Magical Mugwort – Artemesia!

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?

 

Yarrow – Magical and Medicinal

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I’ve been working in the poly tunnel for the last couple of days, tidying up and emptying the beds and I have yet to wash down the plastic.  We have had this poly tunnel for six years now and some of the wood along one of the raised beds has rotted away.  I have taken a leaf out of my friend Colette’s book and I have replaced the wood with stone for a number of reasons.  One, there is plenty of stone here in Connemara anyway so it won’t cost me anything; two, the stone acts as a passive solar heater, keeping the soil warm which should give great encouragement to next season’s seedlings; and three,  there should be fewer pests because no rotting wood to house them.

 

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I am growing a number of herbs here in the tunnel, including Bay, Thyme, Lavender, Lemon Verbena, Sage, Parsley, Coriander and Yarrow.  Yarrow is a very useful medicinal and magical herb but I should have kept it in a pot because it had gone crazy, spreading and taking over.  It had pushed its way into the Lavender patch and I have had to be ruthless and pull lots of it out.  (I feel so guilty when that happens).  You can see the empty space around what I have left and I have put in two Pink Campion plants just behind it as they will fill the space and attract bees and other pollinators.

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Yarrow, Achillea millefolium is a valuable herb to have to hand, particularly if you work with sharp tools.  The Warrior’s herb, named for Achilles who fought at the battle of Troy and healed his comrades’ wounds using this plant.  His mother was the goddess Thetis and she did not want him to go to war.  To bestow immortality on him she held him by the heel and dipped him into a cauldron of magical waters but the place where she had gripped the heel was left unprotected and this is where he was wounded.  We talk about our own Achilles Heel when we are referring to an inherent weakness and our Achilles tendon runs up the leg from the heel.

Yarrow, also known as Bloodwort, is an excellent herb for bleeding wounds and nosebleeds.  Another of its common names is actually, Nosebleed.  To stop a nosebleed simply bruise some Yarrow leaf,  roll it into a nasal plug and leave in the nostril until the bleeding stops before gently removing it. In the past, Yarrow was also used to start a nosebleed in the same way, to relieve headaches and migraines. With wounds, providing they are not too deep, put Yarrow into or on the surface of the wound to stop bleeding. It can also prevent infection due to its anti-microbial and anti- bacterial properties.

For women, Yarrow can help with both scanty periods, heavy periods and menstrual clotting.  It works to lower blood pressure too because of the way it tones all blood vessels.  Consequently it can also be remedial for varicose veins.

As it is so astringent it can be used where there is diarrhoea and to tone up a weak digestion.  Yarrow is a renowned febrifuge herb which means that it will reduce fever and it does this by encouraging sweating, releasing toxins and increasing urinary flow.  Like the majority of herbs, its components work with intelligence within our bodies to heal where healing is needed.

 

img_0167As a  magical herb Yarrow is renowned for its protective qualities.  Bruise a few leaves and place in your navel to ward off negative energy or psychic attack.  It can be included in a smudge stick for the purpose of clearing negative energy from a house or person. Holding Yarrow in the hand stops all fear and brings courage.  In medieval and Renaissance herbalism, it was believed that all plants were ruled by the planets and had other correspondences as well. According to these correspondences Yarrow is Feminine, under the power of the Element of Water and is ruled by Venus.  As such it is used magically in love spells.  Young girls would throw stems of Yarrow into the fire and look into the flames hoping to see their future man.  Some would recite a verse, “Good morning, good morning, good Yarrow and thrice good morning to thee, tell me, before this time tomorrow, who my true love will be”.   In Ireland and in France, Yarrow over the eyes could aid clairvoyance or by drinking an infusion ones psychic powers would be improved.

Bridesmaids carried Yarrow to weddings and if a bouquet of Yarrow was placed over the bed of the wedded couple they would at least enjoy seven years of wedded bliss.

If you would like to know more about the properties of Yarrow  and the many ways to use it, consider signing up for one of the herbal health courses on offer.

Caution:  Not to be used by pregnant or nursing mothers or children under 5.