The Tree of Endurance & Triumph
JUNE 10 – JULY 7
Oak, probably the most famous and important hardwood forest tree, with numerous deciduous and evergreen species, blooms at this time with small greenish male and female flowers on the same twig. Oaks belong to the Beech Family, and there are two distinguishable groups: red and black Oaks produce bitter acorns in the Autumn of their second year, while the white Oak’s sometimes edible acorns mature in the first year. These three sacred colors–scientifically proven recently to be the easiest on infants’ eyes–perhaps helped to sanctify the Oak: it is not only the central tree of the “Year And A Day” calendar-system, but the tree of more deities than any other–no doubt mainly as a result of its extraordinary strength and durability. Known as the tree of shepherds and of Zeus, Hercules, Janus, Juppiter, Thor and all other Thundergods, Llyr, Lycus, Lycaon, The Dagda, Allah, Jehovah (as “El”), and numerous Oak-goddesses, its wood is most often used for making doors. The Old Irish Duir for “Oak” means “door” in many European languages, derived from the Sanskrit Dwr; and the Hebrew letter D is for Daleth (originally Dareth), which means “door.” Duir, like the original Janus, looks two ways–toward the second half of the year and backward toward the first–because he is God of the Oak-month which stands in the middle.
The word Druid means “oak-man,” identifying Druids as members of the cult of the Oak-king about whose annual sacrifice the anthropologist Sir James Frazier wrote in The Golden Bough, The bough was of Oak, and the sacrifice happened on Oak 15–now St. John’s Day, June 24–usually the day after the Summer Solstice. The Celtic year began seven days later (July 2; Oak 23). Since Oak wood gives off the most heat, the two sacred Irish fires of Midsummer Eve (June 22; Oak 13) are fueled with Oak, as was the home-goddess Vesta’s hearth-fire at Rome. Virgil mentions the belief that the roots of the Oak go down as deep into the earth as its branches reach up toward the sky, symbolic of a deity whose powers extend to the Underworld and to Heaven.
The Hebrew, or Canaanite, equivalent of the Oak was the TEREBINTH, the source of Chian turpentine, also known as the Algerine, or Barbary Mastic-tree, or turpentine tree, a hardwood native of Southern Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. Sacred to Abraham and Jehovah of Hebron, the Terebinth is referred to by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a common object of veneration.” The Terebinth groves of the Midsummer sacrifice were called the Ashera, hence the Asher tribe (“royal dainties are on his plate”) ruled this regal “glaring hot” month, their sacred Biblical stone the rare White Carnelian.
In the Irish Brehon Laws, trees are divided into four qualitative categories with fines for unlawful felling scaled to their ratings: in the first category of the Seven Chieftan Trees, Oak is listed first, for its “nobility” based on “size, handsomeness, and its pig-fattening acorns.” Mistletoe found growing on an Oak was held in particular veneration by the druids. In the most ancient myths, the Oak-king (or Terebinth-king) of the Waxing Year died so that his people could live in peace and fruitfulness; he was reborn at the Winter Solstice to his mother and lover, the White Goddess, in nature’s never-ending cycle of death-in-life and life-in-death.
From The Song of Amergin: “I am a wizard: who but I sets the cool head aflame with smoke?” refers to those twin sacrificial fires of green Oak lit on Midsummer Eve, whose painful smoke gave inspiration to the dancers. As Oak was king of all trees to the Druids, so the Wren (Droen) was king of all birds and known as the soul of the Oak. When lightning blasts an Oak it turns as Black (Dub) as the faces of the dancers round the Oak-fires of Midsummer.
The Tree of Thursday, Day of Order, or Law
Sun in Gemini the Twins to June 20;
Sun in Cancer the Crab, or the Cat, June 21 – July 21
Letter: D for Oak in Irish, Duir
Bird: Wren (Droen)
Color: Black (Dub)
Jewel: White Carnelian
Numbers: (Greek) 11 / Irish 12