Throughout this series I have sought to bring awareness to ways in which regular spiritual practice and tools can be altered to help benefit our world, reconsidering strip mined jewels, petroleum based candles, and offerings which either may not decompose, or, in the case of food, be packed with industrialized ingredients and not nourishing for the body.
Today, my last in the series (for now?), I want to talk about herbs and plants. But instead of talking about plants which are overharvested for New Age and Pagan markets (white sage and sandalwood being two contenders I am sure many of us have in our tool kits, I would rather turn my attention to plants which can be easier to obtain and more plentiful.
10 points to anyone who knew this is mugwort gone to flower. Odds are good that for a good portion of the country, you’ve seen this plant before. Mugworts exist in several parts of the world, and are used for culinary, medicinal and magical purposes. Since I am not an herbalist nor have used the herb in cooking, I will focus on magical properties.
Mugwort is a member of the Artemisia family, which also includes wormwood. As such, this makes it an excellent herb for any psychic work. It can be burned as part of a psychic incense, or made into a tea or oil for consecrating scrying tools like a black mirror.
This next item is included FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND I ABSOLVE ANY RESPONSIBILITY IF YOU TRY THIS. The tea can also be drunk to further enhance psychic abilities, but as its active ingredient is thujone, it can build up in the body and potentially become toxic. If you are curious about working with wormwood as an herb but are unsure as to your reaction, this might be an option.
Mugwort is also a very protective herb. If you are looking for an alternative to sage or other bundles for smudging purposes, consider mugwort. A bundle can be ready in six weeks by harvesting several stalks of the plant, binding together with thread, and hanging to dry in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
If you are someone who works in a more ceremonial tradition, mugwort can be in your kit as well. It is a feminine plant, ruled by the planet Venus and the element of Air.
Another option if you’d like to move away from sage bundles is sweetgrass, which was used by many First Nations peoples in different parts of what is now the United States. It has a sweeter (hence the name) smell than sage, and if you react strongly to those bundles this may be a good alternative. Also, if your spiritual practices include honoring the local land spirits, and you live in an area where the People used to use sweetgrass, your local spirits may feel very appreciative. One of my Heathen friends in the area told me many years ago that among her offerings for the land wights she would include things like cornmeal and tobacco, since that is what they used to receive.
For some further ideas of how you can incorporate local plants into your workings, this recent post by Sarah Lawless should provide some good inspiration.
I do hope you have enjoyed this series, as I have enjoyed writing it. If I’ve influenced some of you into looking at your practices with a new or fresh eye, then I have done my job.
Are there any other aspects of magical or spiritual practice you would like to see “Greened?” Or have you incorporated sustainable practices into your regular workings, such as bioregionalism or general socially responsible? IF you would like to talk about any of these things, please leave a comment on this post and I will get in touch with you. My plan is to continue the series by talking about bioregionalism in paganisms/polytheism/witchcraft/magic but I would also like to know other ways people have put these ideas into practice.
Beyerl, Paul. The Master Book of Herbalism.
Cunningham, Scott. Magical Herbalism.
Scylla on the use and overuse of Palo Santo and white sage