Sacred Juniper

Elder Mountain Dreaming Juniper Tree and Berries 07

Phoenix of Elder Mountain – I collected some Juniper and have been stringing Juniiper beads the last few days, usually the seeds are hard and you can’t get a needle through it or need a tiny drill. I have tried but its so time consuming. This time I found a batch of junipers trees and thought I would give it another try and I must have picked them just before the seed has hardened.

Now I have to wait to see if they get dry and crumbly for the necklaces, which is the other issue I have had, once strung. I have juniper beads in all of my rattles and rattle making from the first time after I met an Apache man my age who we became friends and he took me deep into their lands to pick some from their shaman’s juniper tree. He asked me if I wanted to walk in the desert another two hours to meet his shaman but with my collective work entering its tenth year I was already exhausted just hiking the desert to the tree. I told him next time, I wished I would have had the strength back then to meet the shaman.

I also use juniper in some of my sacred ceremonies and some sacred art work, but mostly in bowls or adding it to my folk smudge. I hang my strings of any types of beads I make, such as Rosehips, Madrone or Juniper etc., in a dark closet, so they can dry and process with the night energy or moistness. I work with elementals of air, fire, earth water and night, day, sun, moon in all things I do as a shaman in seasonal cycles. Night  (dark drying), has seemed to help with most things I string in the way of natural berries into beads, and that helps it keep the moisture in.

Since night (moon) is moist (called fertility outside the context of women or birth or agriculture), and day (sun) is a dry or drying element within natures principles, I just apply the natural element to what even makes things grow and die. Also witch hazel took the stickiness off my hands and needle very easily after I was done. I found a nice article, and added a few of my comments along the way…


Juniper – Originally published at Beltane in 1996 by Rowan:


Juniperus communis is a shrub, typically growing from 4 – 8 feet with the leaf form of needles. Its color ranges from a deep blue, to deep or light green and sometimes a bluish or blue-green tinge depending upon where it grows on earth. In some folk traditions, its called the needle yew. The berries are abundant, and usually take two to three years to fully ripen. When fully ripe, the berries are about the size of a pea and have a wonderful aromatic resiny pine scent.There is some evidence that the juniper may have been one of the first shrubs to grow as the ice sheets retreated 12,000 years ago.

Extremely hardy, juniper was able to establish itself on the emerging tundra and some even have thorns to have given protection from grazing animal to other, less well protected, trees. Hawthorne, a very old shrub tree as well, may have been one of the oldest tree shrubs also.

Juniper in the Kitchen

The Comanche and the Lakota American Indians use the berries of the eastern red cedar (juniper), eating them whole and also crushed as a spice for soups, meats, and stews. The berry is much smaller than that of the common juniper. It’s also sweeter and less harsh, without those “turpentine” qualities.

The berries can be eaten dried, fresh, chopped, or powdered to impart a sharp, peppery flavor to balance the richness of winter game, meats, soups, and stews. Right before using the berries, you can also grind and sprinkle them on meats as a seasoning, or make a juniper sugar for blueberry scones (add extra juniper spice if you’re using foraged eastern red cedar berries, as their flavor is more subtle).

Try chocolate sables with juniper sugar for a treat that’s not too sweet and more on the order of a European-style biscuit cookie. Juniper berries are also a traditional ingredient in making German sauerkraut and they pickle well on their own. On the savory side, the Wong family’s favorite is wintertime cauliflower soup with wild juniper. The pepperiness of the juniper balances the creaminess of the cauliflower exquisitely.

The whitish blush on the outside of juniper berries is wild yeast. You can make a sourdough starter by mixing a cup of flour, three or four berries and 1/4 cup water in a glass jar. Let sit in a warm place, loosely covered, until the mixture begins to form. Remove the berries and use the starter as you would any other sourdough starter. Some people have also brewed beer with the yeast from juniper berries. Whenever using wild yeasts, be wary of contamination by other bacteria. If you notice any discolored patches or growths in your starter, discard it immediately.

*Note:  Their are about 50 species of Juniper shrubs, trees and only a few that are poisonous, the only one I could find that was, is: Juniperus sabina, toxic and consumption of them is inadvisable.

Juniper Tree ©2006 Edith Krueger-Nye.

Juniper Medicinal

Common Benefits of Juniper Berries –
A source of Vitamin C and the mineral Cobalt. Juniper is used to address digestion problems including upset stomach, intestinal gas, heartburn, bloating, and loss of appetite, as well as gastrointestinal infections. It is also used to treat urinary tract infections and kidney and bladder stones. Historically, juniper berries have been used only to treat bladder or kidney issues and infections and were used in tea as a way to disinfect surgeon’s tools. The antiseptic properties of juniper berry helps aid in the removal of waste and acidic toxins from the body.

Improved Digestiom – If heartburn and indigestion are a problem for you, juniper could help ease your discomfort. Juniper is one of a group of herbs referred to as bitters or astringents because of their somewhat bitter flavor. The University of Michigan states one of the main benefits of bitter herbs is their ability to improve digestion. When you eat them, bitters cause saliva, digestive enzymes and stomach acid secretions to increase. This increase in the body fluids needed for digestion helps in the break down of food and, thus, improves digestion.

Diuretic Properties – In addition to improving overall digestion, eating juniper berries may relieve symptoms of bloating and water retention. According to the University of Michigan, juniper is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine output. Diuretics are useful when attempting to combat excess water retention in the body, which is often caused by eating too much sodium or from inflammation and injury. The University notes that because of its diuretic action, juniper may prevent urinary tract infections by helping to flush out toxins and bacteria in the urinary system.
Antimicrobial and Antifungal Properties – According to researchers at Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, juniper berry combats both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria are the cause for E. coli, pneumonia and gonorrhea, while gram-positive bacteria cause Staphylococcus aureus. S. aureus is a common infection that people acquire in hospitals and it is often resistant to antibiotics; you have probably heard it called MRSA. Since pharmaceuticals are often ineffective at treating MRSA, juniper berry could be an effective alternative to help combat infections.
Elder Mountain Dreaming Juniper Tree and Berries 107Role as an Antioxidant – According to a study published in the medical journal “Pharmacology Research,” juniper berries contain high amounts of antioxidants. These compounds help to neutralize free radicals in the body, which eventually lead to the development of diseases like cancer, arthritis and cardiovascular disease. Antioxidants also maintain healthy, youthful skin by fighting wrinkles and lines, aiding in cell regeneration and reducing inflammation.

Juniper essential oil is used in alternative medicine, most commonly aromatherapy and say approximately 100g of berries are required to produce 1 g of oil, which is at its most concentrated just at the time that the berries finally ripen. Harvesting usually takes place around September and October when the berries tend to make the final “push” towards maturity. The oil is relatively light, of a greenish-yellow color and has a balsamic, woody and fresh scent. It tends to evaporate quite easily so must be kept well-stoppered and away from heat.

The Hopi native americans and the Navajo people boil up the green parts of the shrub and consume them to treat stomach disorders. A few drops of the oil may be used cosmetically mixed with distilled or spring water to produce skin care products which, used as a wash or cleanser, are useful for oily skins which are prone to infection. During the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, which is believed to have killed some 20,000,000 people worldwide, a number of hospitals experimented with spraying vaporized essential oils into the atmosphere of flu wards in an attempt to prevent air-borne infection spreading.

Juniper was one of the oils which was found to be particularly effective – the others being lavender and thyme, which have both come back into use more recently as antiseptics and disinfectants. According to Robert Tisserand, juniper twigs and rosemary leaves used to be burned to purify the air as well as being widely used in Slavic (Yugoslavian) folk medicine for treating virtually everything.


Juniper Peasant Traditions

Dreaming Folk Traditions – Some of the old records of divinatory significance of Juniper, say that the appearance of Juniper in dreams has several meanings: “If one of dreams of the Juniper Tree itself, there maybe a sickness that juniper berry or needles may help with. To dream of gathering the berries in winter, denotes prosperity and health.

To dream of the actual berries signifies that the dreamer will be appreciated for something. To a woman who is pregnant, to dream of Juniper foretells the birth of a male child.” The largest body of folklore concerning Juniper comes from Iceland where it was traditionally believed that Juniper and Rowan could not grow together because each creates so much heat that one or other of the trees would be burn up. For sage and folk smudge its a good combination if heat and fire is needed to purify shadow.

It was considered not a good idea to bring sprigs or the wood into the house together unless you particularly wanted your house or area to burn. (I can attest this to be true because when I brought some home to make necklaces and sprigs for my folk smudge, the hill around the lake near here caught on fire that night ~Phoenix).

Another Icelandic belief has it that if you are building a boat, you must either use both juniper and rowan wood or use neither of them in the boat, otherwise it will sink. In Wales it was said that anyone who cut down a juniper tree would be dead within a year, while in Newfoundland it was believed that wolves and bears are repelled by juniper wood and for this reason people who kept stock would ensure that juniper wood was used in building enclosures or stockades in which livestock would be kept.

Also in Newfoundland it is believed that you will always find water under a juniper tree, though this seems to contradict the natural history of juniper which, as mentioned above, generally grows best on limestone or chalk soils which are usually well-drained.

Juniper Mystical and Magic Traditions

Manifestation – for incense intended for use in rituals where manifestation is an important part of the working with charms, prayers, evocations, where lots of smoke is helpful to the working (which adds the power of the air element).

Purification – as an incense or “smudge” in most rituals of purification, including the blessing of houses and other buildings or land, and for dedicating new working areas and temples; for animals; and for purifying people, for example baby-blessing ceremonies, women’s initiations, sweat lodges etc.

Magical uses – From the point of view of witches and occultists, the juniper’s most common use is in the making of incense, for which both the dried berries and needles and the essential oil are used. The berries, having a relatively high oil content, tend to burn with a good deal of smoke and any incense containing them is likely to produce a good fug if that is what appeals to you. Paul Beyerl has little to say about juniper except that it is generally recommended for rituals connected to good health and banishing anything injurious to health, while Smith, gives the main correspondences as being with Jupiter and the element of fire and suggests that appropriate uses are in incenses for retention and strength.

A small bunch of twigs or a few berries in a pouch can also be hung in the rafters of a building or over the lintel of the doorway as a longer-term protection. They are used in rattles by the native americans, especially Navajo and Apache. Juniper in Folklore by F Marian McNeill records that in the Scottish Highlands on New Year’s morning, juniper was burned in both house and byre to purify buildings and inhabitants. This is echoed by the tradition in some parts of Cornwall and Brittany of using juniper wood in the Beltane fires, between which cattle and other livestock were driven as a means of purification.

Burning juniper berries in the house in the three days leading up to Summer, Autumn and Winter Solstice fumigates the house and welcomes new energy. In parts of Czech Republic and Slovakia, juniper berries are used to fumigate homes, churches and stables to expel demons and other unwanted soul roaming shadows. There was also a folk medicine custom in some parts of the South West of England of burning the wood and needles close to a sick person.

This practice is closely allied to the above New Year customs and presumably recognizes that the vaporized oil released into the air had some beneficial purifying effect to dispel infection. Like many plants, there was a definite ritual which had to be followed when pulling or collecting juniper so that the power and essence of the plant was not lost.

In the case of juniper, it had to be pulled up by the roots, the branches made into four bundles and held between the five fingers while intoning the appropriate prayer of thanks when harvesting. Unfortunately versions of pagan and goddess chants were heavily Christianized, but as we reclaim what was taken, we just repaganize or goddessize it:

“I will pull the bounteous yew, and give thanks for the elements, in the name of the ancestral mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. I ask the power of the light of the tree (or great spirit) to keep one safe from drowning, dangers, confusion and shadow when the Juniper is used in sacred ways.”


Juniper Folklore

Grimms’ Fairy Tales, The Juniper Tree: A pregnant woman eats the berries of the juniper tree which grows in the garden of her house, as a result of which she becomes ill and lives just long enough to give birth to a son. She is buried beneath the juniper tree and after a period of mourning the father remarries; in time a daughter is born and the stepmother becomes jealous, seeking to gain all of the father’s wealth for the daughter.

She first physically abuses and then kills her stepson and feeds his flesh in the form of a stew to his father. His half-sister collects his bones and lays them beneath the juniper tree in the garden, below which the boy’s mother had been previously buried.

Amidst a magickal mist and flames the bones are transformed into a bird, who is able through its song, reveal how he was murdered. By singing his song to various enchanted listeners, he is able to gather to himself the things he needs to dispense justice. He is clearly intended to be seen as a magical bird as his plumage is described as being beautiful and he is able to lift aloft a huge millstone which he subsequently drops onto his stepmother and kills her. Once justice has been dealt out to the stepmother, the bird is transforms back into the child and normality is resumed.

The shamanic initiatory elements within this story are unmistakable. The sequence of events may be summed up as: the initial death, the return to the womb, the transformation spirit fires (ie cooking pot), the stripping of the traveler’s flesh from his bones (dismemberment or the shamans wrath); and the consumption of that flesh by the traveler’s life guide/father, the return of the journeyer to the ancestors and the world tree, the shape-shifting and subsequent re-integration and return to the normal world.

The shamanic pattern is so strong that it seems the evil stepmother, was just a late edition corruptions added to this traditional story, which appears to have been strongly changed by the addition of a stereotypical evil woman or witch (projection by the Christian morality who always have to find someone else that is evil besides themselves). I am tempted to believe that this story originally concerned the first steps of youth, as a shamanic initiation of a young man and young woman, or, alternatively, puberty initiatory rites for the girl and boy. The essential magical or transformational elements all takes place around or beneath the eponymous juniper tree.

The image of the bird as a symbol of shamanic magical bird (soul) flight. In the context of The Juniper Tree has a connection to our shamanic past and to shamans themselves. And because water grows under the juniper tree, this correlates to the shamanic World River of the prehistory or grandmothers tradition, than it does the World Tree, because of the eternal evergreen and its moisture and water quality, that is self fulfilling. 

Finnish Juniper:


Three Juniper Trees are native to the Pacific Northwest

western juniper: most common; combination of needle with a white resin dot;
common juniper: grows primarily near treeline at high elevations;
Rocky Mountain juniper: northeastern Oregon; needles don’t have resin dots.

Sources: Photo’s of hand picked Juniper by Phoenix; Tree Juniper Tree ©2006 Edith Krueger-Nye;,;,, Juniper berries by Kate at

The Hawthorn Tree and the Soul of the Goddess


By Phoenix of Elder Mountain – I recently added dried Hawthorn leaves and berries (the berries are also called Pixie Pears) to our smudge which we sell, because there are a few trees on the land and in the local area. I thought I would write up the great benefits that are positive medicinal properties, not only in smudge but other uses and share some folklore.

Hawthorn is one of the many sacred Trees, she is not very big and some are even more like shrubs. She has been honored for thousands of years because of her many benefits as natural medicine. Its considered a Goddess tree because she is very healing to our hearts, both the accumulative and the karmic principles. We humans all experience when love hurts, bringing sorrow or pain to the heart chakra area and if prolonged without emotional healing, it begins to cause physical damage. Hawthorn is an excellent herb for our heart.

When i have a client that has an emotional heart issues but it begins to appear on a physical level, I know the underlying sorrows are mainly about the long journey of love, love that was a loss, or a betrayal and heart related emotional issues that has accumulated over decades and begun to eat away at the actual physical body.

Long ago, body & soul were equally important, but over the last 2,000 years the mental body and physical body have become “over” dominant, and body and soul (which includes the emotional release body) as a working interdependent relationship has been severed. Our proof is so much physical sickness in the world today and not enough emotional healing in direct relief of physical ailments. As a soul healer, dreaming soul folk healer, its been most of my work this lifetime, not only on myself but my clients, students and especially apprentices. The core or root body is the eternal soul as both the human body and the deer body lay in the ground after we leave. Its wise to love our physical body and life because its a gift, but our soul is what allows this gift to even be experienced at reincarnation. Without a soul, there is no rebirth.


Hawthorn, white and odorous
with blossom, framing the quiet
and swaying flowers and
and the hum of Bees.

– F. S. Flint, 1885-1960

Hawthorn for the reluctant Dream

Hawthorn has been proven to help with insomnia and allows one to see the dreams that are more intense by falling asleep. We fall asleep sometimes to do this work which is brought forth from out karmic issues. Everyone including doctors calls these nightmares, and insomnia can be the result (of avoidance). Average insomnia is natural and the soul tells us when “not to sleep” for the dreaming will be too difficult and you need some time off so you stay awake. That is a good sign, and should be honored.

When insomnia becomes a major issue four or five times a week and over a few years, and then sleep apnia sets in, that is not healthy and then, one is completely avoiding the difficulty of their emotional body which can be avoided here, but in dreams the soul comes in and says you cannot avoid it. Thus the creation of medications to sleep then over rides everything and you soul is torn and fragmented more and more each year. This is when nightmares come as a last ditch effort with a double negative dreaming life. I do not recommend Hawthorn for that, but for the occasional insomnia person, whose dreamer is not avoiding their emotional life and dream life.

Hawthorn essence encourages forgiveness even in the most stubborn and prideful persons who wears the heaviest of heart in the waking life, and thus the dreaming life will reflect this. We learn to be vulnerable, to forgive, to slay our own mind and its belief systems when it prevents us from growing emotionally (mature).  The mind convinces we are right, when we might be wrong… that is the shadow side of the ego my friend, if its continuing beyond reason or causes arguments or only triggers anger.

Herbal Medicine for the Physical Body

A medicinal flower, fruit, leaves and berries, all which are all astringent and useful. They are very helpful in curing that Winter sore throat to bring relief. In more serious ailments its a good dilate for the blood stream improving oxygenation and re-energy metabolism in the heart and decreasing lactic acid, basically any physical ailment connected with the heart. Hawthorn berries used in combination with motherwort will also strengthen the heart.

Medicinal Uses for Hawthorn:
Parts used: Flowers, leaves, berries.
Cardiovascular Heart Issues, Stress, Hypertension
Properties: Cordial, Hypotensive. Constituents: tannins,
flavonoids, essential oils, triterpene-carbonic acids
and purine derivatives.

hawthorn.jpgHawthorn is used for diseases of the heart and blood vessels such as congestive heart failure, chest pain, and irregular heartbeat. It is also used to treat both low blood pressure and high blood pressure, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), and high cholesterol. So far, research suggests that hawthorn might be effective in treating congestive heart failure. Some people use hawthorn for digestive system complaints such as indigestion, diarrhea, and stomach pain.

It is also used to reduce anxiety, as a sedative, to increase urine output, and for menstrual problems. Hawthorn is also used to treat tapeworm and other intestinal infections. Some people apply hawthorn to the skin for boils, sores, and ulcers. Hawthorn preparations are used as a wash for sores, itching, and frostbite.  Before taking hawthorn, talk with your a professional and seasoned herbalist, for she or he would want to know if you take any medications. It has major interactions with many prescription medications.

Wind-blown Hawthorn tree.jpg

Folk Rites & Protection – Magic, Magick, Magik

When using Hawthorn in magical rites or healing, add a little hawthorn leaves to your smudge which allows a statement that you are trying to release some emotional pain and release is always done on a full moon.  Hawthorn has magical powers to ward off evil as well, so as long as you are ‘aware or conscious’ enough of your evil, then it will work. It you avoid your own shadow “as in dark and shadow is neither good nor positive” and working on your shadow to heal it, then Hawthorn can assist you.

Hawthorn can be woven into a growing fence called a Hedgerow and protect spiritually the entrances of any entrances or gates to your home. These thorny barriers are very effective and have saved many villages from thieves and highwaymen. This twiggy thorny tree, with its white-stalked flowers and red anthers, also advises caution to passerbyers w ho know that a sacred person lives there and uses Hawthorn to deter the unconscious sides of people. So make a stick and wrap it with the intention to hand it around your driveway or gate.


Hawthorn is what some pagans call a Tree of Enchantment and many feel that the Insect Clans (faeries including butterfly) along with the nessie, dwarfs, domovoi and gnomes souls – are all Hawthorn’s smallest and most dedicated Guardians in the middle worlds behind the scenes. They protect the wells and springs located nearby where hawthorn grow. In a smudge, its beautiful flowers and new leaves dried, mixed together with your white sage, and used with intention or prayers reaches the upper-worlds (heaven) for good fortune and answers to your intention or spell, in any situation, if you also do the karmic work (personal healing work) as well for the yin types who must do that type of work. For yang type of people that is not really required.


If you sit under a Hawthorn on May 1st, the Celtic legends of the Goddess says that you are liable to be whisked away to the faerie worlds in your dreams at night or for the lucky few, a visit to you during the day if you can be still of mind enough. Also at dusk candles are lit on the Hawthorn (May Tree) as it is also known, to welcome Summer although May is technically still the third moon of Spring until the Summer Solstice happens on the equinox, so use common sense today regardless of tradition and their timelines to align with mother earth.

elder mountain hawthorn berries
The Autumn Hawthorn berries here at Elder Mountain

The blooms of the Hawthorn are used for fertility, happiness and good luck in fishing. Wands which are made of the sacred Hawthorn have great power and allow the person some boundary power. Witches and Magical people use Hawthorn for protection, love and marriage in ceremony.  As an Omen, its said that if you take a blossoming branch of Hawthorn inside one’s house it will bring illness to one’s mother, but that is a religious backfiring from the church fathers who no longer wanted any of the old healing rites in community.

Hawthorn for Protection

Hawthorn is for the protection of your soul, for she is not manifested in physical matter and therefor for many who are not seers, unseen, espcially unseen soul shadows of living people. Hawthorn protects your soul from the unseen forces. Try carefully gathering a few thorns from the Hawthorn tree and on a piece of paper, write the name of the person or situation from which you seek protection from. Then wrap it around the thorns and bury this in the ground – if possible near the tree from which the thorns were collected and do it out of love and forgiveness to that person (Sandra Kynes). You can carry a few berries in your pocket or even string them like a beaded necklace and wear them during ceremony or for protection or anytime you feel you need protection from shadows.

There’s also the eventual corruption of the Goddess Tree. Mara Freeman (from writes in her Tree Lore: Hawthorn…

“The hawthorn, was once known simply as ‘May’, is naturally enough the tree most associated with this month in many parts of the British Isles. When we read of medieval knights and ladies riding out ‘a-maying’ on the first morning of May, this refers to the flowering hawthorn boughs they gathered to decorate the halls rather than the month itself. For on this day, according to the Old Style calendar that was in use until the 18th century, the woods and hedges were alight with its glistening white blossoms.

This and similar customs to welcome in the summer flourished in rural places until quite recently. In some villages, mayers would leave a hawthorn branch at every house, singing traditional songs as they went. The seventeenth-century English poet Robert Herrick wrote:

There’s not a budding boy or girl this day,
But is got up and gone to bring in May;
A deal of youth ere this is come
Back, with whitethorn laden home.

The young girls rose at dawn to bathe in dew gathered from hawthorn flowers to ensure their beauty in the coming year, as the old rhyme goes:

The fair maid who, the first of May,
Goes to the fields at break of day
And washes in dew from the Hawthorn tree,
Will ever after handsome be.

May was the month of courtship and love-making after the winter’s cold; and so the Hawthorn is often found linked with love and sacred sex. In ancient Greece the wood was used for the marriage torch; and girls wore Hawthorn crowns at weddings in full bloom. One writer has even gone so far as to suggest that the ‘stale, sweet scent from the trimethylamine the flowers contain, makes them suggestive of sex.’ (Geoffrey Grigson: The Englishman’s Flora, Phoenix House, 1956)

But while hawthorn was a propitious tree, when the church got a hold of it, circumstances changed and the church fathers demanded that it be unlucky. 

Hawthorn blooms and elder-flowers will fill a house with evil powers.

Even today many people will not allow the branches inside the house; for, as one might expect from its association with Beltane, a time when the two worlds meet. The threshold of the Otherworld became feared. The Fairies are a part of the tradition of Hawthorns, and as he sits beneath an ancient thorn known as the Eildon tree. In another old rhyme, the Ballad of Sir Cawline, a lady dares the hero to go to Eldridge Hill where a Hawthorn grows, to await there the faery king.”

Last note….

Many are now able to honor openly with strength our healing ways and practice them again as the Goddess (nature) returns to help us heal during this last cycle of the patriarchal gods. When the Pagan witches healing teachings were forbidden so the new medicines of the Greeks and Romans could dominate, around the 4th century the long and beloved Hawthorn tree was then under science’s control. Even though in small villages and smaller clans, the women still did their teaching, healing and magical healing work with Hawthorn, by the 11th century it was renamed and called the God of War’s Tree (Mars) and thus was followed by the plague in the 13th century.

The seeds were then less for healing, and put more into alcoholic drinks, as the berries were in widespread use and the middle ages phrase “what ails you, drink your troubles away” was then acceptance, but alcohol even with hawthorn berries was not enough to stop the development of broken hearts and with so many heart issues and diseases today, 8 centuries later, the soul has turned dull as the magic of the goddess was gone.

Nicholas Culpeper, in 1653 believed that there was nothing left of the Goddess in the Hawthorn flowers because they still bear the smell and experience of the Plague of London and all over the world, from a thousand years of war. The tree then was regarded as the Crown of Thorns and was crowned in English royalty having won the battle over the old ways, the Oglives, chosen by Henry VII.

Yes we can be 100% physical fit as a sign of health, but the soul isn’t in the physical world, a part of her is within us (the energy body, chakra body or whatever teaching your familiar with, they are all the same, your well spring or life force). The majority of our soul is spread out in the graves of your karmic lifetimes sedimentary past lives. Or what we shamans call, the dreaming tree, which for most has died. Its time to replant them!

Sources: ;,,, Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes ; The Old Woman in the Wood, from The Grimm’s Fairy Tales, illustration by Arthur Rackham ; Hawthorn Tree Vintage Botanical;




Lithuanian Folk Medicine

lithuaniaFolk medicine is a part of Lithuanian traditional culture. It contains information not only about illnesses, but also methods of healing, how to avoid illness, protecting health, healing wounds and care. Folk medicine contains much information about normal body changes – maturity, old age, pregnancy, body anatomy, physiology. Here we will find botanical, pharmacological and mineralogy information.


Ancient Baltic cultures know that Lithuanians understood and understand health to be the second part of the Soul. However, in cases of shock and sudden pain and great agitation it can leave the body making the person weak and weak to disease. A healthy person can become sick when frightened for long periods of time or fear becomes an everyday issue. Lithuanian ancestors tried to explain what is illness and its causes. They knew how to avoid illnesses and how to foretell the possibility of illness. Folk medicine information discerns illnesses as malfunctioning of internal organs, which can be contagious or hereditary and even due to influences of people and events that make you stressful or uncomfortable in life or not feeling respected or cared for.

Some illnesses are caused by water, earth, worms found in the body, from fleas, snakes, frogs or birds who had gotten into the body. It was believed that a person became ill after killing a snake. A snake can enter the body through the mouth while the person is asleep and make him ill. Fleas found on the body will make the person waste away. There is also a belief from ancient times that a person has a headache because his combed out and cut hair is thrown out and is collected by birds that build nests with that hair.

baba lith

Cosmic and atmospheric occurrences were held as sources of illnesses. It was believed that man can become ill from moonlight and that solar and lunar eclipses are injurious to health due to fallout of dangerous mists. Man sleeping under the light of the moon would sleepwalk, climb over fences and even roofs. It was forbidden to awaken a sleepwalker, call to him, for when awakened he could fall and be killed. To keep moonlight out of children’s rooms, a doll was placed in the window.

The belief that wind brings illness remains throughout the country. A vortex can be responsible for very serious and varied illnesses, to people and animals as well. This wind causes dizziness and paralysis. Skin problems come from other causes. It was thought that carbuncles were caused by dog scratches and herpes occurred when crossing fields where horses rolled. Pimples appear from spring water florescence, thus one avoided washing in it.

Ancient beliefs show that Illness was given the image of a supernatural woman. Before the plague of Black Death, beings walking about resembling a women, bareheaded with narrow eyes, dressed all in white. They were seen near peoples’ doors, breaking windows appeared in dreams calling people by their names. Those who answered their calls, died instantly. Illnesses were visualized as driving around in wagons, chariots and troughs. We know today that our soul is this woman all in white and when we begin to have soul loss, the more she has left (selling our soul), the more likely we are sick either this life or others. It accumulates.

Evil souls can turn into dark dogs, mice, bats, and can cause illness in people by being in their dreaming environment, frightening and stealing from them vital life force. They ambushed by hiding in trees, soil and water. Evil souls, who took up residence in man’s body, were the cause of pneumonia, tuberculosis, heart problems, Black Death and cholera. By kissing people at night, they would make them ill.

The sources of most illnesses were varied, sorcery practices, giving and leaving bewitched foods, tying grain with bewitched knots. Different pains start when witches send shots into the body.

Illustration for Latvian folk song collection %22Dainas%22Witches can disturbed peoples’s sleep, also made them ill, frightening them and casting evil eyes. Evil eyes were also injurious to adult health. It was deleterious to step over a person, especially a child, for then he would not grow and would not be well. Lithuanian women were also dream healers. It was believed that if a woman dream of a man caressing and kissing her, it means that she will be caressed by illness. Seeing two moons in a dream means not only illness but also death.

If one heard an owl hooting nearby, a dog howling, both sounds forecast illness. Should a clucking hen be heard, cuckoos bird in a dry tree, a bird hitting a window, all these announce illness or death.


In Lithuanian folk traditions, healing was the duty and right of family elders. All healing information was handed down orally from generation to generation. Members of the household or relatives most often took care of the ill person. Only when one’s own people did not help then one turned for help from herbalists, charmers and sorcerers. Broken bones were set by bone specialists. Birthing was helped by old women. Significant healing methods and charmings were always kept secret and were used on carefully selected people, taking into account their moral and physical characteristics and their ability. A portion of folk medicine information was known and accessible to many society members.

From ancient times, women treated sick people. Women were familiar with many herbs, also knew how to cast lots. Men were charmers, they bled and more often healed dislocated, broken bones and also treated sick animals. Large part of Lithuanian folk medicine consists of information about healing methods. Folk medicine researchers think that Lithuanians knew more than 200 mineral, 500 animal materials, 150 lower and 2000 higher plant raw materials.

Siauliai, Lietuvia

Illnesses were treated with yeast, mushrooms, lichens, mosses and lycopodiums. The most common method in folk medicine healing is using medicinal plants. This method has been in use for centuries. It is said that there is no plant that cannot be used medicinally. Lithuanians had ancient names for most plants and knew which plants to use for particular healings, body, work and house hygiene. It was also established which parts to use, when to pick, how to prepare, use and in what quantities. There were warnings that medicinal plants can cause poisonings. Herbal grasses were collected before noon, for they sleep in the afternoon and their medicinal activity is lower then. Buds were picked very early in spring, before they opened. Plants were collected into baskets, placed in single layers to dry in clean, dry and airy attics. Roots were washed, thick ones were cut up to speed their drying. Dried herbs were placed into linen bags and hung in dry, well-ventilated places. Medicinal plants were collected according to their healing properties and used for teas and cordials. There is a famous magical three nines alcoholic herbal extract used in Lithuanian folk medicine. Ointments were made mixing finely crushed herbs and roots with unsalted animal fats and butter, honey, oils and other materials.

Herbal remedies were drunk 2-3 times per day, on an empty stomach, at bedtime when all is quiet. Fresh herbs were placed directly on the painful spot. The patient was incensed with herbs and was bathed in herbal infusions. Illness had to be removed not only from the inside but also from the outside by washing away. Those suffering from head, joint or rheumatic pains slept on mattresses stuffed with healing herbs. Garlic and horse’s shanks were worn around the neck to protect from contagious illnesses. Analogous plants were used because their color, shape or odor reminded of the particular illness. Blueberries that reminded eye color, were used for eye problems. For jaundice, plants of yellow color were used, carrots, greater celandine and dandelion. Beans resembling kidneys were used for kidney problems. For hemorrhages, yarrow was placed directly on the wound. Comfrey infusion was drunk for broken bones. Periwinkle was used to increase men’s strength.

Animal source drugs, gall, milk, blood, urine, egg shells, ground insects, reptiles and mineral source drugs, stone, rust, salt, metals, chalk were used for healing. Honey and its by products, bee resins, bee’s milk, pollen and bee stings were widely applied.

Goddess Stone Idol with Child, LithuaniaAnother healing product was dried snake, soaked in alcohol. Liver ailments were soothed using animal gall, for lung ailments dog and badger fats were used. Milk from goats, sheep and mares, calf’s liver were taken to strengthen asthenia. Often to treat certain illnesses, animal urine and dung were used. Others would use dried bees soaked in water. To heal from diphtheria a cooked toad was drunk. Sufferers from rheumatic pains either were washed in anthill water or were laid upon an anthill. Separate illnesses were treated with grease from rabbits, badgers and geese. Fresh and oxidized bacon was also used. If after a severe chill there was chest pain, a cloth soaked in salt water or cabbage leaves covered with butter were placed on the chest.

Clay, sand, mud, earth and ashes were the mineral healing products. Often areas that hurt were rubbed with stones, stone slivers and with flint. For headaches the head was rubbed with iron. Open sores in the head were washed with alum or lead water. Silver and mercury protected from spell castings. Water plays an important role in Lithuanian folk medicine. Spring water, window dew, water from a hole in a stone and charmed water were considered healers. Water drawn on Easter Sunday was very healing. Also getting soaked by the first rain in May, meant good growth for hair and for children.

A very popular folk medicine healing place was the bathhouse where seriously ill were steamed, bled, massaged and whipped with brush wood. Women also gave birth in bathhouses. Leeches and glass cups were placed on sore spots. Other healing methods were also used. When chilled a hot brick was placed near the feet; feet were also soaked in salted and ashen hot water. When one ran a high fever, ice was placed near the head.

Fire also played an important role in many healings. Holy candles had magic and healing powers. Surgical and mechanical methods were applied for fractures, sprains and carbuncles. Bleeding would be done by placing leeches or slashing veins. Often several healing methods were used at the same time. A separate healing group is made of casting lots, charming, holy places and plants with magical powers. Illness was chased out in many ways. It was considered as a being, inside or near the body. To remove it one brushed the body or wore smelly garlic to keep the illness away. If frightened by a dog, the fright can be removed by a dog’s bark. A person with high fever was driven about in an empty wagon, so that the fever would be shaken out. Illness could be washed away by bathing at sunrise and sunset on sacred days.
lithuania womanIt was believed that illness can rot and burn, it can be vomited out. Illness was chased away to dry trees, to vacant houses and into bogs. Illness could also be sucked out. Often mothers sucked on ill eyes and spat three times, believing that there would be no more problems. Other illnesses were chased out by squeezing, shaking, blowing, whipping away or knotting. Some rheumatic problems were healed with magic means. If the wrist was hurting, a red yarn was knotted up to 81 knots, then tied around the wrist and remained on the wrist until it fell off. Sometimes fire and smoke were used to chase away illness. Taking magic birches and nettle stalks, illness was flogged. Healing was done using dead body’s bones, teeth and fingers. Fingers of dead body were rubbed on body moles, warts and herpes. It was believed that illness could be left behind at crossroads. Eating a snake, a person obtained the capacity to shed illness just like the snake sheds her skin. Snakes were also used to heal skin problems. It was said that after eating a snake, hair, nails and skin fall off, but after awhile all grow back.

Special powers were given to the wedding sash, which was used to gird the person after a snake bite; also to mother’s wedding band, by placing it on warts, erysipelas and various body moles; also to shirts worn during birthing, placenta and the umbilical cord. The latter two were dried and sprinkled on wounds, swellings and bleedings.

In many places to turn away approaching illness was tried by frightening, duping and deceiving it. It was believed that when there was danger of Black Death or other plagues, spun, warped, wound and woven in one-day linen fabric can protect people from this horror. This linen piece would be laid on the road leading into the village.

Often illness was linked to correct causes. After being frightened by a man or a dog, both their hairs was smoked over the frightened person. It was believed that nerve problems were caused by black evil souls and because of this, healing was accomplished by using black objects, often with black dog or cat, black hen. Healing certain illnesses, the actual behavior was caused by belief in opposite results. For example, preparing medication to stop bleeding, the tree bark was scrapped from bottom to top. To heal constipation the tree was scrapped from top to bottom.

Magic numbers (3, 7, 9, and 27) were very important in healing illnesses. They had to assure that the illness would not recur and not return. Healing herpes, the sore spot was encircled three times. Warts were treated with three peas. Those who stammered were tied up for 3 days in three rounds, containing 27 knots. To heal a terribly frightened person, 7 grains were used.

Incantations – charmings, made up a separate active, magic group. A special magic power was given to the particular spoken word. Christianity influenced incantations and many Christian elements are used.

Dalia Stalauskienė

Incantations were used to heal frights, erysipelas, snake bites, hemorrhages, joint problems, herpes, toothaches, hiccups and other ailments.

Different incantations are bound by special rituals. They are practiced at sunrise or sunset, while staring at the sun or at a full or new moon. Incantations are done on bread, flour, salt, honey, water, whisky and wind. Special words are spoken while pouring candles or lead into water. No breath should be taken while the incantation prayer is repeated, usually 3 or 9 times. Paper cards or ears of grain are also used in incantations and such items are either eaten, tied to parts that are sore, water is drunk or used to wash. Scent is released towards the ill person or is blown 3 times towards him. If the incantation did not help, it was said that the blood of both the charmer and the person charmed did not match or that there was no illness in the person charmed. There is also no help when one does not believe in incantations.

Charmers do not take money for their incantations because this ability is God’s gift to them. They keep their prayers and incantation methods to themselves, so as not to lose their powers. However, the charmer was prepared to pass on his incantation methods on his deathbed, to the youngest or oldest family member.


The ritual places of ancient religion were known to have healing powers. They were located on castle hills, in ancient settlements, village territories or in very remote places. The main elements of ancient ritual sites were forests, water, hills and fire.

With the arrival of Christianity, roadside chapels were built on the ancient ritual sites. Tradition still exists to visit these sites and ask for good health. People pray near springs, offer money and wash painful body parts in the water of the spring. They also pray near trees, hang holy relics on them. Prayers are also said near holy stones where offerings of money, flax and other items are laid.

It was believed that trees are live beings, like people, huge oaks, lindens, mountain ashes were worshipped because people believed in their healing powers and the gifts they give humans. In Nibūdžiai there was a holy pine tree with a branch resembling a hand. Near Šiluva there was another pine tree, with a branch resembling a pipe, whose bark was used to heal various illnesses. Historical sources tell how ill people were put through a hole in a tree formed by two branches, with the belief of total healing. In Nibūdžiai there grew a notched pear tree, near which people came to heal. In Vėliuva sick children were brought to heal under a tree whose branches had grown into a circle.

Historical sources tell of an ancient oak tree, which grew in East Prussia in the 16th and 17th centuries. Lithuanians came from faraway to heal physically handicapped, paralysis, bad eyes, hand and feet. They would climb on ladders, push painful parts of the body into tree openings or they would push the entire body through the tree opening and would walk 3 times around the oak tree. Each ill person hung an offering on the tree branches. Women offered their headdress; sashes and men offered money. Trees with healing powers were found throughout Lithuania.

Ancient vertical bee hives made of logs

It is noted in Lithuanian folk traditions that sterile or ill women tied beautifully embroidered aprons on special trees asking for children and health. Upon arrival of Christianity, such aprons were tied on wayside crosses.

Trees had other magic powers and everyone was aware of them. In Lithuania tradition exists on Palm Sunday to flog each other with osier branches, saying “ it is not I who is flogging you, the palm is flogging you, Easter is one week away, be healthy like a fish”, or they would say, “ illness out, health in”. There was tradition of shutting up illness in a tree. People suffering from epilepsy or from many warts, tied many knots on strings, went to the woods, drilled a hole in a large tree, stuffed the knotted string into the hole and closed the hole with a cork and ran away, not looking back with the hope of getting well.

There were wax statues depicting an ill person or any other part of his body. These statues were sacrificed under trees or in holy places. Even though Catholic priests were against this ancient tradition, they were not able to erase it. They finally allowed these statues to be offered in churches to Jesus and Mary, later they were hung in churches near pictures of saints.

Now Lithuanian folk medicine is researched thoroughly. All information is collected by complex ethnographic expeditions and is published. The folk medicine card index can be located at the History Institute, the ethnographic section of the Academy of Science. Since 1992, Lithuanian Folk Culture Center organizes expeditions, which collect, decipher and systemize all folk medicine information. Elements of folklore are investigated [K.Grigas, A.Jonynas], the meaning of folk medicine to medical studies and practice [E.Kanopka, E.Šimkūnaitė, K.Vaitkevičius, A.Vileišis], its view of psychic illnesses [J.Šarkus], aspects of dentistry [E.Prailgauskaitė], information about cancer [V.Kutorga], surgery [B.Siaurusaitis], compiling bibliography of folk medicine [E.Grineckaitė].

Parts of folk medicine are used in medical studies, while botanists, ethnographers and linguists investigate folk medicine information.

Written by Rita Balkutė translated by Giedrė Ambrozaitienė
Photos – Illustration for Latvian folk song collection “Dainas”, Ancient vertical bee hives made of logs, forests of Siauliai, Lietuvia, Charms of Lithuania, Dalia Stalauskienė