In the Garden
Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)
*Also known as balm mint and brandy mint
Spearmint (M. spicata syn. M. viridis)
*Also known as green mint, lamb mint, our lady’s mint, and sage of Bethlehem
As members of the mint family, these plants have the distinctive feature of square stems. Peppermint reaches twelve to thirty-six inches in height. Its dark-green leaves are deeply veined and toothed. Tiny purple, pink, or white flowers grow in whorls at the tops of the stems. Spearmint has tight whorls of pink or lilac-colored flowers atop spikes of bright-green leaves. Like peppermint, its leaves are deeply veined and toothed. It reaches twelve to eighteen inches tall. Both mints have been used for healing since ancient times.
As previously mentioned, peppermint is a naturally occurring hybrid between spearmint and water mint (M. aquatica). Its species name comes from the Latin piper, meaning “pepper,” because the taste of this herb has a hint of pepper.61 While spearmint is considered the oldest species of mint, peppermint has been around for quite a long time, too. Dried peppermint leaves have been found in ancient Egyptian burials.
Mint was associated with Demeter who, according to legend, ate a mixture of mint, flour, and water before pursuing Persephone into the underworld. According to legend, this mixture was used during the ancient Mysteries of Demeter rituals at Eleusis. The genus name for mint comes from the nymph Menthe, who transformed herself into a plant to avoid the amorous advances of Hades.
Drink a cup of peppermint tea to help increase psychic awareness, strengthen divination skills, and enhance prophetic dreaming. Use the leaves to activate spells for attracting money, luck, and love. Make spearmint tea and use it to purify ritual objects or drink it to increase spiritual awareness. Place a few spearmint leaves under the front door mat; its protective powers are especially useful for the home because it fosters security. Wrap a stem of peppermint and spearmint together to use as an amulet for attracting prosperity.
The mints are associated with the elements air and fire. The astrological influence for peppermint comes from Mercury, and Spearmint’s comes from Venus. Both mints are influenced by the fixed star Capella. These plants are associated with the deities Demeter, Hades, Pluto, and Zeus.