More Blessings from the Cedar Tree
Last week, I shared Bear Heart’s story of how the cedar tree is a gift from the Creator. Today’s post shares more teachings about cedar.
The history of cedar
The cedar tree has been revered for it’s spiritual qualities by many cultures, and is frequently referenced in the Bible: it was chosen to build the temple of God in Jerusalem [1 Kings 6:9-20].
- The wood is not attacked by insects, has no knots and has remarkable longevity: the cedar forests of Lebanon often had a lifespan of over 2,000 years.
- Cedar wood was used to build the doors of sacred temples in ancient cultures and burned for purification.
- The branches grow wide and parallel to the ground. 19th Century author John Worcester compared the limbs of a cedar tree to the process of attaining successively higher natural and spiritual knowledge. I view it as climbing a ladder bringing me closer to the Great Spirit.
- Cedar trees are protective in the way the boughs droop down sheltering the trunk of the tree, and its size and longevity symbolize strength.
- And, of course, it stays green year-round, a reminder to those living in winter climates that the green will always return.
Honoring evergreen trees is the origin of the holiday practice of wreaths and Christmas trees – the wreaths and trees were actually prayers and affirmations that the green would return in the spring.
Some metaphysical book stores sell small bags of cedar, but it’s much more gratifying and traditional to pick it in a sacred manner yourself, by first making an offering of tobacco.
When approaching cedar trees, do so with humility and gratitude, selecting one as the grandfather or grandmother tree. Make an offering of tobacco to it, asking permission to take a small branch from one of the other trees. [If there is only one cedar tree, make your offering to it].
Juniper is in the cedar family and may be used if you have no access to cedar.
The tobacco offering is because there must always be an exchange, an offering, a gift of gratitude.
Your prayer for harvesting any herb should include the following elements, expressed in your own words from your heart:
- Ask permission to take just a little cedar, explaining that you will use it for prayer.
- Ask that the tree will not feel pain when you cut a small branch from it.
- Ask for protection and abundance for the green nation
- Express your gratitude for the gifts cedar brings.
- Then leave your tobacco offering and cut off a small branch of cedar.
When you get home, let it dry in a shady place that is not too hot. Heat or direct sun will damage the essential oils that give cedar [or any herb] its distinctive aroma. Once dry, place some cedar needles on a burning coal so that it smokes.
These instructions apply to any herbs you pick.
People usually think of sage when they are going to “smudge” – meaning burning herbs so that the smoke will purify. When a person or object is smudged with sage, the smoke clears away any negativity in the energy field.
- Burning cedar is often used for smudging or blessing, as an alternative to sage.
- When an elder wants to bless or heal someone, a feather is used to fan cedar or sage smoke over them.
- During ceremony, if a gift is to be given, it is first blessed with cedar smoke.
- Spiritual instruments such as the Sacred Pipe, drums and feathers are passed through cedar smoke for purification before use.
- Cedar smoke is an excellent way to purify crystals.
- If there has been an illness or upset in a home, burning cedar will help clear away the negative energy.
- If you regularly build fires in your fireplace, offer cedar to the fire as a blessing and honoring. It will help you build a relationship with fire, one of the most powerful and magical of the elements.
For any situation for which you would use sage, you can also use cedar.
Praying with cedar
A lovely, traditional way of offering prayers for someone is to let them know, “I’m going to burn cedar for you.” It tells them you are going to pray for them with the smoke, which will carry your prayers up to the Creator.
In the winter, I place cedar on coals from my fireplace each morning when I pray.
Other times of the year, when I don’t have a fire going, I keep the cedar in small branches and light the branch. It doesn’t smoke for long, but it burns long enough to pray.
We actually need nothing in order to pray, but burning cedar helps us to focus our prayers. And anything that can help us focus is a good thing.
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Molly Larkin is the co-author of the international best-seller “The Wind Is My Mother; The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman.” She is passionate about helping people live life to their fullest potential through her classes, podcast and blog at www.MollyLarkin.com