Spirit Earth

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(Artemisia vulgaris)

History and Folklore
A humble and inconspicuous herb, Mugwort is often regarded as a weed that makes its home in waste places and neglected plots. Who would have thought that this overlooked plant is in fact one of our oldest cultural companion plants, an herb that connects us with sacred practices throughout recorded history and even to the almost mythical times of our Neolithic ancestors.
From North America, to China and Japan, throughout Eurasia and Europe, Mugwort and its close relations have been similarly revered throughout the northern hemisphere. Wherever it grows Mugwort has once been deemed the holiest of holies, the mother of all healing herbs. Artemisia, her genus name, points to a close relationship with Artemis, the Greek Moon Goddess, protector of young maidens, children and women in childbed who she protects with her healing powers.
Since time immemorial Mugwort has been an important ritual plant. It was often associated with Thor and the summer solstice. Thor wore a protective belt wound from Mugwort to protect him on all dangerous journeys. In pre-Christian times it was customary to wind such a belt and wear it for the midsummer night's dance around the fire. At the end of the night it was ceremoniously burnt in the sacred flames of the bonfire and thus the forces of evil were averted for another year.
Mugwort not only protected Thor on his journeys - it may have also refreshed his tired legs. That is how walkers and journeymen throughout the ages made use of the herb. They would bind some Mugwort around their legs to ease their gait, or, after a long day's walk, take a reviving Mugwort footbath.
Pinning some sprigs of Mugwort above doorways and stable gates protected home and hearth, while smudging every corner not only dispelled any lurking evil spirits, but also unwelcome creepy crawlies. In France, this insecticide property even earned the herb (and its close relatives) the name 'garde-robe', as it was used to protect the wardrobe from moth infestations.
Mugwort has also long been used to brew herbal ales before hops became the sole beer brewing herb. Some chefs still like to use it in the kitchen though, especially to aromatise greasy meats, like goose or bore, which creates a pleasant, slightly bitter aromatic taste that incidentally helps to digest such heavy, greasy fare.

Magical Uses:
Few herbs are as well documented for their magical properties as Mugwort. It is associated with the midsummer rites and worn as a belt that is ritually burnt to avert all evil for the coming year and to attract good spirits and good luck. It is also worn as an amulet or hung above doorways to protect against evil spirits and the work of witches. Travellers wear it for protection and to benefit from its refreshing qualities. It is also used as a dream herb, either as a night cup or stuffed in a dream pillow. Native Americans revered their own species of Mugwort and used it in cleansing rituals and sweatlodges.