Incense Cedar, a Desert Tree Brother. Making Smudge Sticks.

The Cedar forest the morning before harvest (showing other trees).

The Incense Cedar. The aromatic, towering Incense Cedar can grow in the mountain forests that surround the desert regions of Southern California where I live. The one used in this mix was harvested from mountain trees overlooking the desert in a beautiful cedar forest filled with a quiet, ancient energy. This plant prefers areas with summer drought and is one of the most fire and drought tolerant plants in California. The desert native Cahuilla people of southern California used its bark to make temporary shelters, and the wood to make permanent homes. They also used its boughs as brooms that would lend an aromatic fragrance when sweeping. Incense Cedar is considered one of the “four sacred medicines” by some Native American cultures and has been ritually used for burning and smudging for perhaps thousands of years. Its help is called on by these native cultures to purify the home. It is also believed to have medicinal purposes and to ward off sickness.

Brother/Sister Cedar. Here I ask for permission.

The Cedar Spirit. In my personal experience, I have been blessed and protected by cedar’s gentle yet undeniable presence. Cedar provides a warm sense of protection and well-being, readying my personal energies for spiritual work, clearing away doubt, and inviting in goodness and good fortune. Just as it was used by the Cahuilla as aromatic brooms to sweep the home; it may be used as a smudge to sweep away the darkness and invite in a nice spiritual sense and positivity.

Cedarspirit first invited me to get to know their energy via the Shaman WisdomCards, which contains a card for Cedar which speaks of its protection,purification, and use for burning. I already had a store-bought cedar smudgemix, which I now realize was old and the plant had lost much of its oils. Inany event, at Cedar spirit’s nudge, I burned the mix with special attention,and was blessed by the sense of safety and cleansing that it gave me. It’s an empoweringsense of safety, like feeling cozy in the hands of the Divine.

Uses. Besides using it for general purification and cleansing, in my experience Cedar is amazing when doing work to reestablish the harmony in the home or in relationships. Whenever there is tension or disagreement in my house, I invoke Cedar and use the smoke to help sweep away the stress and the roots of discord.


Ethical Sourcing. After my positive experience using the store-bought smudge mix, coupled with the fact that my in-laws-to-be actually live in a mountain cedar forest, I felt called to prepare my own cedar smudge sticks and mix. Before harvesting, I of course asked for permission from the forest and from the trees, making clear my intentions. This is a forest in which I have sat in and walked through many times before. The tree from which this first batch was harvested was in private property, and the land owner was actually my man’s dad who is a very conscientious local harvester. My point is: the harvesting was done ethically, locally, and with permission. I only took enough to make several sticks and some mix for myself and to share. I thanked the tree and the forest for the gift. May it be used for peace in our hearts and in our homes.

Making the Sticks. After harvesting, I let the small branches sit for a day or two, before cutting it into multiple smaller branches. Those little branches were tied together with hemp cord and make into sticks. I got about 15 of them, some of them large and most of them smaller. But a lot of the plant material fell off the little branches. From that, I created a smudge mix using other desert plants. However, that is a story for another post! Below I share two of my pictures of the process. Enjoy!

Bundling the little branches
A smaller finished Cedar smudge stick