I wanted to share in more detail about the Cedar Dream Ceremony we’ll be doing every night this week.
The type of “cedar” that I was taught to use in ceremony is actually not a true cedar, it’s juniper called Thuja occidentalis, or a flat cedar. A true arborvitae is not the type of cedar that I have been exposed to using in ceremony much, if at all. The flat cedar has a sweet smell when burned and is used for many purposes; typically to help people remember the goodness in life, especially during grief or loss, sometimes to bless gifts before giving them, but mostly it works to help carry our prayers to the heavens, the intentions we hold in our hearts.
For this week, we are instructed to use cedar and a bowl or shell to do a simple dream ritual, burning the plant with our intention for good dreams or something specific and positive while moving the bowl or shell with smoke clockwise. I would tend to always start in the East, as I was taught, but considering we are doing night work, you may feel differently. Clockwise is the direction of life, again, these are the things I was taught and there are other ways. I do understand why my teachers stick to these ways, though, it has brought me to living a beautiful and good life. If we had done other things I’m not sure how things would have unfolded, so I do respect their teachings like that.
Below is an example of the type of cedar (juniper) you want to use and a different type of juniper that does not smell as sweet and isn’t considered great for ceremonial purposes, again that I have been taught, there’s plenty I don’t know!
Here’s a tip – it might seem less desirable if the smudge bundle or cedar is older it is but actually it’s better for smudging because it is drier, it will burn longer and more consistently than fresh cedar. Fresh cedar smells wonderful, though, and my friends out west do not burn it in a smudge fashion but cut up in pieces on a cast iron skillet when they want to pray fast. If it’s fresh it just won’t burn like a standard smudge stick unless there are other items in there to help keep it flammable.
Flat cedar, called as such because it grows in a way that is flat. It’s clear to see when you compare it with others.