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How We Got Here

Updated: Jan 7, 2020

Jaguar Mary
Artemisia Negra founder, Jaguar Mary, fondly thinking of mugwort. Photo by Folake Abass.

ARTEMISIA NEGRA started on a Full Moon.

Jaguar Mary was at home with their friend, Evie, talking about life and love when they walked outside to get some fresh air. In the sliver moonlight, they noticed a hedge of plants had grown. Indeed, the cold weather was over and a veritable forest of tall "weeds" were growing sturdily in the long dirt patch in front of the house. The plants had grown fast, and seemingly over night. Jaguar Mary hadn't noticed the weeds before, yet there they were, reflecting the moonlight, glowing eerily. After a few minutes of staring, entranced by the the plant's shimmering beauty, Evie spoke. "You'll have to cut all that down," they advised.

A week later, I went outside with the hand mower, preparing to do the big chop when a neighbor passed by. "Nice weather to garden in!", he exclaimed cheerily. "You'll have to get at the root of those weeds. That's mugwort and it's really hard to get rid of."

I stopped in my tracks. I had a long history with mugwort as a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) patient. I didn't realize this potent medicine and plant ally was taking up (a lot of) space in front of my house. To say that moxibustion, herbs and acupuncture changed my life would be an understatement. I'd also heard that mugwort is a lucid dreaming agent.


I've been paying attention to and cultivating a dream practice for six years. My interest in lucid dreaming was sparked by an experience I had during a 10-day water fast. Before then, I mostly thought of dreams as important psychic information between my waking self and my inner/higher, soul/self. I would often receive useful inspiration from dreams. When I experienced lucid dreaming for the first time, I began to think more about multi-dimensionality. That is, I began to consider time and space beyond our three-dimensional existence in a new way.

Part of my research as an artist includes ways to write about the value of the invisible. I am interested in the notion of invisibility as a form of materiality. Charting the invisible as material has had value to me as a black body navigating and remapping liberation routes for any human who calls themselves black, indigenous, of color, queer or radical and whose daily lives reflect the intersectionality of those terms. I'm curious about how dreams, especially lucid ones, may become a resource or methodology even, for freedom-making practices. Certainly, gettin' mo' free needs juice from diverse inputs. I'm bringing the dream plant vibe by creating scents designed to trigger the ancient wisdom in us and to help us perceive and walk those yet to be charted freedom roads. We're all in this together. Thanks for reading this far and thank you for supporting this offering called Artemisia Negra.



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