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Artemisia vulgaris engraving Artemisia vulgaris

This classic herb of the witch's garden contains the planetary metal for Venus (tin), as well as a number of other interesting metals, which shows an Earth influence as well. Some magic workers connect mugwort to Moon because it enhances dreams, especially prophetic ones, and can be stuffed into dream pillows or drunk as a tea for this purpose (I get interesting effects by rubbing a sprig on my third eye before sleep). It is often utilized in consecration, especially of instruments for divination, like crystal balls and scrying mirrors, and so finds use in both witchcraft and ritual magick. I believe that mugwort's association with the sight comes out in its folk use in protecting eyesight; at one time, in England and in Germany, various folk rituals were practiced on St. John's Eve or Midsummer Eve to protect one's eyesight, such as looking at the bonfire through a bunch of mugwort. In the UK, poppets were stuffed with mugwort and tossed into the Midsummer fire in order to clear away sin. It was sacred to the Druids and to Diana/Artemis (who gives it her name). Bankes' Herbal of 1525 advised it be hung on the house to keep out ghosts and ill spirits. In Ainu culture, demons are brushed out of a possessed person using bunches of mugwort. They believe it to be the oldest herb in the world. In England likewise it was considered the oldest herb. In the tenth-century herbal Lacnunga, the Nine Herbs Charm includes the following address to mugwort: "Remember mugwort, what you revealed, what you established at the mighty denunciation? Una is your name, oldest of the herbs. You are strong against three and thirty. You are strong against venom and against the onflight. You are strong against that evil She that goes throughout the land." According to the Herbarium of Apuleius Platonicus, it was the goddess Diana who found this plant and gave it to Chiron, the centaur responsible for teaching human beings medicine. Notice that the maidenly status of Diana/Artemis is reflected in the herb's uses--it might protect children, but it is not for fertility; on the contrary, it was used to suppress menstruation altogether.  In Sicily, women would make crosses of mugwort and put them on their roof on the eve of Ascension Day so that they might be blessed. The flower essence of this herb is useful in connecting to feminine power, especially in situations where it might be dangerous to do so.

Mundane Uses

Mugwort coming up in springIn the past, travelers padded the insides of their shoes with it to prevent foot soreness, perhaps on account of a story of a saint who did the same and perhaps because of leaves' cottony undersides, which also provide the substance moxa, used in Eastern medicine. The scent of the leaves is handy for keeping moths out of stored clothing. Mugwort was also used to flavor beer before it was replaced by the more sedating hops and was grown in medieval gardens. Collect the leaves before the flowers open to get the highest oil content. This herb is also known as Felon Herb, St. John's Plant, Cingulum Sancti Johannis, chernobyl. Top

How to grow: Sow in seed planting mix by sprinkling them over wet soil and lightly pressing them. They need light to germinate.  Cover with plastic and refrigerate at 40-50F for 2 weeks to break down germination inhibitors, then bring into warmer temps to germinate.  Transplant in fall or spring and space 1 ft apart.   Or sow on Winter Solstice (see special directions on the Solstice Sowing page). Once they are established, they are easy to propagate by dividing the rhizomes in the early spring, before the plant leafs out.  This plant likes full sun and rich, moist soil.  This is tall (5-7 ft), bushy perennial that grows from a creeping rhizome and tolerates cold well. For best results, gather it at the Full Moon. Harvest the roots before the first frost and dry in the shade or hang in the house to dry. General growing info. Top  

Artemisia vulgaris
200 seeds $4.25

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Uses in Witchcraft & Magick:

Astral Herb
Honoring Artemis
Venus Herb

Go to the dried herb
Go to the essential oil

© 2004, 2018 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction of any part without permission.