A small whimsical note
came from friend this morning. She said, “I wish I had a ranch house
somewhere to drape with the cedar. It is a crazy stirring, but it happens
The bit of melancholy
came through to me from over the miles. I know we at our age are like
disabled old tanks or maybe dozers with broken blades. Through every
situation imaginable we pushed ahead and over. No matter how shining the
circumstance the paint on our bodies is scarred and our mind set, drifts.
The mention of cedar
makes my thoughts go back to what I've studied and what I know about the
Cedar to the American
Indian is sacred. The word Mah ah Zee or Green in the snow or life in the
snow, more accurately and to go farther, it means literally, life amidst
death. The reason I know the meanings is because it was my Ponca Uncle's
Indian name. His mother gave it to him while he was in the heat of battle
at the Island of Iowa Jima in the second World War. She wanted him to
return from the place where he was where some soldiers told about it later
as too horrific to write. Without a doubt, it was the ultimate location
for death. The soldiers were said to have become so embroiled in killing
even their own men would not approach them but instead took food and
supplies to dump it at a distance from battle crazed men. One delivery man
was supposed to divide up a load of beer when he found himself looking
down the barrel of a soldier's rifle.
“Let the dump up and
slide it ALL off, right here.” the soldier told the driver. Needless to
say, this is what he did.
So the mother's
prayer went to Great Spirit, “Please allow Mah-Ah-Zee, my son, return to
To another time back
into the mystic legend of the distance past is told a story about the
mighty hunter in the sky, Orion, or some say was actually Nimrod, that
mighty hunter mentioned in the Bible. His mother, who he had married,
planted a cedar by his grave to symbolize his eternal life.
Druids in their
knowledge of herbs brought cedar into the house for cleansing the air.
Their belief and worship of the spirits of the trees going back so far,
maybe even to the Baal worshipers.
Moses commanded the
people to clean the houses of people who had leprosy with Cedar. Today's
scientists use the esters in it to treat that disease.
Like good people
every where folks can't seem to be just logical about something rather it
has to become sealed in duty through the use of superstition, tradition or
religon and it got to the point Jeremiah in the Bible had to severely
admonish the people as written in Jeremiah 10.
We Poncas use it to
"smoke off" after a death. With prayer a righteous person takes cedar on a
hot pan through-out the house. The purpose is told that it is to send the
evil spirits off and away from the premises. I've often wondered about
these evil spirits. Are they the size of a microbe and as deadly?
Before a Ponca
gathering a smudge is made with cedar smoke and all line up to stand
before it and pull the smoke over their bodies with their hands. I've
always thought this had some good cleansing effect on a person and was the
reason for peaceful gatherings. At any rate, as we leave, I love the smell
in the car from our clothes that have absorbed the cedar smoke.
So my dear friend,
for as little as we know about anything I would say that your “crazy
stirring,” are not so, “off the wall.” at all. And that brings another
matter to mind.
“How much of what has
happened over the lengthy trek through eternity is somehow or another
sealed into our genetic code somehow?
Why do we remember and
feel curious about something as inanimate and plain as a cedar branch to
the point of being sentimental about it?
“Well, don't ask me. I
don't know. What do I know about anything?” My thinking races on to
another mystery that needs research.”