Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Acorn Myths and Lore

Mighty Oaks from little acorns grow.  Acorns have twined across needlework for centuries - we love how they look in blackwork, satin-stitch, cross, Queen - they seem to capture the imagination and run with it.  In fact, tiny acorns have been capturing the human imagination for so long, there is no real agreement about the origin of the word.  Some say it's a combination of "oak and horn", some say it's from an old English word 'aecern', meaning berry or fruit. Chaucer spoke of "achornes of okes" in the 14th century.  Wherever it comes from, needleworkers seem to have picked up the motif some centuries ago.  Bolton and Coe, in "American Samplers" have this to say:

The popularity of the acorn is supposed to have arisen from King Charles's adventure in the "Boscabelle Oak."  Be this as it may, the acorn and strawberry were soon so distorted from their pristine form that it is a bold person who would say with definiteness which is which.   The designs are sometimes so conventionalized that their original is lost in obscurity. 

Long ago people believed the oak had protective qualities and they used it in spellcrafting. Some of the legends included:
* Carrying a small piece of oak would bring about a sense of security and well being.

* Two twigs of oak tied together with red thread to form an equal armed cross was a talisman that could be worn or hung up in the home for protection, strength and security against evil.

* Acorns placed on window ledges would guard against lightening strikes.
* Soaking feet in a footbath infusion of oak bark and leaves would not only relieve weary feet, but also guide people on their journey.
* To catch a falling oak leaf would bring luck and prosperity

* If someone was sick, placing an oak log on the fire to warm the house would help to "draw-off" the illness.
* Carrying an acorn was thought to guard against illness and pain, it was also thought to aid longevity and preserve youthfulness.
* In olden days young women would place two acorns in a bowl of water to find out if she had found true love. If the acorns moved together "yes" if they moved apart "no".

Squirrels, who love the acorns and gather them in the fall, are symbols of mischief and industry.  We love to watch squirrels gather their food and, well, "squirrel it away"... 
We love to read other blogs and we often find treasures on them.  One such treasure is a beautiful fall free chart called "I Offer My Heart to Squirrels" (at least, if Google Translate can be believed, that's the name) found here:


Spend some time at this blog - Claire has done a lovely job, and you'll find many free charts!

Another lovely blog is Miss Spenser's - all about tea... one of our favorite subjects - imagine that!  This pretty poem was found there on Teacup Thursday's entry:

The Song of the Acorn Fairy
To English folk the mighty oak
Is England's noblest tree;
Its hard-grained wood is strong and good
As English hearts can be.
And would you know how oak-trees grow,
The secret may be told:
You do but need to plant for seed
One acorn in the mould;
For even so, long years ago,
Were born the oaks of old.

Are you a guild, or shop with a class, lecture, or other event coming up?  Please contact us to give us the particulars - we'll add it to our needlework calendar!

Becky and Julie

1 comment:

  1. French classes is a long time gone...but I think Claire is saying Heart with Squirrels or maybe even Squirrelheart.
    But she really has lovely patterns.

    Around my parents house lots of oaks can be found. In our childhood we used to gather acorns and sell them for pocketmoney.

    On my list of plans and nice ideas is also a familysampler. Because of those oaks when I was young there will be an oak on that sampler. But a row of acorns would be very nice to! I'll keep that in mind.

    Oak, Quercus...no I can't even make acorn out of that!


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