By Witchipedia, Herbs

Valerian: Folklore, Healing & Magical Attributes

Written on:


Updated on:


Written by: Morningbird & MS Team

Garden valerian (Valeriana officinalis), or garden heliotrope (no relation to heliotrope) is native to Eastern Europe. It is a pretty plant with long, graceful leaf stalks topped with white or light-colored flower head sometimes tinged with pink or a fleshy color.

A single 3-4 foot tall stem emerges from the root and compound leaves clasp the stem. At the top of the stem one or two flower stalks topped with cymes will appear and bloom from mid to late summer.

The flowers smell sweet, sometimes cloyingly, and the rest of the plant, when crushed, gives off the smell of sweaty socks.

New plants will grow from shoots where they touch the ground.

Other Names:
all-heal, amantilla, capon’s tail, cat’s valerian, fu, garden heliotrope, garden valerian, genicularis, marinella, phu, setwall, St George’s Herb, terdina, theriacardia, van, vandal root, wenderot

History and Folklore

The Latin valere from whence the common name of this plant originated means “to be strong or healthy” and it may refer to the healing applications of the plant or it may refer to its strong odor. Indeed the ancient Greeks called this plant “Phu” (like phew!).

It was believed that this plant had the properties of turning anything bad into good.


Valerian is happy in most situations provided it has fertile, weed-free soil and enjoys partial sun. It is best grown from shoots or by division as seeds do not germinate reliably. You should not allow valerian to dry out.

If you are growing to harvest the root later, cutting off the flowers as they appear is best.

Harvesting & Storage

Harvest valerian roots in autumn of its second or third year after the leaves have died back. Wash them and then dry them quickly and put in the oven at 120 degrees until they are brittle. Store in an airtight container.

Household Use

Cats love the smell of Valerian and find it quite intoxicating. It is useful stuffed inside cat toys.

Healing Attributes

Valerian has a sedative action useful against insomnia, anxiety, and stress. It is also used to treat gastrointestinal pain and irritable bowel.

However, valerian is reported to be a mutagen so it is not recommended for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive.

Magical Use

Valerian root is associated with the planet Jupiter and the element of water. It is also useful in Samhain and Yule celebration rituals.

Valerian root is useful in spells related to ending guilt and negative self-talk and developing self-acceptance. It is also useful in animal magic, especially cat magic and evoking animal spirits.

Also, for turning bad situations around to one’s advantage and finding the positive in a seemingly negative situation.

About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

What Is Missing In Your Life Today That You Deeply Desire?

Is it finding new love or making the existing one healthier than ever? Is it maybe some positivity that would make your life flourish as you've never thought it could? Or is it something unique that your life is missing?

Spellcasting is an art that must NOT be taken carelessly. If you are trying to solve a problem you're facing, you should consider hiring a professional witch that cast spells safely for everyone involved. This way, you know it's being done by someone experienced and knowledgeable, and I'm also always here to answer questions about your casting and provide follow-up at no additional charge.

I've been casting spells for more than a decade and have worked privately with clients from all over the world.

You can expect private sessions, customized spells that I'll create just for you, and free consultations before and after spell casting. You can also read hundreds of different testimonials that you can find at each spell.

Below you'll find spells you can order and what it is this month's special spell casting!

Order Spellcasting