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Indigenous Education

Indigenous Education

Healing with Cedar at Home

March 25, 2020

Miyâhkasikan (Cree)
Giizhik (Ojibwe)
Cedar

Cedar, along with tobacco, sage and sweet grass, is one of four sacred medicines recognized in many Indigenous communities for ceremony, healing, and wellness. These four medicines can be used in ceremony separately, or in any combination, especially if there is a certain goal to be achieved. In particular, cedar is used for healing, restoring balance and protection against disease. Not only does cedar have anti-inflammatory effects, improves respiratory organs and decontaminates the air, the aroma is comforting and calming.

There are many ways to reap the benefits of cedar; you can smudge with cedar, wear cedar in your shoes, make cedar tea, or simply boil cedar on your stove to release its properties.

Wellness Advisor Donna Glover, Kha-niso ostigonit migisew (the Eagle with two heads), Wapiski muskwa (White Bear Clan), has provided the steps to smudge with cedar and make cedar tea below.

Ceremonial: Smudging

When we smudge, we send our intentions through smoke to the spirit world. As part of our journey in this human experience, we continue to build new relationships while severing old ones. At times, we recognize the need to clear the space of unwanted spirits. We also recognize there are times to build relationships in life with our spirit, spirit helpers, and the spirit world.

Dried cedar is placed in a bowl, or other safe container, and ignited. The flame is then extinguished, allowing the cedar to smolder. The smoke that rises is then fanned using one’s hand or a feather. There is no right or wrong way to smudge, you can do what feels natural to you. Move the smoke from the top of your head, over your eyes, mouth, ears, hearts and bodies. Focus on the sensation of the smoke while centering your mind and calming your spirit.

How to Make Cedar Tea

  • Harvest fresh green leaves, only gathering as much as you need.
  • Remove any seeds or brown pieces.
  • Rinse cedar to remove dirt particles.
  • Allow time to dry, at least four days.
  • Crush leaves using a mortar and pestle.
  • Boil water in a pot or kettle.
  • Pour hot water into tea pot and add crushed cedar leaves.
  • Allow time for the leaves to soak until the water becomes golden brown.
  • Strain off the cedar leaves and skim the tea to remove the scum layer.

Warning: cedar contains Thujone, which can be toxic to the human body. It is recommended that a person drink no more than three cups of cedar tea per week. It should not be used during pregnancy, breastfeeding or with kidney weakness. 

Benefits: High is Vitamin C. The body requires vitamin C to efficiently use carbohydrates, fats, and protein. It binds and neutralizes the tissue-damaging effects of free radicals. It is an essential co-factor for the formation of collagen, the body’s major building protein, and is essential to the proper functioning of all internal organs.