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

I love you through "Trees", God's creation...thank you for your heart-beat.
While walking in a favourite place yesterday, I noticed an ash, an oak and a thorn tree close together and on their own; I remembered the first sentence of your discussion here.
This place is an ancient settlement, mostly known for its Roman occupation... but many years ago I 'fell asleep' here in the warm morning sunlight and 'fell' back in time where I saw a much more ancient settlement. I 'asked' how long ago this was and 'heard' 60,000 years!
The 3 Trees I saw yesterday are, of course, a recent generation, but this area is not planted by Man - it is self-regenerated and so I stopped to look at these Trees and noticed they were on the boundary of the ancient settlement.
After all this time they still want to be here, living together in a harmonious relationship with each other.
It is a very serene place, on a hill overlooking a fertile valley with natural streams.
I didn't have my camera with me yesterday but I shall return to get some photos for you.

:) Love to You...
Pacific Madrone

Arbutus menziesii, commonly known as the Pacific Madrone, is a species of Arbutus found on the west coast of North America, from British Columbia (chiefly Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands) to California (mainly in the Puget Sound, Oregon Coast Range and California Coast Ranges but also scattered on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains). It becomes rare south of Santa Barbara County, with isolated stands south to Palomar Mountain, San Diego County and northern Baja California, Mexico. It is also known as the Madroño, Madroña, Bearberry, or Strawberry Tree. In British Columbia it is simply referred to as Arbutus. Its species name was given it in honour of the Scots naturalist Archibald Menzies who noted it during George Vancouver's voyage of exploration.


Madrone is a broadleaf evergreen tree with rich orange-red bark that peels away on the mature wood, leaving a greenish, silvery appearance that has a satin sheen and smoothness. The exposed wood sometimes feels cool to the touch. In spring, it bears sprays of small bell-like flowers, and in autumn, red berries. The berries dry up and have hooked barbs that latch onto larger animals for migration. It is common to see madrones of about 10-25 meters in height, but in the right conditions the trees reach up to 30 m. In best conditions madrones can also reach a thickness of 5-8 feet at its trunk, much like an oak tree. The leaves are thick, oval, 7-15 cm long and 4-8 cm broad, and arranged spirally; they are glossy dark green above and a lighter, more grayish green beneath, with an entire margin. The leaves brown during the fall season and detach from the branches.

In spring, it bears sprays of small, white, bell-shaped flowers.

Native Americans ate the berries, but because the berries have a high tannin content and are thus astringent, they more often chewed them or made them into a cider. Many mammal and bird species feed off the berries, including American Robins, Cedar Waxwings, Band-tailed Pigeons, Varied Thrushes, Quail, Mule Deer, Raccoons, Ring-tailed Cats, and Bears. Mule Deer will also eat the young shoots when the trees are regenerating after fire. It is also important as a nest site for many birds, and in mixed woodland it seems to be chosen for nestbuilding disproportionately to its numbers. The timber distorts during drying and is not much used, but an attractive veneer can be made from it. Recently, it has become more popular in the Pacific Northwest as a flooring material, due to the durability of the wood, and the warm color after finishing. Mostly the wood is sought for its heating capabilities since it burns long and hot in fireplaces.


Although drought tolerant and relatively fast growing, the Pacific Madrone is currently declining throughout most of its range. One likely cause is fire control: under natural conditions, the madrone depends on intermittent naturally occurring fires to reduce the conifer overstory. Mature trees survive fire, and can regenerate more rapidly after fire than the Douglas-firs with which they are often associated. They also produce very large numbers of seeds, which sprout following fire. Since the arrival of Europeans in North America, fire suppression has resulted in a reduction of the range of the Pacific Madrone.

Increasing development pressures in Pacific Madrone habitat have also contributed to a decline in the number of mature specimens. This tree is extremely sensitive to alteration of the grade or drainage near the root crown. Until about 1970, this phenomenon was not widely recognized on the west coast; thereafter, many local governments have addressed the necessary protection of Pacific madrone by stringent restrictions on grading and drainage alterations when madrone are present. The species is also affected to a small extent by sudden oak death, a disease caused by the water mold Phytophthora ramorum.


The Pacific Madrone is difficult to transplant and a seedling should be set in its permanent spot while still small. Transplant mortality becomes significant once a madrone is more than one foot (30 cm) tall. The site should be sunny (south or west-facing slopes are best), well drained, and lime-free (although occasionally a seedling will establish itself on a shell midden). Pacific Madrone needs no extra water or food in its native range once it has become established. Water and nitrogen fertilizer will boost its growth, but at the cost of making it more susceptible to disease.

more information: http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_arme.pdf
How extraordinary! Thank you for (your time and effort) bringing the Pacific Madrone here, Melody.
And what beautiful pictures! :) Reading this, it seems this Tree has quite specific requirements, which makes it even more miraculous that it survives, when there seems to be so much that works against survival these days.
The flowers are so exotic - and that cross-section picture just shows the miracle of Nature - what a delicate design. And the one of the bark peeling back in all its colours - fantastic!
I have never heard of this Tree, but then I have only flown over the Pacific coast once, and that was at night.
I wonder if it grows on Hawaii?

You have a real Tree-heart :)

I do hope that it goes on surviving.


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