The Sacred Nature of Cedar (retranslated 08,2006)
Drawing by Tosh Bibb

Many trees are special but Cedar is the most special of all. In the long ago First Times when people were new and learning their places and responsibilities, they and animals, too, discovered many things . Here is one story:

    Just after creation, the "Smooth Shell Days" and after the time an Old Woman had become a woodpecker (which is quite an interesting Turtle story, too), One Above came into Creation to see how things were coming along. Creator was curious to know if all the newly created and recently instructed nations were getting along. The Great Creator took on physical form to better experience all that had been created. First, One Above visited with the Serpent Nations. Serpents all saw One Above as the greatest of the Horned Serpents. Serpents followed Creator in swift and rapid courses through fields and woods. It was really exciting for Serpents to follow One Above. One by one, Creator, visited all Nations of Beings. The final visit One Above made to the Deer Nation who saw Creator as the largest, swiftest of Deer. They ran after One Above, leaping and prancing with great joy. Each nation of Beings was visited by One Above. After all this, Creator found that tiredness had come to visit. "So," One Above thought, "now that We are here visiting the Beings and being like them, We are feeling tiredness, too."
    One Above spotted a very nice little Tree nearby. "How pleasant the shade," thought Creator. One Above sat down in the lush grass and sage under the little pleasant Tree, leaned back into it and was soon fast asleep--quite comfortable, too.
    When One Above does anything, it is done the best. One Above is the wakest of all waking things and the deepest sleeper of all sleeping things. As One Above sat in the pleasant grasses under the little green Tree, sleep wrapped itself tight around Creator who slept and slept and kept on sleeping. As Sun went through its courses of day and night, day and night, animals came, took turns, stood guard and kept a watch over Creator; all the nations of people and other Beings, passed by quietly so as not to disturb One Above the Creator.
    However, there was in a far off country, another power--a Being of unpleasant heart and chaotic ways. That Being from the "Other World," hearing that One Above was fast asleep decided to come cause some general mischief and maybe harm One Above--not that any could harm Creator. Well, this "Chaotic One" thought that perhaps it could do so. The Warrior Woodpecker, flying high from tree to tree across open fields, became aware of the chaos coming to disturb Creator.
    What to do, what shall I do? The Warrior Woodpecker knew his responsibility. He had been given a job in earlier times, had been charged with warning of danger. The Warrior Woodpecker flew swiftly to the little green Tree and pecked very, very hard. However, One Above continued to sleep very, very deeply. The Woodpecker pecked ever harder and harder. Soon, the Woodpecker was drumming so hard against the Tree that it 'roused all creation with the noise. All able Beings came to see what was the matter, the source of this great noise--the cause of all this racket. Once there, they saw the little Woodpecker drumming very hard on the Tree. Finally, One Above awakened and quickly learned the cause of the racket that had disturbed the deep sleep.
    Now wide awake, and with the offered help of all the other Beings, One Above quickly put the chaotic one back into the place of darkness and disorder from whence it had come. That poor Woodpecker, who at first had only a little red on its skin, had pecked the Tree so hard that its head had become bloody all over. Some of its blood had dropped down on its children standing around on the ground. We see today that many small woodpeckers have little drops of red on their heads from their father's blood. The Warrior Woodpeckers' heads are dark red all over where their ancestor bloodied his entire head drumming hard against the little pleasant green Tree.
    All during the time One Above slept and breathed deeply, the little Tree, a Cedar, that sheltered and shaded One Above, kept its branches arched out to protect Creator from too much Sun, too much Cold, or too much Wind. In so doing, the little Cedar had gently captured and absorbed all the breath of One Above--not wanting it to escape in case One Above should need that breath again. The grasses and sages, too, had grown fragrant in the presence of Creator.
    Upon awakening, One Above said to the Cedar, "You, faithful watcher, shall keep this Breath with you always that all may know that you are special; you were trusted and you watched over Our sleep. All shall always be aware of you. Your fragrant smell will always tell others how close you are to Creator." The Sweetgrass and Sage also shared the gift of Creator's breath.
    Now you know why the Warrior Woodpecker has a red head and many smaller woodpecker species have the little red dot; now you know story of the fragrant Cedar Tree and its "breath" of One Above. And, when Cedar, Sage or Sweetgrass is burned as incense, that fragrant sacred Breath returns the Thanksgiving prayers of all Beings to One Above. It was at a later time that sacred tobacco first appeared among the nations and its smoke join this cleansing prayful trilogy. This is how these things came to be. This is what the Elders told us.

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