Northern Red Oak : Cultural Significance
The mighty Northern Red Oak signifies strength, nobility, and a willingness to survive for these oaks are unsurpassed in their grandeur, size, longevity of life, and numbers. Oak trees have found a longstanding place in history and culture.
It is often difficult to find mythology that relates specifically to the Northern Red Oak, so this section will focus on the Oaks in general.The ancient Greeks believed that a nature spirit, in the form of a beautiful woman, lived in an Oak tree. They called this spirit, which lived only as long as the tree, Dryads. The tree spirit’s name stemmed from the word “drys,” meaning Oak. In other Greek myths, Oaks are associated with the god of thunder, Zeus. The rustling leaves of a sacred Oak were thought to be the oracles of Zeus. Further, Oaks are believed to be particularly susceptible to being struck by lightening. Shakespeare even made a reference to “oak-cleaving thunderbolts” in King Lear.
Throughout history, many authority figures have revered the Oak tree. The Oak’s connection to power makes perfect sense. Oaks are viewed as a symbol of strength and longevity because of their durable timber, extreme adaptive capabilities, and long life span. For instance, kings would wear Oak leaf crowns and Christians used the tree as a symbol of strength in several Bible passages.
Some believed that the Oak tree was sacred to the gods. Druids believed the Oak to be a sacred tree, the symbol of their religion, and potent source of wisdom. They often worshipped in Oak groves. At Yule, the Druids would extinguish all of their fires. When the new seasons fires were lit, only logs from the Oak would be used.
The amazing strength, beauty, and longevity of the Northern Red Oak have made it a central part of the history of many cultures. The Northern Red Oak seems to bring out the strength in each of us, as in a story of Abraham Lincoln, who was able to find his way home across a river only by using a mighty Oak as a marker.