Nepeta (Catmint)

Week 28 of the PBP.

[I]t seems to be a fact that plants transplanted are always destroyed by cats unless protected, but they never meddle with the plants raised from seed, being only attracted to it when it is in a withering state, or when the peculiar scent of the plant is excited by being bruised in gathering or transplanting. —Grieve 1931.

Ah, Catmint, the lure that will draw all the neighborhood felines to your garden! This hardy perennial has become a favorite with gardeners for its long blooming season, particularly where “deer resistant” plants are desirable.  This was another favorite “backyard potion plant” when I was little, and may have been more than a little bit responsible for the endless stream of outdoor cats through our property!

Yet another member of the mint family (I seem to have a lot of them in this series of posts), Nepeta cataria or catnip, catnep, catswort, fieldbalm,or catrup, as it is sometimes called, produces feeling of euphoria in cats who eat or inhale its scent. (One friend described her pet as being a “mean drunk” when he got into the catnip bottle!) Interestingly enough, it has the opposite effects on human physiology, being calming and even soporific. It can be brewed as a tea, but not with boiling water, and it should be kept covered so that the volatile oils don’t evaporate from the infusion.

Obviously, this is a wonderful herb to use if you’re honoring spirits or gods associated with cats. For a second post in a row, I agree with Cunningham’s associations of Water and Venus for Catnip, because of its calming qualities (2003, 75).  He also states that Catnip can create a psychic bond with one’s feline companion—although it may be just as likely that you’re getting chummy from being high together! Catnip can be an aide to influencing friendships and will attract good spirits to one’s home if grown in the garden (2003, 75).

Beyerl gives multiple uses for catmint, ranging from being “used as a tea to calm a person with troubles” (1984, 76) to a fertility charm (206) to a “Religious Herbe” for Bast and Sekhmet (206); in folk charms, catnip is useful as a purgitive for bad habits when burned with dragon’s blood as an incense, and for shapeshifting magic if your desired form is one of a cat (206); finally, Beyerl associates Catnip with both the Strength card of the Major Arcana (Leo’s card) and with all of the Nines in the Lesser Arcana (276–77).

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2 thoughts on “Nepeta (Catmint)

  1. My catmint brought all the kitties to the yard. No, really. ALL of them. I really should plant some more. Great review of it!

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