Catnip has quite an aroma to it, similar in scent to both Pennyroyal and Mint. Because of its powerful and unusual smell, catnip has a strange fascination for cats, who will gnaw it down to the nubs (and roll around on top of it) at any opportunity. According to Maud Grieve's A Modern Herbal, there is a saying about catnip:If you set it, the cats will eat it,
If you sow it, the cats don't know it.
In addition to being a total treat for your furry friends, catnip has a lot of medical benefits too. It's a fairly mild herb, and in the Ozark mountains, there's a tradition of giving colicky babies a light catnip tea to calm them down. Interestingly, Michel Laguerre says in Afro-Caribbean Folk Medicine that there is a similar use in Haiti, where catnip is given to infants to purify the blood.
If you give your feline a bit of catnip, some people believe it will help strengthen the psychic bond between you, in addition to getting your cat as high as a kite. Although typically used in pet-related workings, catnip is also an herb of love, and can be included in sachets or incense. In some magical traditions, it is an acceptable substitute for workings involving members of the mint family.
Other Names: Catmint, Cat's Wort, Nepeta
Deity Connection: Bast, Sekhmet