The cedar tree has been revered for its spiritual significance for thousands of years. Its wood was used for the doors of sacred temples and burned in cleansing ceremonies for purification. Cedar has a long history of use in indigenous sweat lodge ceremonies and the tree was thought to house important gods and to be an entrance to higher spiritual realms.
Cedar is first and foremost a medicine of protection. It is often used to cleanse a home when first moving in, inviting unwanted spirits to leave and protecting a person, place or object from unwanted influences. Cedar is often used in the sweat lodge ceremony. A few pinches are thrown on the red-hot rocks, immediately sparking into a yellow glow and releasing their aroma. The smoke of burning cedar is said to attract the good spirits and eliminate negative energies.
The cedar is also one of the four sacred plants of the indigenous American Medicine Wheel and represents the Southern direction. The other plants contained in the Medicine Wheel are: White Sage representing the West, Sweetgrass representing the North, and Tobacco representing the East.
How to Smudge: Any action undertaken with intention and belief can become a potent ritual, so consider your intention before you smudge and hold it clearly in your mind. Smudging should be done with care, with reverence and in an attitude of love.
A candle flame is recommended to light the smudge stick as it may take a little time to get the stick smoking. Once the stick is alight with flame, blow it out so that the smudge stick is smoldering, not burning - be careful not to blow ash everywhere.
Alternately, you can break up the leaves into small pieces and place them in a heat proof container and burn the leaves alone. A common dish to use is an abalone shell.
You can smudge yourself, a room or an entire building. Fan the smoke and allow it to swirl around the area intended. Use on areas where you feel there are blockages or where there has been or is physical, emotional, or spiritual pain. Imagine the smoke lifting away all the negative thoughts, emotions and energies that have attached themselves to you and your environment. If you are feeling depressed, for instance, you could visualize the smoke carrying away all your feelings of depression.
Smudging is often used to cleanse crystals for healing. Simply pass the crystal through the smoke and focus positive intention into the crystal.