Friday, June 27, 2014

Pagan Blog Project – week 26 – M#2 – Mugwort

Pagan Blog Project – week 26 – M#2 – Mugwort

Just like moldavite is one of my all-time-favorite crystals, mugwort is one of my all-time-favorite herbs! It was first introduced to me when one of the amazing and talented witches from my alma-mater coven started leading herbal workshops, once a month, for a year. She taught us from the book Herbal Rituals: Recipes for Everyday Living by Judith Berger. While I missed the workshop on mugwort (oops!), everyone else in the group couldn’t stop talking about the greatness of mugwort. This, naturally, grabbed my attention!  

I worked with this herb a few times over the years, using it mostly in dreaming or sleepy charms or spells. A few years ago, one of the girls I was mentoring asked me to do a workshop on mugwort. That’s really when I fully gave myself over to my love-affair with this amazing and magical herb.

Artemisia vulgaris is also known as mugwort, common wormwood, felon herb, chrysanthemum weed, wild wormwood, Old Uncle Henry, sailor’s tobacco, naughty man, Old Man, St. John’s plant, cronewort, hag-weed, and muggons. Aren’t all of those folk names just hilarious and awesome?

When working with an herb for the first time, I like to experience it in as many ways as I possibly can. For the mugwort workshop we burned the herb on a little piece of charcoal, as well as tasting and rubbing the dried leaves. We smelled the smoke, drank the tea, and let the hot steam from the tea wash over her faces. This herb can also be used in infusions, smoking, candles, food, oils, dream pillows, and tinctures. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any fresh mugwort locally, though I hear it grows everywhere! I really should just grow some for myself, but needing some gives me an excuse to stop by our local occult supply shop (like I need an excuse!)

This herb can be very bitter. Usually I don’t mind the taste when I drink it as an infusion, but the last time I used it I was using a different tea pot and guessed at the amount I should have used. Ew! It was so bitter it was almost undrinkable. But should this happen, just add more hot water to dilute the brew.

Mugwort comes with a few warnings – it’s toxic in large amounts and under prolonged intake, so be careful and use in moderation! It might irritate those with asthma, hay fever, or other allergies, and it is not safe for pregnant mommas or babies!

This herb is said to be unpleasant to mugs and insects, and is often used in protection or banishing charms. Mugwort and iris leaves together outside of homes in Japan to keep evil spirits away (because the spirits don’t like the smell.)

Some use mugwort to get more energy, and some use it for relaxation. Roman soldiers put the herb in their shoes to keep their feet from getting tired, and it is said that taking a mugwort bath helps with achy joints, inflamed herbs, and even emotional tension.

Magically, mugwort is said to give visions, to allow one to live in many worlds at once, and to help with having or remembering dreams. Others use it for lucid dreaming, astral projection, heavy meditation, to open up ancient memories, to open intuition, or to aid in powerful rituals.

Traditionally, incorporating mugwort into a floral crown at midsummer is said to help call to the fairies and to assist vision quests. Store the dried herb with divination tools, or anoint your crystal balls or magic mirrors with an herbal infusion. The oil is also very effective to use on the third eye. The dried herbs can be burned on a piece of charcoal, or burned in a Smudge Stick.

When I want to do some heavy divination or oracular work, I’ll drink a pot of mugwort tea. It tends to make me feel a bit buzzy – like I’m vibrating at a higher or different frequency. I also love to use a mugwort “flying salve” that I got from a witch up in Rhode Island. I tend to put this on my third eye, on my wrists, behind my ears, and at my in-bows – pretty much anywhere where the skin is thin or sensitive. This helps me with dreams sometimes, or to be more intuitive and sensitive to energy within ritual space. The salve isn’t as powerful to me as the tea, however. Aside from sage, mugwort is my favorite herb to burn. It’s a scent and sensation that has become very comfortable and familiar to me, and it’s nice to know that I’ve developed such a good relationship with this herb. Inspiration and intuition comes easier to me when using mugwort, though I usually don’t have wild or crazy dreams. I also sleep very heavily after a pot of mugwort tea, and I wake up feeling very groggy and hung-over, so I don’t use it very often.

The magical properties of mugwort might not work for everyone, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get that awesome third-eye opening tingly feeling! Try it out a few times, and if it doesn’t work, keep on looking for a magical herb that will work for you. Exploring and trying new things is half the fun! 

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