Wormwood (Artemisia Absinthium)

Wormwood is a classic herb for the Samhain season. In October the wheel of the year stops for a magical three day interlude before the feast of Samhain, which ushers in the death and rebirth of the seasonal wheel of the year.

At Samhain we place gifts of food on our altars, and out-of-doors, extending hospitality to the disembodied ancestors who are surely among us. We light dark candles and call our dear departed, especially those most recently dead.

Wormwood, when added to herbal incense, is an aid in opening the psychic centers. When these centers are open and receptive, we may better communicate with those who have "passed over". Its been written that wormwood and sandalwood (an herb of purification and high spiritual energy) burned together near a grave site will summon the spirit of the departed.

Wormwood is a banishing herb, used to rid a person or an area of anger and negativity.

In ancient Mexico, women enacted a ritual dance in honor of the Goddess of Salt where they wore garlands of wormwood in their hair.

To divine the face of your future lover, take dried majoram, thyme, and wormwood, grind them to a powder and cook them gently with honey and vinegar to make a paste. Anoint your third eye center with the mix and ask three times that a vision of your lover's face be granted to you in your sleep. Wear the mixture to bed.

Wormwood is strewn behind furniture, under pillows and in corners to repel fleas. It is laid among woolens and furs to repel moths.

On Samhain strew it in your ritual fire as a protection against malevolent spirits.

Herbal Uses

Wormwood tea is used as a liver remedy to dispel the symptoms of jaundice and to remove depression and melancholy.

A light infusion of the flowers and fresh leaves promotes digestion, increases the appetite, and strengthens the stomach — if nausea results, the dose has been too strong.

Wormwood was once used in the production of Absinthe, a liqueur, and some home brewers still add it to mead (honey wine). Used occasionally it will soothe the nerves and balance the mind. Caution: as with all mind altering substances it can easily be abused. Persons who become addicted to absinthe experience giddiness and even convulsions.

The flowers and buds are the best part for medicinal use. One ounce of the flowers can be tinctured in a pint of brandy for six weeks, strained, and used for the relief of gravel and gout. The dose is one tablespoon twice a day. One ounce of the flowers and buds can be covered with a pint and a half of boiling water and steeped for 12 hours. The dose is two tablespoons three times a day for a week, then followed by a daily dose for maintenance. Do this to promote digestion.

The dried and powdered herb is used as a vermifuge (gets rid of worms — thus the source of its name). Use the infusion to promote menstruation and as an antiseptic wash for wounds and skin irritations.

The tea is used to help alleviate the bail of childbirth.

The oil is used to relieve the pain of arthritic rheumatism and neuralgia. Caution: The oil is pure poison and should only be used externally! Never take this herb for more than a few weeks.

Additional Notes on this Herb from Richard Alan Miller’s Book: The Magical and Ritual Use of Herbs 1983 by Destiny Books

Family: Composite (Sunflower or Aster family)

Synonyms: Absinth, green ginger.

Geographical Locales: all over the world, from US to Siberia

Habitat: Roadsides, waste places, and near the sea.

Botanical Description: The herb is a silky perennial plant supported by a woody rootstock producing many bushy stems that grow two to four feet in height. The stems are whitish covered closely with fine silk hairs. The leaves are hairy also, shaped with many blunt lobs of irregular symmetry. The flowers are small with globular heads of greenish-yellow color that are arranged on an erect leafy flower stem. The Leaves and the flowers have a very bitter taste and characteristic color.

Chemistry: Absinthe (a dimeric guaranolide) is the principle agent, anabsinthin and thiyone (a volatile oil) are also present. Absinthine is listed as a narcotic analgesic in the same group as codeine and dextromethorphan hydrobromide (Romilar).

Primary Effects: Narcotic-analgesic. It depresses the central medullary part of the brain, the area concerned with pain and anxiety.

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