Harvesting the Lady Mugwort today for many things but gonna make me some smudge sticks now…….
She is an essential medicine in our materia medica with countless amazing healing properties and also one of the herbs in our hand prepared smudge sticks. The lady Artemisia has the power to work her magic in our dreams, sending us, both coded and clear insights, to grasp onto as we wake from slumber. She is a moon Spirit and duality is written all over her form with her dark green leaves contrasting with the silver underside. She has soft flowers, filigreed leaves and willowy movements in the breeze while her deep red backbone stems are strong and upright. Full of contrasts, clarity and, mystery. She is protective and nurturing and deeply connective to the constant changing cycles. She clears and opens channels to our brains, connecting right and left hemispheres, rebalancing our pineal and pituitary gland activity.
The magic of the pineal gland
The pineal gland has been likened to the seat of consciousness. It becomes active when we are in deep rapid eye movement sleep, creating our dream world. The release of melatonin at night balances out the sleep wake cycle, keeps us balanced, connected with the cycles of day and night. Mugwort can stimulate pineal gland activity thus bringing our dreams alive.
Smudging is a common name given to our ancient, indigenous, spiritual tradition sometimes called sacred smoking. Its a powerful spiritual cleansing technique which calls upon the spirits of various sacred plants to clear, clarify, purify and to restore balance. We mix mugwort with purple sage, yarrow and rosemary in our smugesticks.
Smudging with our native herbs allows us to effect the world of subtle spiritual energies. By using the spirits of these familiar powerful, healing plants we deepen relationships with mother earth and thus ourselves. Our bodies, homes, offices and green-spaces vibrate with invisible energy currents that are strongly effected by outside forces, both physical and spiritual.
Smudging allows you to wash away all the emotional and spiritual negativity that gathers in your body and your space over time. It's a little bit like taking a spiritual shower! The effects of smudging are instantly noticeable, banishing stress and providing energy and peace. The air often twinkles with vibrancy after a good smudge.
People the world over have been using plants to generate smoke to produce beneficial effects. Smoke is used to drive off insects and to prevent disease. Smoke also is deeply symbolic, it ascends to heaven, as if bringing any prayers and intentions up to the gods with it. From the incense of Asia and Europe to the sage and cedar of the indigenous Americans, the smoke generated by plants has a primordial history of use as part of spiritual practice.
Making smudge sticks
There is nothing more powerful than using sacred tools you’ve made yourself and smudge sticks are no exception. You can put all of your energy and thought into the herbs as you harvest them, the tying of the twine around them and then the drying and burning at the end. They are great for gifts or to use with patients and clients if you have a practice you follow.
While you are harvesting and making the smudge sticks remember to use the intensions of uplifting vibes, purification and protection.
1. Firstly you need to harvest your herbs. We use mugwort as our base. She is abundant and really keeps the smudge stock alight with the way she burns. Find a good patch where’s she’s got lots to give. Harvest just as the plant has flowered. We were keeping our eyes on a patch 2 years ago up a pedestrian country lane, waiting for the right time for the plant and the moon. We finally harvested her and the next day, unbeknown to us, the farmer came and mowed down the whole wayside. Phew, close call but the moon was looking out for us.
As the mugwort is so connected to the moon it is nice to harvest when the moon is full. The moon draws up all of the energy and constituents within the plant to the tips.
Depending on the size of the plant you have chosen, we usually harvest from about half way down the stem, above where she looks like she could divide off and keep growing if the weathers right. Ou will need the pieces to be at least 30-40cm long to make nice fat smudge sticks.
2. Next choose what you want to go in with the mugwort. We usually head to the garden for this. Yarrow, sage and rosemary are our favourites but we’ve also used wormwood, once we used some white sage a friend was growing. The aromatic herbs tend to burn well and provide the most cleansing and protective actions. The aromatic herbs are high in essential oils which are the plants own defense system. The oils burn well with lovely aromas and provide all the protection that they did for the plant.
3. Lay out a good bunch of a combination of your herbs but mainly mugwort out in front of you. The thickness you choose depends on your choice and the weird and wonderful shapes of the finished products often reflect the character of the person who made it! It probably wants to be a bunch the thickness that will fit snugly into your thumb and first finger joined tip to tip to make a round.
4. Match up the stems approximately but you can trim them afterwards and then holding the base of the bunch in one hand slightly twist the bunch with the other and bend it over so that the ends of the bunch come back down to where your first hand is holding the bunch.
5. Now place some twine (green garden twine is nice or you can use nice coloured embroidery threads) around the end and bind a couple of times around before starting to work up towards the end being careful to include all the ends of herbs as you go. It needs to be bound tightly as the herbs will shrink as they dry but their needs to be good gas between the spiral of thread going up the bunch to make sure that it can breathe to dry properly.
Work up and then back down winding the thread around so that as the thread burns away it still crisscrosses to stop it from unraveling before you reach the end of your smudge stick.
6. Do a few nice tight rounds at the bottom before tying it tightly with the loose end. Place an intension clearly on each knot as you tie it.
7. Hang your smudge stick in a warm dry place to dry, near a wood burner or in an airing cupboard and keep giving it a feel to check its dry. The length of time taken to dry will vary depending on how thick and tightly you’ve made and tyed your bunch and on where you hang it.
Using the smudge stick
Smudging a house
Choose a time where no one but family who live there are about for 24 hours then clean and tidy and generally have a good clear out, preparing a few bags to give away. Then put some good tunes on, light a candle in each room whilst asking for support from your guides and spirits. Light your smudge stick by pushing back some of the thread and holding a flame to the end. When it starts to take you can gently encourage it by blowing on the herbs til lovely embers forma nd the stick starts to smoke. Start in the North top corner of the house and work through each corner nook and cranny, North, East ,South, West in each room saying a mantra as you go. Something like ‘clear the old vibes and make space for new energies’. Its nice to pay special attention to the doors saying ‘let all whom enter do so with peace in their hearts and exit with filled with love’.
Smudging a person
Start at their feet and gently blowing on the smudge stick or wafting it with a big feather or wing start to work up around the body spiraling as you go. Pay special attention to the womb or pelvic area, the heart, the third eye and the crown. Finishing here. Remember to whisper or chant a suitable mantra as you work.
Find out more about this amazing herb at our Sensory Workshop @ Atlantis Spiritual Centre Crews Hill -