JUNIPER Juniperus communis
According to some archaeologists Juniper has been our closest magical plant ally since Neolithic times. Juniper was already mentioned in the ancient Egyptian papyri; its fragrant wood, needles and berries were used as incense and medicine. Juniper is said to have the power to ward off evil. No demons or devils could withstand its power, not even the demons of disease: fumigating a space with Juniper will kill off germs and purify the air in a sick room. When the Black Death ravaged Europe, Juniper was one of the most promising and effective of protectors. Yet, it was also considered a guardian of the threshold between this world and the next. Like Yew, it was thought to nurture the souls of the dead until they were ready to reincarnate. For this reason they were often planted on graves. In Egypt they also played a role in the mysteries of the dead. Juniper berries were found in the sarcophagi and even in the hand of one of the pharaohs, as if he was going to pay the ferry man with these seeds. Juniper was deeply revered by the country folk that people would tip their hats in passing, as a sign of respect. All sorts of magical powers were ascribed to it: helping to retrieve lost objects, protection against venomous beasts, and guarding against spells of dizziness and weakness, to name but a few. Some of these old folk uses certainly are based on empirical evidence. Juniper indeed repels biting bugs and its stimulating properties can 'preserve the spirit' and prevent dizziness and weakness. But today, it is another kind of 'spirit preservation' Juniper is best known for: it is the unique flavour ingredient of Gin. Juniper is not frequently encountered in the kitchen these days, though previously it was a common spice, particularly for greasy meats. Juniper oil should not be used during pregnancy. Avoid in cases of acute kidney inflammation.
Juniper is particularly useful for the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism, neuralgia and muscle aches and pains. In aromatherapy skin care it can be added to products for dermatitis and cellulites or lotions for problem skin, especially if there is an inflammatory component. It may be used to stimulate menstrual flow and relieve menstrual cramping and other PMT related symptoms. It is a specific for urinary problems, though it should be avoided in cases of acute kidney inflammation. Juniper is very energizing and restoring and can help to cope with nervous exhaustion, mental fatigue, angst and other stressful conditions. Use with caution. Avoid during pregnancy.
Juniper is a purification plant par excellence. It can be used to cleanse ritual spaces or magical tools. It is strongly protective and dispels negative energies and entities. It is often used in healing rites and to purify the sick room. During meditation it helps focussing and concentration. It has also been associated with prophecy and divination. Juniper can be used in rites of passage and as a protector on shamanic journeys to the otherworld. It is an excellent oil for getting in touch with the deities and spirits of nature.
A pungent, fresh, balsamic, somewhat fruity scent. Blends well with Vetivert, Cedarwood, Cypress, Elemi, Clary Sage, Pine, Lavender, Labdanum, Rosemary, Benzoin, Orange and Geranium.