Monday, February 01, 2021

Juniper & Cleansing Bowl

My middle daughter made this beautiful bowl in ceramics and I thought it looked like it needed to be a cleansing bowl. Our home has recently been a place of some sickness, myself having just recovered from Covid-19 and my oldest currently fighting it. Personally, I have experienced some minor trauma in my frightening car accident this past weekend. So this afternoon it seemed like the new bowl and situation called for a cleansing ritual.

I choose Juniper because of its history. It has been used as an incense in religious ceremonies going all the way back to Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, and Druidic practices.

I choose Juniper because in the era of the black death my Germanic ancestors would have hung juniper in the homes, burning it to ward off rats from entering their homes protecting their families from the plague.

I choose Juniper because of its agricultural usage to my anglo-Saxon ancestors. Historically, juniper would be allowed to overtake fields that have been farmed fallow. Unlike here in the Americas where juniper is often viewed as a noxious plant, to this ancestral culture it was known for its ability to heal, renew, and revitalize the land so it could again be used for producing the food and resources farming allows.

I choose Juniper because of its connection to one of my favorite stories from the Christian canon. In 1 Kings 19, the queen has ordered the assassination of the prophet Elijah. So Elijah finds himself wanted by the oppressive power of the state is on the run. Alone, hunted, and exhausted Elijah collapses under a Juniper tree and begs his God to let him die peacefully. To use Campbell's language in the hero's journey, this is Elijah's abyss. Rather than permitting Elijah to die physically, he is instead met with hospitality, rest, and an invitation for an audience with the Lord himself. In meeting with his God Elijah experiences his rebirth and the apotheosis in his God's command to, "Go back the way you came." The lesson of the story is that our healing work will always return us to be agents of healing in the very places of our past fear and pain.

I choose Juniper for this cleansing ritual because it reminds me that I am a protector, a healer, and an agent of the work of love in the universe.