Saturday, November 21, 2015

Carpe Diem #864 Juniper

[...] As empty as the steppes: I understood now why Esther had decided to come here. It was precisely because everything was empty that the wind brought with it new things, noises I had never heard, people with whom I had never spoken. I recovered my old enthusiasm, because I had freed myself from my personal history; I had destroyed the acomodador and discovered that I was a man capable of blessing others, just as the nomads and shamans of the steppes blessed their fellows. I had discovered that I was much better and much more capable than I myself had thought; age only slows down those who never had the courage to walk at their own pace. [...] (fragment: The Zahir - Paulo Coelho)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I can not remember why I have chosen this prompt for today, juniper. I think it's because of the fruits which are used to make strong sake-like wine or gin, but there is something else with juniper ... it has magical powers according to the shamans of the Altai Mountains.

For countless generations, Altai people herded their livestock across what is now known as the Golden Mountains of Altai UNESCO’s World Heritage Site, in Russia’s southern Siberia. They endured many obstacles–from Mongol hordes to Soviet oppression.  Today, they face the new challenge–climate change. Torrential downpours, freezing and thawing splinter the rock and destroy petroglyphs, the millennia-old repository of Altai people’s culture. Permafrost that preserved the remains of Altai ancestors in burial grounds for thousands of years is melting. And unpredictable snowstorms, winter rains, thawing and freezing, decimate herds of sheep and horses on which Altai people still rely heavily.
Local shamans are convinced that only through restoring their reverential relationship with the sacred and spiritual realms can Altai people and the rest of the world restore the balance of the Earth and its climate.
Credits: Shaman and Healer Maria (photo © Gleb Raygorodetsky - NGC)

One of those local shamans is Maria Amanchina, a traditional Altai shaman and healer, she lights a pipe as she sends her prayers with the smoke to the Sky, the Land, and the Spirit of Altai. The “tobacco” in her pipe are needles of the juniper. It is said that the smoke of juniper can clear peoples minds from evil and can restore the health of Mother Nature.

This is closer to Tengrism and shamanism than we were earlier in this month ... we are now entering the last phase of our journey ... the spiritual path of the shaman ...

holy smoke rises
blesses the steppes - the wind
spirit of Altai

© Chèvrefeuille

behind clouds
the cry of an eagle -
holy smokes rises

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 24th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our next episode, another beautiful haiku by our featured haiku poetess Ese, later on.


  1. Enjoyed that one very much. A strange kind of magic happened in my second offering: it seemed to write itself quickly, formed from your second haiku.

  2. Good morning all,
    I gave you a safer option rather than the gin related shrub :-)