Mugwort is a common plant found in temperate climates such as Europe, Asia, northern Africa and North America. In addition to being an attractive plant, it has a long and diverse history of medicinal use. Its bitter constituents make it an excellent digestive stimulant. It calms gas and bloating, and is useful for treating common digestive disorders. Mugwort has a mild sedative effect and is good for calming nerves, relieving stress and promoting restful sleep. In addition, a species of Mugwort is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for the therapeutic technique of moxibustion, which is used to promote the flow of Qi and dispel cold and dampness.
In European Pagan circles, Mugwort is one of the nine sacred herbs of the summer solstice. In the Middle Ages, it was the plant of John the Baptist, who wore a belt made of it to drive off evil spirits while he lived in the wilderness. A similar connection was made in China, where bunches of Mugwort were hung in homes to ward off evil spirits. The ancient Romans put Mugwort in their shoes to prevent sore feet during long journeys, as well as to keep wild beasts, evil spirits and other dangers away. Mugwort is also said to provoke prophetic dreams, and is ritualistically used for purification and for clearing and marking sacred space. It also has a clearing effect on the mind and heightens the senses. Mugwort’s association with dreams and the spirit world in many cultures gives the plant, in my opinion, a unique story worthy of further exploration.
I invite you to look around your neighborhood for this wild and powerful plant. It might be right around the corner, just waiting for you to discover its magic and healing leaves.
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