Cedar is looked to as a powerful ally of divine light and has been considered sacred since time immemorial and in ancient spiritual literature, cedar is often associated with divinity and divine wisdom.
Cedar trees have long been associated with a variety of different meanings. For many cultures, the cedar tree is a symbol of new beginnings.
The cedar is also often associated with protection and purification rituals, as the strong scent of the tree is thought to ward off negative energy. In addition, the cedar is known for its endurance and longevity, making it a symbol of immortality. Cedar trees are also sometimes seen as a symbol of love, as their strong roots can represent the lasting power of love.
As you can see, there are many different meanings associated with the cedar tree.
This article will focus on the “true cedars” of the Cedrus genus, which includes Atlas, Cyprus, Deodar, and Lebanon cedars and their symbolism and meanings.
Wisdom and strength, new beginnings, protection, love, immortality
Ea, Enki (ancient Mesopotamian)
When Lebanon obtained independence from France on September 1st, 1920, they selected the tricolore with a green cedar on a white strip as their national flag. This is about the ancient forests that once thrived there—a time before humans ruthlessly deforested the area.
About Cedar Tree
Cedars are large, evergreen trees that produce cones and have needle-like leaves. Male cedar cones are typically ovoid and stand erect; female cedar cones tend to be smaller with closely overlapping scales.
Each scale usually has two winged seeds. Cedars take anywhere from two to three years to fully mature. There are only four known species of true cedars in existence.
The Atlas cedar (C. atlantica), which is native to North Africa, grows bluish-green leaves that are less than 1in (2.5cm) long and can reach up to 100ft (30m) in height. The cones on the tree are also 3in (7.5cm) large, which distinguishes it from other types of cedar trees.
C. brevifolia is found only in Cyprus and has shorter cones in comparison but otherwise looks similar to the Atlas Cedar. Finally, deodar (C. deodara), hailing from the Himalayas can grow up to 150 ft tall with drooping branchlets and 2-inch wide leaves with 5 inch long cones.
The cedar of Lebanon (C. libani) averages around 100ft in dense forests, though individual trees do not grow as tall; Instead, they have much wider branches and a typically horizontally layered crown. The leaves are about 1in long and can be either dark or bright green. The cones produced by the tree average around 4in long.
The oldest cedars of Lebanon are believed to be 1,000 years old, but Atlas and deodar cedars have verifiably reached 600 years.
Cedar wood has been coveted by many cultures for centuries. The best quality cedar was found in the mountains of Lebanon near the Phoenician coast; and dating back to 4000 BCE, they were exported to various empires, such as Mesopotamia and Egypt.
For multiple reasons, cedar wood was seen as better than other conifers. Some of these advantages include its immunity to rot and insects (making it quite durable), as well as a lovely aromatic scent.
Additionally, cedars have an incredibly straight grain, making them easy to work with. While cypress and juniper trees also boast appealing reddish-brown tones in their scented wood, none compare to the stature of the grand cedar tree.
Nowadays, you’ll see shorter versions of these majestic trees dotting parks and gardens because they don’t have competitors looming over them in dense forests like before.
Cedar wood was primarily used in the construction of ships, temples, and palaces because of its high quality and durability. Snefru, Pharaoh of the fourth dynasty (c.2600 BCE), imported cedar to make doors for his palace. For centuries following him, people continued to use cedar as it became a symbol of wealth and status.
The wise King Solomon used cedar wood to construct the renowned Temple of Jerusalem. The roof beams, wall panelling, and altar in the shrine where the Ark of Covenant rested were all made from this durable wood.
Cutting down cedar trees was looked down upon beginning in ancient history. As an example, a wealthy man living in Smyrna (modern-day Izmir, Turkey) lost part of his riches around 200 CE because he cut down some sacred cedars and had to pay the consequences.
The oil from the deodar tree is used in Ayurveda, an ancient form of medicine. Aromatherapy utilizes the tree’s essence to help with various issues such as dermatitis and nervous tension.
The cedar of Lebanon helps soften resistance towards change, makes it easier to understand messages from our subconscious and calms thoughts.
Folklore, Myth and Symbol of Cedar Tree
The cedar tree was worshipped as the World Tree at the beginning of civilization around 5000 BCE by people living in Sumer’s first city-states. The cedar was also seen as the home of Ea, who was worshipped as the god of wisdom and principal deity by these cultures.
Enki, also known as Ea, was the Lord of Earth and is accredited with creating humankind. Furthermore, he blessed civilization by gifting various aspects such as technology, arts and moral codes. His name was even inscribed on the very core of a sacred tree which meant “House of wisdom, strength and abundance”.
According to Sumerian beliefs, the woods of cedar trees were home to the god of wisdom and creation.
According to ancient texts, the cedar was home to the god of wisdom and thus became a key tree for oracles and prophecy. Babylonian tablets tell us about initiation rites during which “the Oracle of Heaven and Earth” is delivered under “the cedar tree, the beloved of great gods”.
Later on, the Chaldeans (from the ninth to sixth centuries BCE) kept this revere alive by using some of its green branches in ceremonies meant to restore strength to life forces into tired bodies.
The ancients chose cedar not only because it was physically strong, but also because they believed its divinity would bestow strength upon them. The physical attributes of the tree-its size, durability and grain saw as reflections of the divine presence inside the tree.
If the highest god lived in this cedar, it was most appropriate to ask these trees for their bodies to be used as panelling in the temple. This would make the innermost shrine resemble being inside of the sacred tree.
Furthermore, it would be deeply meaningful to have doors leading into rooms made from wood taken from this very same cedar; because then said doors would act as gates to speaking with divine beings. The king or pharaoh who sits on a throne within these chambers is considered a representative of these gods.
In ancient times, everyone in the Near East considered the land to be holy. They called it “God’s land” or “Baal’s Land” in both Semitic and Arabic languages. Baal was the “Lord of the Land.” If the spirit was female, people referred to her as Baalath. The Phoenicians believed that Lebanon had especially tall cedar trees because their roots went deep into Baal’s domain.
These huge trees were extremely impressive, so much so that they inspired Gilgamesh’ Epic poem:
“They stood still and gazed at the forest,
They looked at the height of the cedars,
They looked at the entrance to the forest …
They beheld the cedar mountain, abode of the god,
Throne-seat of Irnini.
From the face of the mountain
The cedars raise aloft their luxuriance.
Good is their shade, full of delight.”
Gilgamesh was a man who, in his quest for wood, visited a cedar forest and killed the giant Humbaba–the spirit guardian of the Forest. As a result of this act, Gilgamesh’s dear companion Enkidu died, which led to great bitterness and despair on Gilgamesh’s part.
In the end, he lost his life and the afterlife.
The moral of this ancient legend is clear– respect nature and the forest. This is one of, if not the oldest written text in existence, saved in Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite and Hurrian languages. It was widely read and distributed for its poignant message that still resounds today.
Through reading this tale, people were encouraged to preserve natural resources like the cedar trees found in the Lebanon mountains. And indeed, it worked— these forests met the lumber demands of an entire region for over 3000 years!
Although the cedar doesn’t grow in Israel and Judea, it was just as celebrated there. Under its Hebrew name, Erez, it’s mentioned over 70 times in the Bible. For example, Isaiah 60:13 praises the cedar’s beauty:
The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the plane and the pine, to beautify the place of my sanctuary, and I will glorify where my feet rest.
This is what Yahweh the Lord says at a time when living trees were still an important part of temples and sanctuaries. The proud height of the cedar was second only to the Tree of Life itself, as it stood in the Garden of Eden: “No cedar in God’s garden eclipsed it.” (Ezekiel 31:2).
Hebrews used cedar wood in their Para Adumma, or the Ritual of the Red Heifer. This was done to cleanse and restore purity after being around death. The word “cedar” actually comes from Hebrew Qatar, which means “to smudge”. Therefore, we can assume that this wood played a part in other purification rituals and smoke offerings.
In the USA, (as well as in Japan), many cleansing and ceremonial trees referred to as cedars are botanically classified under the cypress family.
Cedar Tree Meanings and Symbols
Clarity and Focus
Cedar oil is excellent for tension relief, anxiety reduction, clearing the mind of distractions, promoting mental clarity and sustaining focus.
Cedar trees and their essential oils have been considered sacred for millennia. A mere inhalation of the scent can transport one to a place of clarity and profound peace. The tree and its fragrance act as a bridge between the earthly and divine realms, much like the Tree of Life.
Many ancient civilizations and cultures valued cedar for its wood, using it to construct temples, altars, and other places of worship.
To bless any room with sacred energy, mist the area with water containing a few drops of cedar oil (or follow the diffusing method above), or burn some cedar incense.
Strengthening the Energy Field
Cedar’s Aura is extremely positive and powerful. It can infuse your field with the needed strength and brightness.
This wood can help you feel energetic again after a trauma, illness, or any other draining project.
The archetype of wisdom, King Solomon, chose to use cedar wood prominently in his temple. In ancient Sumeria, they honored cedars as dwellings of the spirit of their god Ea, who was considered wise.
Cedar trees are appropriate emissaries of wisdom because they represent divine energy and presence on Earth.
Cedar trees have been around for centuries and hold a lot of symbolism and meaning.
Cedars are most commonly known for their strength, stability, and sheltering properties. In many cultures, cedar trees also symbolize wisdom, protection, and fertility.
If you’re looking for a strong and stable tree to plant in your yard or as a gift for someone special, the cedar is a great option with lots of deeper meaning.