Acorn Folklore

By Phoenix of Elder Mountain – This Autumn we have had an abundant of Acorns in the Pacific Northwest and in folklore, it means that we are going to have a mighty winter. The Sacred Oak Trees all grow from these little tiny acorns, which the squirrel is the one who graciously plants them in the ground everywhere. I gathered some Autumn articles of Acorns myths and mystery. Enjoy!

Acorn Folk Legends
The Celts, Romans, Greeks and Teutonic tribes all had legends connected to the mighty oak tree. Typically, the oak was related to deities that had control over thunder, lightning, and storms. In Norse legend, Thor found shelter from a storm by sitting under a mighty oak tree.

Today, people in some Nordic countries believe that Acorns on the windowsills will protect a house from being hit by lightning. In parts of Great Britain, young ladies followed a custom of wearing an acorn on a string around their neck. It was believed that this was a Talisman of strength.

The Druids are believed to have held rituals in oak groves, and certainly mistletoe was to be found on oak trees. According to legend, mistletoe was indicative of the a god stopping by via a lightning strike on the tree. Certainly, oak trees seem to be more susceptible to lightning strikes than other trees, although this could be because it’s often the tallest tree around.

Dansk condiment boxAuthor and Artist Carl Blackburn writes: “One thing that seems to tie together much of the ancient reverence for the oak tree is lightning… As the oak is generally one of the tallest trees in the forest, it is well known as the tree most prone to lightning strikes. Once struck, it will continue to thrive. The Druids believed that when mistletoe grew in an oak tree it is magical and sacred as it had been placed there by a lightning strike and was therefore the most powerful of all the mistletoe that grew in the forest.

acorn 00The mistletoe was cut from the oak by a white cloaked priest with a golden sickle, and two white bulls sacrificed. The religious ceremony culminated with the rendering of an elixir that was said to cure infertility and be an antidote to all poisons.”

Rulers often wore crowns of oak leaves, as a symbol of their connection to the divine. After all, if one were a living god, personification of the god on earth, one had to look the part. Roman generals were presented with oak crowns upon returning victorious from battle, and the oak leaf is still used as a symbol of leadership in the military today.

Paul Kendall at Trees For Life says: “Perhaps because of the oak’s size and presence, much of its folklore concerns specific, individual oak trees. Many parishes used to contain what became known as the Gospel Oak, a prominent tree at which part of the Gospel was read out during the Beating of the Bounds ceremonies at Rogantide in spring. In Somerset stand the two very ancient oaks of Gog and Magog (named after the last male and female giants to roam Britain), which are reputed to be the remnants of an oak-lined processional route up to the nearby Glastonbury Tor.

The Major Oak in Sherwood Forest is purported to be the tree where Robin Hood and his Merry Men hatched their plots, and is now a popular tourist attraction (though this particular tree probably does not predate the 16th century).”

Around the reign of King Henry VIII, oak became popular for its use in construction of homes for the wealthy. Managed oak forests in Scotland supplied thousands of pieces of timber for use in London and other English cities. The bark was used as well, to create a dye that was used in ink-making. Today, many modern Pagans and Wiccans continue to honor the oak. It is found in the Celtic Ogham symbols, and contemporary Druids still celebrate its power.

acorn 1.pngFolk Traditions
The acorn is revered as a Christmas ornament, in Germany the oak tree is considered sacred and the acorn is considered a symbol of good luck. Early German Christmas trees were laden with cones, cookies and nuts, most notably the acorn, to commemorate the gift of life and good fortune.

Carrying a small piece of oak would bring about a sense of security and well being, or two twigs of oak tied together with red thread which forms an equal cross was a talisman that could be worn or hung up in the home for protection, strength and security against evil.

Acorns placed on window ledges would guard against lightning strikes and soaking your tired feet in a foot bath infusion of oak bark and leaves will relieve weary feet, but also guide people on their journey. To catch a falling oak leaf brings luck and prosperity. If someone is sick, placing an oak log on the fire to warm the house will help to “draw-off” the illness.

Carrying an acorn was thought to guard against illness and pain, it was also thought to aid longevity and preserve youthfulness. * In olden days young women would place two acorns in a bowl of water to find out if she had found true love. If the acorns moved together “yes” if they moved apart “no”. Squirrels, who love the acorns and gather them in the fall, are symbols of mischief and industry. We love to watch squirrels gather their food and, well, “squirrel it away”… We love to read other blogs and we often find treasures on them. 

The Song of the Acorn Fairy
To English folk the mighty oak is
England’s noblest tree;
Its hard-grained wood is strong
and good as English hearts can be.

And would you know how oak-trees grow,
The secret may be told: You do but need to plant
for seed One acorn in the mould;
For even so, long years ago,
Were born the oaks of old.

acorn halloweenThe National Wildlife Federation
The acorn sustains countless wild creatures such as deer, gray squirrels, red squirrels, chipmunks, wild turkeys, crows, flying squirrels, rabbits, opossums, blue jays, quail, raccoons, wood ducks and more than 100 U.S. vertebrate species eat acorns. In autumn and winter, the acorn is the cheeseburger of the forest ecosystem, easy to find and nicely packaged.  They are one of the most valuable food resources available for wildlife, acorns come in two basic types: red and white, depending on the type of oak they come from.

Sources: Dansk Acorn condiment box; Patti Wigington is a pagan author, educator, and licensed clergy and Author of Daily Spellbook for the Good Witch and Wicca Practical Magic;, 2010; The National Wildlife Federation; Ornaments from Inge-Glas of Germany; 

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Patty says:

    Reblogged this on Campbells World.


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