It’s International Women’s day so let’s honour one of the most underestimated women’s herbs: Bijvoet – Armoise Commune – Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris). Mugwort is still popular in our neighbouring countries, but over here, it has been erased from our memory by the Church who decided it was too spooky and too powerful a herb.
Named after Artemis, Greek goddess of the MOON, the hunt, the wilderness, virgins and childbirth, it is renowned – across continents – for its gynaecological applications. It can help bring on delayed menses, especially in women suffering from an excess of male hormones/androgens (PCOS).
Mugwort stimulates the womb, but also the appetite and the digestive system as a whole, including the liver. It strengthens the nerves, which means it’s used for cramps (in the uterus) but also for other types of spasms – think of fever with chills, or of epilepsy, especially at childbirth.
It’s a warming herb that is used to increase circulation and neuromuscular activity in the limbs, cfr. the Oriental “moxa” practise (burning of the dried herb close to the body to stimulate the body part).
Mugwort stimulates the body, but also the emotions: one of its traditional indications is depression…
[Bijvoet / Armoise commune / Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) - found in neglected, disturbed areas. Another signature, because Matthew Wood describes the Artemisias as being appropriate for those people who have gone through the most devastating/disturbing of life's experiences. (resulting in cold, inactive tissues and suppressed emotions)]
In addition, it stimulates the mind: the Artemisias contain thujon – in varying degrees – which has psychoactive properties, meaning that it alters consciousness. Mugwort in particular is known to stimulate lucid dreaming (the experience of knowing you’re dreaming, while you’re still dreaming). In this way, it makes you into a “seer” – which is why it’s the herb of the herbalist and Astro-Herbalist – but beware, it will first drag you through all your own unconscious patterns and behaviours. As herbalists, we are confronted with the worst of human suffering, and Mugwort will make us experience some of that first hand, so we know what we’re dealing with…
Asides stimulating the body, the emotions and the mind, it also stimulates the aura, and therefore helps remove stuck energy (of all sorts… think exorcism). “Smudge sticks” of dried herbs are used to cleanse the aura of a person or the energy of a room or ceremonial object. It clears the space and prepares one for a safe lucid dreaming trip.
Not bad for one herb! Note how the underside of the leaf is silver… a signature of its ruling planet: the Moon. (The Moon represents our deepest needs, instincts, our inner life, our subjective reality – whether conscious or unconscious.)
Mugwort should be avoided by those who are pregnant, and by those who are already overstimulated (warm, sweaty, loud voice, active, exuberant personality, etc.)