, I befriended another member of Mugwort’s family, Artemisia tridentata, more commonly known as Sagebrush. Traditionally it was used by the native people of the area to prevent infection, staunch bleeding and to disinfect rooms. This amazingly evergreen shrub has a strong, pungent fragrance due to constituents of camphor, terpenoids and other volatile oils. Its name, tridentata, comes from its leaves which have three tooth-shaped lobes.
After sitting with Sagebrush for a while, I asked permission to harvest several of its branches. Funny…when you quiet your mind and gently focus your full attention on the plant, you really can hear it speak. Plant voices vary from person to person-for me, I hear a faint voice speaking to my heart. Sagebrush gave me permission to harvest the five branches I requested, but was very specific as to which ones I was allowed to take. In return, I left a small lock of my hair as an offering of gratitude. I took the lovely, fragrant branches and bound them carefully with twine to make a smudge bundle which is now residing on the altar in our living room. Someday, I may decide to burn it, but for now, the fragrance of Artemisia tridentata evokes a very special magical presence, reminiscent of the day in August when I was privileged to make its acquaintance.
Artemisia tridentata-photo by Louise Harmon 2012
-Magickal Herbs-The Uses of Mugwort
-Mugwort: Tir Na Nog Gardens
-Wormwood: Moroccan Tea Culture
This information is offered for educational purposes and is not intended to take the place of personalized medical care from a trained healthcare professional. The reader assumes all risk when utilizing the above information.
Copyright© 2012 Louise Harmon
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