“Our ordinary mind always tries to persuade us that we are nothing but acorns and that our greatest happiness will be to become bigger, fatter, shinier acorns; but that is of interest only to pigs. Our faith gives us knowledge of something better: that we can become oak trees.” E.F. Schumacher
Oak trees are associated with strength, wisdom, lightning, longevity, protection, stability, sun energy, success, vitality, and matters of law. The burning of Oak leaves was once regarded in the same manner as the burning of Sage is now; to purify, clear of negativity, to honor and invite Spirit, and create a prayerful meditative state. Acorns can be prepared as food in a variety of ways, and “cakes” or bread from this nut are particularly tasty.
The leaves and bark of the Oak are the main parts to be used medicinally. Over time, Oak has been used to treat wounds, inflamed eyes, cuts and burns, as a mouthwash for bleeding gums, hemorrhoids, varicose veins and as a gargle for sore throats. A decoction of the bark has been used for reducing fevers, diarrhea, dysentery, tonsillitis, pharyngitis and laryngitis.
There are about 400 species of Oak tree found around the world. The oldest Oak is either the Pechanga Great Oak in Temecula California, or the Kongeegen found in Denmark. The largest oak on record is known as the “The Seven Sisters Oak” in Lewisburg, Mandeville, Lousiana. It measures 37 feet and 2 inches in circumference with a crown spread of 150 feet! It is believed to be more than 1,000 years old! Oak is highly prized by furniture makers for it’s attractive appearance, and is equally prized by wine makers for sturdy barrels that lend a unique flavor to the wine.
This “King of Trees” in Ogham could be translated as “Duir”. Found in both Gaelic and in Sanskrit, this word means “door”. Oaks are not only a most popular choice as the door to our homes, but also represent doors to new understanding, enlightenment, visions, strengths, wisdom, or other worlds. Oaks are particularly susceptible to lightning strikes, due to their size. This is why they have so often been associated with lightning, thunder and sky deities.
An excellent friend for anyone needing strength, fertility of thought, and new understanding of an old problem. I always walk away from my Oak friends feeling centered, bristling with new ideas, and brimming with fresh strength of purpose. Many oaks that I have encountered during the leafy seasons seem more lively, swifter to notice our attention, and in making decisions on whether or not to engage than other species. Even very young oaks seem to reach out and touch us with their energy as we pass, inviting us to stay and chat awhile. During the winter, Oaks can dream deep and become a dominate voice in this quiet season; clusters of their weathered leaves like rattles in the whistling winds singing of ancient memories.
Especially revered by the Ancient Celts and Norse, the Oak is the traditional Yule log lit by druids to reignite everyone’s family fires at the beginning of each year. This hearth fire renewal ceremony brought and sustained protection, success, strength, stability, healing, rebirth, purification, wisdom and fortune into the home each year. Oak is also the tree of Midsummer, a time when the Holly King gives way to the power of the Oak King, and the longest day of the year. Many ancient cultures celebrated Midsummer as a time of fertility, renewal, protection, and luck.
“Scientists have only recently confirmed what ancient cultures have known for centuries: mushrooms have within them some of the most potent medicines found in nature. We know that their cellular constituents can profoundly improve the quality of human health.” ~ Paul Stamets
Experts today estimate that only one in every 10,000 acorns produced actually becomes an Oak tree. It takes 20 to 50 years for an oak to achieve the maturity necessary to begin producing acorns. Oak speaks to us of taking a long well-seasoned look at life, and how we choose to live every day. Oak trees live in amazing harmony with the World around them; from their relationship to stars, to the their symbiotic relationship with various fungi, the Oak shows us how to develop beneficial relationships and be Aware of how we interact with All Our Relations. The edible mushroom known as “Sheepshead” or “Hen of the Forest” is notorious for growing on the roots of Oaks. Scientists are just beginning to discover the nutritional and medicinal values of the many Mushroom Teachers.
It was only recently observed that mushrooms, like the Sheepshead, dried while exposed to sunlight provide an excellent nutritional source of the elusive Vitamin D, in addition to being a naturally high fiber low fat source of protein once cooked. We naturally produce this vitamin when exposed to sunlight, but good nutritional sources become important to residents of areas notorious for their lack of sunshine. Oaks are ruled by the Sun, and can provide us with Solar energy in vital ways. Perhaps more than any other Tree Teacher, the Oak speaks of tradition, teaches the enduring value in poetry, music, language, oral traditions, storytelling, and expressive communication. An afternoon is never lost in their company, no matter the season.
“The Monarch Oak, the Patriarch of trees, shoots rise up and spread by slow degrees; Three centuries he grows, and three he stays supreme in state, and in three more decays.” English saying
Key Concepts: Strength, Doorways, Law, Masculine Creativity and energies, Solar energy, Ancestors, Leadership, Lightning and Thunder, Truth, Protection, Thought, Fae energy, Wisdom, Stability, Success, Longevity
Associated Gods, Goddesses or Mythic figures: Dagda, Zeus, Jupiter, Mars, Taranis, Thor, Pan, Herne, Rhea, Cybele, Cerridwen, Brighid, Janus, Herne, Lugh Lamfada
Potential Balancing Energies: Birds like sparrow, crow, robin, blue jay, blackbird, hawk, owl, eagle, turkey, and thunderbird, animals like pigs, cows, sheep, goats, squirrels, skunks, rabbits, bears, snakes, frogs, toads, raccoons, and salmon. Other plants like dandelion, sunflower, grass, angelica, fungi and other trees. lighting, thunder, sky, earth, stones, water, air, stars and fire.