‘Celtic Green Man’ - Oak King and Holly King - January 2017
In December at Winter Solstice we had a wonderful community gathering with food, songs, stories and fun at the Studios 3 in Penticton Host Rita Montgomery and friends. There were about 50 people who turned up to celebrate not only winter solstice but a new moon. I was asked to give a short story so I talked about our Celtic Solstice, Samhain traditions and also old Celtic Christmases. I only had 10 minutes and if I had more time I would have liked to share a story about the Celtic Holly and Oak Kings a little some more. So here is a bit more information and the Celtic Holly and Oak King and also the Green Man.
Let’s start with the Green Man. He is the male version of our Celtic Goddess or Mother Earth.
A Green Man is often seen in sculptures, drawings, or other representations of a face surrounded by or made from leaves. Branches or vines may sprout from the nose, mouth, nostrils or other parts of the face and these shoots may bear flowers or fruit. Often it looks like a man peeping through a bush until closer inspection shows it is the Green Man’s face covered in his leaves. Certain plants are associated with The Green Man, such as the vine emerging from his mouth and the oak and the hawthorn, whose leaves were used to depict his face. Holly leaves and Holly red berries are also shown in the Winter Green Man/Holly King’s face and Oak leaves in the Summer Green Man/Oak King. Hazel leaves and Hazel nuts were also included in portraits of the Green Man.
The Green Man's association with trees connects him to ancient traditions found in Ireland, which links the earth to heaven and other worlds. You can create your own Green Man for your altar or to hang in your home; simply make a bearded face from leaves, vine, berries and flowers. The face is almost always male; green women are rare.
The Green Man is an Ascended Master who is a great spiritual teacher, healer and a powerful guide who can help in all aspects of your life. The Green Man is the face of nature and an ancient fertility deity who helps crops to grow; he represents the healing effects of nature.
You might call upon the Green Man to help increase your connection to nature or to help in your garden, orchard or farm. If your life purpose or work involves working on the land, gardening, food growing, protecting the environment, nature or if you work with flower essences, crystals, plant spirit medicine or other natural healing methods, the Green Man will come to assist you when asked.
Remember we have free will, so we do have to ASK for guidance or assistance.
The Green Man is often represented in art work, ceramics, and paintings. It can even be seen in old cravings in wood or stone in many ancient churches, buildings, archways and sacred sites in Ireland. It is also associated with the Hill of Tara in Co Meath, Ireland.
There are two Tree Kings in Ireland both of whom can be seen as expressions of The Green Man, with their foliate faces; The Oak King and the Holly King. These Green Men take turns in sharing the King’s Reign in harmony during the year.
At the Winter Solstice, or Yule, the Oak King reigns and nurtures the land until Midsummer, or Litha. At Bealtane on May 1st, the peak of the Oak King’s reign starts to weaken as he sacrificially mates with the Great Mother, dies in her embrace, and is resurrected the next Winter Solstice. Once the Summer Solstice arrives, the Holly King gains strength and now he reigns over the land and nature.
These two kings are very similar in appearances. The Holly King frequently appears as a woodsy version of Santa Claus. He dresses in red, wears a sprig of holly in his tangled hair, and is sometimes depicted driving a team of eight stags.
The Oak King is portrayed as a fertility god, forest and nature spirit guardian like the lord of the forest. This is a time of year of brightness and warmth. Crops are growing in their fields with the heat of the sun, but may require water to keep them alive. The power of the sun at Midsummer is at its most potent, and the earth is fertile with the bounty of growing life.
The Druids are believed to have held rituals in oak groves, and certainly mistletoe was to be found on oak trees. According to legend, mistletoe was indicative of God stopping by, via a lightning strike on the tree. Certainly, oak trees seem to be more susceptible to lightning strikes than other trees, although this could be because it's often the tallest tree around. Rulers often wore crowns of oak leaves, as a symbol of their connection to the divine. The druids would not meet for ritual if there was not an Oak tree present as the Oak is one of the most sacred trees, traditionally prized by the Celts and Druids. The oak fairy is very powerful, and imparts strength and endurance to any who stay within its aura. It is interesting that many of Ireland’s Oak trees disappeared during the time that Christianity came to Ireland and are only now been re-planted.
Many people in Ireland go out to watch the sun rise on the winter solstice on December 21st. This is to welcome the Oak King. Stand facing East and call upon the Green Man, the Goddess and the Divine/God to be with you. As the sun rises, give thanks for the return of the light and warmth. Then, you could make a wish and dedicate it to the returning sun. Ask it to empower you so that you can achieve what you have asked for. If you can, look for an acorn, stone or a twig, something that catches your attention that you can keep with you as a symbol of the promise you have decided to make.
Decorating the home with evergreen is used as a reminder of the return of the growing season. Holly with berries had a dual significance, the red symbolising the resting Mother, while the dark green of the holly symbolising the Holly King who has ruled since the summer solstice. Mistletoe is another plant used in decoration with strong Celtic origins. The plant was seen as magical because it is said to grow beneath the earth and the sky and is not rooted in the ground.
Just as Yule marks the leaving of the Holly King, it also marks the birth of the Oak King as the ruler of the year between winter solstice and summer solstice, and then Holly King will return from summer to winter. Both of these Celtic Kings are the essence of the Green Man’s energy and wisdom.
During my Sacred Tour to Ireland, we get to see many of these sacred trees such as the Oak, Holly and Hawthorns.
Here are a few Celtic Traditions about the Oak and Holly trees:
- The Ogham Symbol D is for Duir, the Celtic tree of Oak and is associated with strength, resilience and self-confidence.
- Each oak tree is a very metropolis of fairies, and each acorn has its own sprite. Bringing one into the house is a way to enhance contact with the fairy realm.
- Oak beams are often used to make doors, but the tree itself is a great portal to the other realms.
- Carry an acorn in your pocket when you go to an interview or business meeting; it will be bring you good luck.
- If you catch a falling Oak leaf before it hits the ground, you'll stay healthy the following year.
- Growth and fertility wishes/intentions work best at the reign of the Oak King.
- The medicinal park of the Oak is its bark, because of the strong astringent properties. Internally as a tea it helps fight diarrhea and dysentery. Externally it was used to treat hemorrhoids, inflamed gums, wounds, and eczema. The tannin found in oak was used to help reduce minor blistering by boiling a piece of the bark in a small amount of water until a strong solution is reached, and applying to the affected area.
- Oak leaves that had remained on the tree all through the winter were collected and boiled to obtain a solution in which the frostbitten extremities would soak for an hour each day for a week.
- Dreaming of resting under an oak tree means you will have a long life and wealth. Climbing the tree in your dream means a relative will have a hard time of it in the near future. Dreaming of a fallen oak means the loss of love.
- If someone does get sick, warm the house with an Oakwood fire to shoo away the illness.
- Carry an acorn against illnesses and pains, for immortality and youthfulness, and to increase fertility and sexual potency.
- Carrying any piece of the oak draws good luck to you (remember to ask permission and show gratitude.)
- King Arthur's round table was made from a single cross section of a large Oak.
- The Ogham Symbol T stands for Tinne, or Teine, the Holly tree.
- This evergreen plant is connected to immortality, unity, courage, and the stability of hearth and home.
- Planting a hedge around your home would keep malevolent spirits out, thanks in no small part to the sharp spikes on the leaves.
- When Christianity moved into the Celtic lands, the new religion associated the Holly plant with the story of Jesus. The poky spikes on the leaves represent the crown of thorns worn by Jesus on the cross, and the bright red berries symbolize his blood.
- Hang a sprig of Holly in your home to protect your family in your absence. Soak the leaves in spring water under a full moon, and then use the water as a blessing for people or items you wish to protect.
- In Ireland a large Holly branch are sometimes used as Christmas trees.
Contact Maria for more information on Sacred Tour to Ireland. (See Events)
Maria's Bio: Maria is a very powerful and gifted healer, and medical intuitive from Ireland. She carries a vast wealth of experience from a life of passionate exploration of the profound healing and ancient Irish intuitive gifts she inherited from her mother and going back to her grandmothers, two great uncles who were well known healers of the sick and even as far back as her great, great, great, grandfather (b. 1837) who was known as the Irish Healer of Animals. Her depth of knowledge and wisdom comes from her deep study and relentless research. Maria offers Celtic Intuitive & Angel Card Reading thru Skype or phone to any were in the world. Previously, she worked as a Dental Surgery Nurse for 18 years. She is trained in St John Ambulance in First Aid, and also in Healing Touch, RAC Reflexology, is a Vitamin consultant, and an Advance Angel Empowerment Practitioner, Doreen Virtue's Angel Card Reader and a certified medium. Maria grew up in Ireland and has travelled to over 15 countries and visited 200 cities. She has lived and travelled to Australia, Canada, North and South America, Europe and many places around the world. Maria has lived in the Okanagan, BC for 20 years with her husband and children. She continues to travel with recent adventures to Panama, Columbia, Costa Rica, Route 66, Paris and London, plus she travels home to Ireland as often as she can. Maria is the founder and publisher of 'OK In Health eMagazine' and Web site, which after 11 years is now one of the largest eMagazine in western Canada. www.OKinHealth.com is a beam of light in the wellness community. Maria was awarded the 2008 SOWINS, Women Up Front and Centre - Health & Wellness Award for her work on OK In Health eMagazine and the community.
Over the years she has also worked as an Event Organizer and brought instructors to the Okanagan from all over the world. Maria was also involved at the grass root level in bringing in Dr Deepak Chopra. Gregg Braden and Dr. Wayne Dyer to the Okanagan valley. Maria has a wealth of experience in travel, as a healer and in events organizing. Maria hosts a weekly Health Column in 5 Okanagan newspapers. In 2013, Maria brought 30 people to Ireland for the 14 day Celtic Angel tour and since then brings two tours over to Ireland each year, a tor to Hawaii and has started the first Okanagan Sacred Land Tours this year. Maria continues to enjoy studying, travelling, offering treatments, working on OK In Health eMagazine and loving life in the beautiful Okanagan Valley with her family and friends. - Email
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