After trying dozens of natural food markets throughout Manhattan, I finally came across what I was hunting for. Flower Power Herbs & Roots is a small, bohemian boutique lined with giant mason jars of roots, spices, dried flowers, and every herb imaginable. It was there, between the motherwort and mullein flowers, that I found the mugwort leaves.
Sometimes referred to as common wormwood or chrysanthemum weed, mugwort has long been used to improve digestion, regulate the menstrual cycle, and treat worms.
“Painful periods are greatly eased,” said store owner Lata Chettri-Kennedy. “Before meals, [it] might benefit as a bitter, promoting better digestion. Mugwort has anthelmintic constituents and is also considered an emmenagogue, dispelling parasites from your gut as well as promoting menses.”
But in recent years, it’s gained a reputation for inducing lucid dreams.
Lucid Dreaming and Astral Projections
Used as a tonic, mugwort eases the negative stresses that impact your sleep cycle, keeping you in the REM stage longer and increasing your chances of achieving the lucid dream state. Lucid dreaming is a unique psychological experience where the conscious and subconscious intertwine, causing you to become aware that you’re in a dream.
Most people experience lucid dreaming naturally at least once in their lives, but few have learned how to achieve them on command.
That’s where mugwort comes in.
“Mugwort helps astral projection, lucid dreaming, and enhances psychic abilities,” said Chettri-Kennedy.
The shopkeepers walked me through the various forms of mugwort and explained how to use each one. My options were to drink a couple of mugwort teas or add a few drops of tincture to a glass of water before bed. You can also rub the essential oil on your temples and third eye.
“For pain relieving or digestive purposes, I would take a dropper full of the tincture. For lucid dreaming, I would take a lot less,” said Chettri-Kennedy, who said it can also be taken “as a tea, smoked, or even placed under the pillow before bed.”
$34.50 bought me an ounce of pure mugwort leaves, two fluid ounces of tincture, and 16 milliliters of midnight oil.
Later that evening, I drank one cup of tea, using the mugwort leaves, and one glass of water, using the tincture, before heading to bed at 10 p.m. At around 12:30, I woke up with buyer’s remorse after not experiencing any of the vivid dreams or existential trips that I had read about online. And then I applied the midnight oil.
I’m still not sure if it was my generous application or the fact that I doubled down with a tea-oil combo, but that’s when I started feeling it. After falling asleep, I found myself coming in and out of consciousness and having an out-of-body experience, or an “astral projection.”
Though I don’t remember all of the specifics of my dream, I recall becoming extremely aware of the fact that I was still asleep. There was even a moment when I was having an internal dialogue, pointing out that my eyes were still closed so I must be dreaming. A euphoric sense of freedom washed over me as I realized that I was now in control of my dream.
But my new-found power didn’t last long. The next thing I remember is pressing snooze over and over in an attempt to re-enter my lucid state of mind.
When I finally gave in and started getting ready for work, I noticed that I was surprisingly clear-headed for someone suffering through allergy season. And even though I wasn’t happy that my sleep was interrupted, I didn’t feel drowsy at all. In an oxymoronic way, I felt an eerie mixture of getting a good rest and being up all along. I’m still not 100% sure if my snooze sessions were a dream sequence or reality, but unlike me, you only have to go as far as Amazon to find out.
Warning: Mugwort should never be used by pregnant women since it can cause miscarriages.