In the Garden
Common Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
*Also known as all-heal, cat valerian, garden heliotrope, and vandalroot
Reaching three to five feet tall, valerian has round, erect stems and dark green, toothed leaves. The small, five-petaled flowers are white with a tinge of pink, but they can be more pink or even lavender. The flowers grow in dense clusters and bloom from late spring through early to midsummer. The pale brown, clustered root is an upright rhizome with fibrous roots extending outward.
Valerian’s common name is thought to have come from the Latin valere, meaning “to be well.” 51 During the Middle Ages, it was known as all-heal, referring to its range of medicinal applications. The name vandalroot comes from the Swedish Vändelrot, a reference to its use by Teutonic tribes known as the Vandals.52 Although the names seem similar, Valium does not come from valerian.
Rodents are attracted to this herb, and it is believed that the Pied Piper of Hamelin used valerian to lure the rats away from the city. Also, cats actually love valerian as much as catnip. While the flowers have a sweet, cherry-vanilla fragrance, it is usually overwhelmed by the odor of the leaves and stems, which have been described as smelling like dirty socks.
Valerian is powerful for purification purposes. Make a maceration by chopping about an ounce of fresh roots into small pieces. Place them in a jar and then pour a pint of cold water over them. Let the roots soak for eight to ten hours. Strain out the pieces, and then use the water to consecrate new ritual tools as well as ritual space.
A piece of dried root can be used as a love amulet. It also aids in healing quarrels between lovers. The flowers can be used to support love and money spells.
Use dried leaves to aid in breaking hexes. Hang a sprig of flowers and/or leaves over an exterior door to protect the home.
Valerian is associated with the element water and the goddess Epona. Its astrological influence comes from Mercury and Venus.