Joseph Anderson

Tree Calendar: Cedar Season

I maintain a personal tree calendar (you can find out more about this wonderful practice in the excellent book Whispers in the Woods). I have chosen twelve trees and plants with personal meaning and arranged them around the seasonal calendar (four for the solstices and equinoxes, eight for the six-week periods preceding and following these dates).


The tree in my calendar for the season between Imbolc (February 2) and the spring equinox is Cedar. I composed a chant with a verse for each tree; the verse for Cedar is: 


O Cedar of the Winter

Teach me to heal like you do

 There are huge Western Red Cedar trees everywhere in my neighborhood: down the hill in Carkeek Park, northeast of me at Bitter Lake, and here and there scattered in front yards, back yards and alleys. For the first people who lived here these trees provided all kinds of material and spiritual support, including fibrous bark for weaving, boughs for sleeping on, pungent aroma to waken the consciousness. Cedar remains a powerful presence and still offers healing to us if our consciousness is awake to it.


The chant above come to me about a year ago, but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that one of its meanings became clear to me. For a long time, as I chanted the whole calendar every day, I wondered, “How can I heal like the cedar tree? How does it heal and how can I emulate that?” This winter, as I have been recovering from a head injury, I realized that Cedar heals by being itself, expressing its own true nature. So how do I heal? By being myself, expressing my own true nature. So: stay here inside my skin. Fight off the voice of the Adversary when it appears, the one who tells me I’m not good enough. Trust my native inner wisdom, expressed through the naturalness of my own being. Here’s a chant that is one of my prayers to help combat these unhelpful voices of negativity: 


How can I

As myself

Do the work I have to do?

Healing can only come from being who I am. So there is a lesser work and a greater work: The lesser work is figuring out what to do, what techniques to use, what the conceptual framework of healing is. The greater work is in coming into deeper awareness of my own being. That is how I learn to heal as Cedar does.


On Whidbey Island yesterday I approached the magnificent huge cedar tree on Julie-Charette Nunn’s land, one that has given me many blessings and visions the past few years. With the above in mind, this chant came to me:


O dark one, o ancient one

I call forth from your crevices your healing power

O dark one, o ancient one

I call forth from my crevices my healing power

O dark one, o ancient one