Juniper – Boundaries
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 (also referred to as red cedar) 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, known as the Cahokia Woodhenge, 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 was used for smudging by Native Americans to create sacred space before ceremonies by defining boundaries and clearing the air. Because Juniper is highly flammable, it also reminds us to stay cool under pressure.
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, young branches consist of hard, sharp needle-like leaves that drop and create thick beds, while the adult branches are softer with overlapping scale-like leaves. Some juniper species consist of only sharp needles.
In ancient Rome, the Latin word cedrus was used to identify aromatic evergreen trees such as juniper, cedar and citrus. In 1753, Carl Linnaeus began the process of classifying trees by family, genus and species. Cedars were placed in the Pinaceae (pine) family while Junipers were identified as members of the Cupressaceae (cypress) family.
Juniper virginiana is commonly known as eastern red cedar, red juniper and aromatic cedar.
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.
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