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Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore

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OLD OAK TREE


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: The old oak tree (29)
Lyr Req: The Old Oak Tree (4) (closed)
(origins) Lyr Add: Squire McCallian/Old Oak Tree (8)
Lyr Req: The Old Oak Tree (9)


GUEST 20 May 03 - 07:20 AM
masato sakurai 20 May 03 - 07:39 AM
Stilly River Sage 20 May 03 - 09:08 AM
BUTTERFLY 20 May 03 - 09:45 AM
MMario 20 May 03 - 09:50 AM
Stilly River Sage 20 May 03 - 10:16 AM
mooman 20 May 03 - 10:25 AM
MMario 20 May 03 - 10:30 AM
Peg 20 May 03 - 10:35 AM
Stilly River Sage 20 May 03 - 11:13 AM
GUEST,Q 20 May 03 - 12:52 PM
Nerd 20 May 03 - 12:58 PM
Nerd 20 May 03 - 01:04 PM
Stilly River Sage 20 May 03 - 03:45 PM
greg stephens 20 May 03 - 03:57 PM
Gareth 20 May 03 - 04:57 PM
GUEST,Q 20 May 03 - 05:01 PM
katlaughing 20 May 03 - 06:01 PM
greg stephens 20 May 03 - 06:47 PM
GUEST,Q 20 May 03 - 10:15 PM
Malcolm Douglas 20 May 03 - 10:30 PM
GUEST,Q 20 May 03 - 10:59 PM
diesel 20 May 03 - 11:46 PM
Peg 20 May 03 - 11:58 PM
diesel 21 May 03 - 01:26 AM
Nigel Parsons 21 May 03 - 03:14 AM
Wilfried Schaum 21 May 03 - 03:43 AM
Wilfried Schaum 21 May 03 - 03:50 AM
Jeanie 21 May 03 - 04:52 AM
ooh-aah 21 May 03 - 05:28 AM
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Peg 21 May 03 - 10:03 AM
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MMario 21 May 03 - 11:20 AM
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*daylia* 21 May 03 - 01:05 PM
Nerd 21 May 03 - 02:20 PM
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Nerd 21 May 03 - 04:28 PM
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katlaughing 21 May 03 - 06:53 PM
Wilfried Schaum 22 May 03 - 02:53 AM
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masato sakurai 22 May 03 - 04:45 AM
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Nerd 22 May 03 - 12:20 PM
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Subject: Oak Trees
From: GUEST
Date: 20 May 03 - 07:20 AM

Why does the Oak Tree figure so much in Folklore


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees
From: masato sakurai
Date: 20 May 03 - 07:39 AM

An article titled The Oak Tree: King of the Greenwood by Glennie Kindred may help.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 20 May 03 - 09:08 AM

It goes way back to the Goddess Diana (of Nemi) and probably earlier. She had an oak grove around her temple, and the fight that involved the warrior/protector of her grove and person led to the naming of James Frazer's expansive series (now distilled into one much smaller but still substantial) text called The Golden Bough. A "golden bough" tree limb was pulled off and used as a weapon.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees
From: BUTTERFLY
Date: 20 May 03 - 09:45 AM

I am no expert on folklore, but I presume rather than having anything to do with the goddess Diana, the importance of the oak tree in folk music stems from the fact that in the British Isles and probably much of Western Europe, it tended to be the dominant tree in much of the countryside when it was better wooded than today, and as it can live a long time (several hundred years) and was very important for timber (for construction of buildings, shipbuilding, etc) it was inevitable that it would become important in folklore. However in certain areas, depending on soil, climate, altitude and history of land use, elm, lime, pine, hazel, ash, etc, would be the dominant tree.

In parts of Ireland hazel was more important, which possibly explains occasional reference to hazel in traditional songs, eg "Flower of the hazel glade" in "Eileen Aroon". However I can think of one song "The Old Oak Tree" apparently from the North of Ireland, based on a murder where the female victim was found buried beneath "an old oak tree". I have been trying to find the words of this song (which appeared on the first Boys of the Lough LP, but so far no-one has sent me the same version). Reference is made to a "Squire McCollum" as the murderer (the victim being only known as "Betsy") so perhaps it relates to a specific murder.

Incidently some people may associate druids with mistletoe and oak trees, but apparenty mistletoe is more associated with apple trees.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees
From: MMario
Date: 20 May 03 - 09:50 AM

Don't foget that the oak woods also supplied a source of food - during better times as mast to fatten hogs and cattle, during lean times the acorns were used for flour.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 20 May 03 - 10:16 AM

Butterfly,

Rather than contradict my scholarly contribution about Diana with your admitted inexpert speculation, you may add those remarks to mine as an addendum. Folklife reflects a spiritual existemce between man and nature, and the early spiritual beliefs that were involved in worship of Diana are so far reaching Frazer's text only begins to describe it. Much of the Diana belief system (later called a "cult" by christians who wanted to downgrade Diana, as they wanted to downgrade many other powerful spiritual or godlike beings as they colonized the world) borrowed from various local beliefs, and from other earlier and/or adjacent beliefs, such as Attis and Cybel.

Human ability to survive and thrive certainly has to do with the ability to recognize the beneficial plants and animals over others. Trees with an obvious function are going to be more important, and perhaps more enspirited, than those that offer no succor. Autochthonous religions (based on a place and it's resources) grew and merged, taking their symbols with them. Some eventually became the hide-bound modern industrial religions, seemingly removed from nature, but with vestigial elements that are there for resourceful theologians to draw from if they wish to promote a more environmental view of the world through religion. Folk music and traditions are all tied in with this process coming and going.

Mistletoe has a primary parasitic involvement with many members of the oak family, and of oak relatives such as elm.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees
From: mooman
Date: 20 May 03 - 10:25 AM

I tend to agree with Butterfly.

Oak was (and still is in some parts) one of the dominant hardwood species in temperate woodland and the wood was extensively used in building, roofing, furniture, doors, shipbuilding and other important uses which would have made it economically important both locally and nationally and probably a common theme in folklore. In addition, Quercus suber, from Southern Europe and North Africa (and now also grown in the Western USA) is the principal source of cork.

moo


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees
From: MMario
Date: 20 May 03 - 10:30 AM

I think the two are probably so intertwined it would be hard to say - a "chicken and egg" situation. Anything that is that economically important to a society is going to get imbued with spiritual aspects


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees
From: Peg
Date: 20 May 03 - 10:35 AM

oh what a wonderful thread! I have thoughts on this but am only on a quick Mudcat break from writing a review for deadline; will weigh in later!

peg (erstwhile forest nymph, Celtic scholar and tree-hugger)


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 20 May 03 - 11:13 AM

If you haven't heard of it, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. This isn't the kind of stuff you're going to hear in church. Unless maybe you're a Unitarian.

Here are a few links, both to Frazer, and to a discussion by a fellow who disagrees with texts that support Frazer. The Golden Bough was written a long time ago and a lot of conclusions have been masterfully reshaped by more recent scholars. But there are basics in his work that serve as an excellent starting place.


http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/frazer/ That particular link comes from This page at http://www.sacred-texts.com/index.htm Very interesting site.
http://www.bartleby.com/196/27.html
http://www.und.ac.za/und/classics/98-16rab.html

SRS


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 20 May 03 - 12:52 PM

Although the interpretations in "The Golden Bough" have been improved upon, it still is wonderful reading on cold winter nights.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 20 May 03 - 12:58 PM

Nobody in any academic field takes Frazer seriously anymore, and the idea that there was a "Diana system" is overstating the case. In the areas where the Celts lived, for example, we have over 400 names of Gods and Goddesses, more than 300 of which occur only once in the historical record. In other words, people worshipped local Gods rather than wide-ranging ones. When the Romans described the area, however, they named any Goddess who remotely resembled Diana "Diana," which is why it appeared to scholars like Frazer as if Diana, Mars, Minerva, etc, were widely worshipped by ancient Celts. In fact, after the Romans moved in, they often added their own name to the Celtic name, and combined their mythology with the Celtic mythology, so we have Sulis Minerva, Mercury Artaios, etc. But this is certainly an artifact of Roman occupation, not a reflection of a wide-ranging cult of Diana (or anyone else) going back to before that occupation.

Stilly is certainly right that the importance of the oak goes back to before Classical times, in other words, before we have good descriptions of anyone's religion. This makes answering a "why" question impossible. The idea that the oak was so common is certainly a possibility, but isn't the rare item usually accorded special importance too?

The real question, it seems to me, is: is it really true that "the oak figures so much in folklore?" What examples of folklore do we have with oaks in them? What about other trees? Certainly in America, the pine features most heavily ("In the pines," "Piney woods," etc) In Ireland, Hazel and Yew seem to have been equally important as oak, and feature equally in folklore, so it depends where you go. I know of no study that actually compares the number of references to oaks versus those of other trees in the folklore of any region of the world, which would be a necessary precursor even to the claim that the oak figures particularly heavily in anyone's folklore.

It would certainly be accurate, however, to say that the oak figures heavily in commentaries on folklore by scholars interested in mythology and, especially, druidism; in other words, people like Frazer. Classical writers mentioned that the oak was particularly important to the Druids, and eighteenth century Druidic revivalists and other neopagans seized on this idea, making the oak central to their own belief systems. Meanwhile, Frazer's writings were in themselves widely influential. (The idea of the oak's importance to druids does not seem to have been universally true, by the way, but certainly in Britain, Gaul, and even Celtic Galatia we have some indications that it WAS true. In Ireland it's a different story).

By the way, "cult," when used by anthropologists and folklorists, does not necessarily have the negative connotations Stilly suggests. If we speak of a "cult of Diana" we mean beliefs about and worship of Diana especially, within a larger religion that also includes other aspects. Thus we also speak of the "cult of the Virgin Mary" within the Roman catholic religion. We don't mean people who program your kids to give all their money to the spiritual leader!


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 20 May 03 - 01:04 PM

I should amend what I said. It is not true that no one takes Frazer seriously; what I meant was that no one takes him at face value. Obviously, his work is important a crucial historical moment in scholarship. But most of his claims have not been supported by later archaeology.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 20 May 03 - 03:45 PM

Interesting, Nerd--point well-made about the colonial appropriation of similar religious practices under the Roman umbrella of Diana. The period from which I'm picking up the term "cult" is how it was applied by the church in Rome at the time the Gnostics were crushed, and earlier. With admittedly sketchy reading about this period, I will note that there was a movement to squash religious impluse that allowed believers to practice without the supervision of an organized church. Such a movement was a threat because believers didn't have to pay (tithe) anyone to tell them how to believe and live and enrich the church in the process.

Jessie Weston's From Ritual to Romance dips into a number of these topics as it explores the various Arthur and Green Knight legends.

Oak and pines were both important in the Phrygian religion of Cybel and Attis. Pines moreso, I think. In the New World you will find any number of trees that had an equally huge religious significance. For example, the Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) of the Northwest was medicinal/spiritual as well as material for shelter and clothing, carved for boats, masks, poles, almost everything. You can light it under some pretty adverse conditions. The spiritual importance probably comes about because of all of the others uses.

A "tree" song my father used to sing often was named something along the lines of "the Madrona" (is it also called a "Rowan?"). It has been many years since I heard it, so I may be combining tree names. The young woman loves one man, but her father wants her to marry a rich noble. He tells her to undress for the nobleman, and she turns into the tree that peels its bark (the Madrona).

SRS


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: greg stephens
Date: 20 May 03 - 03:57 PM

The chorus"Down down derry down" which lasted well in England, long after the Celtic languages had fallen to English, is generally reckoned to contain some religious reference to oak trees. Derry or some veriation of it is Welsh and Irish for oak, I believe, but someone may correct me on that. Dari in Kurdish I think, as well: must be a widespread Indo-European word.
   I dont know that oaks turn up all that often in songs: not as much as willows, for a guess.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Gareth
Date: 20 May 03 - 04:57 PM

Translation from the true tongue OAK = derwen (s) derw or deri(p)
deri---- is a prefix to describe "oaklike".

Trust this helps.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 20 May 03 - 05:01 PM

The rowan (usually called mountain ash in N. Am.) occurs both in Eurasia (Sorbus aucuparia) and North America (S. americana)- different species, but the appearance is similar.
The Madrona tree of California and region (an Arbutus), however, is a native tree, growing over 25 feet, so the tale of a 'noble' has been transferred from another tree and another region (or did a noble 'red man' get changed into a 'noble'? It was planted in European gardens in the 18th century, and may have picked up the tale of the maiden and the noble there. There are Arbutus species in Europe, but nothing like the American tree.

The oak tree in much of the Rocky Mountain west is a scrub species, much disliked, forming thickets that are difficult to penetrate.
"Willow," depending on the region, has been applied to several plants, related and unrelated. Reading the old tales, it is often impossible to tell what plant they are talking about.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: katlaughing
Date: 20 May 03 - 06:01 PM

The Madrone/a, or Arbutus of North America can be dramatic-looking trees! click for photo

Q, scrub oaks are one of the reasons my dad and granddad wore chaps when punching cattle in Western Colorado.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: greg stephens
Date: 20 May 03 - 06:47 PM

Gareth: thanks for the Welsh information re Derry or equivalent. Can anybody give the irish word? I've also just been told that Daristan means forest in Kurdish, but it was a slightly confused discussion so I might have got this wrong.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 20 May 03 - 10:15 PM

Quite a tree, Kat. I am more familiar with them inland where the peeling bark and reddish tints are easily seen.

Near La Veta, Colorado, overlooking what was once their homestead close to the Spanish Peaks, is my great-grandparents grave site. The slope has become infested by scrub oak, which has to be cut back from the monument every year.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 20 May 03 - 10:30 PM

The Scots Gaelic is darach. MacBain (Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language, revised edition, 1911) quotes Irish dair, darach and links the word to English tree. Chambers' 20th Century Dictionary additionally links tree to Greek drys (oak); dory (spear) and Sanscrit dru (tree).


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 20 May 03 - 10:59 PM

Widespread as Malcolm notes. Links to Russian drevo and the word for tree in other Slavic languages, Welsh derwen (oak)-see Gareth post, Lithuanian derva (pine-wood), Old Irish daur, Gothic, Norman, etc., Sanscit as noted by Malcolm.
The word for tree seems to be related throughout the Indo-European languages.
The name oak in its various spellings seems to be confined to the areas influenced by the Teutonic group of languages, at first referring to the European species, but later extended to all species of Quercus world-wide. OED


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: diesel
Date: 20 May 03 - 11:46 PM

Greg Not sure if this helps or confuses...
From the Irish:Taken from an online dictionary)

Darach
nm. g.v. -aich; pl. daraich, oak
Darag
nf. g.d. -aig; pl.+an, oak tree

And of what I did know already

The County of Derry in Ireland is known as the oak county, yet the county of Kildare is an anglicised from 'Cill Dara' or the 'hill of Oak'
County Mayo is named from the Yew tree (maigh-eo) Eo being Yew (though check the spelling here...

rgds

Diesel


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Peg
Date: 20 May 03 - 11:58 PM

some have linked these language roots to the word "druid" and have even roughly translated it as "knower of the oak" but this is perhapos wishful thinking...

peg


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: diesel
Date: 21 May 03 - 01:26 AM

Of that Peg I confess I've never heard.
A quick search through the books brings this up :

Main Entry: dru·id
Pronunciation: 'drü-id
Function: noun
Usage: often capitalized
Etymology: Latin druides, druidae, plural, from Gaulish druides; akin to Old Irish druí druid, and perhaps to Old English trEow tree
Date: 1563
: one of an ancient Celtic priesthood appearing in Irish and Welsh sagas and Christian legends as magicians and wizards


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 21 May 03 - 03:14 AM

Gratuitous link to Hob y deri dando continuing the mention of deri= 'oak' in Welsh

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 21 May 03 - 03:43 AM

Thanks for the link, Masato. The same fits for the oak in Germany. The German oak is proverbial for strength and endurance in battle.

Wilfried


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 21 May 03 - 03:50 AM

An interesting link is in the thread Folklore: Fable and Phrase with some entries about the oak.

Wilfried


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Jeanie
Date: 21 May 03 - 04:52 AM

What an interesting thread !   Information about the oak from a Germanic Heathen perspective can be found here:
http://www.ealdriht.org/herbms.html

-jeanie


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: ooh-aah
Date: 21 May 03 - 05:28 AM

I know that there is a strong link between oaks and the English God Thunor (Scandianian 'Thor') - apparently scholars think that this connection between the oak and thunder gods may have something to do with the frequency with which lightneing strikes them. On tree-lore in general its worth pointing out that Germanic heathens saw the worlds as being cradled in the branches of Yggdrasil, a vast ash (or possibly yew) tree.


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Subject: Oaks & Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Ben A - from Hertford's Green Hills
Date: 21 May 03 - 09:39 AM

Trees are an integral part of the ancient Pagan culture of the British Isles, which survives in many forms and particularly in our folk culture.

On Mayday in our villages Jack o' the Green, or the Green Man dances with the May Queen - an echo of the most ancient human religion. The Green Man is the Horned God. He is the sacrificial scapegoat draped with English Oak. He is Osiris, Mithras, Adonis, Dionysus, and even Jesus. He is the dying and rising God of nature and wild places who is born at the Winter Solstice (Christmas), arrives in the wilds at Imbolc, dies at the festival of the Goddess Oestre (Easter) and rises again three days later.

In other ancient European cultures the mask of Dionysis, Adonis and other equivalent dying-rising Gods were "crucified" on stakes or trees. Osiris himself was found by the Goddess Isis in a tree, whereupon she ressurected him.


Many trees are vital to our ancient culture. The custom of touching or knocking on wood comes from a time when our ancestors would awaken the tree spirits for help, a prayer or a spell.

Oak is the wise old tree of the Horned Sun God, the Green King of the Greenwood.

Willow is the moon/water tree of the Triple Goddess in her waxing (Maiden) and full moon (mother) phase - and the wood of the witches wand.

Hazel is the mystic wood of the wizard's staff and offers "Green Man" style invisibility to those who are initiated in the ancient ways.

Elder is another Goddess tree. Its wise, wizzened trunk is home to the Triple Goddess in her Crone aspect - the aspect of the waning moon.

These and others are trees of medicine and magic to Pagans and workers of magic.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Peg
Date: 21 May 03 - 10:03 AM

Oak trees are now somewhat "endangered" in forests in the Northeast. Actually, that word is somewhat inaccurate, it is that they face the possibility of not being one of the dominant trees anymore.

It seems that the reduced occurrence of forest fires (which oaks tend to survive, while other trees do not--another mysterious bit of their lore) has allowed other trees to grow faster and utilize nutrients the oaks would normally have access to while new trees grew in the charred earth around them. So the now-ubiquitous red maple has become much more prevalent than it was years ago, and since it grows faster then the oak, has tenbded to overshadow it and push it aside in recent years...and this is changing the composition of forests throughout New England and New York state...

according to the New York Times.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Keith A o Hertford
Date: 21 May 03 - 10:05 AM

That's my boy!

Wilfried, I have visited the German war cemetry near Mons and it is striking how differrent to the British yours are. Where ours are laid out like a formal English garden, The German fallen lie in a recreation of a forest glade, with oaks the predominent (only?) tree.
Keith.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stewie
Date: 21 May 03 - 10:11 AM

There are several references to the oak tree in L.C. Wimberly's 'Folklore in the English and Scottish Ballads': for example, the twining of arms about a 'guardian tree' to ensure easy delivery in the pangs of childbirth - 'The Cruel Mother'. Other references are to growing in fairy woods, association with enchantment, sanctity of, swearing by and the soul taking its form.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 21 May 03 - 10:23 AM

Bearing in mind, of course, that the term "Pagan" is a pejorative christian term that was applied to the Other--and is a term meant to imply that the spiritual practices of non-christians was disapproved of by the church. It is a common human practice to give names to those who are Not Us and end up with those names being what Other(s) are called.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 21 May 03 - 10:43 AM

Great thread, and wonderful links! thanks all ...

Here's a few interesting lines from the article "The Mighty Oak" in last year's "Witches' Almanac":

"The oak has long been held sacred, an awe reflected in the prodigious age and impressive height reached by the species. An average life span runs to 250 years, but some oaks in England's Windsor Great Park are over a thousand years old ...

Tales of many ancient European tribes reveal the belief that the oak was the first tree to be created. The Greeks dedicated it to Zeus, and his oracle at Dodona served in an oak grove. Under a great tree a priestess interpreted rustles of the leaves in answer to questions posed by supplicants. Romans believed the oak belonged to the great god Jupiter, and it's leaves were a badge of honor. Oak leaves and acorns formed wedding wreaths to assure fertility. The Teutonic and Scandinavian tribes associated the oak with Thor, god of thunder. Boughs of oak protected home and barn from lightening strikes. Celtic Druids ... so revered the oak tree that their teachings and many spiritual rites were performed in it's shade.

The essential veneration may be traced to the fact that the acorn ... was once a major food source to the wandering tribes of prehistoric Europe.

But look at the tree itself. It's giant twisted form reveals a brooding mystery. The way the branches reach out, turn and thrust against the sky shows it to be the tree a mystic mind would choose as its own. And the acorn in magical lore symbolizes the hightest form of fertility -- creativity of the mind."


The awesome oaks in Windsor Great Park - wow!

More pics of English/Westen European Oaks

And a bit rather painful "Oak-lore" gleaned at this site -- "Toothaches were cured in the 18th century by driving a nail into the tooth or gum until it bled, then driving the nail into an oak tree."

suddenlygratefulformoderndentistrydaylia


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Peg
Date: 21 May 03 - 10:50 AM

Found this at a website called whitedragon.co.uk:


One etymology of the word Druid derives it from "dru-wid", meaning "knower of oak trees", but "deru" also means truth or troth and so could also give the meaning "knower of the truth".

In the Ogham, the Oak is given the word Duir. Duir comes from the Gaelic and Sanskrit word meaning "door" and there are many associations to be found linking the oak, not only to the doors of our houses but also as representing a doorway to inner strength and inner spirituality. The Oak will lead the way to the truth, especially where this is connected to part actions and this revelation will bring strength and vision, and a doorway to new understanding.

Sometimes the road for Oak in the Beith-Luis-Nion is given as Dair instead of Duir. The word dair describes a rutting deer and kingship, connected the Oak and the Oak king to the Beltane rites. It is also closely connected to the Daghdha who is linked to the Earth and the physical attributes of food, sex and crude raw physical energy, also uppermost at Beltane.

In the Beith-Luis-Nion system as described by Robert Graves the Oak, being the 7th tree, is central to the 13 moons and is linked to the Summer Solstice. "The lunar month which takes its name from Jupiter, the Oak-god, begins on 10th June and ends on 7th July. Midway comes St John's Day, 24th June, the day on which the Oak King was sacrificially burned alive. TheCeltic year was divided into 2 halves, with the second half beginning in July, apparently after a 7-day wake, or funeral feast, in the Oak King's honour."


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 May 03 - 11:06 AM

COINWOLF posted a neat little cat ghost story in the Mudcat name thread in which a peg of oak (no pun intended, Peg *bg*) figures slightly.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 21 May 03 - 11:13 AM

Gads, I'm hooked on those venerable oaks now! Check out this picture of the Major Oak of Sherwood Forest!

In his article "King of the Wood -- an examination of the traditions and folklore concerned with the oak tree", Peter Bayliss describes the Major Oak":

"Of course, mention of Sherwood Forest immediately makes one think of Robin Hood and the Major Oak. This gigantic tree, 1000 years old, is still growing in Birkland Wood near Edwinstowe. It is said to have been the meeting place of Robin and his men, and that the entire band used to hide inside the hollow trunk. It seems to have derived its name from a naturalist and antiquarian called Major Haymana Rooke FSA."

For the rest of his article, click here

Enjoy!   daylia


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: MMario
Date: 21 May 03 - 11:20 AM

Robin and his merry men must have liked each other a *LOT* if the entire band hid in that oak!


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 21 May 03 - 11:23 AM

Perjoratives are common to every language. Pagan meant rural, rustic, but, as Stilly says, in Christian Latin it acquired the meaning of someone who preserved the old idolatry.
In Navajo, anaasazi, anglicized to Anasazi, meant an alien, an enemy, and it was applied to the people who had long before abandoned their settlements in what is now Navajo country. The archaeologists took up the word, and now the ancestral pueblo Indians (who these old peoples were) are known as Anasazi everywhere.

Whether the May-day 'survivals' have anything to do with pre-Christian festivals, or have evolved from medieval celebrations and have had 'pagan' attributes added to them by lovers of old fables is a fertile field for argument.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 21 May 03 - 01:05 PM

"Robin and his merry men must have liked each other a *LOT* if the entire band hid in that oak!"

:>) MMario, have you gone and dug up the roots of Mel Brooks' "Robin Hood --- Men in Tights"? And now this silly song is playing in my head ...

"We're men! We're men in tights (real tight)!
We wander around defending the people's rights ..."


Typical Mudcat day ...


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 21 May 03 - 02:20 PM

The problem with a lot of these interpretations, from a folklorist's point of view, is that they're so devoid of specificity:

"He is Osiris, Mithras, Adonis, Dionysus, and even Jesus."

What exactly does this mean? We already know that different mythical figures have life-stories told about them which follow similar patterns. This was noticed long ago. (Most recently Jospeh Campbell made a cottage industry out of pointing it out, and George Lucas made a major industry out of copying it for "Star Wars" movies.) So, theoretically, you could say that these figures are all the same as one another.

But what good does it do from the standpoint of understanding myths to say "Jesus is both Osiris and Mithras?" It's much more useful to say that Jesus's story is like Osiris's in this specific way, and like Mithras's in this other way, and then interpret the stories to try to see why that would be and what it might mean. The promiscuous equating of all mythic figures who bear some simlarities is a modern-day version of what the Romans did, calling all hammer gods Dis Pater and all sky gods Jupiter; it confuses the issue for people trying to get at the specificity of the stories or the beliefs behind them.

The Beth-Luis Nion alphabet is a great example of romantic wishful thinking transformed into neo-Pagan dogma (or the closest one can come to dogma in such a non-dogmatic set of religions!) It was first published in the 18th century, I think (I have the references on my other computer, so if you want them just ask and I'll try to post from there tonight). There was one single informant, a Scottish highlander with some reputation as a bard. He claimed it had been handed down to him orally and that it had existed since Pagan times. The collector, whose name escapes me, dutifully wrote it all down in a treatise on Scottish history. No historian or folklorist or anthropologist or Archaeologist ever believed it, at least not in modern times. There is no evidence for it independent of this one informant. The only person to pick up on it was (of course) Robert Graves, by profession a fiction writer and poet, whose word was uncritically accepted by many many people, but who Anthropologists and Folklorists think was essentially wrong about most things. So now there are hundreds of websites explaining the supposed "Beth-Luis Nion" alphabet as a truly ancient piece of lore, and the only reference they can muster up is to a twentieth century novelist!

The primary places in which we find the Beth-Luis-Nion alphabet now discussed are among neo-Pagan groups such as the "McFarland Dianics," started in 1971. So we aren't really talking about ancient British folklore, but modern neo-Pagan creative invention based on Robert Graves. Look at any sites or books devoted to Beth-Luis-Nion and you will find that all the references are to Graves and to modern Neo-Pagan books with titles like "The Celtic Tree Oracle."

Ogham itself cannot be proven to predate Christianity in any case. If it did predate the coming of Christianity, it was by barely a century. Almost all Ogham inscriptions are merely of the "X son of Y" type. So most of the later "wisdom" about ogham's connection to trees, calendars, pagan religion, druids, etc. is pure speculation, and the primary example is the usual explanation of "Beth-Luis-Nion."

Wimberley's book is another example of romanticism. The ballad "The Cruel Mother" simply refers to leaning one's back against an oak" in order to have something to push against in childbirth. The oak, we might conjecture, is used because it rhymes conveniently with the next line. There isn't much evidence that this refers to "twining one's arms around a guardian tree" unless one wants to find that. In other ballads with this motif, where a character is firing off some parting shots before dying (eg. Johnnie O Braidislea), it can be understood as a way to steady the character's aim. It's unnecessary to look for "deep" meanings outside of that.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 21 May 03 - 03:17 PM

I just remembered that the origin of Beth Luis Nion was Roderick O'Flaherty's Ogygia, which was seventeenth, not eighteenth century. It was O'Flaherty who claimed to have it from a bard, who in turn claimed it was ancient and pagan in origin...


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 21 May 03 - 03:36 PM

Robin Hood is a historic figure who dates back about a thousand years, so one wonders about this tree in the photo. It would have been a sapling. I would suggest that the world "oak" in question in the quote is a metaphorical use of the word or perhaps a single word used in a collective manner (just as "deer" or "fish" can be singular or plural) to indicate that they hid in an oak forest or brake of some sort.

For texts that could provide something closer to an accounting of the role of trees, try examining texts that we know come from very early periods. Sappho and Aesop were contemporaries (may even have known each other) going back to about 600bc. Beowulf is another many are familiar with.

The argument against old texts is that they're translated. Words may have been cleaned up, missed, or mistranslated.

The argument for old texts is that they're translated. Most of us can't read the old forms, and the translators could. If they got it right, a lot of sub-text stuff came through, including everyday activities and the "furnishings" of the world in which the story takes place. Including trees, food, furniture, housing, etc.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 21 May 03 - 04:28 PM

Stilly River Stage makes a good point about the Major Oak, except that Robin Hood, if he existed at all, probably existed in the later twelfth or thirteenth centuries, so only about 7 or 800 years ago. How old is the tree, does anyone know? If Bayliss is right and he wrote recently, it could have been 200-300 years old already when Robin Hood was alive--if he ever lived! In any case, the tradition that associates Robin Hood with the Major Oak is relatively recent, I believe.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 21 May 03 - 04:48 PM

That was a shot in the dark on my part in placing a date on Robin Hood, but I think there is now pretty good evidence that a figure existed in history who the folkhero is based upon. As to whether he did any of the things purported to him, that's another story. An evil Abbess is said to have poisoned an ailing Robin she was supposed to be caring for, and I think his burial site has been documented.

Time for another Metacrawler search. . . I think I saw a biography of him on A&E or saw something on PBS.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 May 03 - 06:53 PM

I haven't read all of this site's stuff, but it looks as though it might have some good info on several real "Robins:" clickety.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 22 May 03 - 02:53 AM

Keith - I don't know the cemetery of Mons, but there are other types of German war cemeteries I have seen and worked at.
Damvillers near Verdun was a mayor centre of the rear area with an Army hospital; there the dead were buried in rank an file under recently planted trees in a regular pattern.
Near this town in Lissey every unit buried their dead in a small forest; there is no recognizable pattern. Some are buried in lines, some in circles around a stone with the units name, sometimes with no place to go between the single parts of the burying ground.
The trees were mostly no oaks.
Often single oaks are planted to commemorate a jubilee or an outstanding event. Around my house are two such oaks. The first planted to commemorate the birthday of Jahn, founder of the German Turner-movement, and the other at Oct. 3, 1990 - the day of the reunification of my divided fatherland. On this occasion I swung the shovel happily.

Wilfried


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Kaleea
Date: 22 May 03 - 03:04 AM

Maybe the old timers just happened to like the Old Oak Tree 'cause of all the pretty yellow ribbons tied around it.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 22 May 03 - 03:30 AM

It's not that there's no evidence for Robin Hood, it's that there's too much. In court rolls and other government documents, different people at different times were given the nickname "Robin Hood" to signify that they were outlaws, suggesting that there was a legend already. This goes back to 1262. Before that, the evidence waits to be discovered; the court rolls and other documents of that era are very difficult to read, and no-one would think of doing so in a quest for a single name! Although a Robert Hod who was outlawed for non-payment of debt does turn up in the 1226 York Assizes, there is no evidence whatsoever that this is the famous outlaw or that he had any exploits at all apart from skipping town to get out of paying! It seems from a marginal note that his nickname was Hobbe, not Robin, in any case.

The upshot is that a "real" Robin Hood is not actually well-documented, or even documented at all. To quote Jeffrey Singman's 1998 book, "no widely accepted candidate has been found, and it may be questioned whether such a discovery is at all possible."

The stories about Robin's death at Kirklees date to the late 1400s at least--the prioress, who is Robin's cousin, in fact bleeds him to death rather than poisoning him, because she is in cahoots (and in love) with an enemy of Robin's, Roger of Doncaster. This is alluded to in several ballads, including the Geste of Robin Hood.

The grave site at Kirklees cannot be verified, and the stone marker that reportedly used to stand there until the eighteenth century is certainly a fake. The epitaph was based on a poem by Martin Parker written in the seventeenth century, but translated into pseudo-old English. It identified Robin as the Earl of Huntingdon, but the Earldom of Huntingdon was held by the Scottish royal family during the relevant centuries. Thus, unless we are to believe that the King of Scotland (or one of his brothers, depending on the year) was running about as an outlaw in England, it is impossible that Robin was the Earl of Huntingdon, and thus impossible that the epitaph is anything more than a cute piece of fiction.

Geez, we happen to be talking about two of the things I've researched recently: tree-lore and Robin Hood! Sorry to be such a...well, nerd!


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: masato sakurai
Date: 22 May 03 - 04:45 AM

From A Concordance to the Child Ballads:

oak (13)
91A.13    2   /as she sits in her chair of oak,/And bid her come to my
91A.19    2   /as you sit in a chair of oak,/And bids you come to her
103A.18    1   leand her back against an oak,/And gae a loud Ohone!/Then
101C.10   3   it roun wi the leaves o oak,/And gart it burn wi ire.
18D.6   2    /And he cut down the oak and the ash as he came along.
20D.3   1    set her back untill an oak,/First it bowed and then it
101A.17   1   /O he's pu'd the oak in good green wood,/An he's
90A.7   4   grave,/Beneath a green oak tree.
102B.18    4   dead,/Beneath the green oak tree.
103A.45    4   /Stands by yon green oak tree?
90A.20    4   /Beneath that green oak tree.'
102B.23    2    came,/Unto the green oak tree,/And there he saw his
20[O.5]    1   leant her back against an oak,/With bitter sighs these words

oake (1)
67A.18      2    a full great othe,/By oake and ashe and thorne,/`Lady,

oaken (4)
65E.12    4    /To be burnt in a oaken'
245D.11    3    /An whar he's wantit an oaken bolt/He's beat the yellow
245D.9      3   pin,/An whar ye want an oaken bolt/Ye'll beat the yellow
101B.24    3    the fire,/Well set about wi oaken spells,/That leamd oer

oak-tree (2)
156E.12      2      bower,/Beyond yon dark oak-tree I drew a penknife frae
142B.21      2    /And danced about the oak-tree:/`If we drink water while

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: masato sakurai
Date: 22 May 03 - 05:12 AM

Additions:

oke (10)
31.27    3    shee sate/Betweene an oke and a green hollen;/Shee was
31.15    3    shee sate/Betwixt an oke and a greene hollen;/She was
137A.22    1 /At last Kits oke caught Robin a stroke/That
126A.8    3    I have a staff of another oke graff,/I know it will do the
126A.13    3    I have a staff of another oke graff,/Not half a foot longer
126A.12    3    took up a staff of another oke graff,/That was both stiff and
8C.20    1    thou behinde this sturdie oke soone will quell their pride;
126A.15    2    reply'd,/`My staff is of oke so free;/Eight foot and a half,
137A.5    1    /A good oke staffe, a yard and a halfe,/
126A.36    2    danc'd round about the oke tree;/'For three merry men,

oken (2)
101[D.18]    3    /And he made a fire of the oken speals,/An warmed his lady
137A.18    2    Hood,/`Ffor ye have got oken staves;/But tarie till wee can

okes (1)
116A.56    2    bete on the gate,/With str' okes greate and stronge;


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 22 May 03 - 11:49 AM

Nerd, I'll have to keep my eyes open for the program that I picked up my information from and check out its date and sources. It has been long enough since I saw it that I don't remember many of the names you mention, if they were present or not. Bleeding or poisoning--either will get the job done! The information was presented in such a way as to suggest that there weren't ambiguities such as you catalog.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 22 May 03 - 12:20 PM

SRS,

Both A&E (Biography) and the History Channel (History's Mysteries) have done Robin Hood shows in the last few years. The thing is, both those shows had to suggest that there was a historical person because of the nature of the show--biographical and historical, not folkloric and legendary. So they did include the ambiguity we've spoken of, but they usually disguise it by finishing each section with a line like: "so, although not all historians are convinced, there's a good chance this obscure churchyard is Robin Hood's final resting place." It's not inaccurate, because it's true that "not all historians are convinced," but it would be more honest to say that "no historians are convinced!"

TV docs pick interviewees from a wide range of people. Usually they've got one historian whose carefully-edited interviews present only the more positive side of their arguments (I know this 'cause I've read their books), one re-enactor who tells you how Robin Hood "would have done things," one neo-pagan spokesperson who talks about the more mystical side of Robin Hood, and the current Sheriff of Nottingham, who wants people to visit the Robin Hood theme park there and so does a good deal of public speaking about Robin Hood in Nottingham. They don't really make it clear who's who, because they can just list J.C. Holt (an eminent Cambridge historian), John Matthews (a well-known neo-pagan author and spiritual workshop leader), and Richard Whatsisname (a re-enactor; I really did forget his name) as "Author:" with the title of their respective Robin Hood books. It looks like they're all equally expert.

Both shows actually do a rather good job of covering many aspects of the legend, but both try to leave viewers with the general impression that there was a historical figure because they are shows dedicated to history and biography.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 22 May 03 - 12:30 PM

Oh, SRS, I should also say that in the Robin Hood world, there is a partisan battle that goes on between Yorkshire and Nottingham that is partly about tourist dollars and partly about county pride. Each group wants to prove that the "real Robin Hood" lived in their county. The early ballads are split between Sherwood Forest (Nottinghamshire) and Barnesdale (Yorkshire), so each side has a legitimate claim. It even gets silly, with some of the Nottingham crowd claiming that the "Barnesdale" of the ballads was really a small hollow within Sherwood Forest called "Bernisdale," and not the famous Yorkshire Barnesdale which is ludicrous given the geographic specificity of the Barnesdale ballads.

Because of this war of words, there is always a ready supply of "researchers" (really enthusiasts) who are willing to claim that "we have a good candidate for the Prioress of Kirklees in 1234" or what-have-you. Serious historians don't agree with them, but they are considerably more vocal than serious historians. I seem to remember one of the shows presenting some of these views, so that may be the one you saw.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 22 May 03 - 12:53 PM

There is also the layering on of fiction from movies and television. As a child I remember watching Richard Greene as Robin Hood--I don't remember anyone else in the cast. And there were quite a few viewings of the Errol Flynn/Basil Rathbone/Claude Raines version also. I haven't seen the newer films, Connery and Hepburn, or the Costner telling. If anything, I'll go dig out the Mel Brook's movie.

The trees portrayed in the Flynn movie must have been oaks--even if they were a California variety. They're just the best kind of tree for dangling netting and conducting ambushes from, I'm sure of it!
;-)

SRS


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 22 May 03 - 01:00 PM

A highwayman tosses a coin to a peasant- and the legend is born!


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: katlaughing
Date: 22 May 03 - 01:47 PM

I just found a picture of me, about 5 years old. My brother had just come home for a visit from Southern Illinois Uni. and had brought me a Robin Hood cap, complete with long feather. I already had the bow and arrows. Anyway, I've got the hat, which says "Robin Hood" on it, on in the picture.:-) I'd forgotten about it until now.

I would imagine there must be some songs about the Charter Oak (scroll down) of Connecticut. It's quite a tale of how the early patriots hid their Constitution from the English in the 1600's, for over two years, in the hollow of a grand old oak tree. There is still a first-generation "offspring" of the original Charter Oak in Bushnell Park, in Hartford. There is a picture of it on that same page.

kat


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 23 May 03 - 10:18 AM

kat, that's quite the story about the Charter Oak - too bad it's days of gracing the landscape are over! I really enjoyed the link re multiple Robins - thanks. I've a hunch that this hypothesis re the origins of the Robin Hood legends (found at this section of kat's link) is the closest to the truth -- "The first Robin Hood play is recorded as being performed at Exeter, not long after the first May Games are recorded there. Professor Lorraine Stock notes that Exeter Cathedral is filled with "Green Man" imagery, the human head with foliage growing out of his mouth. The Green Man, like Robin, has ties to the virgin Mary. (The Exeter Cathedral is dedicated to her.) And Stock feels that the traditions of the Green Man, and the Wild Man, influenced the growth of the Robin Hood legend."

Interesting that "Robin" was also a medieval name for the "devil", and that the color green was often associated with the devil.

Nerd, I'm so GLAD you're a nerd! Thanks so much for your most interesting and informative posts! May your "nerdliness" prevail ...

You too, SRS (not the nerdliness, of course!) This is a wonderful thread ...

Masato, thanks for your verses from the "Concordance of Child's Ballads"!   I looked up the word "bower", and found it meant a dwelling or shelter, particularly one made out of "tree boughs or vines twined together: ARBOR (as in a garden)".   Now I have a question -- does this have anything to do with the fact that in the game of Eucher, the Jacks of the same color are called "Right and Left Bowers"?   The "Bowers" are the highest trump cards in the deck, beating even the Kings, Queens and Aces. Quite the "Bower-Power" granted to the lowly, "common" Jacks! Reminds me a lot of the Robin Hood legends.

daylia


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 23 May 03 - 02:52 PM

The bowers in Euchre seem to come from another meaning of the word- peasant. Both cards are "knaves." The term applied to cards first appeared in 1872, in the Bret Harte story, "Heathen Chinee."

Bower in the sense of cover, canopy (and eventually arbor) first appeared in print in the 16th century.

There are several other meanings to the word. See OED. The earliest meaning was a dwelling or place of abode.

Bowery, the NY area, came from an old meaning of bower; a farm.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 23 May 03 - 03:44 PM

Bowery in New York was probably a Dutch word then, because back when Manhattan still had farms it was also probably still Dutch.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: katlaughing
Date: 23 May 03 - 05:57 PM

According to the New Nederland Project (in pdf, sorry), bowery does come from the Dutch bouwerij or boerderij and became known as such from the original name of Petrus (Peter) Stuyvesant's farm/plantation.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 23 May 03 - 06:50 PM

There were farms in parts of what is now New York City in the 19th century.

Bowery:
Dutch bouwer, farmer, from bouwen, to till. "A colonial Dutch plantation or farm." Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

Bower: The English word, usages for farm, peasant, did come from the Dutch bouwer, or German bauer, first appearing in the 15th century.

Bowery: "a farm, a 'plantation', hence the 'Bowery' in New York City."
The term was first used in "Knickerbocker Tales," by Washington Irving in 1809. OED.

Since bouwerij means farm or husbandry in Dutch, the entry in the website would mean that the original name of Stuyvesant's farm was 'farm,' hardly likely. But the name DID come from his farm. Stuyvesant had gone back to Holland after the English took over, but was reviled at home as a loser, so he came back to New York and set up a farm, a 'bowery.' St. Mark's Church is built over his grave site.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 23 May 03 - 07:12 PM

Over his grave site, or he's buried in the churchyard?

Sounds like the English went a-bowerrowing this bit of the language, eh? ;-)

SRS


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 23 May 03 - 07:29 PM

The church is on the site of his grave. Don't know if they moved his remains or just plowed them under. Need a NY history buff here.

English is a conglomerate of Indo-European languages. And some from outside that big group. That is why it is the current internatioal language, like Latin used to be for a long time.

Esperanto is, and will remain, as useless as Klingon. Sorry, Leland.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 23 May 03 - 07:57 PM

I'll be there next month with my 15-year-old daughter, her first trip to The City. If we go by there I'll ask. Or the place to get some good Stuyvesant information is at Federal Hall, where they have an exhibit and some of his artifacts.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: katlaughing
Date: 23 May 03 - 09:47 PM

Well, there is an interesting paper on Stuyvesant by a scholarly descendant at this site, which includes this bit:

In the spring of 1651 Stuyvesant purchased from the Dutch West India Company land which he called the Great Bowery (or farm). This property ran from the East River to the present Fourth Avenue and Broadway in an area bounded by Fifth Street on the south and Seventeenth Street on the north, roughly the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He paid 6400 guilders for the land. He had a house there, a barn, six cows, two horses and two young Negroes. It was clear that Stuyvesant meant to remain on Manhattan for some time.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: ooh-aah
Date: 23 May 03 - 10:10 PM

It's amusing that Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire argue as to which of their counties Robin Hood was from, when of course he was a Derbyshire lad. Little John certainly was, he's buried in Hathersage!


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 23 May 03 - 10:45 PM

Not clear if the farm that he had after his return to New York (in 1667) was the same as the one that he had before the English takeover in 1664. He was absent for about three years and may have disposed of the earlier farm. The Bowery is named after the one he held at his death in 1672. I haven't been able to track this down.


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 23 May 03 - 11:17 PM

This brief bio seems reasonably accurate. Stuyvesant
It seems that he kept the same farm of 62 acres, the "Great Bowerie," which was tilled and maintained by 50 slaves. His house burned down in 1777. His son's house still exists as the Fish mansion.

A partial answer for Stilly R S- his tomb is in the outer wall of St. Mark's Church, which, as a chapel, was maintained for a time by his wife. A little more data at Tomb St Mark's
The chapel was replaced by the church. Stuyvesant ST

links fixed
by a
joe clone


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 23 May 03 - 11:25 PM

I won't try to relink the two I messed up.
WWW.forgotten-ny.com/Alleys/stuyvesant/stuy.html
www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=999


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Subject: RE: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 23 May 03 - 11:47 PM

Q, Thanks--the last couple of links aren't working, but I went looking on my own. Here is a chronology at St. Marks.

I have thought about the exhibits at Federal Hall--I had the wrong personage. It's John Peter Zenger whose printing press was on display, though there could also have been Stuyvesant objects also. Here is an online timetable site that might be of interest to some of you.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 24 May 03 - 12:33 PM

Thanks everyone for the information about the word "bower". If the origins of the game Euchre do lie with the Pennsylvania Dutch, then the meaning of the word "bower" as "farmer" does make sense.

However, there is some debate as to the origins of Euchre. Some enthusiasts point to 18th century Europe and the French card game "Juker", in which a Joker was used as a "wild card" or "best bower", higher than the right/left bowers and trumps (some American players still use the Joker today). It's said that the English loved the game but hated it's creators (the French), so the name was changed to "Euchre" before it was brought to America in the 1800's. Either way, the meaning of the word "bower" as "peasant" rings true.

Although the etymology of the word "euchre" is unknown according to Webster's on-line dictionary, some say it has it's roots in the Greek "EOS", which means "favor or grace". (The Greek "eos" is also the root of the word "Eucharist", the breaking of the bread, or holy sacrament of the Catholic Mass). My own interpretation is that the game of Euchre probably expresses an ancient dream of the "common people" - to be (divinely?) "empowered" beyond that of even royalty.

Which brings us back to Robin Hood and the Major Oak. There's more information and pictures of this ancient tree, said to be the oldest in England at over 800 years, at this link.

Considering the time-honored European beliefs about oak trees being sacred "vessels of the Divine", dwelling places for woodland spirits/faerie folk and mediums of prophecy and knowledge, there's little wonder that Robin and his merry men came to be associated with an oak tree. This association lends even more credibility to the theory that the Robin Hood legends have their roots in the ancient Celtic pagan god of Nature, the "Green Man" or "Wild Man". (Parallels are found in the Greek god "Pan"). And certainly this association would have made him an "outlaw", a hero of the common folk who wished to remain loyal to their "old ways" once the Christianization of the British Isles began in earnest.

No discussion of "sacred oaks" would be complete without mentioning St. Boniface and the Oak of Donar (Thor) St. Boniface was the English missionary who converted the Germanic peoples to Christianity in the 8th century. The Germanic peoples had long revered the "sacred" oak, decorating it with golden apples at the Winter Solstice.

Apparently St. Boniface was so determined to rid the people of their ancient pagan "oak-worship" that he "felled a great oak tree that was a center of worship for the then Druid peoples. In felling the tree Saint Boniface hoped to symbolize the end of the old beliefs. However, the legend maintains that a small fir sapling was somehow left standing (or later appeared, depending on the version of the legend), and the missionary offered up this new tree as a symbol for emergence of the new Christian beliefs. (Hey, if you're dealing with tree worshipers, its best not to push them too far in one step!) So, hence forth, fir trees came to be associated with the early Christian rituals in this part of the world. Instead of decorating oak trees for the winter solstice, as had been the custom in pagan times, the new found Christians decorated fir trees for "Christmas" (the mass celebrating Christ's birth)... The early missionaries of Christendom were wise enough to know that it was one thing to change the nature of the gods people believed in (and which type of tree they might revere), but it was quite another thing to tamper with the timing of a great and traditional festival. So the Christian stories and mythology were adapted to the existing culture of these people ("the return of the sun" shifted to the "coming of the son"), and in much the same manner Christianity and other religions have spread and continue to spread to this day." (emphasis mine). So that's why today's Christmas trees are evergreens and not oaks!

There are many other versions of this story. One is that St. Boniface felled the Oak of Donar to prevent a human sacrifice about to be performed by the Druids there -- a tale which certainly serves to "demonize" the Druids and their pagan ways. Another is that he did not stop with the Oak of Donar, but sought to destroy all the oaks in Germany. For another rendition of the tale, click here.

Oak-ay, I'm all done for now!   

daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 24 May 03 - 02:26 PM

Euchre- the OED says the term has long been thought to be German, but "no probable source has been found in that language." The OED speculates that it could be the American-Spanish word yuca, or "cock of the walk." This is more likely since the game is American as far as is known, first mentioned in print in the 1840s, but the quotation implies that the game had been around for some time.
Railroad euchre has a joker.
The term 'bower' may have been an addition to the game since it is not known in print before the 1860s.
On the other hand, bower in the meaning of peasant was taken into English at least by the 1400s, long before the 'Pennsylvania Dutch' came to America.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 24 May 03 - 06:05 PM

Well, for Robin Hood and his merry men, the 'bower' sounds like the right place to be, according to Child's Ballad No. 150 -- Robin Hood and Maid Marian.

"14 When bold Robin Hood his Marian did see,
         Good lord, what clipping was there!
       With kind imbraces, and jobbing of faces,
         Providing of gallant cheer.


15 For Little John took his bow in his hand,
       And wandring in the wood,
   To kill the deer, and make good chear,
       For Marian and Robin Hood.


16 A stately banquet the[y] had full soon,
      All in a shaded bower,
   Where venison sweet they had to eat,
      And were merry that present hour.


17 Great flaggons of wine were set on the board,
       And merrily they drunk round
   Their boules of sack, to strengthen the back,
       Whilst their knees did touch the ground."



Lusty drunken tree-huggin "bowerish" lot that they were! Seems like they've won just about all the "tricks" too (he he he), including the trick of remaining fertile ground for the birth of fresh new myths, legends and songs for almost a millenium.

Now, I wonder if that particular "bower" mentioned in the ballad was fashioned by twining together the boughs and vines of the Major Oak ...

;>)   daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 24 May 03 - 08:20 PM

In one of the Robin Hood ballads in Child, Robin has a staff of ground oak. What plant is this?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Ebbie
Date: 24 May 03 - 09:46 PM

Wow. Those oaks look Tolkien bred. I've never seen any that massive or gnarled.

Southeast Alaska has no oak at all; I miss them. It's either too wet or too cold or a combination.

Growing up in western Oregon, I and my brothers often slept outdoors under the spreading branches of the grove of oaks that ringed our very large back yard. We didn't have sleeping bags, just bedrolls made up of mother-made comforters; they were heavy and coarse, and our wild barn cats would sleep nestled next to our warm heads and scamper off when we woke. In the mornings we woke very early and padded barefoot through the dew-wet grass to bring in the cows; a magic time.

As to Robin Hood- in the stories I read when I was but a child, Marian was not his inamorata but that of Alan o'Dale. What's the scoop on that?

Robin Hood was my first absolute hero. I was a girl but I saw no contradiction between that and living in vast forests, bow or staff in hand, flitting from tree to tree, miraculously evading capture. Nowadays, of course, I wonder - where did they keep their horses? What did they feed them? If they bought/stole/were given hay in the winter time where did they store the provender? Where did they keep their cooking pots? Their clothes? Why did no one ever stumble upon their campsites?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 24 May 03 - 10:31 PM

There is a song on one of my Ed McCurdy albums about a "Heathen Chinee" who cheats at Euchre, something to do with a "right bower." This is from memory, I don't have the song handy. I'll have to dig it out. He has packs and packs of cards up the ornamental sleeves of his jacket. (A totally Un-PC song!)

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 24 May 03 - 11:18 PM

I hope you post the song, Stilly R S. McCurdy or whoever wrote it probably based it on the Bret Harte story, "Heathen Chinee." That story has the first mention in print of the term 'bower' applied to Euchre.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 24 May 03 - 11:32 PM

GUEST Q, Here's the ballad -- "Robin Hood and Little John" No. 125. According to the link, "ground oak" means an oak sapling. In the ballad, Robin has just met Little John, and the two are testing their 'manliness' (I remember this hilarious scene in the Mel Brooks' movie!):

" 'Thou talkst like a coward,' the stranger reply'd;
'Well armd with a long bow, you stand,
To shoot at my breast, while I, I protest,
Have nought but a staff in my hand.'

'The name of a coward,' quoth Robin, 'I scorn,
Wherefore my long bow I'll lay by;
And now, for thy sake, a staff I will take,
The truth of thy manhood to try.'

Then Robin Hood stept to a thicket of trees,
And chose him a staff of ground-oak;
Now this being done, away he did run
To the stranger, and merrily spoke:

Lo! see my staff, it is lusty and tough,
Now here on the bridge we will play;
Whoever falls in, the other shall win
The battel, and so we'll away...

... The stranger gave Robin a crack on the crown,
Which caused the blood to appear;
Then Robin, enrag'd, more fiercely engag'd,
And followd his blows more severe.

So thick and fast did he lay it on him,
With a passionate fury and ire,
At every stroke, he made him to smoke,
As if he had been all on fire..."



Ah, the legendary "fire-power" of oak-wood! Thor must've been proud!

Speaking of Thor, I found more information about St. Boniface and the Oak of Donar at this link. Certainly no fool, the missionary saw to it that the wood from this great oak was used to build an oratory dedicated to St. Peter. No doubt the construction material itself was the main attraction for the site's new congregation!

" ... Boniface sought to fell a tree of great size, at Geismar, and called, in the ancient language of the region, the oak of Thor.

The man of God was surrounded by the servants of God. When he would cut down the tree, behold a great throng of pagans who were there cursed him bitterly among themselves because he was the enemy of their gods. And when he had cut into the trunk a little way, a breeze sent by God stirred overhead, and suddenly the branchtop of the tree was broken off, and the oak in all its huge bulk fell to the ground. And it was broken into four huge sections without any effort of the brethren who stood by. When the pagans who had cursed did see this, they left off cursing and, believing, blessed God. Then the most holy priest took counsel with the brethren: and he built from the wood of the tree an oratory, and dedicated it to the holy apostle Peter."


Interestingly enough, this site about St. Boniface claims that he was educated partly at the abbey school of Exeter, the community where the first Robin Hood plays were staged! What a coincidence!

daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 25 May 03 - 12:16 AM

It might not be McCurdy--as I consider it, I think it's Richard Dyer-Bennet. I don't see the song on the Richard Dyer-Bennet 1 CD, so it must be on one of my tapes of other recordings.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 25 May 03 - 12:35 AM

Q: I found it: on Richard Dyer-Bennet 12, the song is called "Plain Language from Truthful James." I found it in a search, here is the Bartleby link. It looks like the Bret Harte poem (not story) was simply put to music. I don't know if Dyer-Bennet did the tune; I don't have liner notes handy for this one (I may have it elsewhere around the house, but it's too late to start looking for that tonight). This isn't in the DT.

Of course, at this point, this is total thread creep, as it has nothing to do with oaks or Robin Hood.

SRS

Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse. 1912.
Francis Bret Harte. 1839–1902

200. Plain Language from Truthful James


Table Mountain, 1870

WHICH I wish to remark,   
And my language is plain,   
That for ways that are dark   
And for tricks that are vain,   
The heathen Chinee is peculiar,          5
   Which the same I would rise to explain.   
   
Ah Sin was his name;   
And I shall not deny,   
In regard to the same,   
What that name might imply;   10
But his smile it was pensive and childlike,   
As I frequent remarked to Bill Nye.   
   
It was August the third,   
And quite soft was the skies;   
Which it might be inferred   15
That Ah Sin was likewise;   
Yet he played it that day upon William   
And me in a way I despise.   
   
Which we had a small game,   
And Ah Sin took a hand:   20
It was Euchre. The same   
He did not understand;   
But he smiled as he sat by the table,   
With the smile that was childlike and bland.   
   
Yet the cards they were stocked   25
In a way that I grieve,   
And my feelings were shocked   
At the state of Nye's sleeve,   
Which was stuffed full of aces and bowers,   
And the same with intent to deceive.   30
   
But the hands that were played   
By that heathen Chinee,   
And the points that he made,   
Were quite frightful to see,—   
Till at last he put down a right bower,   35
Which the same Nye had dealt unto me.   
   
Then I looked up at Nye,   
And he gazed upon me;   
And he rose with a sigh,   
And said, "Can this be?   40
We are ruined by Chinese cheap labor,—"   
And he went for that heathen Chinee.   
   
In the scene that ensued   
I did not take a hand,   
But the floor it was strewed   45
Like the leaves on the strand   
With the cards that Ah Sin had been hiding,   
In the game "he did not understand."   
   
In his sleeves, which were long,   
He had twenty-four jacks,—   50
Which was coming it strong,   
Yet I state but the facts;   
And we found on his nails, which were taper,   
What is frequent in tapers,—that 's wax.   
   
Which is why I remark,   55
And my language is plain,   
That for ways that are dark   
And for tricks that are vain,   
The heathen Chinee is peculiar,—   
Which the same I am free to maintain.   60


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 25 May 03 - 12:55 AM

Interesting: I found several copies of the Bret Harte book as items in a closed auction. You can click on the images to get enlargements of the title pages.

I think I'll stop now. It feels (after three consecutive postings) like I'm talking to myself. ;-)

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 25 May 03 - 04:24 PM

The poem first appeared in the Overland Express, followed by the 1870 edition which was issued on nine cards, illustrated by Joseph Hull, in an envelope, with the title "The Heathen Chinee, Plain Language from Truthful James," Western News Co., Chicago. Limited editions with comments and background followed in the 1930s, some of which sell for as much as an original copy.

Apparently it helped inflame anti-Chinese feeling in the United States.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 25 May 03 - 04:27 PM

Lyr. Add: The Heathen Chinee, Plain Language from Truthful James, by Bret Harte.
Posted by Stilly River Sage, above.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 25 May 03 - 05:09 PM

The "anti-Chinese feeling" in the US probably had a lot to do with this ...

"And he rose with a sigh,   
And said, "Can this be?   40
We are ruined by Chinese cheap labor,—"   
And he went for that heathen Chinee."


It was the same situation in Western Canada at the time, with the labour unions in BC fighting against the "cheap labor" imported from the Orient.

But 24 Jacks up your sleeve at a Euchre game? Even playing one before the bowers make their appearance? I can believe that "heathen Chinee" had no understanding of the game!


:>)   Thanks SRS!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 25 May 03 - 08:25 PM

Er, well, I think that's the point!

In 1884 the Chinese exclusion act (it has been a while since I had to pull this info out of my hat, but it is this name or something similar) restricted the direct entry into the U.S. by Chinese laborors or immigrants. The companies that built the railroads and ran the mines had been encouraging them to come for many years. In theory the law was intended to a degree to protect the Chinese who were being treated dreadfully by that time by some of the employers and by the communities they lived in or near. Many came in through Canada, sometimes crossing the continent north of the border and coming in via the eastern cities to avoid detection.

It seems to me that there was a real hardship also because men were still getting in but women weren't allowed in, making it difficult to bring families or wives (or potential wives) here. I'll have to go look it up before I try expanding on this idea. Which gets ever further from Robin Hood and oaks (unless you want to get into stories like the 1854 The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta, the Celebrated California Bandit by John Rollin Ridge, which is a Western take on an old theme of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, all mixed up with Chinese laborors and Mexicans and Indians. It was actually an allegory to do with what was going on in Cherokee land, where Ridge's father was murdered and other family members killed or put off of the land. That was the richer taking from the well-to-do, in Ridge's case.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 26 May 03 - 02:13 AM

Bower for a peasant seems reasonable. Don't forget the Germans whose language is often called Dutch over there.
Here we find Bauer = peasant, the sound au pronounced like in how.

Wilfried


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 26 May 03 - 03:47 AM

On the other hand, when we are discussing trees there is only one item possible:
bower n : a framework that supports climbing plants; "the arbor provided a shady resting place in the park" [syn: {arbor}, {arbour}, {pergola}] v : enclose in a bower [syn: {embower}]
source

as used by Coleridge in
this poem

A framework isn't necessary if we consider the broad branches of the oak.

Wilfried


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 26 May 03 - 09:08 AM

As noted previously, Bower with regard to shelter or plants has several meanings, most of which were in the English language by the 1400s or before (OED); Old English from Teutonic roots:
1. a dwelling or abode (in print by AD 1000).
2. an idealized place ("dear lovely bowers of innocence...").
3. a covered stall or booth at a fair.
4. a chamber in a large house or building.
5. a boudoir or lady's apartment.
6. a lady's attendant.

7. a place overarched with branches.
8. a shady recess, a covert.
9. a large nest.
10. a shaded run, for animals.
11. "The bower that wanders in meanders, ever bending, Glades on Glades." Addison 1706.
12. "Care must be had that you do not confound the word bower with arbour, because the first is always built long and arch'd, whereas the second is always round or square at Bottom, and has a sort of dome or ceiling at the top." Bradley Family Dictionary, 1727.
13. Branches of a tree.
14. To enclose (in a structure).

Bower. In the meaning of farmer, a husbandman, a tenant who rents a herd of cows, etc., was in use in English from the 15th century or earlier, but is now obsolete (From Ger. bauer of Dutch bouwer, as noted before).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 26 May 03 - 09:40 AM

Wilfried, thanks for the link - that's one of the best on-line dictionaries I've seen yet, and certainly the most complete explanation of the word "bower".

It's tempting to draw connections between "bower" meaning --

(1) pergola or arbor (a shelter built in the trees)
(2) boor, or peasant/farmer
(3) a "knave", or common "jack" who becomes elevated in power/stature      
    over even kings and queens
(4) one who uses a longbow or strongbow (as in bows and arrows)
(5) a joker or trickster (as in Euchre's 'best bower')

--- and Robin Hood, who fits the bill quite well in all 5 cases! But as SRS points out, there are plenty of similiar stories, "like the 1854 The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta, the Celebrated California Bandit by John Rollin Ridge, which is a Western take on an old theme of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, all mixed up with Chinese laborors and Mexicans and Indians." So it's probably going out on quite a limb to assume such correspondences ...

Back to the "Mighty Oaks" for a moment, I did a web search yesterday to find out if there were any famous oaks in Canada, and came up with these:

The Treaty Oak at Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario, where the first treaty money was paid to the native peoples by the first Indian agent in Canada. Only remnants of this great red oak remain at 407 King Street in that town.

The Parliament Oak, also in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where on May 1 1793, " there was passed on this spot the Seventh Act of Parliament, freeing the slaves in Upper Canada. Thus Canada became the first British possession to provide by legislation for the abolition of slavery, 79 years before slavery was abolished in the United States."

It's fascinating that even centuries after Europeans were "cured" of their Druidic oak-worshipping ways by people like St. Boniface, the "mythic" oak tree was chosen to "witness" -- even "protect", as in the case of the American Charter Oak -- the most important of historical treaties/events on a new continent!

Yet it's very unfortunate that here in Ontario, the mightiest and oldest of the oaks and maples and pines were felled long ago, victims of the material ambitions of the newcomers to this continent. I found a bit of the story of the demise of Ontarios great primeval forests at this site :

"The Loyalists who moved here had to chop through one of the thickest walls of forest in North America to reach the soil. The settlers developed a hatred for trees and they "killed" these natural enemies by setting fire to them or by cutting a deep gash through the bark right around the tree to stop the tree from being nourished; the tree gradually died. For fifty years the pioneers of Essex County competed in a race to destroy the dense forest that kept them from the fertile soil. Fire became a symbol of material progress. Citizens of Chicago, 300 miles away, admired the glow in the sky on several occasions when millions of cords of Essex County hardwood (oak and walnut) went up in smoke as the settlers struggled to clear at least five acres as stipulated for their first year improvement, and then to enlarge their farms as each year went by."

The little village of Midhurst Ontario, where I live, is named after Midhurst England, where some of the oldest oaks and chestnuts in England still grow. There are pics of them at this link I posted above. Scroll down to the third picture, the awesome chestnut of Cowdray Park in Midhurst England.

Unfortunately, all of the forest around Midhurst Ontario was clear-cut about 100 years ago. The topsoil blew away, and the land was devastated, becoming a sandy desert. The first reforestation nurseries/experimental forest areas in Canada were opened in Midhurst about 60 years ago. Today the area is treed once more --- with tall, thin, almost branchless spindly red pines that are planted in rows way too close together. They are quite ugly-looking .... I call them "pencil-trees".

But I guess they're better than nothing ...

Sometimes I dream about what the primeval forests around here must have looked like over a century ago, before the white men came with their axes. Call me a tree-hugger, but it's hard not to mourn for them. Midhurst England looks nothing like her name-sake on this continent ...and I live about 2 blocks from a street called "Cowdray Park Lane"...

daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 26 May 03 - 09:53 AM

Q, that's a great list! So "bower" also means a lady's boudoir, apartment or attendant? Oooo, that Robin was a wily fellow! ;>)

Just wondering what's happened to the GUEST who started this thread -- was that you, Q? If not, funny that s/he's disappeared ...

daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST
Date: 27 May 03 - 06:56 AM

No I am still here and have watched this mighty thread grow from a small acorn. Which leads me to my next question where does the Greenman fit in with all this


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 27 May 03 - 07:31 AM

Well, the "Green Man" or "Wild Man" of preChristian Europe can quite easily be seen to have associations with the Robin Hood legends. And Robin is connected by local tradition with the Major Oak of Sherwood Forest.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 27 May 03 - 11:59 AM

Those Green/Wildman connections might be a tad too squishy to support an argument along with Robin Hood. There are ancient legends (also on the continent, not just in Great Britain) of the Green Knight, along with Gawain and Arthur and the Holy Grail; those have been associated with Adonis and Attis (the vegetation gods with the annual death/rebirth rituals). I suspect Robin Hood is going to come across as Gawain-lite in this context.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: MMario
Date: 27 May 03 - 12:13 PM

I find this little article on the Green Man :

notes on the Green Man


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 27 May 03 - 01:20 PM

Original guest probably is just standing back to watch the nonsense flow.

There are major problem with the entries in the 1913 Webster's- perhaps not so much the entries as their interpretation because of the lack of dates and relationships. Much has been added to our knowledge since its time. This now-failed competitor to the OED never used supporting quotations or had the breadth of scholarship of the OED contributors. The 1976 3rd Edition, even though it had been taken over by the Encyclopaedia Britannica, probably did not return printing costs.

1. Euchre has little to do with the rest, since the game (first known in the United States) is now thought to be a Spanish or Spanish-American game (yuca) introduced to the United States during the 19th century. (first known reference 1861). Terminology probably much changed from the original by American players, and bower probably a substitute for gabinete (various meanings including chamber, bower in sense of an enclosure, etc.).

2. Manyt of bower's many meanings are found in late old English to Medieval texts in England, illustrating the origin of the word in Anglo-Saxon and other Teutonic relationships in the developing English language. It did not come from later German or Dutch contact.

3. The connection of the pop ballads (Child devoted over 30 to this thief, but some written long after the first)) about a highwayman or renegade nobleman in Medieval Europe (but especially in the "greenwoods" (forests) of England) to the "Green Man" tales is dubious.
The Green Knight appeared in dances and plays in late medieval times, but especially in the 15th century and combined with popular characters of the day, including Robin, the fictional St. George, and the May Queen. The "expulsion" of winter, by then, bore little or no resemblance to the pagan rituals.

Whether the revived Mediaeval Green man was related to anything in the Roman tales of pagan rituals is speculation.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 27 May 03 - 02:47 PM

Q, get yourself of copy of Jessie Weston's From Ritual to Romance. She did a lot of research, including material that dates back to sanskrit texts from India.

Here's a review that seems to appear in identical form on all of the web book sites:

    Acknowledged by T. S. Eliot as crucial to understanding "The Waste Land," Jessie Weston's book has continued to attract readers interested in ancient religion, myth, and especially Arthurian legend. Weston examines the saga of the Grail, which, in many versions, begins when the wounded king of a famished land sees a procession of objects including a bleeding lance and a bejewelled cup. She maintains that all versions defy uniform applications of Celtic and Christian interpretations, and explores the legend's Gnostic roots. Drawing from J. G. Frazer, who studied ancient nature cults that associated the physical condition of the king with the productivity of the land, Weston considers how the legend of the Grail related to fertility rites--with the lance and the cup serving as sexual symbols. She traces its origins to a Gnostic text that served as a link between ancient vegetation cults and the Celts and Christians who embellished the story. Conceiving of the Grail saga as a literary outgrowth of ancient ritual, she seeks a Gnostic Christian interpretation that unites the quest for fertility with the striving for mystical oneness with God.


Here it is at Amazon. It includes a disparaging review, though I think that party is way too hard on the book. You might want to look up some Joseph Campbell to see what he says on this subject--he's bound to have, at some time or other.

Here's a Robin Hood text.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 27 May 03 - 03:28 PM

Jessie Weston's book is a great read, but, as I discovered thirty years ago when I drew on her ideas quite heavily in an undergraduate essay on something or other, was even then considered extremely unreliable; and would not, I suspect, be considered useful to serious study today except as an interesting side-light on thinking on the subject in the early years of the 20th century. It is, of course, essential to any study of The Waste Land, but that's another matter.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 27 May 03 - 05:08 PM

Malcolm,

I have used Weston's book in context with any number of literary texts, and it is still quite applicable there. Since we're not talking about the science of all of this, it is also still applicable and in the context of how oaks or Robin Hood or vegetation gods have been viewed over the years. There is a lot of sound comparative research in it (the critic at Amazon who slammed it because she wrote it when she was 70 must be some young fellow who thinks academics turn their brains off at age 65!).

There are other readings of the history of these legends out there, other guesses as to where they come from and what they mean. Other cultures have similar stories and those haven't been touched upon by Weston or Frazer. But I reject the attitude I find so often in academia and elsewhere today that if it isn't a current theory it has no merit. If the text wasn't published in the last 5 years it is out of date and has no worth. That's our Internet speed-of-light approach to everything, as if this current generation sprang fully-formed from the ether 10 years ago. Much of what we know today is because people gave a lot of thought to foundational or related issues a long time ago. The reason we can Google just about everything anyone ever thought about it is because we're posting what someone else from an earlier generation thought and wrote. Weston's research doesn't appear only in T.S. Eliot, she was widely used by many great authors of their day, and continues to influence novelists. Hemingway and Steinbeck and Owens immediately come to mind, and if I thought about it for a while or did a little digging I could come up many others.

There's a difference between "dated" and "unreliable," but its a distinction that needs to be made here. We've posted links from a variety of sources in the various strands of this convoluted thread. The internet links are the most questionable in the context of any discussion like this (and especially where I reside, in academia, where students will slap anything onto the page as authoritative without checking their facts). The problem with links? There is no ranking, anyone can put anything on the Internet. Call me a Luddite, but I still like to find it in a book or a journal, to know that someone else approved the material or that it passed peer review and to see that it had enough merit to make it to the press.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 27 May 03 - 05:17 PM

Not to be a party-pooper, but I have to agree with Guest Q. The connection of the Robin Hood of the ballads to the Green man is pretty tenuous. However, it is likely thathis adoption into the May Games is at least influenced by people's associations of him with green, summer, etc. His appearance, for example, in Hal An Tow and other may songs clearly links him with summer, vegetation, etc. So the association was there, and the question is just how conscious it was in the minds of 15th and 16th century people.

The same goes for the Green Knight, but of course at an earlier time. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight obviously borrows from seasonal mythology, you can't get around it. But those borrowings could signify a connection in people's minds between the Green Knight and pagan gods, or they could simply have come down as narrative conventions from earlier stories that had seasonal meanings. Curiously, if we go with the seasonal interpretation, the Green Knight (although green) is in fact a winter figure, like Arawn Pen Annwfn in Welsh mythology. The Green Man, on the other hand, is a summer figure.

My own suspicion is that the Green Knight was more a matter of narrative convention than ancient mythic meanings, and I suspect the oral tradition of folktales provided the link between older myths and medieval romances. Stories like "The King of Ireland's Son and the King of Green Island" contain many motifs in common with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and may have provided all the necessary narrative material for the romance without much serious consciousness of the seasonal mythology. On the other hand, SGGK is explicitly a seasonal poem, set on New Year's Day of one year and the period leading up to New Year's Day on the next, so it's pretty obvious that SOME consciousness of the seasonal meanings was operating. It's all a judgement call!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 27 May 03 - 05:41 PM

The old myths are a lot of fun to read, but like much of the bible, one may choose to regard them as just that. Perhaps I was in the sciences too long, but I have a hard time accepting them as more than just good stories.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Susan of DT
Date: 27 May 03 - 07:24 PM

Since the Digital Tradition is a reasonable sized collection of folksongs, it is reasonable to ask the relative frequency of the various trees in the songs in the DT. Results:
    Oak             130
    Ash             48
    Thorn            62
    Elm             12
    Willow          74
    Yew             13
    Maple            19
    Briar            20


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 28 May 03 - 12:03 AM

Interesting idea, Susan. I tried pine (but how to sort out the verb, to pine?).
How many maples have to do with syrup?
Oak will certainly hold first place, but oakum and Oak Press must be subtracted. Can the old oaken bucket really count as a tree?
How about tit-willow?
Ash from a cigar and from a fire.

and of course- Yew made me love yew-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 28 May 03 - 01:03 AM

And the way Bobert throws around "fir" (for) will skew the count considerably!

I think the Green Knight and Arthur legends are altogether different than the Robin Hood stories. They're much older and have a broader base. To hark back to where I started with this, like Diana, the basis may well be an accumulation of stories (as was suggested) by a conquering Roman culture. The Empire writing back to the center (Rome). In the new world the modern equivalent would be the search for Gran Quivara, Coronado's hunt in the 1520s for a fabled city of gold.

Attis and Adonis are early (many years B.C.) creation stories, the two being vegetation gods (and in conjunction with seasons) and Attis was directly borrowed by christianity (right down to the death--Attis on a pine tree, Christ on a wooden cross). If you can't beat 'em, appropriate 'em. Robin Hood just isn't up to this level of appropriation.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 28 May 03 - 09:38 AM

To define Robin Hood as an archetype, one of many folk-heros (ie. William Tell, Edric the Wild, Hereward the Wake) whose legends personify certain aspects of the ancient pagan vegetation god of Europe, makes a lot more sense than to see him as some sort of "deity" himself. The very fact that there have been so many viable candidates for a historical Robin lends support to the "archetypal" hypothesis.

The information at this colorful site about the connection between Robin and Herne the Hunter, the Green Man etc. might prove helpful. It's a very enjoyable read, at any rate!

daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 28 May 03 - 12:28 PM

Susan, great idea to check the DT this way. Lends much more weight to the question.

SRS, I agree with you, with the caveat that the Green Knight legends cannot be proven to be any older than the Robin Hood Legends. If Arthur and Robin were real people, then Arthur himself was much earlier than Robin Hood, and Arthurian legends themselves go back to the ninth century or so in recorded form, but the Robin Hood and Green Knight legends both reached verifiable recorded form in the 14th century, and good evidence suggests they were around for a century or so before that. But the Green Knight does seem to have far more ancient resonances than Robin Hood, and the textual sources of the Green Knight seem far older than those for Robin Hood. The problem with arguing from the age of the textual sources, though, is that the advocates of the "Green man as Robin Hood" theory (I am not one of these) claim many things as textual sources of Robin Hood that you and I would exclude.

Of course, we mustn't forget that the real, historical Jesus actually was crucified on a wooden cross. This must have suggested to Pagan Romans the stories of earlier figures like Attis, making it easier for them to accept Christianity. But it does not prove a direct textual connection between the Gospel stories and pagan myths.

The idea of Robin as an archetypal hero is of course a useful one. Way back, Lord Raglan proposed a checklist of features that an archetypal hero in mythology and legend should have. Robin scores fairly high, but not as high as figures such as Oedipus. Interestingly, Jesus scores fairly high as well!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: selby
Date: 29 May 03 - 01:26 PM

This is such a Bl**** good thread in the old style of mudcat, that I thought it deserved refreshing keep it up.
Keith


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 29 May 03 - 02:13 PM

Thanks, Keith! I wanted to post these references to the word bower, because they seem to lend support to the theory that Robin Hood and his Merry Men are archetypal folk heros of the "Green Man" genre, rather than historical figures. But I didn't want to flog a dead horse!

The first one is found at the last link I posted above, the "Legends of Robin Hood". It describes Robin's role in the ancient Rites of Beltane, the "Greenwood Marriage" --

"In pre-christian Britain on Beltane Eve, large bonfires were lit on the hilltops, and the community gathered and danced around them. Young couples would sneak away from the festivities, into the shadows and nearby woods to tryst. They would stay out all night, ostensibly gathering hawthorn flowers (the "may" flower) to welcome in the dawn on May Day morn.

In anticipation of these trysts, the young men would prepare a lovers' nest somewhere private, in the nearby woods or countryside. They would make a bower, a crude shelter of branches, decorated with flowers. The folk name for these love nests is "Robin Hood's Bowers". The young couples would make love in these rustic arbours and their unions were sanctioned by the community and referred to as "Greenwood Marriages". Children born of these couplings were considered particularly blessed and known as "Children of the May" or "merrybegots". Some couples chose to make their liaisons more formal and entered into trial marriages at Beltane, becoming handfast for a year and a day. At some of these weddings, a Friar Tuck figure officiated."


And here's a reference to bower being the abode of another mythical being, The Lorelei, or Water Faeries of the Rhine. These are a few verses from a poem about them by Heine --

" …Combing her hair with a golden
    Comb in her rocky bower
She sings the tune of an olden
   Song that has magical power

The boatman has heard; it has bound him
In throes of a strange, wild love;
Blind to the reefs that surround him,
He sees but the vision above.

And lo, hungry waters are springing—
Boat and boatman are gone…
Then silence. And this, with her singing,
The Loreley has done. (Untermeyer 108)"



And all this has inspired me to coin some verse of my own ...

Oh give me the power of a Robin Hood Bower
Nestled snug in a sacred old Oak
But keep me oh please from a sudden demise
At the whim of the Lorelei folk

:>)   daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 30 May 03 - 06:22 AM

Fine ditty, daylia. Unfortunately in Heine's original verses you'll find no bower. Untermeyer has introduced this word because of the rhyme to power.
In the 3. stanza of the original German version the most beautiful virgin is sitting up there wonderfully i.e. on top of the mountain (mentioned in the 2.stanza).

Wilfried


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 30 May 03 - 10:06 AM

Thanks for the clarifying the use of the word bower as a convenience of translation/rhyme in Heine's poem, Wilfried. I thought it indicated that "Bower-dwellers" were legendary beings, (at least when used in this context, not the Dutch farms in the US) or that it related to Q's definition of bower meaning a lady's apartment or boudoir. The latter does fit the story of the Lorelei!

Now, just to be original when rhyming the word, I'll try my verse this way ...

Oh give me an hour in a Robin Hood Bower
Nestled snug in a sacred old Oak
But keep me oh please from a sudden demise
At the bower of the Lorelei folk

:>) that's better!

I found an interesting hypothesis re Robin Hood while researching the Welsh folk hero Edric the Wild and Fenland's Hereward the Wake. Unlike Robin Hood, there is no doubt that either of these two are historical figures. They pre-date Robin Hood by a couple hundred years, living around the time of the Magna Carta in 1066. The author of the articles, New Zealands's University of Waikato English professor Geoff Boxell says this about Robin Hood --

"Few outlaws in other countries have apparently left so powerful a legend as Robin Hood. The nearest parallels are said to be figures on the epic scale who could be transformed into politically conscious national heroes of a type very unlike him. Even if the stories about Robin Hood himself originated in real events of the thirteen-thirties, as has recently been suggested, they could have gained some of their unusual force from association with older stories of heroes who had once resisted foreign invaders. The anomalous social position of the later, legendary Robin might also owe something, as Dr. M. H. Keen suggested, to these older stories. The most famous outlaws of the greenwood before were probably the Old English nobility on their way down and out." (emphasis mine).

The plot thickens! Any opinions out there?

Meanwhile, I came across a particularily intriguing legend about Jesus and Oak trees (!!) yesterday at this site, The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ Using information from the Apocryphal Gospel of Thomas and the 'evidence' in the works of Russian scholar Nicholas Notavitch, who visited Tibet in the 1890's, the author claims that Jesus was widely travelled, possibly visiting both India and the British Isles.

"He may have even travelled as far as the British Isles, for in England there is an ancient oak tree called the "Hallowed Tree" which (says local legend) was planted by Christ himself."

I spent some time trying to find more information about this "Hallowed Tree", to no avail. Does anyone know if it really exists, or where it is located? I'm wondering if it's near Chalice Well ...

daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 30 May 03 - 11:11 AM

Coming Next: Kuan-Yin


(tongue in cheek at our global roamings on this thread. . .)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 30 May 03 - 11:15 AM

Kuan-Yin?!? Cool! I tremble with anticipation ...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 30 May 03 - 12:45 PM

Daylia,

The problem in your information from the website on "legends of Robin Hood" is that, not surprisingly, it's a load of codswallop! It takes evidence from the Renaissance and claims that evidence is pre-Christian. But there is no evidence whatsoever that anything in pre-Christian times was called "Robin Hood's Bower."

What happened in the opinion of most scholars was that in the 15th and 16th centuries, the existing ballads and plays of Robin Hood were absorbed into the Mayday tradition of folk plays and dances. This is where the character was combined with Friar Tuck and Maid Marian, who were originally separate characters with no connection to Robin Hood. In the May Games, as they were called, Robin Hood became a central figure, and thus became associated with Mayday and with whatever remnants of Beltaine were still being practiced. This is when "Robin Hood's Bowers" would have come into being. But there is no evidence of either the name Robin Hood or any connection between that name and Mayday before the high middle ages.

Just what evidence the site claims to have that any of this was pre-Christian I don't know. I assume they have no evidence but use the usual squishy historical logic as follows:

Premise 1: "Robin Hood was associated with mayday in the sixteenth century"

Premise 2: "Some aspects of the sixteenth century Mayday celebrations were based on ancient Celtic fire festivals"

Conclusion: Robin Hood was a character worshipped in ancient Celtic fire festivals!

This kind of poor deduction is used all too commonly by bad historians, especially where ancient Celtic lore is concerned!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 30 May 03 - 01:16 PM

I just checked out daylia's link, and they give absolutely no evidence, or even a citation of any scholar's work, to back their claim about "Robin Hood's Bowers." It is, as I said, a false claim, for every historian who has written a book about Robin Hood (and even the re-enactors) find the name first cropping up in the thirteenth century.

It's very telling that the website in question begins with the statement that the search for the mythic Robin Hood has been abandoned by serious scholars. They then go on to say that they themselves consider the mythic Robin Hood more interesting than the historical approach. Then they move to "If we are to assume that the legend of Robin Hood derives in any part from memories of ancient pagan deities, we should examine the mythology of the pagan cultures that once inhabited the British Isles..." and this is the justification for the rest of the site.

This is a classic case of circular logic, either inadverdently inept or intentionally deceitful. It assumes from the outset what it ostensibly attempts to demonstrate, that Robin Hood derives from pagan deities. But it makes that assumption before analysing the evidence, not after.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 30 May 03 - 02:06 PM

" It's very telling that the website in question begins with the statement that the search for the mythic Robin Hood has been abandoned by serious scholars."

Nerd, "serious scholars" obviously have not abandoned the "search for the mythic Robin", as several of the sites linked to above attest.

However, the use of the words "Robin Hood's Bowers" in the high middle ages must have originated somewhere -- perhaps in the local oral traditions of the time?

The colorful and intriguing stories at the "Legends of Robin Hood" site are compelling because they represent one of the present-day contributions to the wealth of enduring folklore surrounding the mysterious -- and powerful! -- character of Robin Hood.      

Geoff Boxell's proposal that the Robin Hood legends are a product/expression of the demise of the old English nobility in the 10-11th centuries is perhaps more scholarly pleasing, and draws almost as colorfully on local folklore (Edric the Wild etc). What did you think of his work?

daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 30 May 03 - 03:38 PM

daylia,

Sorry if I sounded grumpy, but I do stand by my point. The only link in the above that would suggest that any serious scholar supports the "mythic Robin Hood" theory is the part that quotes Stephen Knight. But Knight, whose books on Robin Hood I have read more than once, does not believe that Robin Hood is an ancient pagan deity. He believes that Robin is archetypal, that is, that there was no "original" Robin Hood, but that many have "been" or "become" Robin Hood just as many have been "Santa Claus" through "Secret Santa." This is not the same argument at all. The other figure mentioned in that same link is John Matthews. As I've mentioned, he's not considered a serious historian by other historians, and is essentially a spiritual leader in the neo-pagan community; his books are religious speculation, very entertaining but not scholarly. So I would say that there are very very few (if any) qualified historians, folklorists, etc., who would claim that Robin Hood has a deep mythological significance. Most of us would, however, argue that he has a degree of seasonal meaning and shares some features with older pagan figures who also have seasonal meaning.

However, the use of the words "Robin Hood's Bowers" in the high middle ages must have originated somewhere -- perhaps in the local oral traditions of the time?

Granted. That's "of the time," not "of 1200 years before the time." If the names "Robin Hood" and "Robin Hood's Bower" were being used before the coming of Christianity to Britain (in the 300-400s), then there would probably be some evidence of this. (Of course, in pre-Christian times Britons spoke a Celtic language that included neither "Robin" nor "hood" nor "bower," so the argument should really be being made about Saxony, Jutland, etc., but that's a different point). On the other hand, since there's no evidence, why make an argument that this was a feature of pre-Christian British religion unless you have already ASSUMED it, as this website has?

Remember, we are now in the year 2003. That is 500 years after 1503, which is the era when we have evidence of such practices--and even that evidence is sketchy! The era to which the pracitces are being ascribed, then, (pre-Christian Britain) is over twice as distant from 1503 than we are ourselves! Would you argue that because we have certain customs in 2003, they must also have been customary in 1503, without any evidence? How about 1203? That's essentially the argument being made by the website. They're distorting history in a fairly serious manner in order to support the contention that Robin Hood is a survival of an ancient pagan god.

Geoff Boxell's proposal is not originally his idea. Indeed, the quotation you have put in above is actually from Susan Reynolds, not Boxell. Reynolds cites Maurice Keen as her source for the idea. The book that she cites by Keen is from 1981, but as I recall he was already making this argument in the late 1960s. As a result of his and other work, the idea that previous legends about characters like Hereward the Wake and Eustace the Monk became part of the Robin Hood legend is accepted by pretty much all Robin Hood scholars today. However, it would be going too far to claim that the main or most important function of the Robin Hood stories was to protest the dispossession of the Anglo-Saxon nobility. That's a blind alley, because none of the early Robin Hood stories mentions anything about old English nobility, or indeed displays any consciousness of a Saxon/Norman divide a la Errol Flynn. That idea seems to have been added to the Robin Hood Tradition later, and certainly Keen does not make this mistake.

By The Way, the Magna Carta was not 1066; that was the Norman Conquest. The Magna Carta was ratified in 1215, rather soon before the first mentions of Robin Hood begin to appear.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 30 May 03 - 05:34 PM

Even the Celtic legends have no written basis before the eleventh and twelfth centuries. They were handed down by word of mouth. Eleanor Hull, who rewrote the tales in several books ("Cuchulain, The Hound of Ulster," which is a combination of stories from several sources, is one I still have) says that "In the course of centuries of recitation certain changes crept in," but she makes the claim that "in the main they come to us much as they were originally recited."
I am afraid that this says very little for the story tellers, who in all cultures seem to have been extremely inventive, adding to and changing their tales through time. This makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible to make connections of the type suggested by daylia.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 30 May 03 - 11:10 PM

Nerd and Q: Yes, I agree. This brings us back to the privileged storyteller again. And while the storyteller is privileged to tell the story in their own style or manner, the story itself was often considered communal property. This means there was very little if any "authorship" that went with these stories when they were encountered by scribes, even up until when they first entered the era of the printing press (and it was still pretty squishy for a while!) Weston went to great lengths to describe the earliest sources of her Grail stories--who wrote it down and where he/she (but usually he) got it and what they did with it to somehow prove its legitimacy.

There is a trio of essays by Barthes ("The death of the author"), Derrida ("Structure, sign and play in the discourse of the human sciences"), and Foucault ("What is an author?") that work around the relationship "between text and author" in what Foucault came to call the "valorization" of the author rather than the story itself. It's a relatively recent phenomena, the process of studying "authenticity and attribution" according to who the author was. Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition sums this up nicely (and more clearly than the other three, on some points). The reason I bring this up is to point out that one big reason why it is SO DIFFICULT to find early sources, versions, etc., because these stories rarely were considered to be actually BY an individual, and as such an original work. How would this play itself out in whatever record-keeping was performed?

There are a lot of ideas in today's world that we don't realize would totally stupefy citizens of the world 500 or 1000 years ago or more. Not the obvious things, like the mechanics of how we do things, but simply how we view the world, politics, and most importantly, our philosophy, our attitudes towards what is real, how things work, who owns what, and so forth. Humans have always been resourceful and inventive, but their view of the world has changed drastically through time. (To quote MMario, "well, duh.") The assumptions that scholars make publicly and that go through peer review are generally required to make the strongest arguments possible to stand that examination and only then go on to be published (yeah, I know. . .this isn't perfect either). They use what fragments are available and aim to practice solid extrapolation based upon what facts are known. The trouble with the Internet today, as Nerd has observed, is that clever people with a theory or a story they really want to promote can wrap a theory round itself in such as way as to be credible, but only if one isn't accustomed to looking for the argument to support the theory. Provide a few links to other people who believe the same thing, and you have what appears to be credible support.

We like to research these things online, but only a fraction of what is in books is out there now. I'm impressed with both Nerd and Q's knowledge of the texts on this subject, their clear familiarity with sources and the bibliographic hunt that is required to find out who really thought something the first time. It's this kind of attention to detail that helps keep the information in the DT such a valuable resource.

I'll buy you both a beer next time the Mudcat Tavern is open!

Stilly River Sage


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST
Date: 31 May 03 - 10:38 AM

Hi Folks

not quiet shure wether it fits in at this point of this wonderful and interesting discussion, here's a song about an oaktree I wrote more than 20 years ago

I wrote this one for the band we had at the time wich was called Oaktree.



Come to the Land of the Oaktree by menzze 1980


Once upon a time so far away I was born with no mother or father
Grown with the wind and fed by the sun and the birds and the night and the water
The centuries passed and I arose grewing stronger and stronger and stronger
And here is the story that I have to tell, I can't keep it by myself for no longer

REF
Listen to me, listen to me
I'll show you the land of the Oaktree
Listen to me , listen to me
Come to the land of the Oaktree


In the first days of spring when the air was warm on my branches the first leaves where smiling
Two little children were dancing around my stem and their eyes they were laughing
Laughing and singing they made their way towards a life without hate fear or question
And the wind in the air gave life to my leaves and I sang and I danced along with them

REF

The years passed like months and the children they grew, when summer came I saw two lovers
Walking through a land as sweet as a dream holding hands and kissing geach other
They passed their day s in the dream they had made, he carved her name in my body
Though ages have gone her name is still there, like I still feel their soft love inside me

REF

My leaves turned to brown when the sun on her way reached the time that the people call autumn   
The country lay crying pain raged in it's heart brought to it from a land called Britannia
My two lovers were hungry the november so cold they'd nothing to eat or to live on
The young child they had shook of fear in his dream, saw a landlord was beating an ol' man

REF

spoken
When the wintertime came with frost snow and ice the land buried in dreamless sleeping
A farmer once lover needed wood for his fire to keep his poor family from freezing

He cut down my stem and he cut down my life but I did feel no pain or fear them
The fire itself when it's warming their hearts shows a way to the land of the Oaktree
In that cold winternight when I's dying one by one when my whole life was one by one fading
I gave to my people like all time before I had given to them what they're needing

REF



We've been looking for a symbol representing all "celtic" nations and came up with the oaktree, one of the holy trees of the celts
Hope I did not interrupt you to much and hope you like it
all the best

menzze


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 03:31 PM

refresh

want to see if Daylia will kick Nerd's arse...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 07 Jun 03 - 02:40 PM

menzze, thanks for sharing your beautiful song, it's wise and sensitive glimpse into the 'whys' of age-old human reverence for oak trees. The final verse brings to mind all of the other time-honoured legends and traditions surrounding the 'dying God', from Odin to Osiris, from the Oak King slain by the Holly King at Summer Solstice to the gospel stories of Jesus ...

" He cut down my stem and he cut down my life but I did feel no pain or fear them
The fire itself when it's warming their hearts shows a way to the land of the Oaktree
In that cold winternight when I's dying one by one when my whole life was one by one fading
I gave to my people like all time before I had given to them what they're needing"



Wow! And that reminds of the reason Robin Hood made his mysterious and magical way into this thread at all ... because of the traditions surrounding the Major Oak of Sherwood Forest. It is a very interesting "coincidence" (ha ha!) that Robin and his 12 merry men (... gee, how many? TWELVE? sounds so vaguely familiar!! ;>) ...) came to be associated with an ancient oak, the traditional dwelling-place of divinity!

Now I'm off into the local Greenwoods to sit beneath my sheltering old Oak and contemplate how and when to best kick Nerd's arse ... or if indeed such a whoopin is at all necessary! I shall return duly enlightened shortly....

:>)   daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 07 Jun 03 - 06:40 PM

Oak-ay, all that came to me while sitting and listening to the rustle of the wind through the oak leaves was this little poem I remember from childhood ...


A wise old owl sat in an oak
The more he saw, the less he spoke
The less he spoke, the more he heard
Why can't we all be like that bird?



Betcha that bird just wouldn't make the grade in a scholarly venue though! Academia's notorious penchant for endless debate as an end in itself (I call it 'twisting the neurons', or 'doing the neuron dance'), as well as intensely competitive (and quite predictably cyclical) criticism doesn't work very well with the wise old discipline of silence. So I'll leave it to the scholars to mince those mysteries right out of the myths, without mercy!

I love silence though, and I do like to practice it.   As an art, it balances my love of music very well! And it's a wonderful way to conserve energy. So, I guess Nerd's arse is safe for now!

daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jun 03 - 06:58 PM

Ha! If you can't do it, ridicule it, eh? Keep hammering away with your information, and eventually it might be taken as fact because it has been repeated so much.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 07 Jun 03 - 09:49 PM

GUEST, you know absolutely diddley about what I can or cannot do! And you obviously can't tell whether or not I'm actively engaged in ridicule, either.

Tell me, would you stand under an Oak tree during a thunderstorm?

Would you do it on a hilltop, surrounded by sacred stones???

;>)    daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 07 Jun 03 - 09:57 PM

Holding up Launcelot's sword?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 12:27 AM

Whew! My Arse is safe from Daylia!

The only thing I'll say about Daylia's comment that scholars "mince those mysteries right out of the myths, without mercy" is that myths can be believed or studied objectively, but if you believe them it might compromise your objectivity. People who hold Pagan beliefs, for example, are often more interested in what the myths mean to them than what the texts of the myths actually say. They read meanings into stories instead of reading meanings out of stories.

To give an example, daylia thinks it's cool that Robin Hood has twelve merry men, because this resonates with the religious character of the "Robin Hood as pagan god" theory. Unfortunately, Robin doesn't have twelve merry men, at least not in the ballads I know. He has a horde. In Robin Hood and the Bishop of Hereford, for example, he has at least seventy-six men; he takes six with him at the outset, and later summons three score and ten.

If you want to count only the "inner circle" of merry men whose names are mentioned, you still won't get to twelve. Some have stretched it to eleven, but they're including Marian and Tuck, who are not merry men, and also some characters who either aren't separate characters or aren't in Robin's band, like Allen-a-Dale.

So nowhere does he actually have twelve merry men. Where did this idea come from? From the neo-paganist historian Margaret Murray, who was intrigued with the religious overtones she perceived in Robin Hood and apparently made up the "rule" that Robin had twelve companions. Even other people convinced of Robin's deep mythological character have debunked this one, including the aforementioned John Matthews, who wrote:

"despite Margaret Murray's statement that Robin was always accompanied by thirteen (sic--he means thirteen including Robin, as the next sentence will make clear) companions, the number in fact varies from 7 to 150, never twice being the same...The notion that, together with Robin, they were a band of thirteen, in keeping with other heroic groups and with the supposed witches coven, is therefore unlikely."

Matthews here tempers his belief in all things pagan with scholarship.

While the scholarly approach may be sadly lacking in evocative drama, it has the virtue of at least attempting to be accurate. It's easy to just declare that Robin Hood parallels religious figures and make up some reasons why, but it's hard to support that with any good evidence.

I should say that I'm not against people in the pagan community creating their own beliefs and practices using the materials of folklore and myth; that's their absolute right and it can yield beautiful results. But it's quite another thing to come back and claim that the beliefs you invented constitute the original meaning of Robin Hood! That way lies madness, as wise neo-pagans have realized.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 02:43 AM

Nerd,

First, in General: Good to see the thread survived the shutdown, though perhaps not so smoothly the visitation of a guest. (There may have been a Mudcat ripple effect--my connection died for a couple of days also!)

Your last example reminds me of popular lists enumerating erroneous relationships: an example would be the sort of thing generated to compare Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy (i.e. "Kennedy's assassin shot him from a warehouse and hid in a theater; Lincoln's assassin shot him in a theater and hid in a warehouse"). I don't remember the exact quote, and there is a list of similar items, all along those lines. Coincidence shouldn't be confused with fact, though it is a seductive avenue to follow. Like numerology and astrology, they're practiced and popular because they tell people things they want to hear, but don't necessarily speak what anyone else would consider "truth." The audience is so local as to be just one.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 09:37 AM

Just to be clear, I agree wholeheartedly with Nerd ie. " ... myths can be believed or studied objectively, but if you believe them it might compromise your objectivity. People who hold Pagan beliefs, for example, are often more interested in what the myths mean to them than what the texts of the myths actually say. They read meanings into stories instead of reading meanings out of stories."

People who try to extract 'facts' from myths and traditions obscured by both time and language barriers are venturing onto quite the shakey limb, whether they are scholars, spiritual 'seekers', singers, sonwriters or whatever! The character of Robin Hood has proven very slippery when it comes to pinning any type of 'fact'on him --- even a date that's accurate within a century or two. And I'm grateful for that! That's part of the endearing mystery of the legends - (at least, the mystery is endearing to me!) I've no desire to mince the mystery out of any of the myths about him -- they are all entertaining, inspiring and valuable in their own way.

So what do I 'believe' about Robin? Not much at all, except as I said before, "To define Robin Hood as an archetype, one of many folk-heros (ie. William Tell, Edric the Wild, Hereward the Wake) whose legends personify certain aspects of the ancient pagan vegetation god of Europe, makes a lot more sense than to see him as some sort of "deity" himself. The very fact that there have been so many viable candidates for a historical Robin lends support to the "archetypal" hypothesis."

I posted the link that Nerd and SRS take such exception to, "The Legends of Robin Hood" because it is just that, a collection of legends -- a colorful and enjoyable example of one of the 20th century contributions to the enduring legacy of folklore and myth surrounding Robin. That this "slant" towards identifying him as a pagan diety is now hotly disputed by scholars is no surprise. Trying to prove Robin a "pagan god" is an undertaking first rooted in the scholarly community of the 19th and early 20th centuries, after all, and scholarly opinion is, quite predictably, cyclical in nature.

A hundred years from now, historians and scholars may find the "deification" of Robin by some (not all!) 20th century neo-pagans/scholars to be this era's most significant and enduring contribution to the Robin Hood legacy. That's why I posted the link! If interpreting the stories this way pleases people, helps them connect with/understand their so-called "Celtic roots" and walk more gently on the Earth their mother so to speak, and it harms no-one, then I don't see that it presents much of a problem --- except that it gets the scholars hot under the collar. But then again, isn't that what scholars are for???   ;>)

It seems I've heard the story of 12 merry men from a variety of secular sources all of my life, and it's just that, to me --- an interesting story! A story which some people find creatively and spiritually inspiring even today. Isn't that the reason humans create folklore in the first place?

I wonder ... if everyone's minds were restricted in the scholarly fashion, no-one daring to express an original opinion or idea or belief without also providing "... a few links to other people who believe the same thing, and you have what appears to be credible support." as decreed by SRS above, how much folklore would there be left to enjoy??? Would the stories even get off the ground in the first place? What would happen to the faculty of creative imagination? Original thinking, if a idea must be first proven to be held by others to be credible? These are the tenets of academia of course, but do they work very well in everyday life?

So many questions, so little time ... and the Robin on my roof this morning told me he'd buy me a beer at the Mudcat Tavern when I'm finished planting my lilac trees today. Seems he's got a bit of a bone to pick with a Catter or two ...   ;>)

daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 10:04 AM

PS -- I've been trying to find more information about the "Hallowed Oak" said to have been planted in England by Jesus, but the only reference I've found to date regarding Jesus' alleged visit to the British Isles is in the first verse of this poem by William Blake:

"Jerusalem

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold!
Bring me my Arrows of desire!
Bring me my Spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land."


But nothing about a "Hallowed Oak"! I may have the opportunity to visit England next year, and this tree is one I'd like to see, if it exists at all! If anyone has more info, I'd really appreciate it.

daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 10:38 AM

Daylia, we've been down this path before. If you post questionable or bogus links with faulty logic or poor citations in an academic sort of discussion, be prepared to have people argue about them. Don't keep pushing the bad scholarship at people as if it has merit. If you think it has merit and it just doesn't show, then find good solid support and post it.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Gareth
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 01:54 PM

Hallowed Oak - Planted by Jesus - Could this be a corruption of the legend of "Joseph of Arimathea" visting Glastonbury and planting his staff which grew into the Holy Oak ?

Click 'Ere

and Click 'Ere for a little more on the history of Glastonbury.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 03:05 PM

Yes, SRS, this is a tired old road we're walking! To clarify this for you once again, I presented the "Legends of Robin Hood" site here, not as some sort of declaration of "fact" -- no-one has been able to do that yet about Robin! -- but as a colorful, interesting and entertaining example of the present-day contributions to the legend of Robin Hood.   

There are plenty of similiar sites on the net, but none were as artistically pleasing and well-written as the one I posted. However, just because there's a plethora of similiar information around, that doesn't make any of it true now, does it?

Perhaps it is dangerous, after all, to present innocent people with a variety of different ideas/opinions/perspectives during a discussion, and expect them to be able to think things through for themselves!   Maybe next time I'd like to post a link, I'll PM it to you first, for your critical analysis, approval and written consent, in the best interests of the Cat, okay?

Gareth, thanks for the links re Joseph of Arimathea. My original hunch was that this "Hallowed Oak", if it existed, had something to do with the legends of Glastonbury and Chalice Well. The lid of that Well is said to be hewn of oak, carved with the symbol of a fish. I'll go over the links in more detail later ... need to finish my gardening now before it thunderstorms!

daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Gareth
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 04:32 PM

And don't forget the Boscable (SP) or "Royal Oak" where Charles II hid from the roundheads. A descendent of this tree is said to survive.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 10:22 PM

daylia, I appreciate what you say and I think the two of us are not so far apart. However, I do think you're trying to have it both ways just a little. For example, when you wrote:

It is a very interesting "coincidence" (ha ha!) that Robin and his 12 merry men (... gee, how many? TWELVE? sounds so vaguely familiar!! ;>) ...) came to be associated with an ancient oak, the traditional dwelling-place of divinity!

it sounds as if you are laughing at scholars for saying this association between Robin and a certain oak tree is just a coincidence, when something so obvious as Robin's TWELVE merry men is not being recognized as significant.

My point isn't that it's coincidental, quite the opposite. My point is that a lot of this stuff, including the twelve merry men and quite probably the association with an oak tree, has been made up purposely to make Robin Hood look more like a pagan god. I'm not saying that this kind of invention isn't worthwhile, just that we have to keep it separate from our ideas about what Robin Hood texts have meant in the past.

Just as "Robin Hood's Bower" could not possibly have had the same meaning in Pagan Britain as it did in 1550, few of the pagan associations with Robin Hood predate the neo-Pagan movement. They have been invented in relatively modern times. There's nothing wrong with that, but the website is trying to claim that these are old, original meanings. It is, in other words, either misleading or misinformed. It seems in some cases that you are making similar arguments, though I may have misunderstood you.

You also misunderstood me. You have taken my description of scholars "reading meanings out of stories" to mean looking for facts. I didn't say facts, I said meanings. It is important, though, to attend to what legends actually say before you try to interperet what the meanings might have been at any given moment. If the scholarly way, of trying to say "this legend seems to have meant this at this particular time" seems boring to you, that's obviously your right. But you'll have to understand that the alternate approach, "this is what this legend means to daylia and/or Nerd right now" might be equally boring and insignificant to others.

Your statement

if everyone's minds were restricted in the scholarly fashion, no-one daring to express an original opinion or idea or belief without also providing "... a few links to other people who believe the same thing, and you have what appears to be credible support." as decreed by SRS above, how much folklore would there be left to enjoy??? Would the stories even get off the ground in the first place? What would happen to the faculty of creative imagination? Original thinking, if a idea must be first proven to be held by others to be credible? These are the tenets of academia of course, but do they work very well in everyday life?

shows that you have limited respect for academia, but also that you have limited understanding of it. It is a requirement in academic research that you express original opinions that no one has expressed before. You don't want ideas that are already held by others, you want ones that will be held by others after they've read your analysis. If you send an article to be published and the ideas in it are already out there, the journal will turn you down. On the other hand, if your interpretations don't square with facts, they'll also turn you down. Credibility in context, not adherence to a party line, is what gets Humanities research published.

I would actually recommend that you read some scholarship on Robin Hood; it's far more entertaining than you might think. One recent anthology has articles examining how medieval Robin Hood stories employ mercantile ideologies rooted in the rising middle classes; how Robin Hood ballads portray female cross-dressing and what this might mean about gender images in the middle ages; the importance of Ivanhoe as a transitional text between two very different conceptions of Robin Hood; an analysis of how Robin Hood is turned into a theme park attraction in contemporary Nottingham; a study of the use of the Robin Hood legend in the creation of the Comic Book character Green Arrow; and many other papers covering film, literature and even pagan gods.   

Scholarship is not at all the dull, dry, boring and limited place you seem to think it is. The only restriction is that people analyse the legend as it has existed in the world, rather than making up a new legend they like better. There's value in the latter; Robin McKinley and Parke Godwin have both reimagined Robin Hood beautifully. But it's a different kind of value, and the two should not be mistaken for one another. The web site you posted mistakes creative invention for historical interpretation, and that's why people here objected to it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Stilly River Sage, sans a cookie
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 01:44 AM

Thanks, Nerd. My access to the web is limited until Southwestern Bell gets their lines in order after several rainy days. With my slow laptop and the old dialup modem, it's catch as catch can, and you said what I would have, but with more patience, and with some good reading recommendations as well.

Ah, the humanities. A master's in English wasn't enough, I pursued one in Philosophy also. Advisors in each field thought the other was less in the ivory tower. Ha!

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 09:48 AM

Nerd, thanks for taking the time to explain the procedures of academia
so well, and for choosing your words carefully to avoid sounding arrogant, demeaning and pompous. ie -- "It is a requirement in academic research that you express original opinions that no one has expressed before. You don't want ideas that are already held by others, you want ones that will be held by others after they've read your analysis. If you send an article to be published and the ideas in it are already out there, the journal will turn you down. On the other hand, if your interpretations don't square with facts, they'll also turn you down. Credibility in context, not adherence to a party line, is what gets Humanities research published." Amen to that!

Actually, I don't think we disagree about much here at all, except that I really can still enjoy an article or a viewpoint, even if the scholarship is less than pristine. That, however, does not mean that I'm confused about the facts of the matter!

While the scholars argue about the elusive "facts" behind the Robin Hood legends -- if indeed any such "facts" ever existed! -- perhaps the greatest and only "fact" is that the legends do exist, and that they evolve over time, reflecting the ever-changing social conditions, the needs/desires of the people who love them. That certain C20 neo-pagans/scholars have come to deify Robin, even to the point of creating a new spiritual movement through their interpetation of the legends, is a great "fact" in and of itself! One that will no doubt continue to interest and influence many generations of scholars, historians and seekers to come.

daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 02:30 PM

Agreed, daylia. Thanks for the response. As I said, I don't think we're so far apart in principle, but God (or in this case, Oak) is in the details.

SRS, I like the analogy with the Lincoln/Kennedy parallels. That's another case of very selectively presenting some facts, and inventing some others, in order to make it look like there are parallels; it's very similar to what the Robin Hood as Pagan God crowd often does.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 03:16 PM

The Anglian Gardener website (daylia) seems to have fakelore by the bushel. The nonsense about driving a nail into the tooth or gum and then putting the nail into an oak tree, in the 18th century, is an example.
In 1685, Charles Allen published "The Operator for the Teeth," outlining extractions, etc. in English. An article in the official journal of the DASA (Dental Assn. South Af.), "An Outline of Dental History," is a good, brief summary. Paré was performing extractions in France (Court medicine) in the 16th century.
Porcelain false teeth that worked are described in a book by N. D. de Chemant, 1779, "A Dissertation on Artificial Teeth." Edward Jenner, who discovered vaccination, was one who used his teeth, and wrote a testimonial.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 09:58 PM

Q, the folklore regarding oak trees, nails and toothaches certainly isn't "fakelore" according to my own dentist! He got the whole office laughing when I asked him about it last week -- kept calling out to his assistant for a hammer and more nails. The humour made the 90 minutes on that chair -- and thank heavens for the modern dentist chair -- a lot easier to take. I've sure liked him a lot better since I found that out!

Here's another source of the same information, an article by Rev. A. R. V. Daubeney, M.A. of Feltwell Parish in S. West Norfolk describing local history. Scroll down to his entry about Oak Street --

"Oak trees planted at the junction of roads, like the Feltwell oak, were much resorted to, in by-gone days, by people suffering from ague; it was supposed that the complaint could be transferred to the tree and probably a nail was then driven in. An ancient cure for toothache was to drive a nail into an oak tree, and strange as it may seem, it was firmly believed that, by this means, the pain could be conveyed from the tooth into the tree."

Of course, finding the same info on a few different sites and knowing that my own dentist is familiar with this old folk-remedy still doesn't make it the f-oaking truth now, does it? I still need the final verdict from SRS!! ;>)

Gareth, the Holy Tree at Glastonbury Abbey is a Thorn, not an oak, according to the links you gave and a few others I've found since. According to legend, it sprang from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea, and bloomed every year at Christmas and at Easter, which is very unusual for a thorn tree. Slips were taken from the original tree before it was destroyed many centuries ago, and apparently the tree's progeny still bloom at Christmas and Easter. They are in the gardens around Chalice Well.

I found a beautiful site with a "virtual tour" of Chalice Well, pictures of the oaken bower (pergola) at the entrance to the gardens, the Well itself with it's oaken cover, and lovely pictures of the "Holy Thorn" trees. Click here for the entrance to the virtual tour (takes a minute for the java scripting to load), and here    for the pictures of the "Holy Thorn" and a bit more info about the trees.

Enjoy!   daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 10:16 PM

:>) Nerd, I just saw your last post. Just figures God ... oops, Oak! ... is lurking around here someplace. Probably trying to figure out how He could get a makeover, to look more like that gorgeous hunk of manhood found at the opening 'click' of the "Legends of Robin Hood" site ... yumyumyum ...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 09 Jun 03 - 11:00 PM

Daubeney's interesting little local history makes no claim that "toothache nails" were used in the 18th century, but incidentally mentions that there was an ancient belief that it was a cure for ague and toothache, in his discussion of an oak that he believes could be over 500 years old.
This story is mentioned in several works (where, first?). I could well believe that some ignorant medieval peasants might believe this, but 18th century? No, no.

Oak is Kao spelled backwards, which means high in Chinese. Re-arrange the letters and you have koa, also a large tree. Hmmm, is there a connection? Not too far-fetched for some, I'm sure.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: AKS
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 09:33 AM

oka (Fin) = thorn, barb; now what about that;-)?

In Finnish lore the oak (tammi is mentioned to be God's tree (the rowan being the holy one), but in the "beginning" it behaves badly by growing too high, stopping the clouds and hiding the moon and the sun, so the whole process of creation is delayed. And, as it turns out, no human can cut it down, so the sea folk are asked to come to help. Up comes a man, a thumb long in size, but he grows to be a giant in brass armour and by three strikes of his brass axe the job is finished. Those who managed - or dared - to collect leaves, twigs or any parts of the grand oak, became blessed or lucky or whatever positive. Some splinters drifted across the sea to the North (the stead of the bad guys) and were there exploited in witchery practices.

Presently, the oak is merely a rarity here, because the summer tends to be a bit too short for it, but the bog and lake sediments show that it has been rather common - as has the hazel - some 3000-5000 y's ago.

AKS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 09:59 AM

Hmmm, Oak ... Kao ... koa ... oka .... okay Q, you may be right about the dates re the "toothache nails", I don't know. I didn't discuss the date with my dentist, either -- had a few other things on my mind, like pain!

But here's an article from the American Medical Association, describing a similiar, if slightly more bizarre remedy used by American pioneers on the Western frontier in the 1800's ...

"To cure a toothache, pick the tooth with a coffin nail, the middle toe of an owl, a needle used to make a shroud, or a splinter from a tree struck by lightening; apply the juice of the "toothache plant" (prickly ash), pack the tooth with cotton soaked in oil of cloves, rub it with sumac (poison oak) gum; then chew the root of a thistle." Egads!

And here's another reference, giving more info specifically about medicinal uses of oak in folklore, but again not mentioning specific dates.

"Folkloristic medicine made widespread use of various trees, not so much as remedies, but for the purpose of transferring the evil spirits of disease from the sufferer to a strong healthy tree, which seemed much better equipped to cope with it. The practice is known as 'transfer magic'. A variety of rituals were associated with this custom and all of them involved reciting certain spells, which caused the disease spirit to take leave from the body and take up residence with the tree.

Oaks, as the strongest of all the trees, were deemed effective against many different kinds of affliction, among them were gout, fever, toothache, headache and even broken bones. Sometimes bits of the sufferer's garment, some hair or fingernails were plugged into the tree with the help of nails (often coffin-nails), thereby banning the disease daemon into the wood."


Warning: the last article is by one of those "new-age" herbalists, though. No doubt some folk here will write it off as garbage on that basis alone.

I've got a few more references, but I'm sure they'll all be p'd upon anyway. So, I'm foaking off now. Please forward any complaints to my lawyer!

;>)   daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Gareth
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 10:54 AM

Just to add a little more confusion to the debate, the Royal Oak was sometimes known as the "Hallowed" Oak.

Click 'Ere
&
Click 'Ere

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 12:20 PM

Geez.
    Of course, finding the same info on a few different sites and knowing that my own dentist is familiar with this old folk-remedy still doesn't make it the f-oaking truth now, does it? I still need the final verdict from SRS!! ;>)


Every single link on this page:http://www.feltwellnorfolk.freeserve.co.uk/written/feltwell_parish.htm
is generated from this Internet Provider: http://www.feltwellnorfolk.freeserve.co.uk/. There are no external links, no references to anything except itself as source. That makes it an unreliable resource. Is this the type of analysis you were looking for from me? I wouldn't use this site to justify anything I was trying to support in an academic argument because it isn't constructed in a way to show where its information comes from. It's personal opinion, and as opinion, has a validity all its own. But it must be recognized for what it is.

My modem won't be restored until late in the week (a new one is coming since the first one was pronounced dead by the DSL tech). Circular logic and fuzzy thinking are never going to be suitable for academic discourse unless the discourse is focusing on circular logic and fuzzy thinking. If I'm at work on the LAN I'll answer questions, but I'm not going to waste my time at home on a slow dialup connecting trying to spell out what makes questionable information sources questionable. I suggest rereading previous posts where this has been discussed before. Nerd and Q have spelled it out here very well. My conclusion? "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Nerd
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 12:28 PM

Don't forget the other Oak Anagram:

any interpretation is A-OK! (groan)!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 12:44 PM

SRS, I was joking about the verdict. To clarify that for you, from Merriam Webster's on-line dictionary:

"Main Entry: joke
Pronunciation: 'jOk
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin jocus; perhaps akin to Old High German gehan to say, Sanskrit yAcati he asks
Date: 1670

1 a : something said or done to provoke laughter; especially : a brief oral narrative with a climactic humorous twist
b (1) : the humorous or ridiculous element in something
(2) : an instance of jesting : KIDDING c : PRACTICAL JOKE d : LAUGHINGSTOCK

2 : something not to be taken seriously : a trifling matter"


But, thanks anyway for issuing it so quickly. And on such a slow connection, too! Very commendable.

Shall we email the Reverend and tell him what unsubstantiated garbage his work is? Perhaps criminal charges would be in order! Maybe a public hanging could be arranged, complete with a 'drawn and quartered' encore. At the very least, to be forever blacklisted from the library of the venerable and highly esteemed Mudcat scholars and saints would seem to be in order!

daylia



PS -- that last paragraph is also a joke. See above for a precise definition.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 12:47 PM

Nerd, there's a KOA Kampground near my home, and there's OAK Trees on site too! I've even seen a couple Robins flying about there! What a coincidence!! Maybe I'll start a whole new religion about it ...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 01:32 PM

Thanks be that there were only scrub oak (a nasty, invasive scrub) near my birthplace, hence none of these wild English stories. Our trees were pine, spruce, aspen and cottonwood. Oak was brought in as flooring, furniture or coffins. The last is pointed to by a rhyme that we used to sing as children:

Oh, we chopped down that old oak tree
And tuk it away to the mill
To make a coffin so fine
For that old dawg of mine
Oh, they chopped down that old oak tree.

Lots of stories instead about the big cottonwoods along the rivers and arroyos. La Llorona wailed as she wandered through them at night. Outlaws hid there. The big cats from the mountains came down the washes at night and ate children who played there after dark. They were the site of the ultimate 'frontier justice'.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 02:20 PM

Daylia, if you want the subtext discussion to stop, then cease giving with one hand and taking with the other. A close reading would have indicated that if I responded, I'm at work. But you'd try the patience of a saint, Robin Hood or not, with the continual picking at the remarks of Mudcatters who don't meet your approval.

Your "wink" symbol doesn't fool anyone into thinking that it is meant to smooth over the barb in your words. Getting the last word isn't going to happen when the ointment you use to sooth your verbal pricks is filled with itching powder. They're just begging to be scratched. So if I respond testily when providing a clarification or correction, don't suggest that I don't have sense of humor then post links to define jokes. I have a fine sense of humor when there is something that is really meant to be laughed at, and I can deliver puns that will zing into the stratosphere over your head.

This thread appears to have been plagued by Oak Wilt.

The following opinion has great value and merit and given enough time, the post from the fellow at the feltwellnorfolk.freeserve site may have equal credibility. It has to stand a test of time (and in this case, it also passed a peer review). I picked the following up via JSTOR, an academic database. It came up on a search for "Oak Trees" so somewhere in the article is a discussion of Oaks, but I'm not going to read for it right now. From the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London

    PAPERS READ


    Before The

    ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY.



    I.-Notes of a Journey through Tezas and New Mexico, in the Years 1841 and 1842. By THOMAS FALCONER, Esq., of the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn.


    IN the following notes it is proposed to give the outline of a journey through Texas and New Mexico. They have no claim to scientific accuracy, for most of my papers, as well as those of my companions, especially some containing an estimate of each day's journey, and the bearings of the course followed, were, together with a collection of shells and minerals which I had made, taken possession of, with the baggae of my party, by the Mexican authorities in New Mexico. All that can be recorded is the general characteristics and condition of the country traversed, as indicatjng the peculiarities of some districts which may deserve examination when the pending contest between Texas and Mexico shall terminate, and a more pacific disposition among the Indian tribes or the north towards strangers than prevails at present shall permit it to be made.
    I left Galveston for Houston March 12., 1841, in a steamer drawing about three and a half feet or water. The wind had been blowing hard, and "had blown the water out of the bay," so that we were unable to cross Red Fish Bar, on the N. of Galveston Bay. We grounded in about three and a. quarter feet of water, and remained unable to move for upwards of twenty- four hours. On the morning of the l4th we passed Harrisburgh, situated at the side of Buffalo Bayou. . .


SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 03:32 PM

Falconer came to Texas in 1840. He joined the Texan-Santa Fe Expedition, and his notes appeared as an appendix to Kendall's Narrative of the Texan Santa Fe Expedition. He later served in British Guiana and Wales. Not certain what his connection is here, except that live oaks are abundant on the more clayey soils of south Texas (as opposed to pine on the more sandy soil). The sharp separation of the species mark the soil change through the city of Houston.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 03:44 PM

I expect Falconer cataloged what he found, and perhaps the plant community associations. There was a typo in my scan (had to print the GIF then scan it to Word and correct it). Should have said their "baggage" was siezed in New Mexico--perhaps it was never returned? Had to list stuff from memory? Lots of oaks in Texas that's for sure! For art of the period that includes wonderful botanical detail, have you seen the border survey by William H. Emory? Map of Texas and the countries adjacent* has wonderful etchings--more cactus than oak, but about the same period. 1844.

*full title in catalog: Map of Texas and the countries adjacent / compiled in the Bureau of the Corps of Topographical Engineers, from the best authorities, for the State Department, under the direction of J.J. Abert by W.H. Emory ; W.J. Stone, sc.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 03:59 PM

The account of Falconer, appended to Kendall's narrative, is given in some detail here: Falconer
Nothing of relevance.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 05:00 PM

I won't go read it, then. I picked this simply as an an example of how opinion can become an academic resource over time, not really meant to alter the course of the discussion. I did a quick search in JSTOR to see if something in the humanities would pop up (mostly there were scientific studies of how oaks behave in heat, with environmental stresses, how it works for a crop (cork, acorns, etc.). I didn't grow up with any oak lore to speak of; in Washington State there is very little quercus activity. One scrubby shrub type that appears in the Millersylvania area and south (in a glacial moraine/prairie setting) and I think maybe some little isolated population of some sort in the San Juans?

Trees with a lot of cultural lore up there are the Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) and commercial importance like the Douglas fir (Pseudosuga menziesii). In Eastern Washington, the Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) is the big tree on the block. And Merry Marry Men? How about the Frozen Logger! (okay, it's a bit of a stretch!

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 06:12 PM

Kendall and Falconer lost everything when they were taken prisoner and sent off to Mexico. They couldn't have had much, since they had attached themselves to a trading party on its way to Santa Fe. After their capture, they endured horrific treatment, loss of men ordered executed by the sadistic Mexican officer in charge, and starvation. Once in Mexico, new officers took over and the treatment was reversed; those who had survived were fed, clothed, and allowed some freedom of movement.

Falconer is worth a footnote here in Canada because he adjudicated the Canada-New Brunswick boundary. I think it was less than 20 years later that the two joined in Confederation.

Yep, ponderosa pine is our big tree, commercially as well, all the way from the piney woods of Texas to Alberta, and, as you say, eastern Washington, etc.

This thread supposed to be about oaks? Okey-dokey. Here in southern Alberta, the parts in climatic zone three, the burr oak will grow; it has been used by Calgary Parks Dept. on a few streets. Mighty slow-growing, though. I sometimes miss the live oaks of Texas- spent time under them doing assignments (and dozing) when I was in school there.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Gareth
Date: 10 Jun 03 - 07:03 PM

To confuse matters even further -
"Hearts of Oak, are are ships,
Jolly Tars are our men."

Tho' Gunthur Prien (deceased) and U47 might disagree.

Gareth

A Virtual Pint in the "Royal Oak", Ystrad Mynach to any non UK 'Catter who can interpret that reference.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: LadyJean
Date: 11 Jun 03 - 12:40 AM

With regards to Robin Hood; For my sins! I produced three medieval Robin Hood plays. Robin of the dramas was nothing like the charming hero of my girlhood. He was a guy who hung out in the woods and picked fights, which he generally won. No robbing rich, no giving to the poor. Blessedly we didn't find out we had the bowdlerized version of "Robin Hood And The Monk" until our last rehearsal. Friar Tuck ends the play by reciting a naughty little rhyme about Maid Marian. We were fed up with the girl who played the role, but Friar Tuck wasn't what you'd call a quick study.
Beatrix Potter wrote a story called "The Fairy In The Oak", which begins with the country proverb, "Fairy folks is in old oaks."
Don't the Brits celebrate Oak Apple Day, in honor of King Charles' escape? I remember a song from John Roberts and Tony Barrand's album or spring carols, "Now we do bring you the royal branch of oak. God bless our king and queen and all the royal folk."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 11 Jun 03 - 10:31 AM

" Don't the Brits celebrate Oak Apple Day, in honor of King Charles' escape?"

LadyJean, at Gareth's promptings I've been doing a bit of research on Charles II's escape from the Roundheads. You might be interested in this article about Oak Apple Day :


"Monarchists celebrate on 29th May

Charles II's escaped from the Roundheads on 6th September 1651. In parts of England, people still commemorate the restoration of the monarchy by wearing sprigs of oak in memory of the time when the king hid in an oak tree following the Battle of Worcester.

Thanks to the protection of this tree in the grounds of Boscobel Hall, Staffordshire, Charles was eventually crowned king of Great Britain and Ireland on 29th May 1660; ...

The wearing of a sprig of oak on the anniversary of Charles' crowning showed that a person was loyal to the restored king. Those who refused to wear an oak-sprig were often set upon, and children would challenge others to show their sprig or have their bottoms pinched. Consequently, this day became known as Pinch-Bum-Day. In parts of England where oak-apples are known as shick-shacks, the day is also known as Shick-Shack Day. It is also likely that the royal association conceals a pagan tradition of tree worship."



:>) Pinch Bum Day! I just love those oh-so-English 'handles', like Rev. Daubeney's Feltwell parish. Do you suppose it was named thus because people felt well when passing by that venerable oak on Oak St? (tongue planted firmly in cheek!)

To take you across the pond for a moment, this article from The Austin Chronicle about the plight of a certain "sacred oak" in Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (Texas) is quite interesting, if a little dated. This tree sits atop Enchanted Rock, said to be a traditional 'sacred mountain' of the local native peoples. Some claim that it is the tree Black Elk spoke of in his apocalyptic visions, and that it's present diseased state (it's been mysteriously losing it's foliage for a few years) is indicative of the approaching 'end of the age'. Others say it's been hit with oak wilt like many other Texas oaks in recent years [sheesh, is 'God' just checking out of Texas then? ;>)   ]. The argument against the latter is that oak wilt is spread via the roots of the trees, and this solitary tree grows on a rock.

In any case, the ailing tree and the local legends surrounding it were brought to the attention of the public by one Ira Kennedy, a local historian and folklorist. At the time of the article in the Austin Chronicle, it had been receiving much attention, people climbing the mountain with buckets of water to try to save it etc.

I'm wondering if the tree is still alive today?

There's more about Black Elk's vision, Ira Kennedy and the debate surrounding this 'sacred oak' at this link, the Tree of Life. Sorry I couldn't find anything more recent about it.

daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: *daylia*
Date: 11 Jun 03 - 10:50 AM

oops, I just re-read the final messages on the Tree of Life page and realized that the tree is dead. Sorry bout that!

daylia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 11 Jun 03 - 09:52 PM

Bill Black Eagle, a modern living person, is the informant named in the Austin Chronicle, NOT (Nicholas) Black Elk. Let's not get sloppy and go astray by placing Black Elk (as Neihardt presented his story) on a visit to Texas and climbing Enchanted Rock. It just didn't happen!

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 11 Jun 03 - 11:12 PM

Nicholas Black Elk died in 1950. His story is told in Neihardt, J. G. ed., 1961, "Black Elk Speaks, Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux. Univ. Nebraska Press. A new edition was put out in 2000, $14.95 in paperback ($50 cloth).

The age of the tree seems to be controversial; taking a bore for tree ring analysis could easily settle that, and would provide a history of local wet-dry cycles during its lifetime. The tree certainly was in a precarious location. Its 'sacredness' might be 'new age.'

I told a lie in my last post. Pines in East Texas, and in southern Alberta, are not of the Ponderosa species. My mind was not in gear when I wrote that, extending ponderosa's range considerably.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 11 Jun 03 - 11:22 PM

This nursery web site provides information on live oaks in the Texas Hill Country and on oak wilt. The lead picture is of a magnificant live oak. Hill Country oaks

There are good pictures also if you scroll down to the end of the article.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 12 Jun 03 - 03:24 PM

We lived in Temple, in Central Texas, for 8 years (far too long!) and used to visit Mother Neff State Park, the first state park. They have some state record trees out there, no doubt a few of them are oaks.

One of the trees in that web site, Q, is at Rio Frio. Have you been out there? It's a gorgeous county, with real interesting convergences of desert and prairie zones. And the river itself--just south of Rio Frio in Uvalde County is Garner State Park--it's so green it's like lime jello, but it's just the light, the water is cold and crystal clear. Great American Trails Company (don't know anything about them) has a nice little slide show if you have a Flash plugin.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,dgaldas@aol.com
Date: 21 Jun 04 - 05:12 PM

I'm going through some old letters (1890's or so) and I've found the Poem "The Old Oak Tree" hand written but the verses are not the same as you have. I'm trying to trace the original version and by whom it was written by. Or who can be of any help researching this. There was no name written on it but it was in my family papers. It's about a murder of a woman called "Betsy" by "Squire James McCullion" who on being exposed as the murderer commits suicide!!!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Joybell
Date: 21 Jun 04 - 06:47 PM

Ok Guest, I was about to retrace that early request myself. I'm sure that poem is the same one as sung by two elderly sisters here in Australia. They learned it from their grandmother. I'll look it up and post the lyrics if they differ from yours. Joy


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Subject: Lyrics add: Liza Wells
From: Joybell
Date: 21 Jun 04 - 10:15 PM

Here is what I think may be a variant of "The Old Oak Tree" as mentioned by Guest dgaldas. It was collected in Binalong New South Wales, Australia, by Rob Willis. It was sung for him, in 1991, by Val Turton (born 1927).

Liza Wells

Dark was the night, cold blew the wind, and heavy fell the rain
When Liza left her dear old home, to never return again.
She left her dear old mother's side, and she went out in the cold.
For she was young and sensitive and love had made her bold.

She heeded not the wind that blew, or the tempest raging o'er
She drew a mantle 'round herself, and boldly left the door.
The night passed on and the day passed on and Liza came not home
Which caused her dear old mother to say, "How can she roam alone?"

'twas in the scenery of some woods, where the owner of some land,
Squire Coleman and some of his gentlemen, were hunting with their hounds.
Over hills and down the dells all gallantly rode they
Until the hounds they all did stop beneath an old oak tree.

The hounds began to yelp and bark, and to yelp and bark did they
And all the whips those hounds did get could not drive them away.
The gentlemen they gathered 'round and they called for pick and spade
For they dug the ground and there they found the murdered mystery maid.

In her side they found a knife, and with a look of shame,
The gentlemen read on the blade young Squire Coleman's name.
"Oh gentlemen" Squire Coleman said, "My soul is fit for Hell
Oh hide me from that cold, cold corpse and the truth to you I'll tell.

I know she loved me dearly, and from me would not part
And in my selfish, wicked way I knew I'd won her heart.
She pleaded me, tormented me, tried me make her my wife
And the Devil whispered in my ear, "Why don't you take her life?"

And with that knife found in her side I pierced her snow-white breast
Oh, gentlemen", Squire Coleman said, "Why need I tell the rest?".
He knelt down by the cold, cold corpse, and with a look of pain,
He drew a pistol from his belt and fired it through his brain.

And where he died they buried him. No Christian grave got he
No marble stone to mark the place beneath that old oak tree.

                                     Joy


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Joybell
Date: 21 Jun 04 - 10:46 PM

I should note that regarding Liza Wells - the songs in the repertoire of Val Turton are mainly popular 19th century songs from America, England and Scotland.
Liza Wells has always sounded like a broadside to me but I've never been able to track it down. There are a few American murders that might fit the story - one has the girl's name as "Betsy" but the links seem a bit vague.
Liza Wells sounds rather like a "goodnight ballad" without the hanging - something Jemmy Catnach - the famous broadside printer - might have come up with on a slow day when there was no genuine news. That's my read on it, but it's just a theory. Joy


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Joybell
Date: 22 Jun 04 - 08:22 PM

Well having done more homework I see that now I have an alternate title for the Liza Wells ballad - it rightly belongs with the "Old Oak Tree" right here in the data base.
                                                   Joy


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: GUEST,GUEST,DGALDAS
Date: 25 Aug 04 - 05:47 PM

The Old Oak Tree

Dark was the night cold blew the winds and heavy fell the rain
Young betsy left her own dear home and come not back again
She left her widowed mothers side fearing not rain nor cold
Although being young and fair to roam yet love had made her bold

At half past ten that weary night beneath the old oak tree
She had promised James her own true love and with him she would be
She heeded not the drenching rains nor the howling tempest roar
But threw her cloak around her and quickly left the door

That night passed on and day break came and betsy dident come home
Wich caused her mother for to weep and wonder where she had roamed
Till at lenth this widow started out she cried in accents wild
Ill search this kingdom over or find my darling child

Three long and dreary weeks was spent in searching the country around
But their searching was of no avail young betsy was not found
And men to reach her lonely house this weak worn widow tried
Till pressed by grief she there lay down and broken hearted died

More nearer to the scene of was the owner of the ground
Young squire mccullion rode one day to hunt with all his hounds
He rode up hill he rode down dale through gallant company
Until by chance they lost the fox beneath the old oak tree

I was there the dogs began to bark to howl and snuff the clay
And all the gentlemens whips and horses couldent drive the dogs away
Till at lenth the gentlemen gathered around they yelled for pick and spade      
They dug the ground and there they found this missing mureded maid

Her breast that once was fair and white was black with wounds and blows
And from the cuts the blood did gosh and trinkle through her clothes
The grave to show the murderous work it was a horrid sight
To see the worms set through her eyes that once was blue and bright

And in her breast a knife was plunged more dismal to the sene
And on the helve the gentlemen read young james mccullions name
I done the deed mccullions cried and soul is food for hell
So hide her cold corps from my eyes and I the truth will tell

I rote a marriage promise to which I signed my name
This bein on an evil hove(?) I had ruined poor betsy fame
I own I loved young betsy with all my valiant heart
I had gained her soul victoriously which did implore my part

And every time that we would meet she would say make me your bride
But I laughed at all her tears and woes being hardened in my pride
She teased till I grew tired just as it seems to me
When the devil whispered take her life and then you will be free

The knife that did my dinner cut I plunged into her breast
And with the helve I knocked her down I need not tell the rest
And ever since that mortal hour she stands before my eyes
I think I see her bleeding ghost or hear her dying cries

Then he stooped and on the corps he cast a look of pain
He drew a pistol from his breast and fired it through his brain
He was buried where he fell on no Christian grave found he
And none were found to bless the ground beneath the old oak tree.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Aug 04 - 07:56 PM

Guest, There already is a thread, 23026, Origins, The Old Oak Tree, with a version of "Betsy, The Old Oak Tree." The song also is in the DT.
Old Oak Tree: Old Oak Tree
The contents of Mudcat should be checked before posting lyrics. It also is good practice to cite sources of lyrics posted here.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Bernard
Date: 25 Aug 04 - 08:48 PM

Now, now, let's not get too pedantic!! Maybe 'Guest' ain't familiar with our ways... and it can save everyone a bit of ferreting around if someone posts the lyrics in the context of the thread... I've even seen Joe Offer do it!! So ner!

Have to agree about citing sources, though! ;o)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 25 Aug 04 - 09:10 PM

Not pedantry, but trying to keep an already over-long thread manageable. It's easy to provide a link to a text posted elsewhere (see FAQ) and posting the same material in multiple threads makes for more, not less, "ferreting around"; especially for those of us who try to answer questions for people who aren't familiar with the use of search engines.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Oak Trees in Folklore
From: FIDDLE-4
Date: 26 Aug 04 - 08:00 AM

X:599
T:Oak Tree, The
R:reel
D:Sharon Shannon
D:Tommy Peoples
D:Frankie Gavin: Frankie Goes to Town
Z:id:hn-reel-599
M:C|
K:D
FDAD FDAD|FAAF GEFD|~A,3B, CA,EA,|A,G,A,B, CDEG|
FDAD FDAD|FAAF GEFA|(3Bcd eg faec|1 d2ce dBAG:|2 d2ce dfeg||
|:fB~B2 fa^ge|fece ~f3e|cA~A2 fAeA|(3cBA ea fece|
fB~B2 fa^ge|fece faec|ABce ~a3e|1 faec dfeg:|2 faec dABc||
d2fd ~d2fd|c2ec ~c2ec|d2fd ~d2fg|gfge dcBc|
d2fd Adfd|c2ec Acec|dfaf gefd|(3Bcd ec dBAG||
"variations"
|:FD~D2 FDAD|FDAD GEFD|~E3F GEED|~E3F GECE|
FD~D2 FDAD|FDAD GEFA|Bdef gece|1 dfec dBAG:|2 dfec dfeg||
|:fB~B2 fa^ga|fece fcec|A2cA eAce|Acea fece|
fB~B2 fa^ge|fece fcec|ABce ~a3e|1 faec dfeg:|2 faec dABc||
d2fd ~d2fd|c2ec ABcA|d2fd ~d2fg|gfge dcBc|
defd adfd|cdec ABcA|~d3e f2ec|Bdec dBAG||
Tommy peoples a lot.
fiddle-4


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