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|Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is a tall, herbaceous perennial native to temperate Europe, North Africa, Asia and parts of Alaska. Its feathery dark green leaves are coated with silver hairs underneath, and it has yellow or dark red flowers. Throughout Europe, mugwort has been deeply connected to magical protection, dreamwork, and divination. Scholars believe that the name “mugwort” may be a reference to its use as a flavoring additive in beer before Bavarian purity laws stipulated that only hops could be used for this purpose. Alternatively, the word may be from the Old English mugc, meaning moth, because it was believed that mugwort repelled moths and other insects.
Mugwort was an essential traveler’s herb: keeping some of the leaves in a sachet was believed to offer protection from wild beasts and spirit possession, as well as prevent sunstroke and exhaustion . Roman soldiers used to place mugwort leaves inside their sandals to keep their feet from getting tired during long marches . Besides being used as a flavoring for beer, in England mugwort herbage was also a main ingredient in the stuffing for roast goose. During World War II when tea reached 7 shillings per pound, mugwort leaves became a popular tea substitute in the region of Cornwall.