A to Z Herbarium: Juniper
Protection, Anti-theft, Love, Exorcism, Health
Juniper has been used throughout Europe as a protective herb. Wearing a sprig of the plant will protect against accidents and attacks by wild animals. It can be hung at the door to protect against evil forces and people. It also guards against theft, ghosts, and sickness.
Burning juniper will help psychic powers, break hexes and curses, as well as drive off snakes and aid in exorcism rites. It was also used as one of the earliest incenses by Mediterranean Witches and Celtic Druids. Juniper can be added to love mixtures, and the berries are believed to increase male potency.
Juniper can be used to treat a number of stomach and digestion ailments. The berries are also known to create uterine contractions and were once used to aid in labor. Similarly, these properties also made it possible to abort unwanted pregnancies. In the Middle Ages, giving birth “under the savin tree” (an older name for juniper) was a euphemism for juniper-induced miscarriage.
Juniper is also widely used in brewery. Historically, the berries have been used to flavor both gin and whiskey. In Sweden—dating back to the Viking Age and prior to the industrial revolution—juniper was used to brew a weak, everyday ale (meaning even the children drank it). Such ale was considered a poor man’s drink, whereas ale brewed with malt was of higher quality and reserved for special occasions.
Cunningham’s Encylopedia of Magical Herbs, Scott Cunningham, 2016, Llewellyn Publications