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Even in ancient times, oaks possessed great symbolic power and similar symbolism among the various peoples in their area of distribution. This was certainly due to the fact that an oak forest, in its function as a nutrient forest at that time, provided everything necessary for the existence of people – food for humans and animals as well as firewood and timber. The fact that it became a sign of eternity is probably due to the fact that an oak tree’s life spanned about 30 generations of people (4). It was often associated with lightning-bearing gods or lords of the gods (17). Among the ancient Greeks, the oak was considered the tree of Zeus. In the ancient city of Dodona in Epirus was the Oak Oracle, where three white-robed women heard the voice of the father of the gods from the rustling of the leaves of the sacred oaks (13). The forest nymphs, also from Greek mythology, take their name, dryads, from the Greek word drys for oak. Zeus corresponds to Jupiter in the Roman world of gods. He is also the father of the gods and a lightning deity. His tree is also the oak. Together with the palm tree, oaks were regarded as symbols of the “golden age” in ancient Rome (4). Among the Celts, the oak was also the tree of the sky ruler and weather god Taranis. Through the Roman historian Pliny the Elder (23/24 – 79 A.D.) it has been handed down that the Celts did not perform any cultic acts without oak leaves (17). The sacral significance of oaks to the Celts can also be seen in the fact that the Celtic word druid, for priest, is derived from duir, meaning oak. The words door and gate also have their origin in the Celtic duir (4). Anyone who cut down an oak grove unlawfully was doomed to die (13). The Irish also assigned the oak with Dagda to a weather god (17) and to the Slavs it was consecrated to Perun or Perkun, whose name comes from the Indo-European word for oak (13). In Norse mythology, the oak is dedicated to Thor, the god of thunder and war. Among the Germanic tribes of Central Europe, he was called Donar. According to legend, he drives a goat cart across the sky, causing thunder, and sends lightning to the earth. Thursday is named after him, which is correspondingly called torsdag in Swedish (13). The oak united both gender aspects in itself. The male in the symbolism of power, glory and pride in the thunder god and the female in the Indo-European primordial mother Ana, who nourishes man and animal with her acorns (17). According to legend, the first man was born from an oak tree. The Germanic peoples worshipped their gods in the forest, which originally covered 90 percent of their settlement area. There were sacred oak groves where sacrifices were made to the gods. These groves were not to be entered by unauthorized persons. Cutting down trees, snapping branches, and killing animals were also strictly forbidden. In case of noncompliance, the death penalty had to be expected. The victorious warrior hung his battle trophies on the trees of these groves and was crowned with oak leaves by the priests (4). In 719, Pope Gregory commissioned Boniface, who later became known as the “Apostle of the Germans”, to Christianize the pagan Germanic tribes. In 723, he had the probably most important tree sanctuary, the Dona Oak near Geismar in Hesse, cut down. In the following years, numerous other tree sanctuaries were destroyed throughout the country. There are different versions of the further fate of Boniface. The most probable is that he was slain in 764 while trying to convert the Frisians as well (5). In spite of the new faith, the rural population continued to show reverence for the trees. As late as the 11th century, a Regensburg monk wrote: “There are peasants who consider it a sacrilege to cut down trees in a forest under which pagan priests once prophesied.” (5). After Christianization, the oak tree served the Catholic Church as an allegory (rationally graspable representation of an abstract concept) for Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary (4). Over time, different regional customs have developed around the oak tree. For example, in Westphalia at the winter solstice, or after Christianization at Christmas, a log of oak was burned to protect the house from fire and for the fertility of the fields. In Schleswig, a piece of bark of an oak struck by lightning was hung up to prevent bee colonies from migrating, because honey was an important economic good in earlier times. From Middle Franconia the custom of hammering three oak stakes into the garden has been handed down. As far as the sound could be heard, it was believed, chickens and geese were safe from the fox (4). To the painters of the Baroque period (1600 – 1730), the oak was a symbol of life (4). In the 18th century it was made a typical German heraldic tree and since then it has been considered a symbol of German love of freedom, pride, power and strength. The poet Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724 – 1803) played a not insignificant role in this (5). It was he who transferred these qualities to the Germans in his poems. He also added oak symbolism to his poems even after the fact. Where before there is talk of laurel shadows and quite normal groves, later there are oak shadows and oak groves (11 and 13). For the Romantics (epoch at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries), the oak was a symbol of hope. An important poet of that time, Joseph Victor von Scheffel (1826 – 1886) dubbed the oak as: “Der Deutschen urheiligster Baum” (4). Even today, oak leaves adorn German cent coins. As a symbol of victory and heroism, the oak tree appears for the first time in 1813 in the Iron Cross (13). The military use of the oak symbolism has endured. From major on up, officers in the German armed forces still wear oak leaves in their rank insignia. The symbolism that developed over time was taken up by the National Socialists in the 1930s, as it fit well with their own ideology. Thus the eagle in the party emblem of the NSDAP carried an oak wreath in its fangs. This later even became the national emblem of the Third Reich (13). The comparison of the German with the oak and the transfer of positive attributes to him can also be found in the Niedersachsenlied by Hermann Grote, which originates from the same time. Here, the first and last stanzas read, “Firm as our oaks we stand all time, when storms roar over the German fatherland.” And in the refrain, the Lower Saxons are described as “storm-proof and earth-growing.” May 27, 2016 | By: Stefan Brönnle | Categories: Myths, Symbols, Plant Spirits | 0 Comments Other names: Eik, Flammeiche, Loheiche, Sommereiche, Eke, Ferkeleiche, Masteiche, Oachen, Eck(e) (Low German), Eck(en)boom (Low German), Eckelboom (East Frisia), Ach’n (Bavaria), Ache (Switzerland). The German name “Eiche” is derived from the Germanic “Eik” (Old High German “eih”, Middle High German “eich”) and means “tree” or “tree of life”. So, mythologically, the oak is THE tree par excellence. “Eik” for its part derives from the ancient Indian “jag”, which means “worship”. It is a revered, sacred tree. The oak is related to the world tree, a tree consecrated to the gods. The botanical name “Quercus” comes from Indo-European roots (kwerk). In Celtic there is a sound shift from “p” to “k”, which gives a direct relation to the god “Perkunas” as well as to the Gallo-Roman “furka” (ahd. Fergunna), which means “forest”. Here, too, the oak is the divine, forest-forming tree. The oak enjoys great symbolic power, especially in Germany. Just remember the minting of the Pfennig pieces or the image on the 5 DM bill. Thus the oak was always also the typical court tree. This choice was associated with the wish that the properties attributed to oaks, but also their proximity to the gods, would have a positive effect on the power of judgment and the justice of the court’s verdicts. The oak is said to attract lightning. This is based (mythologically) on its strong connection with the world of the gods (lightning is connections between heaven and earth). In ancient Greece, the oak was dedicated to the god Zeus (god of heaven and thunderstorms) The worship took place in the Zeus sanctuary of Dodona with the oak oracle. The Dona oak near Kassel was an important Germanic sanctuary, said to have been felled by Boniface. The Romans dedicated the oak to the god Jupiter and sacrificed white bulls to him under the oak. Slavic and Baltic peoples dedicated the oak to the god PerkunasAmong the Nordic peoples, the oak was dedicated to Thor, the eldest son of Odin, the father of the gods. Thor was considered the protector of man against giants, trolls and demons. Thor’s magic hammer was made by the dwarves from the wood of the sacred oak. Other deities associated with the oak are: Herne the Hunter, Odin/Wotan, Tub, Dianus, Janus, Jove, Picus, Cernunnos. In Ireland, the oak was originally considered the tree of Dagda, the supreme Old Irish god. The oak is also dedicated to the goddesses Diana, Rhea, Dione, Dia, Aria, Mary, Hecate, Cardea, as well as Cybele, Rhea and Brighid. St. Mary was venerated as “Our Lady in the Oaks” in Anjou, France. The muse Erato and the nymph Egeria were oak goddesses. The Dryads were fairies who lived in the oaks. To protect thea house from lightning, acorns were hung in the windows. A piece of oak wood carried with you protects from all harm. A fire made of oak wood carries away the diseases. Acorns carried in the pocket protect from pain and disease and grant a long life. They also provide potency and fertility. Planting an acorn on a new moon will bring you money in the near future. The flower essence of the oak is suitable for people who conscientiously and responsibly perform their duties, but often overestimate their strength and overexert themselves. The essence enables them to divide their forces well and to take breaks without having a guilty conscience. The oak tree – connection to the gods. Image: © Thinkstock To our events Because you listened to our podcast, watched our video, or read our blog post: We offer in this blog free of charge per month 10 to 20 posts on the topics of geomancy, shamanism, radiesthesia, perception and much more. Maybe you would like to support our work, buy us a coffee, or just say “thank you”. You can simply send us an amount of your choice via this Paypal link. To our events Because you have listened to our podcast, watched our video, or read our blog post: We offer in this blog free of charge per month 10 to 20 contributions on the topics of geomancy, shamanism, radiesthesia, perception and much more. Maybe you would like to support our work, buy us a coffee, or just say “thank you”. You can simply send us an amount of your choice via this Paypal link.
About the religious meaning of the oak tree A solitary oak tree in the Lewitz nature reserve near Spornitz in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania; photo taken in October 2015 © picture alliance / dpa By Peter Kaiser – 03.04.2016 Oaks can grow large and old – good reasons why they play a prominent role in so many religions. Even in Germany, trees can be discovered that some consider sacred. The guardian of the place of pilgrimage “Mary’s Chapel” walks towards the sanctuary, speaking. “And it is said that no one dared to enter this valley as only a shepherd. And he grazed his sheep here.” Erika Kiewitt was for a long time the “keeper” of the Lady Chapel in Marienborn – the oldest place of pilgrimage in Germany. “And there he saw women with burning torches going to an old oak tree, near a well, bowing and praying. And this old oak stood behind the chapel until 1956, already secured with chains, and then fell victim to a thunderstorm after all [during].”
Oak tree already appears in the Old Testament
The story of the shepherd and the well is called the “Legend of Marienborn.” “Then the shepherd drove his sheep to this well to water them. But they did not drink of the water, they shrank back. So it has this meaning, the water is not for the cattle, but for the people. Then, in a dream, he saw Mary asking her Son to give her this place as long as the world lasts. That one can present his worries and requests here. Then she went down into the well, and the son after that, and then they found this little figure in that well.” It goes on to say that two angels came down from the clouds with a cross and held the cross over the well as a sign that the water was blessed. “This is the well?” “Yes.” “The voice of the Lord makes oaks whirl, and strips forests bare. In his temple all things cry, Glory!” “There is the oak tree in the Bible as early as the Old Testament. The oak is a comparison for strong rulers, but that is rather marginal. And accordingly, it is not then adopted in the hermeneutics, in the interpretation of the Bible.” Explains Beatrice Trinca, a religious scholar at Freie Universität Berlin.
In almost all pre-Christian cultures, no other tree was as revered for its beauty, majestic growth and age as the oak, which can live up to 1,000 years. “And the angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak tree at Ofra.” The oak was sacred to the Germanic tribes, who called the tree “prince of the forests.” In ancient Greece, too, the local distorting oak, or sessile oak, played an important role. Thus the oak oracle dedicated to Zeus at Dodona in northern Greece was the seat of the oldest Hellenic oracle. The priests interpreted the will of the gods from the rustling of the oak leaves. The Romans also held the oak sacred, dedicating the tree to the god Jupiter. The Gauls considered oak forests as sacred places where they offered sacrifices to the strongest and tallest oaks. The Celts called the oak “Duir”, and celebrated religious festivals in sacred oak groves. The mistletoe growing on the oaks was harvested with great ritual effort by the druids, the “oak priests” of Gaul, and was considered very precious. “…and went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak, and said unto him, Art thou the man of God that came from Judah? And he said, Yea.” When Christianity came to Germany, many of the sacred oaks were cut down. In particular, the felling of the Dona oak – dedicated to the Germanic god Donar, or Thor – near Geismar in what is now Hesse has survived to this day. “Especially at the oak, the spirits have differed in the time of Christianization. There were oaks that were sacred to the Germanic tribes, some of which were felled by Christian missionaries in their religious zeal. Then this was also instrumentalized for Christianity, used in the sense that there were the Marian oaks. On the one hand, there are the legends that say that an image of Mary appeared in the oak tree, and so places of pilgrimage came into being. This is also reflected in place names, for example Mariaeich near Munich. Of course, this was also done by hanging icons of Mary on oak trees for the purpose of pilgrimage.” According to the Vita Sancti Bonifatii, written by Willibald of Mainz, the English missionary Boniface was on a missionary journey. In order to convince the majority of the Chatti, who had not yet been converted to Christianity, of the new faith, he had the Sacred Oak in Geismar cut down in 723 in the presence of numerous Chatti. They insulted and cursed Boniface, but the god Donar did not send the lightning bolts expected by the pagans. Convinced that the Christian god was stronger than Donar, the Chatti had themselves baptized by Boniface. “This is not a parallel world, this is actually our natural environment. We’ve disconnected ourselves a bit like that because we often approach nature from the technical side. This is then scientifically described very harshly: Trees as a kind of biorobot, wood suppliers, oxygen suppliers…but ads they are of course not primarily. They are beings in their own right with their own emotional world and their own sense of life, and they have existed alongside us all this time without us taking a close look.” Says Peter Wohlleben, forester and author of the bestseller: “The secret life of trees”. And Beatrice Trinca of the Free University in Berlin says about the oak as a symbol in Christianity…. “Of course, the oak as wood…it was seen as indestructible wood, is a symbol of eternal life, the oak in its fertility, it does have a lot of fruit, and was seen as a symbol of the rapid spread of Christianity.”
Oaks were themselves worshipped as gods
And Absalom met the men of David, and rode upon a mule. And when the mule came under a great oak tree with thick branches, his head caught on the oak tree, and he floated between heaven and earth…. Oaks, like no other tree, make time visible through their longevity. In earlier religions, oaks possessed a numinous dignity, i.e. they were worshipped as gods themselves or as their symbol and abode. Services were held under their crowns long before temples and churches existed. Oaks, and trees in general, are a symbol of Christianity for many. “Now, if you take the Bible: the Bible itself was considered in hermeneutics as a forest where you look for sweet fruits, there are the sweet fruits of understanding. That, of course, is an image for understanding.” In Christian visual culture, the motif of the oak dripping with honey was seen as a sign of the time to come when Jesus is here. For Augustine, honey itself was an image of God’s tenderness and goodness. Both the oak and the honey combine in Christian mythology. The golden honey for the approaching golden age, the oak tree with its durable wood and long life as the tree of eternal life and eternal salvation. But whether as the “queen of the forest” or as the “wise father tree” that helps people with confused emotions, according to medieval beliefs, the oak is still a tree of high symbolic power today. Gcc Compiler For Mac.
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