At this time of year, one of our most beloved dreaming herbs is coming into full potency, springing up along roadsides the length and breadth of the land.

By mid to late August, the active part of the plant-associated to vital dreaming is rising up from the soils, through the stalks, and travelling into the leaves.

Mugwort is a witch’s herb, a stirrer of visions, and an opener of portals. It’s long been connected to dreaming, intuition, and visioning.

Taken as tea before sleep, she can fling the doorways wide open into deep and vivid dream realms.

She’s often found growing along borders, at the edge of things, by gates and styles, along the edges of roads, As an ally that can assist you to cross the border from wakefulness into the dreaming lands, her growing place feels very apt.

There’s an old saying the mugwort will remain hidden from you until it’s time for you to get to know her. When that time comes, a mist of unseeing clears and suddenly she’s everywhere.

Her Latin name is Artemisia, after Artemis- the goddess of the moon and protector of childbirth.  The silvery underside of mugwort’s leaves shine like moonlight on a dark night and is a beautiful reminder of her connection to the moon and all its mysteries.

Mugwort tea was also traditionally used as a women’s herb.  It increases circulation, warms up the uterus, and moves the blood through to ease cramping. It’s definitively not suitable to take if you’re pregnant. 


Mugwort has so many layers of knowing. The more time you devote to getting to know her, the deeper your relationship will be.

  • Take a walk in the wilds and see where she’s growing. Sketch her leaves, acquaint yourself with her shape, blossoms, and how she moves in the wind.
  • Sleep with a sprig by your pillow, set an intention to connect to her wisdom, and see what dreams may come.
  • If you’re picking some of her leaves with the intention of dreaming with her, pick just before her tiny white buds open in mid-late August.
  • Gather and dry her leaves and bind them together to make a smudging stick to cleanse spaces before and after ritual, or add them to oil to make an anointing oil.
  • Place a few leaves in a cup before bed, on a full moon even better. Go gently to begin with, the dream realms she can unveil can be strong.

”Mugwort opens up chambers of ancient memory within the brain, bringing to one’s dream life stirring visions of past and future that overflow with magical imagery. The symbols that dance through your mugwort-touched dreams pull out the cobwebs of our forgetfulness and assist us in remembering old, unwritten ways of healing and living that attend to the needs of spirit and soul.” 

Judith Berger, Herbal Rituals 



The border between waking life and the dream state is porous. Every night, in the deepest part of sleep, scents and smells can drift across from the spaces around us and infuse our dreams. When we drop into the REM state which is the most active dreaming phase of sleep, our muscles settle into a temporary paralysis to aid rest and prevent us from physically acting out our dreams, while two senses remain fully active: the auditory and the olfactory.

The olfactory sense is our sense of smell and like the auditory sense, it stays switched on during sleep to keep us alert to external dangers, making it easy for smells to travel from the outside world into the heart of a dream.

This sense is also closely related to our brain’s limbic system (from the Latin word limbus or border) which connects to emotions and memories; if you’ve ever encountered the unexpected tug of a familiar scent that transports you back through time, connecting you to a long-ago place or person, that’s what’s at play. Sleep labs introducing uplifting smells into the ritual of sleep have measured a profoundly positive effect on the dreaming experience and on dream content.

Oneirogenic plants are those which produce or enhance a dream-like state of consciousness. Traditionally plants connected to restful sleep are Valerian, Catnip, Chamomile, Hops, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Rose, and Rosemary. In the ancient Greek temples of sleep and dreaming Frankincense was burned at the doors of the dream chamber to aid travellers on their journeys into the dream realms.

Walking through a wildflower meadow during Spring in a waking state, the potent scent of the flowers can create a dreamlike quality, softening the senses and transporting us into a liminal space for a brief time. On the other side of the border, while we sleep, scents can be used in the same way. Aromas can be added to dreams like flavours to a recipe, enhancing the subtle and mysterious landscape of our dreams and sinking us deeper into the restorative power of sleep.

Originally published in AMLY journal


A way to work with the dreaming lands

Bowl of water
Pen & paper/ recording device
A bed
An enquiry

Enchant your sleep space with scents, lights and sounds.
Bring a vessel full of water to your bedside and light a candle.
Become curious about the part of you who is ‘the one who dreams’
Soften your gaze on the fires’ flickering and spend time connecting to your dreamer.
Create a heartfelt intention to the dreamtime asking for some dream insight into a question you have.
Take a sip from your bowl of water. Notice the sensation of the water as it enters your mouth and slips into the deep mystery your body.

Notice the images and sensations in your body as sleep folds towards you, and you slip into the deep mystery of the dreaming.
While you drift across the border between waking and sleeping, carry your question with you so you can drop it into the dreaming lands to seed.
May metaphors take root and sprout throughout the night.

As you emerge from the dreaming, stay soft and keep stillness in the body and mind.
Hold space for the dream-drifts to rise from the deep mystery of the dreaming.
Watch the dreams rise through your body and into your waking world.
If dreams are illusive, try slowly moving into one of your well-known sleep positions.
Your body has a somatic memory of the dreams, a vessel that holds them. Keep it slow so you don’t spill them. 

Gently dip your fingers into your dream water by your bedside.
Connect this waking-world water with the dream-full water inside you.
Gently dip your consciousness back into the dreaming.
Reach out and catch the edges of your dream whisps.
Record your dream.

Carry your vessel of dream water outside, or to a plant pot and pour the living imagination of dreams back into the soil, to merge with the deep dreaming inside the living land.
Perhaps it will re-emerge in some other time, in some other dream, in some other dreamer.
Write, paint, sing dance, share your dreams!

* If dream recall is challenging, try this for a week:

  •   As you drift towards sleep each night, experiment with saying the phrase “Tonight, I will remember my dreams”
  •   As you wake, stay in your sleep position and bring awareness to any feelings, colours, senses, or images that are still with you.
  •   Your body has a somatic memory of dreams, slowly shift into a few of your familiar sleep positions and see what comes
  •   Have a pen and paper ready and write down anything at all you remember, even if it’s just one word. Even if it’s nothing- write that down