White Oak

Blue Oak

Black Oak

“Where oak and ash and thorn grow together one is likely to see Fairies.” So goes the old adage, passed down through the generations to impress upon us the value and sanctity of trees. For our ancestors, these three trees and many others were the basic tools of survival.

Through the ages trees have given us shelter, medicine, tools, and household items such as cups, bowls, and dishes. They gave us paper, building materials, and cloth. They cooled us in summer and warmed us in winter. For these reasons alone they deserve reverence.

Our future survival may also hinge on trees. As carbon dioxide emissions heat the planet by encasing it in a warm blanket of smog, the oceans are warming, storms are becoming stronger and more destructive, and tropical diseases are moving ever northward. The threat of coastal flooding threatens massive population displacements and eventual conflicts over resources.

One way to mitigate global catastrophe is to plant trees. A single tree can absorb a ton of carbon dioxide over its life time. But where the tree gets planted matters. Forests are darker than fields and pastures and as a result they actually absorb heat in Northern latitudes. (Snow on an empty field reflects more sunlight back into space than does a snow-covered forest.)

It is in the tropics that trees are most valuable for global cooling. The trees that grow in these areas are deep rooted, bringing up water from the earth that they evaporate through their leaves, forming clouds that reflect sunlight back into space. The massive clear cutting and deforestation that is now occurring in tropical forests is a tragedy for the animals and humans who live there, and for our entire planet’s ecosystem.

Of course, the best solution of all is to cut our dependence on greenhouse gas producing fossil fuels. We have many positive options before us; wind and solar energy, biomass, geothermal energy, and hydrogen-powered cars, just to name a few.

(Nuclear energy is not a positive option, because we still have no idea what to do with the lethal, cancer-causing waste and nuclear facilities can produce nuclear weapons.)

As practitioners of the Pagan earth religions, we are the inheritors of a rich compendium of knowledge and spiritual tradition involving trees. The Indo-European cultures were cradled in a vast oak forest that once stretched from the west coast of France to the Caucasus. Most homes and shelters in this area were made of oak.

Oak is a dense and hot firewood and was used to make bows, spears, oars and boats. The bark, leaf and galls were used to tan hides and fishing nets, and to make a wound wash that would help heal by pulling the edges of a wound together. The bark and leaves of White Oak were especially valuable as a medicinal tea for coughs, colds and mucus congestion. The acorns provided a carbohydrate-rich food for humans, pigs, and wild game.

Oaks were known to attract lightening, and became associated with the Sky Gods such as Taranis, Indra, Jupiter, Yahweh, Ukho, Rhea, Kybele, Thor, Artemis, Brighid, Balder, The Erinyes, the Kikonian Maenads, Perun, and Perkunas. The roots of an oak go as deep as the tree is high, making its spirit a powerful ally in shamanic travel between the worlds. There is a spirit in each oak that can take you down to the Underworld through its roots and up to the Sky World via its branches.

Druids of the past and today revere the oak as the symbol of a balanced life; feeding and sheltering the people, with its feet firmly on the ground, and its head in the highest heavens. The Druid order to which I belong, Ord Na Darach Gile—the Order of the White Oak—honors this tree above all others.

According to tradition, carrying an acorn on your person will bring luck and fertility to all your projects. Druids carried acorns in their pockets for luck. An ancient Welsh belief is that good health is maintained by rubbing your hands on a piece of oak on Midsummer’s Day, while keeping silence. The dew under oak trees is a magical beauty aid.

The best oak for medicinal use is the White Oak (Quercus alba). Pick the leaves before Midsummer or gather the inner bark of twigs or root bark all year for internal and external use as medicine. The tea makes an enema or douche for hemorrhoids, menstrual issues, and bloody urine.

    * Apply the tea as an external wash to wounds and varicose veins. Taken internally it benefits internal bleeding, fevers, chest congestion, mouth sores, and sore throats.
    * Simmer (do not boil) 1 teaspoon bark (or steep 2 teaspoons leaf) per pint of water for 10 minutes and take up to 3 cups a day, in quarter-cup doses (not with meals).
    * For an enema or douche, steep 1 tablespoon bark or 2 tablespoons leaves in 1 quart freshly boiled water for 30 minutes. Strain.

English Oak (Quercus robur) can be used the same way as White Oak. Red Oak (Quercus rubra) and Black Oak (Quercus tinctoria) should only be used externally.

More information here: 26 pages describing indigenous uses of :)


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Replies to This Discussion

This is marvelous Melody, thank you.
I am wondering how people could identify the differences in each type of oak. Even looking at the beautiful pictures, I think it is difficult - I shall go on a search...

ok, rather than transferring it all, here is the page

:), xx
Thank you for this link as well. Awesome. As you possibly already feel, I shall be back...(work day and Collette, my beautiful niece, is coming to visit her mother, which means we shall spend a little time together as well)
Have a happy time, x
Bad news -

"'Acute Oak Decline' (AOD) causes ancient native trees to bleed extensively, cutting off the supply of water and nutrients, and killing them within a few years.

Since it was first identified five years ago, the disease has been spotted on thousands of trees across the country (Britain) and it is feared many more are infected."


Why would Oaks 'bleed' to death? If this is a sign of the times, then the Trees are showing us something really important. Let us ask the Trees - yes, 'ask' them - it is not impossible for some of us to 'hear' the Trees. If we can do what they need us to do, then they can be saved.

I shall try. A few years ago I sat under an old oak Tree. In a reverie, I 'heard' the Tree say
"I can see more than you! At any one time I can see 360 degrees around me - you can only see what is in front of you. And I can see more, because I stand still. I have seen History pass before me while I have stood here. You - you rush around from place to place and cannot see the subtle changes taking place. You - you come to see the animals but they rush away from you. They come to visit me."


I might email Dr. Harry, who taught ecology and ask him. He is a great wealth information. We had trees that appeared to be blyte ridden a while back...but now it seems they are thriving again...interesting...
A friend of mine says she hears them cry...I have not listened; it has only been since I have been devoted to "melody" that I have given myself permission to begin to learn about the "loves" in my life. great food for thought, maybe we should sing to them!!!
humble and grateful all in one whisper...
Oh, I hope Dr. Harry can shed some light on this. If your Trees recovered - perhaps it is the healing Love of those who care that works some magic.
I have heard different Trees make different sounds when the wind rustles their leaves. Sometimes it makes me turn quickly to see why the Tree has suddenly rustled and a thought quickly follows the attention - in this way I 'hear' them.
I think they would love to hear our singing, especially your Melody.
It is hard for some people to grasp the fact that they are living beings and respond to our thoughts and feelings, but considering that those who do see them as living beings experience thoughts and feelings from them - then why not the other way round?
I love your words and it makes me think of horse 'whisperers', so we could be Tree 'whisperers' - yes?

Tree-Life, x
whispering through the cosmos...love you and your work, your gift and your Spirit of generosity... will email doctor harry sometime this weekend....send him the thread; he will be pleased to know that even though I no longer go to school, I remember and savor every iota of information he shared with our class...

in the meantime

Love is All Around. :)
The secret is in the bark and the leaves...for instance the blue oak has deeper colored leaves that have prickly points and are an evergreen species whereas the white oak has a lighter colored bark and undergoes seasonal changes. White oaks and blue oaks look similar but you can tell the difference in the tone of their leaves--(blue oak leaves are little deeper in color). Also, each thrives according to elevation. When I took ecology we studied the local habitat.....and it amazes me how every little thing on the ground supports a unique and delicate eco system. I am glad you enjoy, the research helps me to know what is available around here and how I might be able to use for personal application.

Have a great weekend...
That makes sense - different species at different elevations and climates, southern or northern locales and salty air for coastal varieties, all create different bark textures and leaf adaptations.

I love trees... :)
Wonderful information...thanks


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