For thousands of years indigenous people all over the world have attributed magical properties to trees, which are said to have particular personalities along with healing powers and messages for us.
The oak tree is one of the most famous of magical trees, and is considered sacred in many parts of the world. It has been associated with the World Tree and creation myths in which the first human was born from its leaves.
The oak tree is associated with ligthening and thunder and is the tree of the gods of thunder, including the Norse god Thor, the Greek god Zeus, the Roman god Jupiter and the Irish god, the Dagda. The oak is also the tree of the white mare and the Welsh goddess Rhiannon and the Egyptian god Thoth. Its root system is easily as large as the upper part of the tree, making it one of the strongest and long lived of trees.
The druids favored the mighty oak as it was believed to impart divine knowledge. The leaves of the oak whispered secrets, and the acorns were considered magical. When eaten, the acorns would give magical powers and the gifts of prophecy. The oak tree sometimes bears mistletoe, a parasitic plant that is also known as the Golden Bough and which is considered sacred. In fact it is believed that oak groves throughout Europe are haunted with the spirits of druids performing their rituals. The old saying “fairy folks are in old oaks” reflects the belief that the roots of the oak tree provide passage to the underworld and the realm of the fairy.
The oak tree is the tree of the Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day of the year, and traditionally its wood is used for the Yule fire. It is at this time that the sun is reborn and the days start getting longer. It is said that the Oak King rules this time of year (from Winter Solstice to Summer Solstice, at which point the Holly King takes over). Known for its strength and its powers of protection, a piece of the Yule log is kept in the house to offer its occupants protection over the coming year. At the next Yuletime that piece of wood is used as kindling for the new Yule log.
Whatever tales you may have heard about the oak tree, there is no arguing that sitting within the company of an old oak is like sitting with an old friend.