Why an Oak Ceremony?
Why a Ceremony?
Go Wild Institute envisions that future generations of Californians will look to our oak landscapes and feel a sense of belonging, inspiration and nourishment. We strive to develop integrated, holistic community-based land restoration projects that feed our bodies, minds and spirits.
For millennia, oaks have been revered for their abundant gifts and wisdom. Oaks grow around the globe and in most of those oaky places, pre-agricultural peoples ate acorns. If you have ancestors from the Northern Hemisphere (North and Central America, Europe, Middle East, China, Korea, Japan) they most likely ate acorns and honored the oak. For example, both Zeus and Thor were considered oak gods. Abraham, the Father of the Jewish people first saw the Jewish God under an oak tree called “Teacher Tree” (Tree of Moreh).
All over our beautiful, living Earth, legends foretell that our precious relations in nature will cease to exist when humans stop honoring and caring for them. Ceremonies reorient our hearts and minds to a place of belonging within the web of life. When we act from within the web of life, we can only act in a way that mutually benefits ourselves and the Earth. When we enter ceremonial space, we change our relationship with the earth, ourselves and spirit.
At Go Wild Institute, we hold firmly to the animistic beliefs shared by the majority of Earth-based societies: that our Earth is alive, sentient, imbued with spirit, and always communicating with us. A major problem of our time is that we have forgotten how to listen. Ceremonies, like the Council of All Beings, help us to remember to listen and to communicate with our relations in nature.
Oaks are abundantly generous.
One tree can drop hundreds of pounds of nutritious acorns, sustaining the whole web of life. If I gave you a super generous gift, let’s say all of your staple food in a year, and you didn’t say thank you, I would be less generous next year, and the next, and the next. I might even become sick from not having my gifts seen and appreciated. Ceremonies communicate our appreciation and gratitude for the generous gifts we have be given.
Look everywhere and you can see that our loss of connection to the natural world is creating a downward spiral of societal alienation and ecological destruction. The present ailing state of California oak lands illustrates this downward spiral. Californians no longer see themselves as part of the oak community of life, so we routinely destroy vital oak habitats for development and agriculture at great detriment to water and air quality, wildlife, and the climate. In the last thirty years, more than a million oak and tanoak trees have died from Sudden Oak Death (SOD) and at least another million trees are currently infected. All is not lost however; Oaks have mighty potential to illustrate how we can shift these negative patterns by reimagining our human relationship within a sentient, sacred web of life. And we really need that now. That is why we are holding a ceremony.