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    Mugwort Chronicles

    herbal Inventory Time This time of year with winter’s cooler temperatures and abundant rainfall, there is little opportunity to engage my herbal interests outdoors. However, it is a good time to take stock of what is in “ye olde herb cupboard” and begin planning what I will need to replenish or add for the coming year. I am a rather basic herbalist. My personal philosophy about using plant medicine is simple: use what is indigenous to your location.  Occasionally, I will become curious and add something exotic, usually in a pot on the patio, but not very often. Although I have tried to abide by the teachings of several of…

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    Mugwort Chronicles

    Echinacea Several years ago I spotted a somewhat ragged Echinacea plant at our local nursery. It was toward the end of the summer when the nursery had deeply discounted its remaining plants to clear its inventory. This poor little soul lingered in her pot so sadly that I simply could not walk away. I brought her home and planted her in the part of my garden between Marshmallow and Rose, uncertain if I would see her next year. However, as winter warmed to spring then into summer, there was Echinacea small but making a vibrant comeback. I had always wanted to plant Echinacea to use in making tincture.  Echinacea, more…

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    The Mugwort Chronicles

      Just in Time for Cold Weather Coughs: Thyme Over the years Thymus vulgaris (common Thyme) has become one of my most esteemed herbal allies, not only for the lovely aromatic flavor it imparts to my favorite dishes, but for its healing properties, as well. A member of the lamiacae or mint family, Thyme is a valuable addition to the herbalist’s medicinary as we approach the winter months for its soothing effects for many respiratory conditions. Its antispasmodic, expectorant and antimicrobial properties help to quiet coughs accompanying colds and flu. It is carminative and helps to ease digestive upsets.  Thyme’s antibacterial and antimicrobial properties make it a good choice for…

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    The Mugwort Chronicles

    Mugwort 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…

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    The Mugwort Chronicles

    Hawthorne Hawthorne-Crataegus spp –is a well-respected heart tonic, both for physical as well as emotional conditions of the heart.  A member of the rose family, Hawthorne can be found throughout North America and the northern hemisphere in Europe and Asia. These small thorny trees (shrubs), which can vary in size from 10 feet to 50 feet tall depending on the variety, produce lovely small white blossoms in the spring and small red fruits or ‘haws’ in the fall.  Used as both food and medicine for centuries, Hawthorne also has a long, rich folk history as well. Both ancient Greeks and Romans included Hawthorne in wedding arrangements, associating it with happiness…

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    The Mugwort Chronicles

    Ahhh….Sweet Grass….   I have such wonderful memories of the last time I attended the NW Herb Fest in Eugene, Oregon. It was during a rather hot weekend in July 2010, sadly, the last time the NW Herb Fest was held. Walking from the parking area in the fields, the air was heavy with the wonderful vanilla scent of Sweet Grass.   At the time, I didn’t know which plant was responsible for that amazing smell and it wasn’t until I purchased a braid of Sweet Grass at one of the vendor’s tables that I figured it out. That lovely braid remained fragrant for a very long time, reminding me…

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    The Mugwort Chronicles

    Skullcap Scutellaria laterflora     Scutellaria lateriflora-photo by Louise Harmon 2012   One of the most cherished residents of my herb garden is Skullcap, Scutellaria laterflora. When I first planted her three years ago, I was cautious not to let her run amuck in the garden as is her nature, placing a flexible garden border around the plants, large enough to allow for growth, but deterring her from taking over the rest of the garden. Last year, feeling this was perhaps overkill, I removed the border to allow Scutellaria just a little more freedom to roam the garden. However, Comfrey and Skullcap now appear to be engaged in a bit…

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    The Mugwort Chronicles

    Lungwort and the Doctrine of Signatures Several weekends ago our apprenticeship class from the Arctos School ofherbal and Botanical Studies went on an awesome hike to check out a young forest near the Clackamas River in Oregon. The area had been logged about fifty years earlier, and the Douglas Firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii) were slowly making a comeback. What I found most exciting was that the trees were COVERED with an abundance of Lungwort-Lobaria pulmonaria.   There are many plants with which I enjoy a deep relationship; however, Lungwort is definitely one that joyfully and powerfully sings to my heart. There is just something about the vibrancy of its nearly iridescent…

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    The Mugwort Chronicles

    Adventures with Oregon Grape Root Last March I was lucky enough to participate in a local two day medicinal plant class which included a day long hike through some lushly forested private land. We spent much of the day learning to identify wild edible and medicinal plants with a special activity planned by our guide: harvesting Oregon Grape root for tincture.   Oregon Grape root (Mahonia spp) grows abundantly here in the Pacific Northwest and can be found not only in forests, but in urban neighborhoods, as well, where it is often used for landscaping. The two most common varieties seen here are Mahonia nervosa or dull Oregon Grape, a…