The Holly and Oak Kings James Parton
 Dec 13, 2007 

TOPIC: The Holly & Oak Kings

== 1 of 5 ==
Date: Thurs, Dec 13 2007 9:54 pm
From: James Parton


In Celtic mythology the Oak King and the Holly King are Rivals. Every
year during winter & summer they fight for dominence. In Winter Holly
wins. In Summer Oak wins. Some legends say it is for the affections of
the mother goddess.

To the early Celts, trees, especially the Oak tree were considered
sacred. Oak trees are deciduous, meaning that they go into a dormant
state during the winter months. English Holly trees are evergreen, and
maintain their foliage year round. Many other hollies are also
evergreen. As the cold weather approached and the Oak trees lost their
foliage, the Holly trees, which had been hidden amid the leafy Oaks
now stood out in their full beauty in the barren landscape.

At Midwinter, it seemed that the Holly King had won and his rival, the
mighty Oak King now stood naked in defeat. But, the Holly King did not
really win the battle, because as the Sun begins to return once again,
The Oak King rallies, and begins to re-establish his supremacy, even
though it won't be until Midsummer when the Oaks will once again be in
full foliage.

The battle continues at Midsummer and the Oak King appears to win,
overshadowing and pushing his opponent out of sight, but once again
appearances are deceptive as the Sun begins to leave once more and the
Holly King rallies and begins to make his full appearance once more.
Interestingly enough it is at the time when each King is in his full
strength and splendor that he is defeated by his opponent.

I love this story. It is one of my favorites in Celtic lore. The
battle of the trees.

Also Celtic lore also comes to play in our Christmas traditions.
Examples of the Holly King's image can be seen in our modern Santa
Claus. He dons a sprig of holly in his hat, wears red clothing, and
drives a team of eight (total number of Solar Sabbats) reindeer, an
animal sacred to the Celtic Gods (deer). Mistletoe and holly came into
modern Christmas celebrations through the memorializing of this
battle. The holly with berries are hung in honor of the Holly King and
mistletoe in honor of the Oak King.

Also another " War " of the trees is spoken of in a song by the rock
band " Rush ". Simply titled " The Trees "

In this case, it is the Oaks & Maples that are at war.

In our real world, trees do compete. Some shade out others, etc. They
are winners and losers.

James Parton.

== 2 of 5 ==
Date: Thurs, Dec 13 2007 10:29 pm
From: dbhguru


Thanks for sharing this beautiful Celtic myth. It is a refreshing change from the one-dimensional view of trees as servants of humans in which their value as lumber or fiber trumps every other view and value. Please pass on to us any more Celtic myths about trees.


== 3 of 5 ==
Date: Thurs, Dec 13 2007 10:44 pm
From: James Parton


You came to mind as I typed this one. I thought you would appreciate
this. More will come....

James P.

== 4 of 5 ==
Date: Thurs, Dec 13 2007 10:49 pm
From: dbhguru


GREAT!! As I get the time, I'll look up some of the Native American tree myths.


== 5 of 5 ==
Date: Thurs, Dec 13 2007 10:56 pm
From: James Parton


That would be nice. The Celts & Native Americans have more in common
than most people realize.

For some reason I think more of Holly as " female ". A holly queen.
The Oak appears robust & " male ". The holly being a smaller tree & a
common female name. I have a close friend by the name " Holly " as
well. Celtic folklore has many powerful female goddesses, queens &
heroines. Like Maeve, Blodeuwedd & The Morrigan.

James P.

== 2 of 2 ==
Date: Fri, Dec 14 2007 10:59 am
From: James Parton


I have more to add on the " Holly " myths & legends. 

James Parton.