Cedar, History and the Imagination

Solomon's palace and the Temple in Israel were constructed largely out of the Cedars of Lebanon. 

The Japanese practice the ancient "forest-bathing" (森林浴 shin-rin-yoku). Resting in the Forest to breath the fragrance of the Japanese Cedar (Sugi). 

The Northwest Indians called the Western Red Cedar "Life-giver" and used the tree for Totem poles, with which they recorded their stories and buried their dead.  They used Cedar for clothing, built dwellings and canoes out of it and held it equally sacred to the Salmon. "The People of the Cedar."

Many tribes throughout North America believed the Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus Virginiana) and Western Juniper (Juniperus Occidentalis) was sacred.  It was commmonly used to ward off ghost sickness, i.e. depression, grief and bereavement.   It was used dermalogically for its anti-microbial properties.  On the darker side, the Druids pickled the heads of their enemies in juniper oil from Irish Juniper.  Juniperus Communis.

Cypress family Cupressaceae:

The Cedar and Juniper species are all taxonomical members of Cupressaceae. The Italian Cypress is known as “The Mournful Tree”, (scientific name: Cupressus sempervirens) has been associated with death and mourning for the past 2,000 years. Planted in Islamic and European cemeteries, the tree’s legend goes back to ancient Greek and Roman mythology, when a man named Cyparissus accidentally killed his stag and begged the gods to punish him with eternal grief. Granting his wish, the gods turned him into a cypress tree, which would forever stand and mourn the dead.

Abraham Lincoln was buried in a Eastern Red Cedar Casket.  This coffin was reintured in 1901 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.  Cedar Caskets are especially in demand in Japan and China where they have been the preferred for centuries.  Western Red Cedar was a major export to China one-hundred

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