Juniper

Juniper – Boundaries – Seven of Evergreens (Wands)

Genus: Juniperus – Family: Cupressaceae

The spirit of juniper reminds us of the importance of creating boundaries and standing our ground. Junipers tend to “claim” the land they stand on. Their dense structure and tenacity makes them natural wind barriers during dust and snowstorms.

Several North American tribes used eastern juniper poles to mark the boundaries of agreed upon hunting territories. The Mississippi mound builder culture used Virginia juniper to create timber circles referred to as woodhenges. Large posts were placed to form an outer ring with a central post in the middle. This structure served as an astronomical observatory that could track the equinoxes and solstices as well as the moon and stars. Its design marked the four directions and was used for festivals and sacred ceremonies. These wooden circles date from 900 – 1100 CE.

The smoke of burning juniper leaves was used for smudging by Native Americans to clear and create sacred space before ceremonies by defining boundaries and clearing the air. Juniper is highly flammable, reminding us to stay cool under pressure.

Lonesome tree

Junipers are a tenacious genus with 50-67 species that cover almost the entire globe. The highest known juniper forest is found at an altitude of 16,000 feet in southeastern Tibet and the northern Himalayas. The juniper spirit is one of protector. Their young branches consist of hard, sharp needle-like leaves that drop and create thick needle beds, while the adult branches are softer with overlapping scale-like leaves. Some juniper species consist of only sharp needles.

Europeans, who misidentified them as cedars, confused the soft mature branches of Juniper virginiana with arborvitaes. Juniper virginiana is known as eastern redcedar, red juniper and aromatic cedar. Junipers, arborvitaes and cypress trees all belong the Cupressaceae family. Cedar trees, which are not native to North America, belong to the Pinaceae family.

Juniper “berries” are used as a flavoring ingredient in the production of “spirits” also known as Gin, an alcoholic drink.

Message: Now is a time to recheck our boundaries as we shift from struggling to acceptance. The juniper spirit urges us to use discipline and discernment when making boundary decisions. This speaks to the importance of doing our own inner shadow work so our boundaries are cleared of fear. Creating boundaries is often a practice of honoring our personal space as well as others. Creating space is a conscious process that is invisible.

Challenge: Feeling violated or defenseless. Sensing that we are caught in a triangle as victim, bully or rescuer. Step out of the triangle of disempowerment by defining personal boundaries.