What is The Wise Woman Tradition?

I am a hedgerow herbalist, and green witch, of the Wise Woman Tradition  © Susun S. Weed

“The Wise Woman tradition is invisible. Without healers, without diseases, without cures, without certificates, without guarantees, it exists. It has no rules, no right answers, no promise of life eternal. The Wise Woman tradition is a spiral of uniqueness, everchanging, like a woman, steeped in and rising out of the blood mysteries, the wisdom of womb-ones, the knowledge of those who hold their blood inside.

The Wise Woman tradition honours the ordinary and avoids the exotic, works simply and steers clear of complication, accepts failure, chaos, and the eternal void with humour instead of fear and dread. The Wise Woman tradition is compassionate and heart-centred. It honours the Earth. It is local and ecological and urges us to use our dooryard weeds instead of the latest miracle herb from far away.

The Wise Woman tradition maintains that health is best defined as flexibility and that deviations from normal (that is, problems) offer us an opportunity to reintegrate parts of ourselves that we have cast out, emerging healed/wholed/holy. Illness is understood as an integral part of life and self-growth, with healer, patient and nature as co-participants in the healing process.

This is in marked contrast to other traditions of healing. In the Scientific tradition the doctor is highly visible and the patient is reduced to a body part or a disease designation. In the Heroic or Holistic tradition, the healer is the one who knows the right way to do things and the patient must follow the rules in order to get well. Most so-called alternative medicine comes from Heroic traditions, which emphasize fasting, purification, colonic cleansing, rigid dietary rules, and the use of rare botanicals in complicated formulae. Metaphysical healing also is applied that way: It views illness as a failure rather than a natural and potentially constructive process.

The Wise Woman Tradition reminds us that wellness and illness are not polarities. They are part of the continuum of life. We are constantly renewing ourselves, cell by cell, second by second, every minute of our lives. Problems, by their very nature, can facilitate deep spiritual and symbolic renewal, leading us naturally into expanded, more complete ways of thinking about and experiencing ourselves.

The Wise Woman Tradition encourages us to work towards good health from the inside out. And to remember that our healing choices influence not only ourselves but the entire planet.”

By Susun S. Weed

As an addition, the Wise Woman tradition is not exclusive to women – it is a way of being, of connecting to nature, healing, ourselves, our families and communities, and the world around us, people of all genders can connect to and work with the Wise Woman Way.

Woman in Nature


Mugwort is one of the most powerful allies of the Wise Woman tradition.

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)

Scientific name: Artemisia vulgaris
Family: Asteraceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Mugwort Close Up

She is a powerful protective herb and it can support processes of change and transitions in your life. Mugwort will strengthen your feminine power (whether you are a woman or a man), your intuition, inner knowledge and ability of lucid dreaming. She also supports processes of grieving and letting go.

Working with this specific plant will teach you skills on how to connect to other plant spirits in your environment to access their teaching and healing power. Also known as Cronewort, Mugwort is known as the “mother of all herbs”. Associated with the moon and the goddess of the moon, Artemis, patron of women, especially at critical phases of their lives …onset of puberty, childbirth, and the menopause, hence the name Artemesia vulgaris, vulgaris meaning “of the people”/ common/abundant. All over the world it is recognised in treating female reproductive disorders. Mugwort had a deep ancestral connection to crone wisdom and feminine divine intelligence.

Known as a visionary herb, It eases stress and anxiety, aids lucid dreaming, promoting deep sleep. It calms the digestive system, can help rid the system of worms, and is even used for flavouring beer – (the reason for the “mug”). It is said to relieve itching, particulary as an infused oil on scars and burns, can help ease the pain of arthritis and is used in the treatment of epilepsy.

Historically, mugwort was used by the Romans, who are said to have planted it by roadsides, so that marching soldiers could put the plant in their shoes. This was done to relieve aching feet. St. John the Baptist was said to have worn a girdle of Mugwort.

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) it is used in Moxibustion

(taken from the What Is Mugwort? article by Verywell Health)

It also makes and excellent smoke cleansing / smudging stick when dried, dispelling midges, and other biting insects, clearing negative energy and killing airborne bacteria.

Using meditation is an excellent way to connect with herbs and reach them on a deeper level, sitting with the plant and asking it directly how it can help you.

Here are some photos from the Mugwort workshop I held.

Mugwort Workshop

Mugwort For Sore & Achey Muscles

This generous weed has a high magnesium content, which is very nourishing. Combine that with the presence of the active component, borneol, and mugwort is excellent for alleviating muscle aches and pains.

Mugwort is used in traditional Chinese medicine as moxa. The aged, dried herb is lit and used above the surface of the skin to create gentle warmth that helps improve circulation and increase blood and lymph flow to areas of the body, reducing pain and inflammation. You can also enjoy the benefits of mugwort by making a herbal oil infusion.

Aching Muscle Infused Oil Recipe

Once correctly identifying the weed, harvest the tops of the fresh plant material. It is essential to pick plants from a clean environment, far away from busy roads and polluted areas.

  • Allow the mugwort to wilt for half a day and chop the plant into tiny pieces.
  • Put in a glass jar and fill to the top with olive oil. Be sure to remove any air bubbles by moving the mixture around with a chopstick.
  • Add more oil to cover the plant material and cap with cheesecloth or dishcloth and secure with a rubber band. The humidity must evaporate, so avoid using an airtight lid.
  • Place the jar in a warm dark place for 2 to 4 weeks. Stir occasionally, but it is imperative to make sure all of the plant material is covered with oil so that mould doesn’t form.
  • After five or six weeks, filter the oil, throwing the plant into the compost bin. The infused oil will have a deep green color. The darker the green, the more potent the medicine. Store in a cool, dark place. It will keep for three to six months.
  • Rub and massage the oil into sore muscles or restless legs and enjoy the soothing benefits of mugwort!

Mugwort in Garden

Ways To Work With Mugwort

You can use mugwort for:

  • Tea – fresh or dried
  • Infusion (dried)
  • Tincture or vinegar
  • Flower essence
  • Smoking
  • Smudge stick or balls
  • Dream pillows

Mugwort Leaves


The easiest way is to place a handful of fresh leaves, or a teaspoon of dried, into a teapot or cafetiere, possibly with some oatstraw or mint, chamomile or linden blossom – or just on its own, allow to brew for 15 mins and enjoy.


An infusion is much stronger than a tea, is more medicinal and works on a much deeper level.

An infusion is made by putting 30g of dried herb material into a litre jar, pouring boiled water on and leaving 4 hours or overnight – strain and then take a cup once or twice a day.

Making Herbal Tea

Tincture or Vinegar

These are best made using fresh plant material, but can also be made with dry. Fill a jar with plant material, a small to medium jam jar works well. Don’t pack it too full, as you need to allow the liquid to circulate. Fill to the top with either vodka, or organic apple cider vinegar.

Herb vinegars are a really healthful and tasty way to get all the nutrients from the herb onto your plate! It needs to contain “the mother”. Keep in a dark place for up to 6 weeks, or one moon cycle, strain, and rebottle. The tincture can be taken 8 to 20 drops in water, and the vinegar can be used over food, or a teaspoonful in water, neat or in smoothies etc for healthy benefits.

Flower Essence

Flower essences are very high vibrational medicines that work on an energetic level. They are made by sitting with the plant, and placing a few flower heads into a small bowl containing spring water – meditating with them for a few hours and straining out the flowers, returning them to the earth with thanks – the water is then diluted half and half with more spring or blessed water and brandy 3 more times to get the flower essence. This is taken a few drops on the tongue when required.

Man Meditating


Mugwort has been used dried in smoking blends for many hundreds of years. It can be used as a substitute for tobacco, and can promote lucid dreams. It mixes well with red clover, mint and marshmallow.

Dream Pillows

Are a lovely gentle alternative to smoking Mugwort, mixed with lavender, and or hops, can be an aid to deep sleep and intuitive dreaming.

Smudge Sticks / Blessing or Cleansing wands and Smudge balls

Making the Mugwort into a stick with other herbs that can be burnt to clear energy and dispel toxic atmospheres is one of the most well known ways to use Mugwort – here is a video of how I do that!

Pictured below are some of the smoke sticks that were created on the last mugwort workshop I held.

Mugwort Sticks

Harvesting Mugwort

The best time for harvesting Mugwort is just before the flowers are about to bloom, around June or July… this is when the maximum energy is within the plant.

You may wish to meditate before you harvest, to connect in with the plant spirit. Mindfully seek out the mugwort and ask the plant if you can harvest from her… you will often get a clear “no” if she does not want it! Always be respectful.

If harvesting for vinegar, oil or tincture making, take the softer stems leaves and buds, if making smugde sticks then you want a woody stem too.

Never take more than you absolutely need, and don’t over harvest from one plant. Its often nice to leave an offering of thanks,  either a flower essence,  or just some healing and gratitude sent back into the plant and mother earth.  This keeps the energy flow and honours the land and plant spirit.


As with all herbal remedies,  if you are under a gp or other health care provider for an existing medical condition do consult them before embarking on taking any herbal remedy, homemade or otherwise. Take responsibility for your own health, do your own research on things, use your inner guidance system and intuition regarding all things. Never take any herbal remedy daily for more than 6 weeks without at least a small break.

Happy foraging and healing. Keep well. Green blessings


Possible side effects

There is not enough medical research data to prove—or disprove—the safety of mugwort. Mugwort is likely unsafe for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It may cause the uterus to contract, inducing miscarriage. Mugwort’s use has not been established as safe for infants.

Any person who is allergic to ragweed—which is in the Asteraceae family— should use mugwort with caution, due to a higher likeliness of an allergic reaction to mugwort pollen. A person with any other allergies to plants in the Asteraceae family (which also includes ragweed) should use mugwort with caution; these include:

  • Stevia
  • Lettuce
  • Chicory
  • Pyrethrum
  • Sunflower
  • Daisy
  • Artichoke
  • Burdock
  • Thistle
  • Marigolds

Note, the Asteraceae family is sometimes referred to as the Compositae family. Mugwort pollen has also been known to cause allergic reactions in those who have a tobacco allergy.

The Celery-Carrot-Mugwort-Spice Syndrome

People who are allergic to celery, birch, or wild carrot should use mugwort with caution because the herb has been associated with a syndrome called “celery-carrot-mugwort-spice syndrome.”

In a 2008 study, 87% of patients allergic to celery tested positive to mugwort pollen sensitization (by performing a skin test).4 The study found that 52% of those allergic to carrots tested positive for mugwort allergies, and 26% of the study participants who were known to be hypersensitive (allergic) to caraway seeds were allergic to mugwort.

Less prevalent were cross-reactivities (allergies) to spices and herb, including anise, fennel, and paprika.

Mugwort pollen may also cause allergic reactions in those who are allergic to:

  • Olives
  • Peaches
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Royal jelly
  • Hazelnuts
  • Nangai (a type of nut)
  • Sage (and other plants in the Artemisia genus)
  • Honey
  • Mustard

Allergy Symptoms

A person experiencing mild allergy symptoms to mugwort should immediately stop taking the herbs and contact the healthcare provider.

Mild allergic symptoms to mugwort may include:

  • Hives
  • Swelling of the lips, face, or eyes
  • Tingling of the mouth
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

Severe allergic symptoms to mugwort may include:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Dizziness that does not go away
  • Problems talking (hoarse voice)
  • Swelling or constriction of the throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Noisy breath sounds
  • Physical collapse

Severe allergic symptoms are signs of a medical emergency. Anyone with symptoms of anaphylactic shock should seek immediate emergency medical care right away.

Ref. Verywell Health https://www.verywellhealth.com/mugwort-benefits-side-effects-dosage-and-interactions-4767226


The content in this article is not intended as a medical reference but as a source of information.

Before trying any herbal remedy the reader is recommended to try a small quantity first to establish whether there are any adverse or allergic reactions to the herb.

Please remember that although all the herbs I use are known for being extremely gentle, when you are using herbs and plants for their medicinal properties, they are just that – ‘medicinal’. If you wish to take a herbal remedy with prescribed medicines, and you are already taking medications you should talk to a pharmacist or your GP first – treat all herbal remedies with respect.

Neither the author nor the publisher can be held responsible for any adverse reactions to the recommendations in this article. The use of any herb or derivative is entirely at the reader’s own risk.

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