The oak is one of the most written about trees in Celtic literature and was much favoured by the Druids. Indeed the Ogham word for oak, Duir, is thought to be the root from which the word Druid originated. Its title of "The King of Trees" is well suited for not only is it one of the longest living of all the trees of the Celtic forest, but it provides shelter and habitat for an extraordinary variety of different species of plant and animal. It is literally teeming with life from its earliest growth to well beyond its death. In spring the canopy is vibrant with foraging birds and a single tree can have up to thirty different species of lichen growing on its bark.
In summer 100 acres of oak woodland can support up to 400 or more birds from at least 30 different species including Jay, Woodpecker (greater spotted, lesser spotted and green), Nuthatch, Kite, Tawny Owl, Buzzard, Dove, Pigeon, Thrush, Tree Creeper and all the smaller woodland birds. It also provides housing or food sources for many mammals including mice, bats, voles, squirrels, deer and badger. Look further and you will find more butterflies, moths, beetles, galls, spiders, bugs and other invertebrates than can be counted along with mushrooms, toadstools, lichens, ferns, mosses and liverworts. The oak forest is truly a most remarkable and diverse ecosystem. No wonder it has been so venerated since ancient times.
Throughout history, the oak has played a pivotal role in the social, economic and religious lives of the peoples of northern Europe. Its wood is more durable, in every state in which it is placed, than any other tree in Europe. It is hard, tough, not easy to splinter, not readily penetrated by water, exceedingly durable and slow to burn making it ideal for buildings, ships, poles, casks, piles, handles and a host of other uses.
Spiritually it is one of the most magical trees and sacred oak groves are stillmuch favoured for the performance of magic and ritual. Anyone who has sought to work with its energy in a shamanic manner will understand that it takes a great deal of time and patience to form a true connection to this wonderful tree. Because it grows so slowly and can live many hundreds of years, the oak's concept of time is very different from that of humans. To spend an hour with an oak is the equivalent of spending a minute in the company of another person. To truly begin to understand its teaching takes many, many hours of patient work. However to undertake such a task reaps rich rewards for once you "connect" to the energy of the oak, its wisdom and influence will continue to affect your life for decades.
In our modern world we tend to look for a "quick fix" and immediate returns for any effort we put in. The oak teaches a deeper and more profound wisdom that we all would do well to seek. If you seek a multi-dimensional experience of creation, spend twenty-four hours within an oak forest - the experience can be life-changing.