Cedar – March Herbal Focus
This month I would like to share the Wisdom of my friend Cedar.
Cedar is a very powerful, beautiful medicine. In the Indigenous Tribes across North America, cedar is highly valued for its healing properties. On the medicine wheel, cedar is in the west. It is used to open us to healing our past, forgiving ourselves for “mistakes” and opening to new energies and experiences.
The cedar I am familiar with is classified as white cedar. Some people also use red cedar (which is another name for a species of juniper) and that is not the cedar I am referring to.
Many Indigenous peoples have used cedar twigs to make a nourishing soup, or dried and ground the inner bark to be used as a flour. The leaves are very high in vitamin C and are a good prevention for scurvy (vitamin C deficiency). There is much debate whether the cedar referred to by Jaques Cartier being shared by the Natives was white cedar or white pine, as both have leaves with very high vitamin C content.
It was told to me by the Native women who are sharing their wisdom with me that cedar is to be drunk as tea to heal and nourish our bodies. Bathing with cedar cleanses the body, strengthens the organs and the joints. Many symptoms have had successful treatment by cedar; bronchitis and other respiratory problems, cystitis in children, and to increase blood circulation. It is helpful for rheumatoid arthritis and swollen feet or ankles (edema).
Harvesting your own cedar is important, and if you cannot find a cedar tree in your area, an unlikely possibility but nevertheless possible, purchase some, or trade for some, that has been lovingly harvested and respect and gratitude given to the Creator and the tree’s spirit.
To harvest cedar and express gratitude to the tree’s spirit, approach the tree with love in your heart, when you are in a good mood. Notice that the leaves on the very tips of the branches are a much brighter, lighter shade of green. These leaves are the youngest, and should not be harvested. Express your gratitude to the Creator for the gift of finding this tree, and for the gift you are about to receive. Thank the tree for sharing it’s medicine with you, and giving of its life to strengthen yours. Sprinkling a small amount of tobacco is a good method of expressing gratitude, and giving a gift for a gift, and seals the exchange.
Gently select twig of darker green, older leaves, and carefully cut it off the branch. Only take what you need, and use all that you take. For tea, 3 or 4 pieces about 4 inches long will do a pot. For a bath, you will need more depending on the size of the area or person being bathed. For hair treatment, make as tea (recipes to follow). Say thank you to the tree again, kiss or gently caress the place where you cut the twig, to help the tree heal the wound. Take your cedar home and use immediately, or dry it in the sun for use as sacred smudge.
To Drink (Tisane)
Taking the small handful of twigs you harvested in the method described above, place them in a pot with clean water. Use 6-8 cups of water for each small handful of Cedar you have gathered. If you would like, add a small handful of berries to the pot as well, and bring to a rolling boil. Allow this to simmer on low heat until the steam smells nice and strongly of cedar. Remove from heat and serve.
If wanting to make a rinse for the hair to cleanse and strengthen it, make as tea, omitting the berries, and allow to cool to body temperature. Pour over your hair and allow it to sit on the hair for 9 minutes. Rinse.
If preparing a cedar bath, use your intuition and gather enough cedar to generously cover the bottom of a large stock pot. Add water to fill the pot, and boil over high heat for at least 9 minutes. Allow it to cool to body temperature, or add to a bathtub and wash your whole body with the liquid and a cloth. Do not use soap at all for this process. If soaking an afflicted area, like hands or feet, fill a basin with the concentrated infusion and soak for up to 45 minutes.
May you have wonderful healing experiences with my friend Cedar. Many blessings!