Known as hanté blaska to the Lakota, Flat Cedar is a sacred herb often used in ceremony and during times of prayer…and, according to ancient legend, this dried herb is also a favorite of enigmatic Thunder Beings (Wakinyan):
If a Lakota is doing a ceremony relative to Wakinyan (Thunder Being), he should make an incense of the leaves of the cedar tree. This is because the cedar tree is the favorite of Wakinyan, and he never strikes it with lightning. The smell of the smoke of the cedar is pleasing to him. - passage from Lakota Belief and Ritual by James R. Walker
Aroma: Penetratingly sweet, but pleasant
Classification: Despite the cedar name, many types of this herb do not come from true cedars. Most come from the Cypress family commonly known as arborvitaes (Latin for Tree of Life); this includes redcedars and whitecedars.
Native American uses of Flat Cedar
Cleanse: Burning Flat Cedar is said to purify a space by attracting good spirits and removing negative influences.
Protection: As this herb is favored by the Thunder Beings, some people burn cedar as an incense during thunderstorms.
Storage: Although this doesn't pertain to cedar in its herbal form, the wood of the cedar tree (not the leaves) is often used to store feathers and other delicate items.
Ideal season: Spring & Summer
Because of its use in ceremony and its close association with the Thunder Beings, Flat Cedar is considered an essential herb during the Native American ceremonial season (spring and summer).