Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dreamwork with Mugwort

Recently, I came across an herb that has a reputation for being a dream enhancer and, as such, might be of interest to anyone working with dreams. The common name for this herb is Mugwort or more scientifically Artemisia vulgaris. Mugwort is native to Eurasia and Africa but has become naturalized to North America. Within the United States Mugwort can be found in weedy and uncultivated areas, such as waste places, roadsides, and river banks, especially in the eastern coastal regions.
Historically, Mugwort has been used for a variety of purposes. It has been utilized in beer (instead of hops), smoked in lieu of tobacco, used as a food preservative and a “medication” to assist in abortions (just to name a few of its many uses). My interest in Mugwort, however, rests solely with its reputation as a dream enhancer. Those who have worked with Mugwort claim that this herb has the ability to cause vivid dreams. However, they warn that “vivid dreams” does not mean “pleasant dreams” and caution would- be- users that nightmares will also be intensified. While I am relaying a cautionary note about Mugwort, I should perhaps mention that Mugwort oil contains small amounts of Thujone, a neurotoxin that can cause seizures and death in large doses (Thujone has gotten a bad rap as the dangerous component in Absinthe). Due to its long history of safe internal use by humans I am fairly confident that Mugwort poses no significant risk when ingested infrequently and in small dosages (I am neither a doctor nor a specialist in neurotoxins, if you decide to experiment with Mugwort, you do so at your own risk. Please become informed about this herb prior to consumption.)
There are several methods to work with Mugwort. It can be made into a tincture, eaten or smoked. If you are concerned about the safety of taking Mugwort into your body, many claims have been made about Mugwort’s ability to cause vivid dreams by simply placing a leafy branch of the herb near you or under your pillow while you sleep. Indeed, many people suggest making a small dream pillow filled with Mugwort.
Just in case you are wondering, the answer is “no.” I have not worked with Mugwort…yet.  I have been trying to find it growing locally, but have had no success as of this writing. If I don’t end up finding some growing around my hometown, I will surely buy some seeds to be planted next spring.
In closing, I would like to mention that there is an interesting report about the use of Clary Sage in dreamwork. You can read the blog post here.

*If you have any experiences with Mugwort that you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment.

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Pallas Renatus said...

As a point of reference, common cooking sage and rosemary have far more thujone content than mugwort does. I believe nutmeg contains some, too, but I have no idea in what amounts.

Poke around Harry's blog some more, he's got a few good articles on mugwort, and if you can't find any growing locally, email him about perhaps acquiring some of the mugwort jelly he makes. God knows it has to taste better than mugwort tea.

Morgan Drake Eckstein said...

I know that mugwort grows just fine in my yard (Denver, Colorado), and that it seems to enhance divination work (though I could just be imagining that last part).

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I had no idea about the Neurotoxins in Mugwort until just now. I have ingested it when needed for ritual and or medicinal purposes for about to 2 years or so not to exceed 2 grams in a medium pot of tea. I honestly think, it's just fine. I cooked with it before when I placed 2-4 grams in sauteed spaghetti sauce. I think you will be fine, but with any herb, test a small amount first. Very few herbs will kill you right on the spot from an extremely small amount ingested. You can take my word for it, I'm an herbalist. Also, I would not recommend mugwort ingestion everyday. At most, once every few weeks to once every few months, though, I've taken it more frequently than that on several occasions. P.S. I made my own Absinthe from an old recipe passed down from generations from the celtic heritage. For more information, email me @