Burning Juniper: The Desert Elder

juniper tree

Juniper is often considered the desert’s elder. This is because juniper typically has a hardened and gnarly tree trunk which makes it capable of withstanding storms, strong winds, and many of nature’s other adversaries. Due to this, many Juniper trees inhabit particular regions of the desert and live quite a while. They are often much older then many of their surrounding counterparts.

Burning juniper has long-been of cultural significance and because of the aforementioned characteristics, the Juniper tree is often thought as a protector, which protects it’s surrounding area.

Ancient Stories Concerning Juniper Trees

The Holy Bible

There are a couple famous stories concerning juniper from the Holy Bible. In this story, during their escape to Egypt, Jesus and his family hid under a juniper tree when King Herod’s soldiers pursued them.

Similarly, in the Old Testament, it was none other then a juniper tree which safeguarded Elijah from Queen Jezebel before he crossed the desert to Mount Sinai.

Native Americans & Tibetans

Native Americans and Tibetans have both used juniper for millennia, both as an incense, as well as a medicine. It was thought that burning juniper incense could fend off many of the viruses and plagues which were quite common at the time. Since then, juniper has been considered a symbol of strength and longevity within these cultures.

Juniper Incense

As mentioned in the previous section, juniper has been used as an incense since ancient times. The scent of burning juniper was considered both mentally stimulating and physically relaxing. Additionally, the smoke of juniper was thought to open the nasal passages and allow for an easier breath.

Juniper can be incorporated into many different styles of incense and it would be common to find juniper scented incense sticks, cones, coils, as well as loose material. Even burning the plant itself on charcoal is sure to bring an entrancing scent to it’s surrounding atmosphere.

The Scent of Burning Juniper

The scent of burning juniper is often described using the following terms: Piney, woody, earthy, and balsamic.

Juniper in Traditional Medicine.

Old trees have long been symbolic of wisdom. Juniper is no different. In addition to such symbology, it was also thought to hold health benefits.

For example, juniper was traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine for digestive disorders and psychological imbalances. It is also thought to help clear one’s sinuses. Today, juniper is still recommended as a traditional folk remedy.

Wisdom of the Juniper Tree

No matter your reason for burning juniper, keep in mind it’s spiritual nature and never forget that which you are experiencing. Let juniper, the desert’s elder, protect you as well.

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