Why do The Seed SistAs love Mugwort so much? Known as the travelers’ herb, this common, aromatic, wayside herb lines many lanes, highways and byways of Britain and Europe. When the moonlight shines onto mugwort, it reflects a beautiful silvery light off the leaves and blooms of this magical mysterious plant.
Mugwort is said to have derived its name from having been used to flavour drinks. It was, in common with other herbs such as Ground Ivy, used widely for flavoring beer before the introduction of Hops. For this purpose, the plant was gathered when in flower and dried. Malt liquor was then boiled with the dried herb to make a strong decoction that was then added to the beer. Mugwort beer would have taken on a completely different quality with Artemisia’s mind opening, uplifting properties over the anti-testosteronic, depressant Hops.
It has also been suggested that the name, Mugwort, may be derived not from 'mug,' the drinking vessel, but from moughte (a moth or maggot), because from the days of Dioscorides, the plant has been regarded, in common with Wormwood, as useful in warding off moths.
Also known as waremodh ("aware-mood") and Una (the first of all herbs) It was the primary herb in the Nine Herbs Charm, an Anglo-Saxon incantation recorded in the 10th century Lacnunga:
The Nine Herbs Charm
In modern English
Remember, Mugwort, what you made known,
What you arranged at the Great proclamation.
You were called Una, the oldest of herbs,
you have power against three and against thirty,
you have power against poison and against infection,
you have power against the loathsome foe roving through the land.
Artemesia Vulgaris is steeped in a long history of medical use, especially in matters connected to the digestive system, nervous system, menstrual complaints and the treatment of worms. All parts of the plant are healing and some of the actions that are ascribed the plant are anthelmintic, (worming) antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue (improving the production of bile), diaphoretic (makes you sweat), digestive, emmenagogue (brings on menstrual bleeding), expectorant, nervine, and stimulant.
The leaves have been shown in clinical trails to have an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus typhi, B. dysenteriae, streptococci, E. coli, B. subtilis, Pseudomonas etc.
This wonderful delicately scented plant has been known and documented for ages as a reliable dream enhancing plant. In the West, mugwort was historically associated with the Greek goddess Artemis, the moon Goddess, perhaps because it stimulates blood circulation and was used chiefly to aid painful and irregular menstruation and also to aid birthing. Artemis is the Greek Goddess who was famed for sending divine dreams. I recommend picking fresh mugwort with the moon, best on a full moon. Harvest consciously with the intention for your dreams and then place it close to the bed, or even under your pillow. You can also try burning some mugwort as incense, which can make bedtime into a ritual that will support more dream remembrance.
The pineal gland has been likened to the seat of consciousness. It becomes active when we are in deep rapid eye movement sleep, creating our dream world. The gland releases melatonin at night, balancing the sleep-wake cycle, keeping us balanced & connected with the cycles of day and night. Mugwort can stimulate pineal gland activity thus bringing our dreams alive.
Making Smudge Sticks
There is nothing more powerful than using sacred tools you’ve made yourself and smudge sticks are no exception. You can put all of your energy and thought into the herbs as you harvest them, the tying of the twine around them and then the drying and burning at the end. While you are harvesting and making the smudge sticks remember to use the intentions of uplifting light, purification and protection.
- Firstly you need to harvest your herbs. We use mugwort as our base. She is abundant and really keeps the smudge stock alight with the way her essential oils burn. Find a good patch where she is abundant and has lots to give. Harvest just as the plant has flowered.
- As Mugwort is so connected to the moon, it is nice to harvest when the moon is full. The moon draws up all of the energy and constituents within the plant to the tips. Depending on the size of the plant you have chosen, we usually harvest from about half way down the stem, above where she looks like she could divide off and keep growing if the weathers right. You will need the pieces to be at least 30-40cm long to make nice fat smudge sticks.
- Next choose what you want to go in with the mugwort. We usually head to the garden for this. Yarrow, sage and rosemary are our favorites’ but we’ve also used wormwood. Once we used some white sage a friend was growing. The aromatic herbs tend to burn well and provide the most cleansing and protective actions. The aromatic herbs are high in essential oils, which are the plants own defense system. The oils burn well with lovely aromas and provide all the protection that they did for the plant.
- Lay out a good bunch of a combination of your herbs, but mainly Mugwort, out in front of you. The thickness you choose depends on your preference and the weird and wonderful shapes of the finished products often reflect the character of the person who made it! It probably wants to be a bunch the thickness that will fit snugly into your thumb and first finger joined tip to tip to make a round.
- Match up the stems approximately but you can trim them afterwards and then holding the base of the bunch in one hand slightly twist the bunch with the other and bend it over so that the ends of the bunch come back down to where your first hand is holding the bunch.
- Now place some twine (green garden twine is nice or you can use coloured embroidery threads) around the end and bind a couple of times around before starting to work up towards the end being careful to include all the ends of herbs as you go. It needs to be bound tightly as the herbs will shrink as they dry but their needs to be good air between the spiral of thread going up the bunch to make sure that it can breathe to dry properly.
- Work up and then back down winding the thread around so that as the thread burns away it still crisscrosses to stop it from unraveling before you reach the end of your smudge stick.
- Do a few nice tight rounds at the bottom before tying it tightly with the loose end. Place an intension clearly on each knot as you tie it.
- Hang your smudge stick in a warm dry place to dry, near a wood burner or in an airing cupboard and keep giving it a feel to check it’s dry. The length of time taken to dry will vary depending on how thick and tightly you’ve made and tied your bunch and where you hang it to dry.
Sensory Solutions Herbal Evolution is an arts and health-education Community Interest Company run by the Seed SistAs, Fiona, Karen and Belle. We promote empowerment, autonomy, freedom, health, and diversity through teaching about plant medicine. All our courses, publications, talks and tours promote the aims of the CIC: to educate about and promote the growing and use of herbal medicine. We combine medical training and years of clinical experience with our love of creativity and plants to put herbal medicine back where it belongs: in your hands.
Introduction to Sensory Herbalism workshop at this years London Wellbeing Festival.
In this two-hour immersion we will meet some commonly found plants associated with meditation and dreaming.
You will be introduced to ways of accessing innate knowledge through using your senses. You will taste, touch, observe and experience the magical quality of elemental medicine and investigate the power of conscious examination within the dream space.