Juniper berries by Gypsy Willowmoon

Juniperus Communis Gender - MaleElement - FirePlanet - Jupiter

A hardy, coniferous, evergreen shrub or small tree, 2-4 m (6-13 ft.) tall, of upright or prostrate form with needle - like leaves.

Small spherical fruits, borne of the female plants, are green at first, they take two years to ripen to the blue- black colour we are used to seeing.

Found widely in the northern hemisphere of Europe, Asia & North America on mountain slopes, heaths and moors.

Those grown in the warmer climates of the Mediterranean have sweeter more aromatic berries.

There were numerous Junipers were used medicinally by Native Americans, including J. virginiana, which produces the immensely toxic, red cedar oil. J. sabina has poisonous berries which should not be mistaken for the those of the J. communis.

Juniper was mentioned in Egyptian papyri - It's fragrant wood, needles and berries were used in incense and medicine. Also found in the sarcophagi & even in the hands of a Pharaoh, as though he had intended to use as payment for the ferry man.

Juniper has symbolised protection since biblical times, there are many references to people using Juniper for protection.

In Medieval Europe - a fire of Juniper wood was burned to deter evil spirits and as protection against the plague. It was thought that felling a Juniper tree would bring death to the family responsible within a year.

Parts used are the fruits, which are collected from the wild plants - by beating them from bushes onto ground sheets, to be used fresh, dried or for the distillation of the volatile oil.

Nicholas Culpeper the English botanist, herbalist & physician - recommended it as "a counter-poison" resister of pestilence and excellent against the biting of venomous beasts amongst other uses...

Obviously, Juniper berries are famous as the flavouring used in Gin.

Medicinal uses:

The berries have antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and digestive properties, they are thought to help with rheumatism, gout, arthritis and colic.The berries are a diuretic & diaphoretic, they strengthen and cleanse the stomach & digestive tract.Relieves menstrual cramps, also stimulates menstrual flow. WARNING! The berries ARE NOT given to patients with kidney disease, or to pregnant women as they are a uterine stimulant. Added to pickles, chutneys, sauces, marinades, meat and game dishes, and sauerkraut.

Magical uses:

Used in rites of passage, healing rites and to purify the “sick" room. Very energising and restorative. It was used against The Black Death when it ravaged Europe. Considered a guardian of the threshold between this world and The Other world. Juniper is used to retrieve lost objects. Guards against spells of faintness & weakness. Helps focus and concentration in meditation. Used in Shamanic journeying to the Other World. Excellent herb for communicating with Deity and nature spirits. Guards against theft. Wearing a sprig protects you from accidents & wild animal attacks. Hung at your front door for protection from negative energy, people, ghost and sickness. Used in Exorcisms, to break hexes and curses. Increases male potency when added to love mixtures or amulets. Used for manifestation.

Icelandic folklore tradition, says that - Juniper and Rowan trees could not be grown together because they each create too much heat, causing one or both to burn up. For the same reason it was thought unwise to bring both sprigs into the home at once, unless you wanted your house to burn down. Sources:The Kitchen and Garden Book of Herbs - Jessica Houdret and Joanna

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