I've mentioned before how plants can work on the mind-body-spirit connection to bring about wholeness and healing. The dream world is just another route that some plants are able to work through. In dream state, when we recess partially back into the fullness of who we are outside of this limited material reality, our rational linear mind is out of the way and our subconsciousness takes over, sorting through events and issues for us. Some plants are teachers that work through dream time.
Cultures the world over have discovered green allies where they live that are dream-inducers. It's not witchcraft, it's not voodoo, it's really just the natural way of some plants' medicine. And if you are willing and able to listen to what they have to show you, you can benefit from dream medicine. Shamanic plants are a natural phenomenon, though not all people have the understanding to work with them. Here we will discuss a few oneirogenic herbs and some of their other medicinal properties. If pregnant or breastfeeding it is always important to avoid partaking of stronger plants like these. You are responsible for what you put in your body.
Mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris
Ah, Mugwort. One of the most common of the Artemisias (vulgaris means common) and possibly the most well known dream inducing herb. Mugwort is the cousin of Wormwood, Artemisia absinthium, the most famous (or should I say infamous) of the genus. Wormwood is one of the main herbs in Absinthe, giving the drink its famous green color and its name. But woe to the person who uses Wormwood without caution. It is a powerful vermifuge (expels parasites) and contains large amounts of thujone which is toxic in high doses. Mugwort, on the other hand, does not have the toxicity of Wormwood, though all Artemisias do have vermifuge properties to varying degrees.
Mugwort (and Mugwort species similar to A. vulgaris that grow in other countries) is the plant used in moxibustion , which is the practice in acupunture of smudging (burning/smoldering) the plant material over an acupuncture needle/point to remove a blockage at the acupuncture point and open the channel by stimulating circulation.
Mugwort is famous for inducing dreams. Primarily the fresh plant is used. You pick a sprig and place it under your pillow while you sleep at night. The dried herb is commonly used in dream pillows, but it is not as effective as using the fresh plant.
The dreams brought on by Mugwort tend to deal with boundaries and protecting the "wounded feminine" (à la Matthew Wood, confirmed by my own experience) side of a man or woman. They have a neutral feel to them while you are dreaming, upon waking and reflecting on the dream, they tend to, at least in my experience, have a serious tone that exposes the shadows. Artemisias are all associated with Artemis, or Diana, the virginal goddess of the hunt. Her aim is true and she is a tireless warrior.
Speaking of tireless, there are times when Mugwort will not allow you to dream, instead she will keep you awake. The solution to this is to remove the sprig of Mugwort from under your pillow. Maybe even change the pillow case if the scent of the plant still lingers and keeps you alert. This will mainly happen if you are trying to use it for a second or third night in a row, or are going to bed with a racing mind. Mugwort will give you specific messages but when used multiple days in a row may cease "working" because you are expected to take time to digest what lessons have been presented.
Avoid using internally during pregnancy.
|By Sqpi177 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
Xhosa, Dream Root, White Ways/Paths, Silene capensis, Silene undulata
The Xhosa root is the part used. It is high in saponins, or foaming agents. Saponins are known to be toxic in higher doses. A traditional preparation involves mashing the root and mixing it briskly in water until foam forms. Then you eat the foam until you have a feeling of fullness and ultimately burp.
This plant is sometimes taken multiple nights in a row (usually three) with increasing effects. It does seem to matter that you avoid meat before taking the herb, and resume eating meat afterwards, for maximum benefit. This is traditional practice.
Using dried root material seems less successful than using fresh as an infusion. It may be more effective to coarsely grind the dry root up before adding the water and making the bubbles. The fresh or dried root can also be chewed.
Xhosa reportedly gives no side effects besides a feeling of well-being and lightness of heart the next day.
Dog Grass, Dream Herb, Leaf of God, Calea zacatechichi, Calea ternifolia
Calea zacatechichi is a hot-climate bitter and astringent plant that grows in Central America, Costa Rica and elsewhere. The Chontal Medicine men of Oaxaca, the people known to use this plant, give Zacatechichi the name "Leaf of God." They state it sharpens and clears the senses. It also has important uses beyond is oneirogenic effects. Bitter is the key, as bitter plants work on the digestive cascade, priming it to receive and digest food. Thus, for this purpose it may be used before meals. Zacatechichi (means bitter grass) has uses for a variety of digestive complaints, especially coupled with its astringent nature which aids in cases of pathogen-induced diarrhea. It is a febrifuge as well. Zacatechichi also gives a feeling of euphoria when ingested.
Apparently the state of Louisiana and the country of Poland have banned human consumption of this plant and that list may grow.
As a dream inducing plant, Zacatechichi is taken before bed because it will make you sleepy, and is used in a two or threefold manner. The traditional method is thus: first, before bed, an infusion is made from the leaves. It is very bitter. Second, a cigarette is rolled out of the leaves and smoked. Reportedly one knows they have ingested all the plant material necessary when a state of relaxation is reached in which you can hear and feel your heart beat, strong and slow. Then, a leaf of the plant is slid under the pillow and you drift off to sleep.
Reportedly the dreamscape is ultra vivid, as with many oneirogens, and some people experience a suspension of time, as if much more time is "lived through" if you will, in a night than the normal dream process would allow. There seem to be no reported side effects the next day.
Many people solely smoke the Zacatechichi cigarette, but if you wish to follow tradition, gather your wits and drink the tea first...cheer yourself on with the saying from San Salvador Island..."What goes in bitter, comes out sweet and what goes in sweet comes out bitter." Translation: bitters do good things in the body, sweets do bad things.
May sweet dreaming visit you tonight...
This information is for educational purposes. It is not intended to be a replacement for advice from a licensed medical professional. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You are responsible for what you put in your body.