“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 :)http://npdc.usda.gov/pdf/tech_note_190_pm_2.pdf