September 24, 2010

On Isolating Variables: Mugwort, Flu Season, and the 5 Tibetans

OK, so I'll admit that as a scientist, when I have what seems to be a good idea in my head, I'll go ahead and forge through a project, ignoring some of the smaller aspects of good practice, in the hope that everything will pan out nicely and I'll get an awesome result.

Doing the same thing with magic? Not such a good idea, as it turns out.

Sometime last week (what was that about keeping a notebook?) I decided to brew up some mugwort tea I'd gotten from my local botanica, as I rarely ever remember even the tiniest scrap of my dreams. A tablespoon of the stuff in two cups of water, boiled for about 20 minutes or so. Put the cup to my lips and... oh dear god, I almost retched. I had to throw a tablespoon of spearmint leaves and a truckload of sugar into the damned thing before I could even get it down. Details you don't read on websites. Bleh.

Deciding to wait for my ladyfriend to get home before hitting the sack, I spontaneously decided to run through the 5 Tibetans exercises, also for the first time ever. Twenty-one repetitions of each (except number 5, that shit's hard, and I'm out of shape since I quit fencing) later, and I was feeling good, although a little off-balance. Went to bed and passed out promptly.

I'm not sure what I was expecting from the mugwort; I definitely had 6 or 7 dreams, but they seemed fuzzy and far away upon waking. Given that I normally don't remember dreaming at all, I suppose this was a success that warrants further experimenting. Sitting in bed pondering this, I realized I was freezing. Not turn-up-the-air freezing, but soul-chilling freezing. And my my muscles ached (expected). And my... skin ached? Fuck, the ladyfriend's roommate had the flu last week, didn't she? Goddamnit. I expected to be huddled inside for the next three days, popping massive amounts of psuedoephedrine (God's gift to Man) and ibuprofen.

Except 24 hours later, I was fine. What the fuck? Having a medical background, I know that the idea of a "24 hour flu" is crap (most cases actually being food poisoning), so what had just happened? Was I experiencing the "Mugwort Hanover" that Harry talks about? Are my subtle bodies so out of shape that a few simple exercises "blew out" a meridian? Did I really get a flu that wasn't covered by my flu shot, and antibody cross-reaction just got rid of it quickly?

The world will never know, because I didn't separate my variables. Want to know how something effects you? Don't try it out on the same night as something else. Or if you do, don't be mad if you get your ass kicked.

But of course, like a good scientist, I'll be getting back to experimenting with both, along with some clary sage (if I can ever find the damn stuff). But separately this time. I'll keep you posted.


  1. That is an interesting combination of practices there, Frater...entheogens, tibetan bodywork...very cool.

  2. lol, very nice.

    i used to have an associate who shared with me his theories regarding his hybrid scientific/satanic system and one of the principles is a dedication towards the empirical study of ones result. (took that one to heart)

    there's alot of stuff out there stating that your workings won't work because magick is like that but i disagree; if you can't get your spells to work 95% accuracy then it should be back to the drawing boards.

  3. @A.I.T.: Interesting indeed, and that's what got me into trouble, lol! After years of doing little more than reading about magick on the internet, it's sometimes hard not to jump into everything at once. Still, I want to continue with the bodywork; I believe it's something a lot of magicians neglect.

    @Mr. Black: I agree completely. If it's not going to work, why put all the effort into it? That goes for both Theurgy and Thaumaturgy.

  4. Oh, dear... you're crossing the mugwort threshold, eh? I do not ingest it when I use it. I have a sock (how magical, huh?) stuffed with the dried leaves, and I squeeze that a couple times, lay it on my chest, and snooze.

    I do not do this more than once a week at this point. It will affect you a couple nights in a row, or during your afternoon nap and then later on when you sleep.

    Some things I've observed about mugwort:
    1. The sleep state is very light (as Harry observed), but I really lose track of my body and where it is. If one of my cats is leaning against me, for example, I'm aware of her warmth, and the presence, but not against me physically. Cats are somninauts par excellence though, so she could very well be tagging along for all I know.
    2. Dreams tend to go deeper into subsequent dreams, sort of like taking a journey and traveling further and further away.
    3. It helps to ask the mugwort a question before using it, lest one just wander in surreal landscapes and follow a really disjointed jag through symbol and impression.

  5. @Sara: It was an ass-kicking I needed, I suppose. I fall into the category of people who think of poisonous and hallucinogenic plants as deserving of respect, and the majority of others as tools to be used for a purpose. The notion of deriving benefit by developing relationships with plants and experiencing their subtleties was relatively (although not entirely) lost on me until recently. I do look forward to working with mugwort again, with a good helping of more respect than "drink tea, have dreams".

  6. I adore mugwort, but I go with Sara, that's eaxctly how I deal with it. Can't play (on the best way implied here) with it. Such ancient herb... ;)

    Kisses from Nydia, thanks for the sweet words on my post today.