Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Catnip / es Katzegraut

One of my friends started a new garden this year, and stray cats in her neighborhood completely trashed the Catnip that she had planted. This matched my first experience with Catnip over a decade ago. I have experimented with a few different options for dealing with this problem:

"Set it and they'll get it; sow and they won't know."

Anecdote from my experience:

When I first started gardening, I planted a Catnip (Nepeta cataria) plant that had a solid season. The next year during Spring cleanup, I uprooted the plant, so it never came back. So, I acquired more plants, and they did well... for about 20 hours. I came out to my backyard and startled the stray cat (who now lives with us strictly indoors) we since have named Mama. She had totally trashed all the Catnip plants that we set. It was a catnip carnage. So I tried setting a plant in a hanging pot. That worked sufficiently, but that summer was brutally, and the soil would dry out rapidly, so the plant withered quickly. I usually have at least one plant in a container each year, though.

The next season I tried a combination of sowing and setting into the ground. I set small plants right at the May 15 threshold. The smaller plants were easier to handle without damaging them than were the larger plants. I planted them in the middle of Daabnessel (Purple Deadnettle) stands that were fading out for the season.

This has worked for me every season. I think the trick is to avoid as much as possible doing any damage to the Catnip plant that would cause the volatile oil to be exposed to open air in a sufficient quantity. Speaking from my experience only, Daabnessel serves as a companion plant in a couple of ways: the texture and appearance of the leaves that branch from the stem are similar to Catnip, but the aroma is far more earthy. Daabnessel grows widely on its own throughout Pennsylvania, so most of us probably do not need to cultivate it; we can just use what is already there. Daabnessel also releases its oils and aroma at least as easily as Catnip, so, if the Catnip is set among the Daabnessel, the Daabnessel aroma might mask the Catnip aroma. They are both Mints and, while Daabnessel can grow rapidly and aggressively, its Spring season is fading out when Catnip's is coming in. Catnip requires space, so, as the plants grow, I pare back the dying Daabnessel.

Setting stakes or dowels around a set Catnip plant won't stop a cat from finding the plant and eating the aerial parts, but it will make it more difficult for the cat roll on the plant or to uproot it, which increases the chances of a set plant surviving.

Another great companion plant for Catnip, also from the Mint family, is Hyssop (Hyssopus officials), which one may often find in white and blue subspecies. The two plants improve the conditions for each other. Hyssop is a critical ingredient for one of my salves, so I appreciate the relationship between the two.

Usually a few volunteer Catnip plants show up in June from last years seeds sowing themselves. Those volunteers often turn up in areas where plants in the Brassica (Mustard) family are growing, which is often for me in garden beds where there are remnants of Pennsylvania Bittercress (Cuckooflower) are still there, but I try to keep the Cuckooflower out of the main garden beds because it just takes over. However, the companion status between Catnip and the Brassicas covers pretty much anything in the Mustard family. Catnip deters many of the pests (particularly the flea beetle) that attack Brassicas. Catnip can also serve as a good protector of plants in the Gourd (Curcurbit) family by deterring pests like the squash beetle.

Setting Catnip among other fragrant plants can increase the likelihood of survival. Lavender and Rosemary have worked sufficiently for me, but the one that seemed to do the single best job was Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium, which is a "true mint"; the distantly related American Pennyroyal is Hedeoma pulegioides and would work, too). I experimented with setting a medium-sized Catnip plant that had to be moved among three Pennyroyal plants. Pennyroyal has a distinct fragrance that is released easily, and it is, to my sense of smell, more volatile than is Catnip. Unfortunately, there is conflicting information out there about whether Pennyroyal is toxic to cats, and mounting evidence leads me to be hypercautious about placing an enticement amid potential poison.

Construction at my house this year resulted in the loss of my sole Rue (Ruta graveolens) plant. Rue is also said to be good deterrent to cats, but the area it was in was too small for Catnip to share the space. This is the weekend I will be acquiring stater plants or sowing seeds, so I may replace the Rue in the same place and then get another plant or two to test its success with protecting Catnip up in the cemetery.

Another option that many choose, for ornamental purposes primarily, is to plant a Catmint (Deitsch: der Katzebalsem; tax; Nepeta spp. other than cataria but especially Nepeta racemosa, Nepeta nepetella and hybrids of the two). Most Catmints won't be attractive to cats, so the plants will typically thrive. However, this also means that it is not "true" Catnip (which is not a hybrid). While I actually like the smell of Catmint, I stick to Catnip because it has more medicinal value to me and because I grow Catnip for my feline overlords. I was given a Catmint plant once (and I am not kidding when I say I dig the aroma of it), but I had to keep it in a container because I the likelihood of it hybridizing with my Catnip plants was way too high.

So this weekend is a great time to sow Catnip seeds directly and to transplant (carefully) seedlings or small plants into the ground.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Urglaawe Live Gebt Acht (#8) Chatcast

Urglaawe Live Gebt Acht is the eighth in our Facebook Live chatroom broadcasts. This weeks topic will be the Nine Sacred Herbs of Urglaawe / Neine Heiliche Gegreider, which are derived from Braucherei. 

Sunday, May 10, 2020
19:00 / 7:00 PM EDT

Presentation File:

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Wonnezeit Night / Day 7: Magnolia


Deitsch: Maagnoli
Genus: Magnolia

Several types of Magnolia grow throughout the Deitscherei, and the Deitsch communities in Virginia, North Carolina, and other southern areas have certainly taken on some of the lore of the South that relates to the tree, such as representing nobility and strength.  In the Southern Diaspora, the flowers have come to represent the very land in which the people live, and white magnolias often are features of bridal bouquets to represent purity. 

Magnolia acuminata
Image source:

Across the Deitsch culture, magnolias will turn up in artwork, often adorning the edges but sometimes also serving a the primary subject of the work.

Purinton Pennsylvania Dutch Honey Jug
Image source:
Medicinally, tea from magnolia bark has long been used as a remedy for anxiety. People chew the bark as an alternative to smoking. Even to this day, some people snuff the warm tea to aid in sinus issues, or they put a poultice of magnolia tea around the site of a toothache. Older uses also include serving as a replacement of quinine in the treatment of malaria.

If you have magnolias on your property, today is an appropriate time to pour libations to the tree in order to encourage strong blooming of the flowers. Folklore states that, if you honor the tree properly, you might get a second round of blooms within the same season. Indeed, some species of magnolia do sometimes bloom twice.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Wonnezeit Night 6: Hawthorn

Deitsch: der Schpellebaam; die Weissdorn (specifially white hawthorns; several variants in spelling)
Genus: Crataegus

Hawthorn trees are common across the Deitscherei as ornamental trees with beautiful, fragrant flowers. During Wonnezeit, the tree is honored in its budding or blooming stage in order increase the yield of flowers and berries. Hawthorn is used as a medicinal herb by traditional Deitsch herbalists.

image from:

In Deitsch folklore, the tree's spirit can sense danger to itself or to one who bears the wood of the tree, and the tree's spirit will intervene to thwart energetic attacks. Hawthorn, therefore, is considered to have proactive defensive properties, which is consistent with some of its traditional medicinal uses.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. 

Contraindication: Patients taking digoxin should avoid taking hawthorn.

Hawthorn has served as a hedgerow plant for Germanic peoples from the ancient times to the present. Earlier uses included the herb as a remedy for kidney and bladder stones, but the primary medicinal use to this day is to aid in keeping a healthy heart and circulatory system. Hawthorn increases blood flow to the heat and can help to restore a normal heartbeat.

The parts used in traditional Deitsch herbalism are the berries (fresh or dried) and the flowering tops (fresh or dried). Most common methods are tinctures or decoctions, though the flowering tops can be ground into pills, too. 

Many studies have supported the versatility of Hawthorn use in addressing many different diseases and conditions. Please see the National Institute of Health's article on the "Effect of Crataegus Usage in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: An Evidence-Based Approach."


Hawthorn image viked from

Monday, May 4, 2020

Wonnezeit Night / Day 5: Crabapple, Apple

Deitsch: der Holsabbel, der Abbel
Genus: Malus

Deitsch "rural legend" says that we are the "Pie People," who have more distinct variations of pie than any other cuisine in the world. Whether this is true or not, I cannot say. However, we really do have a lot of pies counted among our traditional fare.

On Day 3, I could have written an article similar to this one about Pawpaw, of which I have three trees on my cemetery property, but I was otherwise engaged. So, tonight, as Night 5 has begun, I'll write just a bit about the Crabapple and Apple.

Image from Home Depot

Although Crabapple is a particular type of Apple and the whole of the Apple Blossom Blessing description could just have been listed under "Apple." However, the lowly Crabapple has a special place in Deitsch cuisine because the three species of Crabapple that are native to Pennsylvania were the only apples to which the earliest settlers had until trade and orchards became more established. Crabapple pies and Crabapples used as flavoring in meals my reach back to that time of the Colonial Era.

Apples play a large role in Deitsch food production and industry. Even today, many of the larger applesauce producers are Deitsch or stem from Deitsch roots. Apple Butter is a very traditional Deitsch food, and the vast majority of those producers are Deitsch.

Apples are a major component of Urglaawe Erntfescht celebrations in September, and, although Idunna is not known in Deitsch lore, the importance of apples most certainly is. The apples on the tree that cried to be shaken off provided one of the tests that the heroine of "Fraa Holle" passed, and there are many other references to apples' benefit throughout our lore. 

Apples play a large role in traditional Deitsch social practices. "Schnitz parties" were (and still are) multi-family or community events in which people cut the apple harvest to prepare for the processing of the apples for applesauce or apple butter. Similar community harvests were common for other crops as well.

In order for us to enjoy all the foods and social aspects that surround Crabapples and Apples, we have to have a bountiful Apple harvest. To that end, ritual blessings of Apple trees take place throughout the region, frequently during the beginning of May. The original article about the Wonnezeit blessings ( describes a few methods of blessing, but we are still working on taking a few of them and creating some Urglaawe rituals.  Since we have not yet finished that process, we suggest that folks who do not have other plans utilize one of the straw methods:

The more practical (and somewhat common) ways to honor fruit-bearing trees includes straw in the following manners: 1. tying straw around its trunk; 2. strewing straw among is branches (which I think is a contributor to tree garlands); 3. tapping the trunk of the tree, particularly toward the base, with wisps of straw. I have used option 3 during Wonnezeit in the past.

We will continue to write about the Wonnezeit blessings and to work on the rituals, and we'll post them to Urglaawe fora as soon as they are completed.

Hail to the Crabapple! Hail to the Apple!

Linden, Lime, Basswood


During Wonnezeit (sunset April 30 - sunset May 12), many Urglaawer and other Deitsch folks will spend time engaging in traditions that honor and bless the trees, shrubs, and other plants around them. These actions hearken back to old German customs that were intended to encourage robust harvests from the orchards. In Urglaawe, we have a suggested honoring schedule for some trees, but people should be responding to their local flora and environmental conditions. 

Today is the 4th day of Wonnezeit, and we are honoring the Linden tree, also known as Basswood and, in the UK (and in some Deitsch variants but pronounced differently), as Lime. The lore applies across the genus.

American Linden

Deitsch: der Linnebaam

Genus: Tilia

The Linden is, perhaps, one of the more unassuming of our sacred trees. 

This beautiful, spry, and blithe tree has provided comfort and shade as the town center tree in many German villages since at least the 10th century. The relationship between the tree and the Germanic peoples has strengthened and evolved over the centuries. This relationship has carried forth into Deitsch lore, holding the protective and love-related aspects of the tree while also serving as a powerful medicinal herb against epilepsy.

The wood of Linden (Lime and Basswood, too) is prized for carving, and some Deitsch crafters use the wood for statuary, protective charms, or for beautiful artwork. There are references to strips of Linden wood to divine the future by wearing it on the finger or around the wrist while sleeping.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. 

Linden is an antispasmodic and sweat-inducing herb. It can relieve tension, including sinus headaches. It calms the mind and can ease panic attacks. It is often used as a sleep aid. The parts used are primarily the flowers and the bracts, but the seeds are also used traditionally.

Early Deitsch herbalist and author of America's first book of botanical healing, Christopher Sauer, described Linden as having "the capacity to strengthen the head and nerves, to purify the blood, to sweeten all sour, sharp humors, and to still pain in the limbs" (Weaver 197). He also states that the distilled water of linden blossoms can remedy dizziness and, when taken in spoonful doses, prevent convulsions and seizures.  The blossom water can also aid to combat cardialgy, which is a form of acid reflux that can cause bloating of the stomach in children. The mistletoe of Linden is said to behave like the tree itself (Weaver 197),

The juice of the inner bark of Linden infused into plantain water (traditional) or spring water can serve as a salve for burns. In a sympathetic, if not medicinal, manner, the sap that runs from a wound on a Linden tree may be applied to a bald spot on a human to restore hair growth (Weaver 197).

The berries and powdered seeds of Linden can alleviate diarrhea and heartburn. Swallowing Linden seeds (no more than six) is said to be able to stop a nosebleed (Weaver 197).

All of these remedies are still in active use among some traditional Deitsch Hexes and herbalists. Modern herbalism continues also to use 

The tree is traditionally associated with protection in several forms. Planting the tree near the home or barn is believed to protect the buildings from lightning strikes. The same applies to it being planted in pastures to protect cattle. This, of course, brings up an association with Dunner, and, indeed, that association stands, though Oak still is the primary tree associated with Dunner. 

Another protective aspect of Linden, however, is active warning and alters. Dreaming of Linden trees can herald good news or warn of danger, depending on the context of the dream. In fact, of all the trees commonly used or honored in Deitsch lore, Linden has the most lore on dreams.

Dreaming of planting a Linden foretells a coming new love.

Dreaming of a budding Linden tree is an indicator that good news is coming. 

Dreaming of a blooming Linden tree is an indicator that a reversal in bad luck has begun.

Dreaming of lightning striking a Linden is a caution that ill luck or a dangerous event just narrowly missed you, and you should up your wards.

Dreaming of a Linden being cut down is a warning that your love life is in jeopardy.

Dreaming of a Linden withering is an alert that you are vulnerable to sickness or disease.

It also is said to repel baneful entities from the home.

Between the aspects of love and protection, we also see some associations with Frouwa and Freid. 

However, with in the context of the Deitsch culture, the strongest association between the Linden and an individual being would be the human spirit, Gedreier Eckhart. 

Eckhart remains in the service of the goddess Holle, whom he loves as much in death as he did in life. He is Holle's messenger, and he goes ahead of the Parade of Spirits / Wild Hunt to warn the living of the impending fury. Thus, much as Linden informs people in their dreams, Eckhart informs those who are awake. 

Based on the Wonnenacht and the Wonnezeit myth, reference to Gedreier Eckhart sleeping inside a "lone linden tree" on "the Mannheem field" (Hexefeld in Lancaster County), it is more appropriate to have the Linden Blessing earlier in the Wonnezeit than on the 12th. Thus, it has been moved to 4th Night/Day, which is, well, today. 

Hail to the Linden!
Hail to Eckhart!

Updated blog post on the Tree Blessing dates: