Botanical Spotlight: Mugwort
In the old European calendar, the year started in November. This time of darkness was the beginning of the year—a time swirling with revelations, dreams, magic, and turning inward. There is no other herb that compliments this seasonal vignette better than Mugwort, and many herbalists and plant folk agree. Her ability to thin the veil between “our” world and “theirs” is something you can’t really explain, you just have to feel it...
Six years ago I began working with Mugwort.
Truth be told, from the moment I held her leaves in my hand I could feel a palpable powerful energy. This sparked my obsession with getting to know plants on a deeper level than textbooks or teas. I later found out that Mugwort is known as a gateway herb—her medicine often sparks deep reverence for the botanical world by both newcomers and seasoned plant folk alike. Through her gifts I am able to continually and consistently tap into the needs, uses, and personalities of other plants (amongst other things), and this is why Mugwort is cherished in my life whether in my body, on my body, or around my home, daily.
Artemisia vulgaris is deeply associated with the moon, and the goddess Artemis, which is in turn associated with the cycles of womanhood and the sacred. The history of its uses and reverence in history are vast, simply indicated by “wort” as this is an old term for plants that are particularly useful in nature. She is a powerful herb, capable of affecting the mental/emotional, reproductive, digestive, urinary, and respiratory tracts. More so than any other action, Mugwort is known for its ability to strengthen our connection with Spirit, and by nature, has an incredible ability to work wonders in our dream world.
It is this affinity for the dream world and "other" realms that makes it a fantastic botanical to study and familiarize yourself within the magical months of Autumn. Judith Berger writes:
"[Mugwort] allows us to live in several worlds at once, expanding and nourishing the habit of drawing our gaze before us to that which is visible, and behind us to that which is invisible. Regular use of [Mugwort] strengthens our ability to absorb intuitive information as we preserve an aspect of sharpness in our interaction with the complex, topside world."
Fostering a relationship with Mugwort
Similar to a first date, developing a relationship with any botanical takes time, and shouldn't be rushed. At first, simply admiring the plant in its whole (preferably alive and growing) form can generate an understanding unmatched by any plant monograph or textbook writing. Mugwort prefers to grow in disturbed areas such as city streets and construction sites, vacant lots, along railroads, edges of woods, and in prairies. It is very tolerant of a wide range of weather conditions making it fairly easy to find no matter where in the world you live.
Most of us will have access to this botanical in its cultivated and dried form (if you are a Heritage member, you received this is in your seasonal apothecary box!). The following are my most highly recommended methods to exploring and fostering a relationship with Mugwort:
1. As a body oil: I feel the most magical way of taking in her medicine is through herbal body oiling. Used in this way, our nervous systems drop into a trance like state and allow us to truly integrate what Mugwort (and other herbs) have to offer. There is one in the shop, our best seller, that takes this practice to the next level. You can order it here.
2. As a smoke: By burning a single dried leaf (or the whole bundle), you can cleanse your space and yourself. The smoke from Mugwort has a particular affinity for accessing the dream world, so I highly recommend this practice before bed. Whether your treats are pleasant or a bit scary, know that Mugwort is providing you a unique change to learn more about your dream world. Make sure you check out the Sleep Module in the Foundations of Health course for more information on slumber and the dream realm.
3. As a tea: A rich source of vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin A, and minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron, Mugwort makes for a very nourishing tea. Add 1 tsp of herb per cup of hot water. Steep 3-5 minutes, and add honey to taste. Do not drink the tea consistently for more than 1 week.
CAutions + contraindications
Mugwort, a member of the Artemisia species and close cousin to Ragweed can be irritating to some due to its high pollen content. All Artemisia species may be toxic in large doses or with chronic use. It is contraindicated in pregnancy when taken internally, and when applied externally it should be used sparingly in those who are in the first and second trimester. As with anything, be smart, use your intuition, and always check in with your healthcare team before starting a new practice.