The Magic of Mugwort (Part 1)
Mugwort: It’s not exactly the nicest sounding herb. It brings to mind the image of a warty old woman in a black hat, cackling and brewing up mysterious potions.
So what is it, exactly?
Also called Wild Wormwood, Old Uncle Henry, Sailor’s Tabacco, and Felon Herb, it’s a tall, bushy, very inconspicuous plant of the Artemisia family (related to wormwood). It’s perennial, and can grow quite large, and tends to live in weedy, untended areas, especially along roadsides. It’s originally from Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and Alaska, but it grows now in most parts of the world, and has become naturalized in North America, where it’s sometimes considered a weed.
Mugwort has a long history of magical use, from ancient times to the present. The plant was sprinkled into the sandals of Roman soldiers to prevent fatigue; it is recorded as one of the herbs in the Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs charm (written down in the 10th century); in European Medieval history, it was used by travelers to repel spirits and wild animals, and was carried about for general protection.
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