By Liliana Usvat
In Greek mythology, the oak is the tree sacred to Zeus, king of the gods. In Zeus’s oracle in Dodona, Epirus, the sacred oak was the centerpiece of the precinct, and the priests would divine the pronouncements of the god by interpreting the rustling of the oak’s leaves.
In Baltic mythology, the oak is the sacred tree of Latvian Pērkons, Lithuanian Perkūnas and Prussian Perkūns. Pērkons is the god of thunder and one of the most important deities in the Baltic pantheon.
In Celtic polytheism, the name of the oak tree was part of the Proto-Celtic word for ‘druid’: adjectives for ‘strong’ and ‘firm’, so Ranko Matasovic interprets that *druwid- may mean ‘strong knowledge’. As in other Indo-European faiths, Taranus, being a Thunder God, was associated with the oak tree.
The Indo-Europeans worshiped the oak and connected it with a thunder or lightning god; “tree” and drus may also be cognate with “Druid,” the Celtic priest to whom the oak was sacred. There has even been a study that shows that oaks are more likely to be struck by lightning than any other tree of the same height.
In Norse mythology, the oak was sacred to the thunder god, Thor. Thor’s Oak was a sacred tree of the Germanic Chatti tribe. According to legend, the Christianisation of the heathen tribes by Saint Boniface was marked by the oak’s being replaced by the fir (whose triangular shape symbolizes the Trinity) as a “sacred” tree.
In the Bible, the oak tree at Shechem is the site where Jacob buries the foreign gods of his people (Gen. 35:4) . In addition, Joshua erects a stone under an oak tree as the first covenant of the Lord (Josh. 24.25–7). In Isaiah 61, the prophet refers to the Israelites as “Oaks of Righteousness”.
In Slavic mythology, the oak was the most important tree of the god Perun.
The oak tree has long been associated with the Druids. These ancient priests are believed to have held a grove of oaks as a sacred meeting place. Its use in healing has been known for centuries as well as for building, which is no wonder in a tree known for its incredible strength and durability. The Oak Tree in Natural Medicine.
Catherine Yronwode tells us in Hoodoo: Herb and Root Magic that African American hoodoo practitioners use tea brewed from oak bark to remove a jinx from their clients. In this tradition, oak chips and mistletoe are burned to remove unfriendly spirits from a dwelling.
Modern Pagans use wands from the tree as well as leaves, acorns, and bark for use in magic, meditation, incense and talismans. Its strong, sheltering presence is the chief energy drawn upon for use in oak tree medicine and magic.
The Angel Oak Tree is a Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) located in Angel Oak Park on Johns Island near Charleston, South Carolina. The Angel Oak Tree is estimated to be in excess of 400–500 years old, stands 66.5 ft (20 m) tall, measures 28 ft (8.5 m) in circumference, and produces shade that covers 17,200 square feet (1,600 m2). From tip to tip Its longest branch distance is 187 ft. Angel Oak was the 210th tree to be registered with the Live Oak Society.
The tree stands on land that was part of Abraham Waight’s 1717 land grant.
The oak derives its name from the estate of Justis and Martha Angel, although local folklore told stories of ghosts of former slaves would appear as angels around the tree.
In spite of the popular belief that the Angel Oak is the oldest tree east of the Mississippi River, there are many baldcypress trees throughout the south which are many hundreds of years older.
The Oak Tree in Natural Medicine
The bark of the oak brewed into a tea has been used for healing varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and reducing fevers. Acorns from the tree are also crushed and used in various herbal preparations including mixing with milk to help counteract reactions to medication.
Oak was one of the first Bach flower remedies. Dr. Edward Bach developed his oak essence to be used by those who suffered from instability and hopelessness drawing upon the tree’s physical strength and ability to give shelter.
Acorns, the fruit of the oak tree, were a food staple for some Indian tribes. Being very high in protein, acorns were ground into a course flour and were a mainstay for the Pomo Indians of California. Several Indian tribes used thin strips of the inner bark, placed them between the gum and lips, and left it there over night to heal sores of the gums and to tighten loose teeth. The crushed bark was also used in a poultice for gangrene.
The active ingredients in oak bark are tannin and quercin. Quercin is similar in effect to salicin and is used along with bioflavinoids to strengthen the capillaries and veins. White oak bark also contains ample amounts of calcium, manganese, potassium and magnesium. Its primary therapeutic properties are astringent and antiseptic. A few of oak’s other properties—haemostatic (arrests internal bleeding), febrifuge (reduces fever), diuretic, anti-emetic (relieves malarial-type fevers and chills), and anti-venomous (antidote for poisonous plants, insects and snake bites.).
One lady was told that she needed to have all her teeth removed and was scheduled for surgery in two weeks. She was instructed to drink a tea made from equal parts of white oak bark, taheebo and lemon grass, to drink large quantities of this tea in place of water. She was also instructed to put powdered white oak bark in between her gums and teeth each night before going to bed, keeping it in her mouth all night.Needless to say, when she went to her dentist, he cancelled the surgery since there was no longer any sign of pyorrhea and her gums were totally healed.
- The Mighty Oak & The One Pagan-Europe (edwardleprieur.wordpress.com)
- Calling all White Oak Acorns! (templeser.wordpress.com)
- Groups work to protect ‘Angel Oak’ (charlotteobserver.com)
- A Grass-Roots Rally To Protect South Carolina’s Massive ‘Angel Oak’ (freenorthcarolina.blogspot.com)
- Walking on Acorns (leximckee.com)
- Angel Oak (yourgotogirlblog.wordpress.com)
- A Mighty Oak (normadavisstoyenoff.wordpress.com)
- Groups work to protect land around ancient SC oak (thestate.com)
- Check Ohio’s Fall Acorn Crop Results to Plan a Successful Hunt (outdoorhub.com)
- Help Save The Angle Oak Tree in Charleston, SC (carolinaartsnews.wordpress.com)