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The Oak was the principal sacred tree of the Druids, symbolizing truth and steadfast knowledge as well as the turning of the year. During this time, Druids would carve a circle in the tree for protection against lightning. The Oak was representative of the trials that individuals experience in life while changing and becoming who they were meant to be. This tree represented the soul which, in Celtic terms, was the "Eye of God." Doors made of Oak were believed to keep out evil. The word "door" derives from the Sanskrit "duir," Ogham for Oak and a word which symbolizes solidity and protection. In the realm of the forest, the Oak is the King of Trees, standing mightily solid with great branches, matched only be even greater roots. Often struck by lightning, the force of the strike and the heat bursts the sap and stem of the Oak apart, leaving the trunk gnarled and withered...yet, the Oak still manages to survive for decades or even centuries. The growth of this tree is slow but sure and it is the forest's marker point, cornerstone and refuge. The Druids often taught lessons beneath the shade of the Oak.
The Oak was long considered by the wise to be a guardian which opened doorways to self spirituality and granted the strength to progress onward which, in time, drew the individual closer to the self. The Oak provided the courage to overcome any obstacles which had to be resolved during the travels of an individual and, in time perhaps, to learn the ways of the wise. In Celtic mythology, it is said that the first tree was an Oak, known by the name of Bile, from which two acorns fell to the ground. These seeds rooted deep within the Earth and gave birth to the God Dagda and the Goddess Brighid...both famed for their patience and goodness. Folklore suggests that if the Oak blooms before the Ash, then there will be a good harvest and its acorns were said to offer protection from lightning...thus, carvings of acorns are often found on staircases in medieval buildings. Medicinally, the Oak was believed to heal gout and cure bleeding gums. The tree has always protected Britain by providing wood for the building of ships and as boundaries between one area and another. The bark of the Oak produces tannin, once used extensively in the leather industry for tanning raw hides. Its acorns may be used to make a powerful antiseptic and the juice from crushed Oak leaves can be applied directly to wounds for the same purpose. A gargle made from the inner bark is said to be useful in relieving sore throats and a decotion of the outer bark is believed to aid in the relief of sever fever symptoms.
In Christian legend, it is said that when the announcement was made of Christ's cruxifixion, all the trees met and agreed that none of them wished to be a part of the event. When the time came for the wood to be selected, each piece began to split and break, making it impossible to use. Only the "Evergreen Oak" or "Ilex" did not split and allowed itself to be used...thus seen by the other trees as a traitor or another Judas. In Greece, by virtue of this legend, the tree is eternally condemned and no part of the Oak may be brought into the house. According to the Bible, when Cain murdered Abel, Cain was obliged to carry the dead body of his brother for seven hundred years before Abel could be buried. To mark the burial place, Cain stuck his staff into the ground, whereupon Seven Oaks (now known as the Seven Oaks of Palestine) immediately sprang forth in a row. The "Holy Groves of the Druids," located in Anglesea on Mona's Isle in Wales, is said to contain the ancient remnants of Oak trees.
The Acorn has long been associated with couples and love divination. Dropping two Acorns into the same bowl of water is said to predict the romantic future...should the Acorns float together, then the couple will marry...the reverse being the case should the Acorns drift apart. The Ancient Druids believed that to carry an Acorn at all times would ensure prevention from aging, a ritual said to be most successful for women.
The Oak of myth and legend is the Common Oak, its name derived from the Latin robur which is the root of the English word "robust." The Oak is often found growing with Ash and Beech in lowland forests. It can reach a height of 150 feet and live for 800 years. Along with the Ash, the Oak has been heavily logged in recent millennia and remaining giant Oaks in many parts of Europe are merely remnants of past forests. The Common Oak is a deciduous tree which loses its leaves before Samhain but is fully-clothed again by Beltane. It is a member of the Beech family.
There are two distinct types of Oak individuals (a division which relates to all Celtic Tree Signs). The "new moon" character is associated with the first two weeks of a sign and the "full moon" character is associated with the last two weeks.
The "new moon" Oak individual is more inclined to take financial risks than his or her "full moon" counterpart and makes personal committments which cannot be easily consolidated. On a more positive note, these people possess strong natural powers of leadership and the ability to rise above the human vices of greed or avarice. There is an element of self-sacrifice inherent in both the "new moon" and the "full moon" Oak, but those who fall under the jurisdiction of the "full moon" are less inclined to make financial losses. These individuals are generally more flamboyant by nature and can be somewhat glory-seeking in character. Nonetheless, the "full moon" Oak is a creative individual who is generous of spirit with an instinctive sense of survival.
In general, Oak individuals are enterprising people with a refreshing breadth of vision. They are determined, self-motivated, enthusiastic and responsible. Possessed with a high degree of personal magnetism, Oaks make for natural leaders with a great deal of integrity and find it easy to attract and inspire others. They remain calm during a crisis and are not easily swayed by opposition. Although serious-minded, Oak people are cheerful and optimistic by nature, with a keen sense of humor that can make the best of a difficult situation. Being optimists (sometimes blindly so), they do not give up easily and are unafraid to speak the truth in any given situation, regardless of the consequences. However, Oaks do sometimes tend to lack discretion and often take financial risks. Deeply philosophical, they are generous friends but are prone to exagerrate and are inclined toward vanity. It is important that Oak individuals learn to temper pride with humor or they may become pompus and overbearing. Oak individuals are drawn toward demanding professions. They frequently hold positions of power but have an innate sense of fair play. They enjoy life's confrontations and make for formidable enemies, but can be naive in the manner in which they place trust in others, especially concerning affairs of the heart. Often, Oak people set standards in love that are too difficult for partners to attain and they place great importance in moral issues.