Mugwort benefits—a magical herb of the moon goddess

Mugwort benefits (Artemesia vulgaris) are at peak potency around the full moon

Wondering about mugwort benefits? She is certainly an herb shrouded in mystery and misinformation. And there are so many questions to ask.

What is mugwort?

What are the benefits of mugwort?

Let me tell you a story so you can get to know her

Each spring, I like to visit a gardener friend of mine whose neatly tended beds are her pride and joy. She’s rather traditional, preferring a very structured, mannered approach—while I tend to be more of a wild child, but anyone who loves green, growing things is a kindred spirit.

We’ve spent many pleasant afternoons together amid the flora trading tips between her traditions and my wild child folk approach.

As we wandered about her land enjoying the early blooms, she lamented over a rather ubiquitous weed that was peeking up at the edges of her footpaths and all around her greenhouse.

Now, I have long believed that most “weeds” are simply misunderstood herbal allies, so I asked her to point out the culprit. Sure enough, it was mugwort. I had to smile. “This,” I told her, “is not just a weed. This is the stuff that dreams are made of! Just wait ‘til you hear about the benefits of mugwort . . . ”

Table of contents

So, what is mugwort? And who is Artemisia vulgaris?

Mugwort is an aromatic flowering plant that belongs to the daisy family, Asteraceae. Though not native to North America, mugwort grows abundantly here.

Known to herbalists as Artemisia vulgaris (sometimes misspelled as Artemesia vulgaris), mugwort is named after the lunar goddess, Artemis, and, like the moon, invites us to travel with her from the material world into the magical.

Identifying Mugwort

depiction of mugwort's flowersOver the growing season, this unassuming, leafy beauty will transition from a plant that nurtures our bodies into one that feeds our souls.

A feathery perennial, her deeply divided, pinnate leaves are glazed on the underside with the signature, silvery sheen, evocative of the silver light of the moon. Those leaves, when crushed, emit a pungent, distinctive aroma reminiscent of chrysanthemums and sage.

Blooms appear around the end of summer and are displayed in a raceme, a cone of small, inconspicuous, daisy-like blossoms.

While her leaves are similar to those of poison hemlock (Conium maculatum), it is easy to distinguish mugwort from her more noxious counterpart by her moonlike glow and, during flowering, by hemlock’s umbrella-shaped flowering structure.

Whenever using wild plants with deeply divided leaves (like parsley or carrot tops), it is critical to be positive about the identification. When in doubt, watch it through its entire growing season to observe the flowering structure, or consult someone who knows.

The young mugwort sprouts are quite edible and tasty, with a lovely, aromatic quality. Gather the tender shoots in early spring, until they reach a height of about four inches, to toss in your fresh green salads. Chopped mugwort also makes a delicious addition to deviled eggs.

Mugwort benefits

In my personal herbal practice, the benefits of mugwort are more energetic and magical than physical. Since ingesting mugwort is somewhat toxic once she grows beyond one foot tall, I recommend drying mugwort and using it in dream pillows and herb bundles.

However, it is possible to withdraw nutritional benefits from mugwort in the early spring. When the plant is still under a foot tall, I still don’t consume it directly, but you can utilize it to make a fortifying herbal vinegar.

Wanna know my favorite benefit of mugwort? To make your dreams more vivid and more memorable!

So, to really absorb the benefits of mugwort I recommend using one (or all!) of the following methods:

  • Making herbal vinegar
  • Making smudge sticks
  • Making a dream pillow

Next we'll dive into the nitty-gritty how-to for each of those three preparation methods. 

Making mugwort vinegar—a mineral rich tonic

pouring vinegar into a jar containing mugwortMugwort is rich in calcium, as well as the magnesium necessary for our bodies to absorb calcium's benefits.

I like to combine mugwort with nettle and chickweed for my “strong bones” vinegar (actually, you can make your own delicious and nutritious “strong bones” vinegar from any one of those plants!).

Vinegar is an excellent menstruum, or medium, for drawing out the minerals that abound in mugwort. Best of all, herbal vinegars are easy to make! Remember to only use or harvest mugwort that is no taller than one foot tall.

  1. Tightly pack a jar full of plant material
  2. Fill the jar to the top with raw, organic apple cider vinegar
  3. Cap the jar with a plastic lid to prevent rust (If you don’t have a plastic lid, you can use wax paper or plastic wrap)
  4. Top of the liquid level as needed—The plants will usually absorb enough liquid overnight to end up uncovered, so keep an eye on it the first day or two
  5. Label the jar with the ingredients and the preparation date
  6. Let it brew for six weeks out of direct sunlight
  7. After six weeks, strain the plant material and enjoy

If you'd like a concise reference chart for making herbal preparations, including vinegars, feel free to grab my Wise Woman Medicine Making Chart (pdf).

Mystical and magical benefits of mugwort

Once mugwort’s stems exceed a foot, she begins her transition into the realm of the metaphysical. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is closely related to desert sage (Artemesia tridentata), often burned as smudge, an energetic cleanser to prepare a sacred space for ritual, and to wormwood (Artemesia absinthium), which is distilled into the narcotic liquor, absinthe.

Vincent van Gogh is said to have had quite a thirst for absinthe, and it has been suggested that its long-term use may have contributed not only to his magnificent creativity, but also to his madness.

So it is wise to approach this plant with respect for its magic and caution for its slightly toxic properties, which increase as mugwort grows and flowers.

In its early flowering stage, the herb is at the peak of her mystical potency and can be harvested for smudge sticks and dream pillows.

Local mugwort is an excellent alternative to the sage imported from the west, and may indeed be a better choice for centering, clearing and grounding, since it incorporates the resident spirit of our home soil—and speaks to our roots.

Some herbalists prefer to reap mugwort near the full moon, when the plant is photosynthesizing at night as well as during daylight hours and the energies are concentrated in the above ground portions.

Mugwort grows well over four feet high, so choose only the most vibrant upper parts, leaving the dry, lower one to two feet.

Making smudge sticks with mugwort

mugwort smudge sticks on tableCreate bundles of three stalks and bind the ends with cotton string. If you are fashioning smudge sticks, you may want to wrap the entire bunch crosswise on the diagonal while the plant is still flexible to avoid the crumbling that occurs after drying.

Hang your bundles away from direct sun, or dry them in the oven using only the pilot light, until the thickest part of the stalk is easily snapped.

Your vehicle can also be utilized as a solar dehydrator! Just make certain to shade the southern side so the plant material isn't in direct sunlight. 

Making dream pillows with mugwort

Mugwort stimulates the creative centers of the brain and is the base of almost all dream pillows. Yours can be as simple as stuffing an old sock or as elaborate as a finely embroidered, silk coverlet.


  1. Harvest mugwort anytime after she reaches a foot or taller and into her flowering stage
  2. Strip the leaves and flowers from the dried stalk
  3. Scoop your herbal blend into a muslin bag (or an old sock!) and secure
  4. Place in a creation of your making or simply beside/underneath your pillow

mugwort's silvery underside displayed on white background

While mugwort alone is quite effective, you may also choose to add lavender to aid in relaxation, or some other favorite, fragrant herb.

Cuddle up with your pillow to encourage more vivid, memorable dreams and to help you to access the intuitive guidance that they contain.

For several years, mugwort aided me in the process of tapping into my subconscious and keeping dream journals (until I decided that my dreams had become vivid and memorable enough, thank you!)

Of course, there is no guarantee as to the nature of your dreams. A friend of mine once told me that every time her boyfriend slept over, she would find her dream pillow tossed out of the bed when she arose in the morning!

Mugwort is beloved by healers and seers

Medicinally, acupuncturists burn dried mugwort as moxa on acupuncture points of the body as an alternative to needles. Moxa is known in Chinese medicine to strengthen the blood, stimulate the flow of qi, and maintain general health, making this extraordinary plant beloved of healers and seers alike.

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As for my gardener friend, she isn’t a total convert. She has cleared the mugwort from around most of her prized flowerbeds, but, happily, the stand near her greenhouse remains. She’s also been working on a lovely little needlepoint “sachet” for mugwort.

As a sister of the plants who loves green and growing things, the benefits of mugwort are many for you to explore. May her mysteries be unveiled as you connect with this magical plant.

In whatever form mugwort enters your life, may she bring you good health and sweet dreams.

And remember, wild plants make wild women—maybe mugwort most of all!

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Corinna Woodseasoned teacher and mentor along the Wise Woman path–from herbs to self love

I've been teaching earth-based, woman-centered holistic healing for 30 years. Today, I offer tools to ground you in your own innate wisdom, discernment, and self-understanding. 

I invite you to explore my blog articles, free resources, and online courses—made just for wonderful women like you.
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