Mugwort: Not Subjugated, Still Dreaming
At the Union Square Farmers Market here in New York City you can buy Mugwort for five bucks a bunch.
Which is hilarious because it is a weed and growing everywhere. Medians. Parks. Street corners next to lamp posts. I have loads of the plant growing in my backyard.
In speaking with an herbalist friend of mine she said that in the last decade or so, mugwort has really been exploding in New York City.
This old plant was used by indigenous peoples in my part of the world as a sedative but also as a companion for dreaming. They would inhale the smoke of this plant to enrich or activate their dreams sometimes. I don’t know much about that beyond that little fact.
It is often said about New York City that it is hard to be in contact with nature. And that is true. And, yes, nature shows her face in small places too but it’s not the same I’d reckon.
But there was a time that Manhattan was Manahatta and the concentrated wealth here with the Lenape people was in hunting and plant diversity and furs and shells.
And virtually all of this island got paved over. Covered.
The etymology of ‘pave’ or ‘pavement’ is pretty straight forward from the Latin – to cover, to flatten, to beat down and to deafen.
Cover makes sense. Flatten makes sense. Beat down? Sure you could see beating down a stand of high grasses as a kind of proto-paving but its subjugatory sound is right there. It is unspoken but you only beat down a living thing if you want it to be quiet. And then the deafening. Who is being deafened?
Here is my wonder about the function of pavement. Could it be that the earth was speaking too loudly and it was paved, beaten down, and flattened so that it would shut up and just take what the Dutch and the English and the New Yorkers and the Americans were doing? And maybe the concrete was to deafen us and not the earth?
If you can’t hear the earth speaking or crying out then you can’t be expected to do anything differently, right?
Might it be that the Earth in my part of the world knew about mugwort and people for a long time and sent the mugwort up as a way to stay in the dreams of people and in their dreams for the world?
Maybe the earth in New York City is praying for a new dream for New Yorkers but instead of words the earth here prays in mugwort verse. It might be.
This is all speculation but perhaps it is possible to proceed as if the earth, in slow and thick panting, breaths and speaks all over and is trying to speak despite the paving. Might we develop the ear to hear. The tallow from these cows that I’m lucky enough to procure and turn into Primal Derma are a manifestation of me trying to listen to the earth speaking and tell of their story and their place to you.
Keep your ears open too if you can.