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This herb is ruled by Mars because of its warming properties, and so Culpeper, the seventeenth-century herbalist, considered it a good treatment for injuries done by "martial creatures" such as wasps, hornets, or scorpions. It is especially connected to snakes: mythology tells that it grew in the tracks of the snake expelled from Eden, for instance, and it was considered a protectant against snake bites. In its association with Mars, wormwood is generally good in protection spells and also a tool for getting vengence through sorcery. In Russia, wormwood was effective against the green-haired Rusalki, female water spirits who in spring would leave their watery bodies and walk in the woods. In the region of Saratov, Rusalki were frightening creatures ill-disposed towards humans and eager to use their sharp claws. If you had to go into the woods when the Rusalki were about, you were advised to carry a handful a wormwood, which they could not stand.
Wormwood has traditionally been used in the West to repel bugs from stored clothing, as a strewing herb, and the seeds taken internally in small amounts to get rid of worms (thus the name). Steeped in ink, wormwood would then protect the paper written on from being eaten by mice (because of its bitterness). It is antiseptic. But it is also a constituent of absinthe (visit the Absinthe FAQ). This plant grows wild all over Europe and the US. The bitter component of wormwood is an alkaloid, absinthin, which is separate from the essential oil, thujone. Absinthin is removed by tincturing (soaking the plant in water or alcohol). Absinthe cannot be made by tincturing, only by distillation.
Organic wormwood tops
Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:
© 2001, 2016 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission