The Spirit Keeper of the West, Mudjekeewis, Great Grizzly Bear is represented by the Cedar tree. Cedar is an evergreen tree that grows everywhere. It is a strong medicine as it houses, nurtures, guards, and protects many of earth's children. Both the inner bark and boughs are used for Ceremony.
Cedar is one of the 4 Sacred Medicines along with Tobacco, Sage and Sweetgrass. Cedar is a spiritual kin to Sage and
Sweetgrass. It is used similarly as Sage, as it cleanses and purifies, especially for sickness. Its smoke has a particularly pleasant pungent odor. In old times Cedar bark was also used in the creation of houses, canoes, implements, clothing, and ceremonial items.
Cedar is a protection medicine used also to take away negativity and to invite positivity to you or your space. Negativity in our thinking can be the way we think about others such as envy and jealousy. Or it may be how we think about ourselves such as I am no good, or not not attractive enough. Or it may be how we think about life sometimes such as why am I here or what is my purpose. Sometimes we carry negativity in our bodies. Sometimes we carry negativity in our Spirit because we can no longer see the path that we are supposed to be walking, so we lose our hope or our faith. Inhaling Cedar essential oil can also be used to cleanse and uplift out spirits.
When children or babies can't sleep at night, place some Cedar leaves under their bed or under their pillow to help them feel safe and secure. If adults or children have a flu or cold, make a tea by taking a small handful of Cedar leaves to boil it in some water for 10-15 minutes. When mixed with Sage for a tea, it cleans the body of all infections. Cedar baths are also very healing. When Cedar mixed with Tobacco is put in the Fire, it crackles. This is said to call the attention of the Spirits to the offering that is being made. Cedar tea and Cedar baths can be very healing.
I had an Elder visit me one time. He burned Cedar leaves on a hot, iron skillet every morning to purify himself and open the way for goodness to come that day. He prayed with Tobacco at night and used Cedar in the morning. It was a good to burn Cedar in an iron skillet and to carry it into the sick room where someone was lying to encourage healing.
Often Cedar leaves are used in a Sweat Lodge (Stone People's Lodge) to bless the Stone People when they enter the lodge. It helps with healing in this Ceremony for our sicknesses, our hurts and our pains. It protects others in the lodge from the release of this negativity. Cedar leaves are used in Sweat Lodge and fasting Ceremonies for protection as Cedar branches cover the floor of many Sweat Lodges and some people make a circle of Cedar to be in when they are fasting. It is a guardian Spirit and chases away the bad spirits.
At Sun Dance Ceremonies, the dancer will dance on a bed of Cedar leaves for protection. They dance to let go of their sicknesses, hurts and pains. Cedar assists in this process. Cedar wood is often made into the hoops of our drums, our rattles, our flutes, the stems of our pipes, the paddles and bows of our canoes, our Ceremonial headdresses, to heat our homes including the building supplies of our homes.
Cedar wood is often burned in a sacred Fire. However, keep in mind that it burns very hot. Also, due to its moisture content, it can be dangerous when it sparks and flies out from the fire. Be attentive. Cedar leaves and wood burns with a distinctive, beautiful aroma that seems to call us to a space we call home.
Since it is believed, in many cultures, that the plants we use to burn and purify ourselves provides us with access to their soul and power, it is essential that we respectively ask their permission before gathering these plants. Take only what we need without damaging the plant and give thanks for what we took. If you did not pick these plants yourself, know that someone else did that for you and that you could still give thanks for the life of those plants and the people who did pick them.
- by Wind Daughter Panther Wind Woman