Growing heirloom plants
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Wyrtig - In early sources
thanks to the
Library for providing this image fromEgerton 474 f. 7,
c. 1300 CE.
Growing mugwort in your
artemessia, arth[e]mesia , matrem herbarum , [m]ug, mucg,
mucgwyrt, mugcwyrt, mugwurt, mugwyrt
artemesiam leptefilos, artemisia leptefillos, artemisia tagantes,
Mucguyrt, mucgwyrte, mucwyrt, mucwyrte, mycgwyrte
Mogworte or moderwort is clepid arthemesia for that she is modir of
alle other herbes or for-thi that the modir or herbes hauyth 3ouyn
her name. Diana, sikerly the which is cleipd in greke tonge
Arthemesis, fonde up first the vertues of this herbe, and ther-fore
is this herbe clepid arthemesia of her fynders name.
called mugwort or motherwort because she is mother of all other
plants and for because she is the mother of plants has been given
her name. Diana, the same that is called in Greek Artemesia,
first discovered the virtues of this herb, and therefore this herb
is called artemesia after her finder's name.
...This herbe is specially medicinal to women syknesses. For water of
her decoccon, that is to say water that mugwort is soden in, drunkyn,
purgith women of her floures and bringeth hem forth fro hem. With
the same watir that this mogwort is soden in, wash and bath the matrice, and so shal thou clense women of her floures. Take the same
herbe rawe, stampe it and drinke yt with wyn, and so 3he wole do the
same. Take this herbe grene as she growith and stampe it and bynde
here to the wombe, and she shal delyuere out the werpling [fetus who
has died in the womb] ther-in.
...Take this herbe, grene as she
growith, stampe it, put it in must and kepe this while it is fynyd
wel, and this wyn shal be medecynall to all the sikenesses that be
seide above ...This wyn shal be wel lykyng in savour, odour, or
smellyyng. It comfortith the stomach and helith the entrailes that
ben a-boute the hert if it be drunken, and men sayn that it is
profitable to many other causes.
þreo wyrta þe þe artemesias nemdon ys ræd þt diana hy findan scolde
7 heora mægenu 7 læcedom chironi centauro syllan se ærest of þyssum
wyrtym læcnunge gesette 7 he þas wyrta of naman þære dianan þt is
Herbarium Apulieus XIII:
of these three plants that we name artemesias, it is said
Diana found them, & delivered their power and healing to Chiron
the Centaur, who first with these plants started healing, and these plants
were named for Diana, that is Artemesias were named..
...artemesia mugwort mater herbarum
...artemesia, mugwort, mother of plants
Some etymologies cite moughte, a moth, or muggjo, a
fly or gnat, as the source of the name mugwort, for the plant is a
The name motherwort comes from moder,
mother, or the womb, and refers to the plant's usefulness in
treating a variety of women's illnesses.
Collect the leaves of mugwort and also the root in August; dry until
brittle enough to snap when bent. Do this, fasting, early in the
morning before the sun rises, and use only your left hand.
Against a journey over land ; lest one become
faint, let them take mugwort in their hand, or put it in their
shoe, lest one become weary, and when one will gather it, before
sunrise, say these words first, loudly, when you pull it up:
Tellam te, artemesia,
ne lassus sum.
I pick you, artemesia,
that I will not be weakened.
Leechbook of Bald, LXXXVI
+ Gemyne ðu
hwæt þu renadest
miht wið .iii.
7 wið onflyge
wiþ þa laþan
ðe geondlond færð
Lacnunga f. 9
+ Mind you
what you rendered
you are called
oldest of plants
you mighty against 3
and against 30
you mighty against poison
and against infection
You mighty against the evil
that fares through the land
Nine Herbs Prayer, Lacnunga f.9
Like the hawthorn, maple, and oak, mugwort appears in the church
carvings of the 1200s; on the Exeter cathedral corbel, for
example. In the Middle Ages, another name for mugwort was
cingulum Sancti Johannis, because John the Baptist wore a belt
of this while in the wilderness.
As a plant sacred to St. John, mugwort was picked
and purified in the smoke of the teine fires on Midsummer's Eve,
which is also St. John's Eve. It was hung over the door to keep
away evil.. A crown of mugwort worn on Midsummer's Eve would protect the
wearer from demonic possession.
With mugwort in the house, "...na elves na
thunges may com therin, na
qware herbe Jon comes noyther."
Lyf hwa mid
fotadle swyþe 7 hefelice geswenceð sy . þonne genim ðu ðysse ylcan
wyrte wyrtwalan syle etan on hunige 7 est sona he bið gehæleð 7
aclænsod swa þæt ðu ne wenst þt heo mæge swa mycel mægen habban.
Apulieus XIII: ii
If one with gout
is severely troubled, then take you this same plant root, give it to
eat in honey, & soon one is healed and cleansed so that one doesn't
believe that this could have this great a power.
Sloane 278, f47, c. 1274 CE.
A mermaid off the coast of Galloway, Scotland, referring to the tonic
qualities of mugwort eaten early in the spring, was once heard to
If they wad drink nettles in March
and muggins in May
Sæ mony braw maidens
Wadna gang to the clay.
Wright, Rustic Speech (1913)
Muge he is and mondrake
thourgh might of the mone,
Trewe triacle itold
with tonges in trone.
"Annot and Iohon,"
Mugwort she is, and mandrake
by the might of the moon,
True elixir as told
by tongues enthroned.
"Annette and John,"
Harley MS 2253
7 gif þysse wyrte wyrttruma Byð
ahangen ofer hwylces huses duru þonne ne mæg ænig man þam huse
if this plant's root
be hung over that house's door, then
no one may damage that house.
Anglo-Saxon Herbal, XIII.2
hwa siðfæt onginnan wille ðonne genime he him on hand
þæs wyrte artemisiam 7 hæbbe mid him ðonne ne ongyt he na mycel
to geswynce þæs siþes…
Then if any will begin a journey, have them take in hand this
plant, artemesia, and have it with them, then they won't feel much
discomfort on this travel.
Anglo-Saxon Herbal, XII.i
Many plants have
been used in past and present times for medicinal purposes, and as
one of the focuses of Wyrtig is the history of gardening, these uses
are discussed here. However, common sense
requires that you consult your family physician or other
health care provider before using any plant materials for medicinal
purposes. The old saying that "A doctor who treats him- (or her-)
self has a fool for a patient" is no less true in herbal medicine
than in any other branch of the healing sciences. Herbal remedies
should not be used by the uninformed; medical advice should be
sought before using any herbal remedy.