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Valeriana officinalis

Pliny aptly named this herb 'Phu', a most descriptive term to summarise its scent. However, only the dried root smells 'phu', and even here, it must be said, tastes differ: cats, rats and even trout apparently find it irresistible and go crazy over it. The Pied Piper probably didn't so much lure the rats and mice of Hamlin with his music, but with a secret stash of Valerian that he had hidden in his pockets. According to old angler's yarn, treating bait with Valerian will ensure a good catch. Valerian is related to Spikenard, the legendary anointing oil. The ancients called it 'all-heal' and thought highly of its powers as a healing and magical herb. It also figured as a key ingredient of Theriak, the miracle panacea of the Middle Ages, which was used for a wide range of ills. The name 'Valerian' is derived by association with the Germanic smith-god Wieland (aka 'Wayland smithy'), who used this herb for all kinds of healing and magic practices. Folklore has it that if one puts a little Valerian under the tongue and kisses the girl of one's dreams, she will surely be smitten'As a powerful magical herb, Valerian was of course also capable of warding off witches and to undo their evil works.

Valerian is a wonderful herb for the nervous system. It is a relaxing and restorative nerve tonic that brings a sense of cool, calm serenity to the scene. It is excellent for treating 'the jitters' and even more severe cases such as hysteria, panic, anxiety and shock, as well as insomnia, tension, restlessness and nervous exhaustion. It can be helpful in tension headaches and promotes a deep, restful sleep. By releasing tension that has become locked in the smooth muscles it can be used in all cases where nervous tension results in cramps and blockage. Thus, it may also be effective in aphrodisiac blends for people who suffer frigidity or impotence caused by fear and inhibition.

Valerian can be used for exorcism and counter magic. It is said to protect against lightening and against the evil sorcery. Valerian is an herb of peace. If two people drink Valerian infused wine from the same cup they will immediately stop to fight and argue. Valerian can be used as an offering to the Goddess Bast, and may be the perfect gift to delight your feline familiar or ally. Valerian is sometimes used as an aphrodisiac, though its action is relaxing rather than stimulating.