Healing with the “tree of life”

By Carol Tozer

CEDAR: “Arbour vitae or tree of life”

  Many moons ago, an elderly neighborhood gentleman would tell me tales of cedar – the healer. As moons go by I try to remember some of his tales. Perhaps this helped direct me to learn more about trees, roots and plants and their medicines. Many Native American tribes living in the Pacific Northwest used the cedar wood, branches, leaves and roots to provide many of their needs, from shelter to cooking to medicine. Cedar had a spiritual significance to many of those tribes and was used in ritual, traditional healing ways. Many cultures have their own methods for making herbal mixtures for smudging in the hope of bringing physical, spiritual and emotional balance to their people.

  Ancient Egyptians were the first people known to have used cedar tree oil; they would soak leaves in the oil for mummification, and they would also use it to repel everything from mice to insects. During plague epidemics in Europe people burned cedar trees to prevent disease.

  Other uses in Europe included hanging bundles of cedar on the curtains to discourage all types of moths (This works! I have tried it). It was used to cure wounds, to make hair stronger and prevent hair loss. Other claims suggest that it has a sedative affect and can be used for insomnia and anxiety in general. Cedar oil is known  to create an atmosphere of comfort and a feeling of security, and has a very grounding affect on us. Cedar can be dried, crushed to a powder and used in incense mixtures. Cedar walls emit a positive energy; the air in a cedar home is always clean. All products made from cedar wood possess a positive, beneficial energy.

Some interesting hints for using cedar:

Northern Ontario countryside is the ideal place to find a cedar tree.

Relaxing cedar bath sachet

  • Clip a branch (near the earth but away from a dog’s reach)
  • Cut the cedar into small pieces, about one handful.
  • Add about five drops of cedar oil. Allow to sit in a bowl overnight. Wrap in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with a string. Place in the bath or use for footbath.

Feel the healing properties.

Cedar bath

Add cedar branches to a warm bath, or foot soak.

Cedar salt glow

  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 1 cup of cedar leaf ground or chopped
  • 5 drops of cedar oil

Mix and place in jar.  Use about three tablespoons to a bath.

*Cedar is cleansing, with antimicrobial and antifungal activities.  It stimulates the immune system, increasing circulation, making it great for colds. Please use cedar oil diluted and topically.

*Not recommended during pregnancy

Oh yes, that neighbour, well one of the things that he used cedar for, he would chew a piece before going into church on Sunday to ensure fresh breath throughout the morning service. Many times I would watch him make bundles to keep those pests away.

Have some fun with The Tree of Life.

Carol Tozer is a master herbalist in Northern Ontario.

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