Wormwood is an herbaceous, perennial species of Artemisia native to Eurasia and Northern Africa. It has a hard woody rhizome and multiple straight stems reaching about a meter in length with leaves arranged in a spiral formation along their length. This gives it a rather bushy appearance. The leaves are silvery in appearance, green-grey above and white below with a fine covering of fuzz. The leaves are deeply toothed and feathery in appearance.
The flowers appear from July to October. They are yellow and interesting but not very pretty. They occur in clusters clinging close to the branch with their round faces pointing toward the ground. They eventually give way to a hard, dry seed which falls to the ground.
Wormwood can be found growing wild in many areas. Look for it in dry waste areas, between cracks and along rocky slopes where it can get good sun.
History and Folklore
The name Artemesia derives from the name of the Goddess Artemis. However, it is possible that this plant’s genus actually takes its name from a Persian queen, Artemesia.
The name absinthum may come from a word meaning “unenjoyable” referring to the bitter taste.
The name wormwood refers to the historic use of this plant as a cure for intestinal worms.
It is said that wormwood first grew from the path of the serpent as it exited the Garden of Eden.
‘While Wormwood hath seed get a handful or twaine To save against March, to make flea to refraine: Where chamber is sweeped and Wormwood is strowne, What saver is better (if physick be true) For places infected than Wormwood and Rue? It is a comfort for hart and the braine And therefore to have it it is not in vaine.’ ~ Tusser 1577
Wormwood in the Garden
Wormwood may be grown from cuttings taken in early spring or late fall, root division in autumn or sown from seed. It enjoys full to partial sun in soil rich in nitrogen and does not mind a bit of drought. Plant it in autumn and it will come up for you in the spring.
Plant wormwood around the edges of your garden where it will discourage weeds and insect larvae at least two feet away from any other plants.
Wormwood is an excellent addition to a moon garden.
Harvesting & Storing Wormwood
For medical and magical use, cut the flowering tops off wormwood when they are in full bloom on a sunny day when the sun is at its peak. Hang to dry naturally in a place with good ventilation out of the sun. Once dry, store in tightly sealed mason jars in a dark cupboard.
To create a powder that also stores quite well and takes up less space, put the dried plant in your blender or use a mortar and pestle to get as fine a powder as you can, then sift your powder through a sieve to get all the twiggy bits out and store the result in tightly sealed glass herb jars out of the light.
It is important to store herbs in a cool, dry place away from light to protect their oils from being degraded.
Wormwood is associated with the planet mars and the element of fire or air.
Macerate wormwood and soak in wine for several days, then strain. Use this wine to induce visions, aid in astral projection, and divination. OR place several tablespoons of dried wormwood leaves and flowers in a jar, cover with light olive oil and seal. Let this steep for several weeks in a cool place, strain and use as an anointing oil for yourself or your divination tools. (See cautions on Healing With Wormwood below).
Wormwood flowers and leaves can be added to magical sachets for protection against accidents. Hang these in your car or carry them on your person.
Wormwood may also be used in spells to send harmful magic back on its sender and for spells for vengeance.
Combined with mugwort and burned, wormwood is useful for calling up spirits. Make sure the area is well-ventilated as the smoke can be very irritating to the eyes and throat and is toxic if inhaled. It is also said to be useful in banishing spirits.
Wormwood may also be used in love magic, as this old charm indicates:
'On St. Luke’s Day, take marigold flowers, a sprig of marjoram, thyme, and a little Wormwood; dry them before a fire, rub them to powder; then sift it through a fine piece of lawn, and simmer it over a slow fire, adding a small quantity of virgin honey, and vinegar. Anoint yourself with this when you go to bed, saying the following lines three times, and you will dream of your partner “that is to be”:
“St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me, In dreams let me my true-love see.” ’ ~ An old love charm
For safety’s sake, do not use wormwood essential oil. Use the dried or fresh leaves or flowers only.
Healing with Wormwood
Wormwood was a very popular healing herb in ancient times and remains popular with many herbalists. It is, however, not the safest herb in the pharmacopia and should be used with extreme caution under the watchful eye of an experienced herbalist.
Wormwood has been used with varying degrees of success for the treatment of: intestinal worms, stomach pains, gas, indigestion, nervousness, gout, kidney stones, liver disorders, fevers, and general infections. It is also used to stimulate hunger and improve digestion generally and strengthen the immune system. In addition, wormwood has been used to strengthen contractions while easing labor pains and to bring on delayed menstruation and relieve related bloating symptoms. It has also been used to bring on abortions.
Wormwood was recommended by Culpepper as a treatment for the stings of bees, wasps and scorpions and snakebites.
Wormwood has shown some promise in studies relating to the treatment of Crohn’s Disease.
Pure wormwood oil is very dangerous and should not be taken internally.
Do not take wormwood for more than 2 weeks at a time.
Pregnant women who would like to stay pregnant, and women who are trying to become pregnant should not use or handle wormwood.
Side effects and signs that it is time to reduce or discontinue your use of wormwood include: nausea, vomiting, insomnia, excessive thirst, restlessness, vertigo, dizziness, trembling, numbness of the extremities, delirium, paralysis, convulsions and seizures.
Cooking with Wormwood
Wormwood is most famously known as the main ingredient in absinthe. It is also used in flavoring several other liquors including bitters, vermouth and pelinkovac. In the past it has been used to flavor mead and beer as well.
In Morocco, wormwood is added to mint tea.
In Korea, the fresh young leaves of wormwood are macerated and the juice used to flavor songpyeon, a steamed dumpling traditionally eaten during their autumn thanksgiving festival.
Wormwood Around the House
Wormwood can be useful in herbal combinations designed to repel pests, especially insect pests including fleas and moths. The dried leaves and flowers can be used in sachets hung in closets or stuffed into your pet’s pillows. Alternatively, steep macerated fresh, or crushed dry wormwood leaves and flowers in apple cider vinegar for several days, strain and use as a spray to keep pests away.
Planting wormwood around gardening areas will help prevent the growth of insect larvae and grubs in the soil as it releases compounds in the soil that are unpleasant to them. However, it may also inhibit the growth of other plants, so keep this in mind when you are planting for this purpose.
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Artemide e Atteone, la teofania della divinità e la dualità demoniaca Polittico (cinque disegni), fusaggine - pigmento rosso su carta da spolvero, 32x43 cm, 2015/2016
«Non mirare Artemide a faccia a faccia: perderesti i sensi sotto il suo sguardo. Il corpo che appare per intero è un velo che io ho gettato sulla sua essenza: non posso invece velare il suo sguardo, che per voi uomini è mortale. Se puoi, contemplala di scorcio o di profilo, di preferenza mirala di schiena… Non che così, non possa vederti: simile sciocchezza non mi sfiora neppure.».
Diana svelata violabile - Diana nuda inviolata. Pura interferenza o applicazione letterale dell’antologia dell’essere? Stratagemma della mediazione del linguaggio. Su Diana svelata Atteone aveva gettato il velo stesso della nudità. Diana nuda, Diana che si lava: simulacri abominevoli, che andavano tutti distrutti. Restava l’ultimo, la mezzaluna, di cui egli voleva fornire una nuova visione, dimostrando l’impostura del suo splendore ingannevole. Atteone diffidava del fatto che una verità sensibile fosse stata così semplicemente elevata al rango di verità spirituale. Smascherato dalla dea perché aveva voluto serbare le facoltà divine, doveva giustificare la sua non-cervidità come amore della verità medesima. Così Atteone, né cacciatore ne cervo, aborrendo oramai il culto delle immagini, si ritrovava iconoclasta al cospetto della dea. «…quando la mezzaluna brillante, sorgendo dai crinali dei poggi, va a sospendersi alla volta smeraldina della sera.». Lo sguardo fisso all’orizzonte, egli la spiava ancora, come scolpito per sempre dalla sua visione. Così un simulacro immortala l’amore della verità di colui che rifiutava il simulacro.
Teofania: demone, io stesso e dio.
Diana unveiled inviolable - naked Diana inviolate. Is it the pure interference or literal application of the anthology being? Ruse of language mediation. On Diana unveiled Actaeon had thrown the veil of nakedness. Naked Diana, Diana washes herself: idols abominable that need to be destroyed. There remained the last, the crescent, of which he wanted to provide a new vision, showing the imposture of its deceptive splendor. Actaeon did not trust the fact that a significant truth been so simply elevated to the rank of spiritual truth. Unmasked by the goddess because she wanted to preserve the divine faculty, he had to justify his “not deer” as love of truth itself. So Actaeon, not the hunter and not deer, now abhorring the worship of images, iconoclastic found himself in the presence of the goddess. “… When the bright moon, the source from the ridges of the hills, goes to hang on the once emerald of the evening..” The look toward the horizon, he spied the still, as carved forever by his vision. So a simulacrum immortalizes the love of the truth of the one who refused the simulacrum.
Artemis was described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows.
The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth.
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana.
Artemide e Atteone (la teofania di Diana, riflettendo sulla dualità demoniaca) Estrapolazioni di pagine di taccuino, pigmento rosso, bruno e violetto su carta - 11x16 cm - 2016
Un incubo pieno di balli turbinanti, follia propagata ad eco tra mille labirinti, tanti cuori fiammeggianti vagano, calpestando lacerano fantasmi e frammenti di piccoli esseri espirati, verso le sponde nuotano nell’ardente flusso di una fredda eternità.
Sotto uno strato altre mille superfici, non son che gli specchi della pura essenza, della divina impurità e della lucida sofferenza. Organza acuminata più del ghiaccio filtra innominabili sogni organici.
Pantomima elegante ricoperta da una folla di nebbie offusca ogni sentiero ed imprigiona mani e piedi in gabbie, una morbida morsa di movimenti sincopati. In quello spazio piatto ed odoroso di venti e sabbie, O aulente Dea ed insieme demone, simuli apparizioni aberranti. Accecanti luoghi, dove la luce esplode in remote solitudini.
Schierati tutti in fila frammenti d’opale diffondono il rivestimento incrinato, calma piatta, il corpo nevoso dorme irrigidito. Sogna uno spazio liminale come rifugio, ma nella palpebra la luce minaccia un nero abissale.
A nightmare full of whirling dances, madness issued to echo a thousand labyrinths, many flaming hearts wander, trampling lacerate ghosts and fragments small exhaled creatures, towards the shores swim a fiery flow of a cold eternity.
Under a layer thousand other surfaces, they’re the mirrors of pure essence, of divine impurities and glossy suffering. Organza sharp more of the ice filtered unmentionable organic dreams.
Pantomime elegant covered with a crowd of mists obscuring any path and imprisons hands and feet in cages, a soft grip of syncopated movements. In the flat space and smelling of wind and sand, O Goddess its scents and at the same demon, simulates aberrant appearances. Blinding places, where the light explodes in remote solitude.
Lined up all in a row fragments of opal spread the coating flawed, Dead calm, snowy body sleeps stiffened. He dreams of a liminal space as a refuge, but in the eyelid the light threaten a black abysmal.