Herbs – Mugwort

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Mugwort is a member of the daisy family and is known by many colorful names including wild wormwood, felon herb, St. John’s plant, moxa, naughty man and sailor’s tobacco. The historical legends around mugwort are many. Anglo-Saxon Britons believed that mugwort was the most effective cure for “elf shot,” a condition widely applied to anyone who became ill without obvious cause—the illness was blamed upon the invisible arrows of the Fae (faeries and elves). It is known as St. John’s plant due to the medieval belief that a girdle of the herb was worn by John the Baptist during his time in the wilderness. From this belief arose superstitions that wearing mugwort protected a traveler from sunstroke, exhaustion, wild animals and evil spirits. In Holland and Germany it is believed that if you gather St. John’s Plant on St. John’s Eve (the Summer Solstice), you will be protected against disease and bad luck.

In China, bunches of mugwort are hung in the home to protect against evil spirits during the Dragon Festival, and in Japan the herb is burned specifically to drive away the spirits of disease. In Anglo-Saxon traditional witchcraft, mugwort is one of the nine sacred herbs, and is used at the start and the end of rituals to sanctify the ritual space, asserting the sacred nature of the working. Among Witches in general, mugwort is one of the most popular herbs for ritual incense and for smudging. Considered magically feminine in nature, mugwort is associated with both Venus and the Moon, although its Elemental association is Earth. Mugwort is considered a sacred herb of Artemis, the Greek goddess of the Moon, which gives it its scientific name— artemisia vulgaris . Many magical traditions associate mugwort with divination, and some Witches use an infusion of mugwort to ritually cleanse their ritual and divination tools. A powerful herb for dreaming, mugwort can be used to both bring about and balance out intense dreams.