It is said that we sleep for a third of our entire lives – approximately 25 years, just snoozing! Just thinking about that fact makes our heads spin! 25 years asleep, and within those 25 years, six of them are spent dreaming. It is one of our most mysterious and intriguing states of consciousness; where we lose consciousness and dive into the deep waters of sleep.
Dreams provide insights into our aspirations, hopes and fears, and through guided exploration, inviting the herbs to enhance them and learning to interpret them, they can aid in creating optimum health and well-being.
As young herbalists, whilst studying for our degree, we were introduced to magical and healing dreaming practices by the renowned medical herbalist and magical wizard Christopher Hedley. He showed us how to make mugwort bundles to keep by our pillows, how to set intentions for the dream space, and how to record and effect changes in the dreaming.
He suggested that if a person was too close to us, but we wished to affect healing with herbs, we could simply use the dream space to do the healing. We set about exploring this phenomenon and had some mind-blowing experiences that reframed the way we understand this mysterious part of everyday life. When we actually started dreaming together, entering one another’s dreams and seeing positive healing results, we were blown away with the simplicity and accuracy of dream magic and healing.
Why exactly we dream still remains a mystery to modern science, an unanswerable question. Our dreams give shape to our existences and can impact the way we view life – exploration of our dreams taps us deeply into our inner wisdom, gifting guidance from our subconscious. Dreams are intelligent and offer an opportunity for us, the dreamer, to recognise our own mind’s power to heal itself, and unlock our intuition.
What Are Dreams?
Dreams are our own representations of what’s going on within us. The metaphors that we dream about are what we’ve seen, heard, felt, smelt, and tasted in our daily lives – thus, it’s super important to consider what kind of media we let in! Who hasn’t regretted watching some late night horror film? We certainly have…! But our dreams rearrange these experiences into interesting pronouncements of our internal needs and desires or nightmares in some cases. You truly can learn things about yourself, your past, and your emotional health from your dreams – things that we sometimes repress in waking life, but are desperately seeking our attention.
As odd as our dreams may appear, dreams are powerful resources for emotional resolution, and they help us prepare for life’s stresses, and fulfil our need for rest.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating things about dreams though is that, in them, we escape the restrictions of life, restrictions of laws and physical reality, of time and space. We are also allowed to venture into various layers of our identity, of who or what we truly are. And without these limitations, we are permitted to enter the chambers of our hearts, feeling the rhythms of our souls and can thereby access memory to an extent far beyond that of the conscious mind.
A Special Kinda Dreaming: Lucid Dreaming
Lucid dreaming is where the dreamer becomes aware that they are in a dream, while still remaining in the dream state. This state of consciousness allows the dreamer to recognise that the events and surroundings they are experiencing are not real, but are borne from their own mind. While some of us are able to have a degree of control over our dreams during lucid dreaming, this ability is not universal and can vary from person to person.
Findings from the International Lucid Dream Induction Study show that roughly 55% of adults have experienced at least one lucid dream during their lifetime, and 23% of people experience lucid dreams at least once per month. The results of these surveys are two-fold: on the one hand, research has uncovered possible benefits of lucid dreaming, for example, treating nightmares. In contrast, lucid dreamers can also experience unsettling sleep patterns, and blurred lines between fantasy and reality, which can have a potential negative impact on mental health.
We have been exploring our Dreams and practicing lucid dreaming for many years now with the expert guidance of the herbs, especially the beautiful Mugwort Herb. The rabbit hole between the worlds of consciousness is the lucid dream, where one becomes aware in the dreaming and can influence what happens within the dream space.
How can Lucid Dreaming Help Heal?
Lucid dreaming can assist with emotional healing by helping correct some of the subconscious patterns that have been knotted in the mind, heart and life.
A good example of this is how people use lucid dreaming to overcome recurring dreams and nightmares. Interestingly, research has shown that there is a direct correlation between people who have recurring nightmares and those who suffer with OCD, anxiety, and even PTSD. But research has also shown that lucid dreaming can often help people combat these disorders and end recurring dreams by changing the dream experience through conscious guidance.
Dream Enhancing Herbs
The practice of using dream-inducing herbs to receive divination or prophecies, is referred to as ‘oneiromancy’. Originating from the Greek óneiros meaning “dream” and gen “to create”, these oneirogens have been traditionally used to elevate dream-like states of consciousness.
There are a number of ways you can incorporate herbs into your routine for dreamwork. We harvest and process each of the herbs differently for our healing dream purposes.
The Power of Mugwort for Lucid Dreaming
Mugwort – Artemisia vulgaris
Mugwort is said to have derived its name from having been used to flavour drinks. It was used, with other herbs such as Ground Ivy, to a great extent for flavouring beer before the introduction of hops. For this purpose, the plant was gathered when in flower and dried, the fresh herb being considered unsuitable: malt liquor was then boiled with it to form a strong decoction, and this liquid was then added to the beer.
Mugwort has been known and documented for ages as a reliable dream enhancing plant. In the West, mugwort was historically associated with the Greek god Artemis, the Moon God. This is perhaps because the herb stimulates blood circulation, and was prescribed chiefly to aid painful and irregular menstruation and also to aid birthing. Artemis is the Greek God who was famed for sending divine dreams.
The pineal gland has been likened to the seat of consciousness. It becomes active when we are in deep rapid eye movement sleep, creating our dream world. The release of melatonin at night balances out the sleep wake cycle, keeps us balanced, connected with the cycles of day and night. Mugwort can stimulate pineal gland activity thus bringing our dreams alive.
Fresh mugwort can be harvested with the moon. For a powerful harvest pick on a full moon, harvesting consciously and ritualistically then placing it close to the bed, or even under your pillow before bed. Also, try burning some dried mugwort as incense, which can make bedtime into a ritual that will support more dream remembrance.
You can read more about the magic of mugwort in The Sensory Herbal Handbook
Making an Amulet from Mugwort
Find a quiet and peaceful space where you can work on your amulet without distractions. You need to think about why you’re creating this amulet. Is it for protection, enhancing your dreams, or some other purpose? Take some dried mugwort leaves or stems. You can also choose to infuse them with your intention by focusing on your purpose for the amulet.
Place the prepared mugwort into your chosen pouch or cloth. You can use as much or as little as you like, but a small handful is usually sufficient. As you tie it, you can say a short affirmation relating to your intention. To charge your amulet, hold it in your hands and visualise your intention strongly, especially during a full moon, or in sunlight for a few hours to charge it with natural energy.
Sleep with your amulet under your pillow to enhance its dream-related properties.
Don’t stop reading yet…!
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Our article on will cover the topics above more in-depth, plus:
- History of Dream Cultures
- How to make a a tincture from the Vervain
- Smoking the lactuca herb
- Bathing in the heather
- Growing the Datura