Reconcile the Opposites and Heal with Cedar

When I began to work with our beautiful new Atlas Cedar Essential Oil (Cedrus Atlantica), I smelled it before going to sleep at night.  That night I had a dream that seemed very archetypal.

A beautiful, powerful, strong and passionate woman had fallen in love with her soul partner. Her life was complete, and she could live it fully knowing she and her partner had found each other. Unfortunately, her partner got amnesia and forgot everything about himself, including his marriage to his amazing wife. He did not return after work one day. She entered a speed boat race against two other less powerful women. I watched as the race took off and was taken aback by her speed and mastery of this most powerful speedboat as she soared ahead into the distance to look of her lost lover.

Meanwhile, her husband returned to a communal living situation on a double decker bus – he still had no idea that he was married. A search group formed to try and find his wife to tell her what had happened to her husband. There were also efforts to remind him of the life he had forgotten. The overall feeling of the dream was that it was urgent to reunite the two lovers.”

On waking, I described the dream to my husband, Florian who said that it reminded him of the ancient Egyptian story of Isis and Osiris and that the chest and replacement phallus in the myth are both made out of cedar. By coincidence we had just bought the book “The Passion of Isis and Osiris” by Jean Houston so it feels very necessary to dive into this story.

As I haven’t had time to read the book, I looked up the myth and here is a very quick outline.

King Osiris married his twin sister Isis. They had come down to Earth to civilize Egypt. Osiris and Isis taught the people of Egypt to live well, plant seeds (agriculture), make bread and wine and live a plentiful life in peace.  Once he felt that his people were happy, he went off into the world to help other nations with his blessed touch on life. He left his beautiful wife Isis to rule over the land during his absence, which she did with grace and wisdom. However, Set, their evil brother, was jealous of the couple. He hated the way the people looked up to Osiris and the man he had grown up to be. He wanted to kill Osiris and take his place as King. Isis however watched over the land so well during Osiris’s absence that it was impossible for Set to seize the throne.

Two-faced Set was the first to welcome Osiris home kneeling at his feet. However, behind his back he had secretly hid a beautiful cedar chest made in exactly the dimensions of Osiris’s body.  Set then held a huge feast for Osiris, but the people he invited were like-minded conspirators. Once Osiris had been fed and wined, they brought in the amazingly beautiful, life-sized cedar chest. It was inlaid with ebony and ivory, with gold and silver painting and images of birds, gods and animals. Osiris loved the magnificent chest.

Set offered the chest to the person who fitted it exactly. Everyone tried the chest and the only person who fitted it perfectly was Osiris. Osiris got into the chest and Set banged down the lid with vengeance, sealing any the cracks with molten lead.

Osiris died in the chest. Set threw it into the river where it was bashed about by the waves until it landed on the shore of Pleione near the city of Byblos. As it landed on the shore, it hit a tamarisk tree, which grew many branches and flowers to make a fit resting place for such a great King. Over time the now magnificent tree enveloped the chest deep I side its branches. People noticed the tree and it became famous throughout the land. The King Malcander decided to cut it down to make a pillar for his palace.

Isis meantime was mourning her king in Egypt. She instinctively knew her evil brother was at the bottom of this terrible drama. She decided to go and look for the body of Osiris so she could give him the burial fit for the king on Egyptian soil. She wandered throughout the land in vain until finally she questioned some children playing by the shore. They had seen the chest floating and told her the direction it was heading in.

The Queen heard about the beautiful, unknown, woman sitting on the seashore. Not knowing that Isis was a great goddess, she asked her to look after her children, one of whom was ailing. Isis made the child well again and decided to give him the gift of immortality. The Queen came in while she was doing this and broke the spell. Then she realized who Isis was and offered her all the gifts she wanted from land of Byblos. Isis said she only wanted the beautiful tamarisk pillar.  She took the pillar and opened it up to get the cedar chest containing Osiris out, giving back the pillar. Isis fell onto the coffin wailing. Then she put it on a ship to sail back to Egypt. On arrival, she hid the chest in the marshes on the seashore whilst she went to get her baby Horus.

Unfortunately Set came along and recognized the cedar chest. he was so angry, he ripped Osiris’s body into fourteen pieces, which he scattered around for the crocodiles to eat.

Isis began the search once more for her husband’s body. She took a boat made out of papyrus and searched the delta of the Nile for her beloved.  Slowly, she recovered thirteen pieces of Osiris’s body and magically put it back together again. The only piece missing was the phallus. Isis made a new phallus out of gold and cedar wood. The priests helped her make a shrine and performed funeral rites. She did not bury the body at the shrine but secretly embalmed it and his it in a place only she knew. The fourteenth piece was eaten by fish.

Osiris’s spirit passed finally into the realm of the dead and would stay there until the final battle where his child Horus would slay Set and Osiris would come back to earth once more.

In both my dream and the myth, there is a feeling of the feminine searching to be reunited with the masculine. The two polarities are torn apart and desperately sense they will not be whole until they come back together.

The root of the word cedar in Greek is kedros and in Latin is cedrus and means power, force, strength. The wood was highly prized for its durability and resin content which meant that it doesn’t mold or get attacked by parasites. For this reason, it was used in building, especially of sacred buildings, temples and as pillars and ship masts.

The pillar is found in the Isis and Osiris myth and in relation to cedar symbolizes the tree of life being a pillar between the cosmic energies of the sky and upper worlds and the terrestrial energies of the earth and the underworld. This can be seen also in the opposites of yin and yang, masculine and feminine that are needed for wholeness. This search for holding the opposites or reuniting them is a big part of the individual and collective healing that is happening in humanity today.

We have created so much duality and separateness within ourselves and in the outer world that the imbalance this has created is destroying us and the planet we live on and are an integral part of. In my dream triggered by the cedar, the deep feeling of needing to bring the feminine and masculine together is what is happening both within myself and my relationship with my inner masculine and is archetypal, highlighting this collective need for union of the opposites.

I also feel that cedar mirrors an energy found in my dream and in the myth of Osiris and Isis, which is determination and direction. There is a feeling of incredible strength, conviction, courage, endurance, perseverance and tenacity to the path – to finding the union that is needed for wholeness. It is no surprise that Isis makes the replacement phallus for Osiris out of cedar wood.

What I realized most through this dream and mythology work with cedar essential oil is that cedar could be a very helpful ally for the journey of healing codependency.

This strength that it holds, helps us to anchor deeply into our own journeys, our unique paths in a very grounded way. When we feel this perspective and realize the journey to wholeness is within, confidence, self-worth and a newfound will to grow and unite with our opposites appears. We no longer rely on others for our sense of self but search for it within.

Image: Photo by Bayard Forster