Mugwort

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The Magic of Mugwort

Silver Green Foliage of Mugwort (Artemesia)
Ron Evans / Getty Images

Mugwort is an herb that is found fairly regularly in many modern Pagan magical practices. From its use as an incense, for smudging, or in spellwork, mugwort is a highly versatile - and easy to grow - herb.

Mugwort is often associated with the female reproductive system, perhaps because of its associations with the moon, and can be used to bring on delayed menstruation. Maud Grieve says in A Modern Herbal that "In the Middle Ages, the plant was known as Cingulum Sancti Johannis, it being believed that John the Baptist wore a girdle of it in the wilderness. There were many superstitions connected with it: it was believed to preserve the wayfarer from fatigue, sunstroke, wild beasts and evil spirits generally: a crown made from its sprays was worn on St. John's Eve to gain security from evil possession, and in Holland and Germany one of its names is St. John's Plant, because of the belief, that if gathered on St. John's Eve it gave protection against diseases and misfortunes."

NOTE: It is recommended that pregnant women do not take mugwort internally, because it can lead to potential miscarriage.

Mugwort in Magic

Part of the artemisia family, mugwort was used in Anglo-Saxon Britain to cure people who had fallen victim to “elf shot,” which appears to be a catch-all term used to apply to people who had become sick, their illness being blamed upon the invisible arrows of the Fae. Bald’s Leechbook, an herbal from around the ninth century, refers to the use of mugwort to cast out demonic possession. The author also recommends heating a large stone in the fireplace, then sprinkling it with mugwort, and adding water to create a steam for the patient to inhale.

In some magical traditions, mugwort is associated with divination and dreaming. If someone has overactive dreams, they can be balanced out with a ritual bath made from mugwort and indulged in prior to bedtime. To bring about prophecy and divinatory success, make an incense of mugwort to burn at your workspace, or use it in smudge sticks around the area in which you are performing divination rituals.

Author Raven Kaldera follows a tradition of shamanism rooted in northern European practices, and refers to mugwort as one of nine sacred herbs. He says, "This is the plant of Midgard, burned at the start of a ritual. One starts and ends with Mugwort, as one starts and ends with Midgard. Its shamanic purpose is purification. We tend to think of purification, in these days of advanced medical antisepsis, as being sterile. To us, "pure" has come to mean "without life". When we use something whose basic power is purification, we expect, on some level, for it to clean everything and leave it a blank slate. However, that's not what magical purification actually does. Perhaps a better term for it would be "sanctification."

Native American tribes used mugwort leaves to rub on one’s body as protection from ghosts. The leaves could also be worn as a necklace.

Other magical uses:

  • Use mugwort baths or incense in rituals focusing on treating depression.
  • Make a set of smudge sticks using dried mugwort, to use in ritual settings bringing about prophecy or divinatory needs.
  • Place mugwort under your pillow to prevent astral attacks, or to ward off psychic attacks from those who would do you harm.
  • Plant mugwort in your garden to attract the Fae.
  • Burn mugwort as part of an incense blend celebrating Litha.
  • Make protection oil for your home and property with mugwort.
  • Create a magic broom or besom with mugwort woven into it, and use it to sweep negative energies from your home.