In Chapter Eleven of the novel Up A Tree, an oak tree helps Clare’s mother, Lois, to heal a wound from her past. The oak sacrifices itself during a thunderstorm and loses a limb in an effort to transmute Lois’ tragic experience into one of endurance and strength.
The oak tree has long been associated with strength, endurance, longevity, and wisdom. It was held as a most sacred tree by the ancients, and honored as the king of the forest. Druids often gathered in oak groves and chewed on acorns before prophesying.
In Scandinavian lore, oak is associated with Thor, the god of lightning, as this tree is believed to be struck by lightning more than any other tree. The burls and knobs visible on the trunk of an oak signify its history with lightning. Each time it is struck, the sap within boils and forms these gnarls.
In Celtic Reiki, oak is the symbol of the wounded healer. Wounded healers as an archetype are said to hone their healing skills through their own suffering. It is their suffering (wounds) that gives them their wisdom and power.
The same is said of the oak, that it harnesses the lightning with which it is struck to become more powerful and wise. That it has the ability—as does the wounded healer—to transmute the energy of the blow into a source of strength.
This tree is also associated with the death/rebirth cycle. Since being struck by lightning threatens the continued life of the tree, its survival signals that it has stood on the line between death and life and lived on.
There is a wonderful story of the Welsh god, Lleu, who is betrayed by his wife, Blodeuwedd, and challenged to a duel by her lover, in which he is mortally wounded. As he lies dying, he transforms into an eagle and flies up into an oak, where he dies and is reborn, with the help of his uncle Gwydion, who is a magician and a shaman.
After he is reborn, Lleu challenges his wife’s lover to another duel and prevails, thereafter acceding to the throne—an indication that he has regained his sovereignty.
In Up A Tree, Clare’s mother also goes through an amazing transformation due to the healing powers of the oak, and is reborn into a stronger and more vital person.
Do you have a favorite oak tree? Take the time to visit with this tree and leave some offerings to thank it for its strength, beauty and inspiration.