by Selena Fox
Each year at our Green Spirit Festival in early August, we harvest Mugwort. This marks the beginning of harvest time at Circle Sanctuary and is part of our celebration of Lughnassad. Our harvest takes the form of a Community ritual and social activity, which strengthens our connection with the Mugwort, the Land, the Divine, and each other. We use the Mugwort we harvest in a variety of sacred ways, including for incense, offerings, amulets, potions, brews, and dream pillows. After we have completed the Community harvest, many of us clip another stalk or two and fashion a garland crown which we wear in the Lughnassad ritual later that day.
Attunement: We begin our Community Mugwort Harvest by gathering in the center of the Mugwort Circle. We silently connect with the Divine in our own ways, and honor the Land. Then, joining hands, we connect with each other and the spirit of our Community. Next, touching the Mugwort growing around us in the Circle, we invoke and honor the Spirit of Mugwort, and ask It to guide us in the harvest.
Reaping: We then process out of the center of the Mugwort garden and space ourselves equidistantly from each other around the outside perimeter. After spending a few moments connecting with the individual plants that we will be cutting, the reaping begins. Each of us cuts stalks from the plants near us. We cut each stalk at the base. In reaping the Mugwort, we take care to only thin the hedge, in order to preserve its beauty. We take no more than a quarter of the stalks of each plant.
Bundling: When the reaping is done, we prepare the harvested stalks for drying. We pull off any dead or diseased leaves from each stalk. Then we bundle five to nine stalks together with a heavy duty rubber band. We next take a twist tie and slip it under the rubber band circle holding the bundled stalks together. We securely wrap the tie ends together forming a circle for hanging on a nail.
Drying: We process to the barn with our completed bundles and go up the stairs to the loft. We hang our bundles on nails in the rafters. There the harvested Mugwort will remain until it has dried. Drying takes six to eight weeks, depending on humidity levels. In hanging the bundles, we distribute them around the loft to maximize air circulation.
Processing: After the Mugwort has dried, we work with it again. We make smudge sticks from some of it. With the rest, we separate the leaves and flowers from the stalks and store them in closed containers. We break up the stalks and store them separately in bags and boxes for later use in bonfires.