Duir, the Oak Tree
Written and Researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

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The Oak tree is a symbol of great strength and royalty. Sacred mistletoe grows on oak trees. Its berries (mistletoe) glisten like pearls. The mistletoe symbolizes immortality.

The Bilberry Oak is the clan plant of the Buchanans and Watts. Other clans that have oak as their clan badge are: Cameron, Kennedy, Sinclair, and Stewarts.

The oak's special month is June, in the Celtic Tree Calendar. The month of Duir (Oak) was from June 10-July 7. Daur was the Irish word for god. The oak was the tree of Zeus, Jupiter, and Heracles in Greek mythology. In Celtic mythology the oak is associated with the Dagda, chief of the old Irish gods. The horse god, Thor, and all the thundergods are connected to the sacred oak of the Druids. The Oak was Thor's favorite tree. Oaks were thought to protect from lightning.

The oak is one of the oldest and largest living trees in Europe and the Americas. Its short trunk supports a large full crown. The oak can grow to 115 feet tall. The fruit of the oak is the acorn, which feeds many wild and domestic animals. Oaks must be seventy to eighty years old before they produce acorns. The oak bears flowers (female) in May, along with long, slim male catkins. Oaks are native to the U.K. and northern Europe. They grow in moist, heavy soil.

Vast forests were cut down in Great Britain for the oak's hardwood which was prized for Elizabethan shipbuilding. The Spanish Armada plotted to burn down the great English oak forests and ruin their shipbuilding industry, but thankfully they did not succeed. Oak charcoal, for the smith's forge, was one of the hottest flames. When the oaks nearly became extinct, laws were passed to protect them. Tannin from the oak's bark was used extensively for tanning leather. Younger oak branches were used for furniture.

Acorns are a powerful antiseptic. The Irish surname MacDara means "son of the oak." Derry and Kildare were named for the great oak groves there and they were sacred sites to the ancient Celts. The oak is the "King of Trees," since it is associated with the High Kings.

My rank and my lordship
my beauty and my face
my nobility and my endurance
my cherished ancestral possessions
my power and my protection
to my chosen champion Russ,
to my noble Failge of the red blade
to my strong and study shelter of good oak.

(Dillon, Miles, trans. Lebor na Cert (Book of Rights). Dubline: Irish Tests Society, 1962

)

Groves of oaks were places of great religious ceremony.

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MORE ON CURATIVE POWERS:

The bark of the oak has astringent properties. Finely powdered oak bark was inhaled for relief from the early stages of consumption (TB). The Druids made a decoction of acorns and oak bark, mixed with milk, as an antidote to poisonous herbs and medicines. Oaks are said to guard against evil.

The white oak (Querous alba) is a North American native. It can grow to 130 feet.

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SOURCES:

Blamires, Helena. The Celtic Lunar Zodiac. Boston: Charles E. Turtle Company, Inc., 1992.

Dillon, Miles. Lebor na Cert(Book of Rights). Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 1962.

Ferguson, Diana. The Magical Year. New York: Quality Paperback Book Club, 1996.

Kruger, Anna. An Illustrated Guide to Herbs, Their Medicine and Magid. New York: Modern Publishing, 1997.

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