I am a Tombstone Tourist: someone who loves to wander cemeteries. I find it akin to visiting a museum: an opportunity to enjoy rarely seen sculpture, intricate carvings, and amazing architecture, all in a tranquil outdoor setting. This blog is about cemetery culture, art, history, issues of death, and genealogy - subjects of current relevance. I usually find something that intrigues me and makes me want to dig deeper. Care to join me? Read on...
As a Tombstone Tourists
(someone who frequent cemeteries), I love the abundance of evergreen trees found in the older sections of the graveyard.
These trees lend color and aroma to a somewhat bleak terrain, thanks
to their rich greenness, hardiness and longevity. Cemetery evergreens
include cedars, firs, pines, spruce, hemlock, juniper and yew trees. But cedar trees are my favorite.
A "Weeping" Cedar Tree
There are four main
types of cedar trees including Atlas (found mainly in Africa), Deodar (grows in
the U.S. and favored for its long-hanging "weeping" appearance; perfect for a cemetery),
Cedar of Cyprus (found mainly in Cyprus, Syria and Turkey), and Cedar of
Lebanon (the most cold-hardy of the group also found in the U.S.) Cedars became popular as graveyard trees because they were considered sacred in several countries. Their “forever
greenness" represents eternal life or the concept of rebirth.
Statue and Cedar
Egyptians thought that cedar trees represented immortality. This is why cedar
resin was used in the embalming process, and as a liner in coffins.
The Cherokee Indians
believed that cedar trees took on the spirits of those buried under them.
Therefore, these trees were scared to Native Americans.
Other lore and
superstition associated with the cedar tree include:
If you plant a cedar
tree, you are bringing good luck to the location.
Cutting down a cedar
tree is bad luck.
If a cedar tree dies
in your yard, someone in the family will die.
Young Cones on a Cedar Tree
If you tie a knot in
a cedar twig still on the branch, name it after your love, and it continues to grow, that
person will grow to love you.
Cedar trees bring wealth
and prosperity to the landowner.
You may only bring a
cedar tree into your home during the Christmas season. Otherwise, you are
dragging in bad luck.
For good luck, plant a cedar tree.
Cedar trees repel evil spirits.
Cedars in Winter
The abundance of
cedar trees in older cemeteries offers comfort. These strong, sturdy trees grace
the graves of our ancestors: pioneers, frontiers men and women, and those who dared to come to America and blaze their own trails. It's encouraging to see their graves are protected, sheltered and shaded by these beautiful sentinels.
I will be at the
annual American Library Association (ALA) Conference and Exhibitin New Orleans on June 21- 23 signing copies
of my book, The Family Tree Cemetery Field
Guide. If you’re in the area, stop in.