Tonight there will be a Full Moon and I was thinking of the plants in my garden that are ruled by the moon or associated with the moon. Cucumber is one such plant as are Californian Poppy and Poppy; Chamomile, Willow, Chickweed, Cuckoo Flower, White Rose and Mugwort. These plants are cooling and moisturising, sedating and they bring pain relief. Quite a number of plants ruled by the Moon (or that have an association with the Moon), are also beneficial to women for their menstrual cycles and more. One of my favourite plants associated with the moon is Artemesia or Mugwort.
Artemesia vulgararis, also known as Mugwort (because she was once used to flavour beer and beer was drunk from mugs), is actually ruled by Venus but is strongly associated with the moon. In some astrology, Venus is seen to be the Daughter of the Moon and there is an interesting article about this here.
According to Culpepper, a herbalist should know which planet rules which plant or herb so that one can correctly choose which plant or herb is most suitable for the individual. As Venus rules those bodily parts specifically relating to women, it makes sense to choose plants or herbs that are ruled by Venus – or by the Moon as we also know the connection between women and the lunar sphere. When we look back in history we see that older civilisations were very in tune with the cycle of the moon and her effects on the oceans and tides as well as women’s bodies, as discussed here
Mugwort is used to help regularise the menstrual cycle and as such can be of benefit to young women who have just entered puberty and perhaps have irregular or difficult periods. Mugwort was also used during labour to help bring the baby safely as well as to safely deliver the after-birth. I make an infused oil of Mugwort to use as a massage oil for the labouring mother – it’s good for sciatica pain as well! Mugwort can help a woman at any time in life by balancing hormones and helps during menopause by reducing anxiety due to the action on the nervous system.
Mugwort, being a bitter herb is beneficial for the digestive system. For those with eating disorders or with anorexia, Mugwort can help nudge a person back to good appetite. If a person is trying to overcome addiction – to both alcohol or narcotic drugs – Mugwort can help during withdrawal.
Thinking of the Moon, on this evening when the moon is full, I remember that I prefer the name Artemesia. This plant is named for the Goddess Artemis, an ancient Greek Goddess who is patroness of the hunt, the forest, vegetation and all the wild animals. She is often depicted as a woman with a bow and arrow although Homer referred to her as Mistress of the Animals as she is also protecting the young animals from hunters .
Artemis is also renowned as a goddess of hearth and home and as a protector of women – helping during childbirth and also to preserve young women’s chastity from the unwanted attentions of men. Artemis is a Goddess of the Moon, her twin brother being the sun god, Apollo whom she had helped to deliver, hence her role in assisting women in labour. As a goddess of nature and vegetation she is found dancing in the wilderness, under the light of the moon with all the animals of the forest with her. She loves wild dancing with trees and with her companions the tree nymphs. When Orion the hunter was chasing one of her nymphs she called on her father, Zeus, to save them. He changed the seven nymphs into a cluster of stars that we know as “The Seven Sisters” or the Pleiades. Here in Connemara, there are several Holy Wells named for the Seven Sisters of the Seven Daughters…..is there a connection??
Reading about Artemis makes me feel very attached to the plant Artemesia. She is such a beautiful, tall, graceful plant. Her connection to the moon is apparent in the silvery undersides of her leaves and the silvery appearance of her flowers. I have her growing in a part of my garden that is dedicated to the Irish Moon Goddess Aine. I find that Artemesia makes a tasty tea and her powers of protection can be claimed by making a smudge stick. Artemesia is also harvested for use in divinatory rituals and for vivid dreaming. It is traditional to include Artemesia in a dream pillow or just put her straight under the pillow. I have made a flower essence from Artemesia and I take it when going to bed, setting an intention to receive wisdom and teachings from the Goddess in my dreams.
How do you use Artemesia?