All cultures have traditional stories, whose role is to educate the young and pass down history and knowledge and of course by listening to them we can all learn many good ideas to meditate upon and so perhaps improve ourselves.
Today I heard a very good story from my brother Native Spirit, about the how the cedar tree came to be. He said he believed it was Mohawk, and this is how it goes – or at least let me see if I can remember it right =)
There was once a man whose name was Cedar, and who spent all his life doing good for his people. When the time came for him to die, he said his prayers and in them asked Creator to look upon him with benevolence as he had always done his best to help his people. In the place where he lay down to die, grew a beautiful tree, the cedar. And if you cut the cedar crosswise, you will see that the center is generally in the shape of a heart – in honor of the heart of that good man.
This got me to hunting over the Web and I found other stories about the cedar tree and it’s origins and healing and cleansing properties, but the following one has a meaning very similar to the one tld by Native Spirit, except perhaps more form a woman’s point of view…
THE STORY OF CEDAR TREE
In the beginning when the Earth was first created each plant and animal needed a name and a place to live. The story of Cedar Medicine (Giizhik) has many versions, part of this story was told at spiritual gatherings and in the sweat lodges. Giizhik is called a women’s medicine because it is a purifier. It can be used to make tea and the smoke from cedar is used to cleanse the air and balance energy. When Giizhik is used regularly good things are supposed to happen. During very stressful times or during the four days of a funeral, cedar baths are used to help with grieving.
The lesson we learn from the story of the Cedar Tree is about obedience and being a good student. As the plants and trees were being asked where they wanted to live each choose a spot that they thought most favorable for themselves. When cedar was asked where she would like to live she said “where ever you would like me to grow.” It didn’t take long for all the good spots to be gone, the places with good soil and plenty of sun. The trees named pine, oak and maple all wanted to be on the high ground so their roots wouldn’t get soaked, they also wanted to have a good view. Great Spirit asked cedar once again where she would like to be planted, and once again cedar said, “where ever you would like to put me.” None of the other trees wanted to be in the swamp land and before too long that was the only place left for the cedar to go. Great Spirit told cedar, that because she was obedient and trusting that the wetlands would be the best place to go and that she would be gifted.
It didn’t take long for the other trees to start laughing at cedar for choosing the swamp, they said her feet were always going to be wet. They didn’t know that the roots of the cedar were very different. In time additional cedar trees began to grow and soon the whole area was filled with ruggedly shaped cedar. There was a little river that began to run real close and the river was filled with trout, pike and all kinds of fish and in the spring the river was even visited by smelt. The flying insects liked the cool shade of the cedar and decided to make this their home. This brought all the birds who loved to eat the bugs and enjoy the thick cedar branches for building their homes. Soon the squirrel came to live in the cedar and not long after they were joined by Rabbit (Waboose) who thought the wetlands a perfect place to hide and make a home. When the cold winter came the big thick cedars sheltered the animals from the cold. The branches broke the wind and the snow would hang on them and not even touch the ground. The cedar were very happy because they had so many friends, the birds, the beaver, the rabbit, and even the beautiful white tail deer would call the “Cedar Kingdom” home.
As the cedar looked around at the maples, oak, and the birch, she could see that they were cold, they didn’t have any leaves and the animals and birds hardly came around them during the winter. The cedar tree remembered that the Great Spirit said she would be gifted and the cedar understood. Cedar is represented by the direction of the south and the summer season, the deer is the medicine helper and is the medicine of love and compassion.
Information provided by Darryl Barking Dog-Ojibwa
Eagle Condor Institute Co-Founder
Selflessness and service to others bring rewards that are far greater in value than gold… Each of us has the capacity to do for our brother or sister.
Love to all of you,
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