Wednesday, 25 January 2012
Magickal Herbs - The Uses of Juniper
The traditional, herbal and magical uses of Juniper are varied.
The Juniper shrub, or Juniperus communis, grows freely throughout the Northern Hemisphere. It's typically found in places where lime is present in the soil. Folk names for Juniper include enebro, gemeiner wachholder, geneva, gin berry, ginepro and gin plant.
Juniper berries take several years to ripen, so it is not unusual to see a tree covered in berries of differing colours and ripeness. Only the blue berries are harvested which are slightly dried which changes their colour to the black that we commonly see.
Traditional Uses of Juniper
Juniper berries are probably best known for their use in making gin. In fact, the distinctive flavour of gin is from the Juniper berries. Some recipes for making Sauerkraut include juniper berries in with the cabbage. Most commercial Juniper berries seem to be harvested for making essential oil, or a berry extract called ‘Roob’ or Rob of Juniper.
Different varieties of Juniper are well known as traditional Japanese Bonsai trees, usually the dwarf Juniperus procumbens varieties, as they have a spreading, cascading habit.
Ancient Greeks burned Juniper to fight and prevent epidemics, including the plague, this continued even into the 19th Century when French hospitals burned it in an attempt to prevent the spread of smallpox.
In the Middle Ages, Juniper was believed to ward off demons, disease and venomous creatures, and it was planted around homes to protect them against the evil eye and to keep snakes away.
Herbal Medicinal Uses of Juniper
Juniper oil is used for various complaints involving the digestive system, and illnesses of the kidney and bladder, although it should be avoided by those with kidney disease. The berries, when chewed, sweeten the breath and help to heal infected gums.
In aromatherapy, Juniper oil is used as to detoxify the body and is often used in massage blends for this reason.
Before taking any herb internally, be sure that it is correctly identified first and check with a qualified medical herbalist.
Magical Uses of Juniper
Juniper is a masculine herb, under the element of Fire, and the influence of Jupiter. It is considered to be a protective herb, and specifically guards against theft. Wearing a sprig of Juniper is believed to protect the wearer from accidents and wild animal attacks. Hung at your door, it's said to protect you and your home from evil forces, evil people, ghosts and sickness.
Juniper has been used as incense for a very long time, and used in exorcisms, to help psychic powers, to break hexes and curses and to attract good, healthy energies.
When added to love mixtures, or amulets, it is believed to increase male potency. Dried Juniper berries can be strung together like beads for a simple amulet or charm.
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham, Second Edition, Llewellyn Publications, Minnesota, 2002.
Wylundt’s Book of Incense by Steven R Smith, Samuel Weiser, Inc, Maine, 1996.
The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Beyerl, Phoenix Publishing Co, Washington, 1996.
Botanical.com – retrieved 10 December 2010.