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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Symbology of Acorns


Well, research is minimal on the mythological implications of acorns. I'll share what I've learned, but I think I'm going to need to draw from my personal creativity to flesh out this symbol. I'll explore that after I report the research results.

1. Biological facts - Acorns are the seeds of Oak Trees.
[Check! My inner science teacher is coming out. I couldn't resist the opportunity to make a diagram. If anyone is interested in it, you are welcome to copy and use it.]
2. Ecological facts – Acorns feed many animals, including :
Squirrels, Blue Jays, Woodpeckers, Bears, Deer, Pigs.   [Check!]        
3. Economic facts – Acorns are used as a food source by people all over the world, but the amount of work to remove the tannin to increase the digestibility makes it a less than optimal food source. Though, according to one website, the use of acorns as a food source increases during economically hard times. Acorns have been and still remain a traditional staple food for some Native American tribes, the California Miwok tribe especially.
[I didn't know acorns were still regularly used as a staple. I hope that the use of acorns as a food source by some Native Americans is a free choice to embrace tradition and not an indication of the economic conditions of those Native Americans. But I fear, it's probably a little bit of both, at least for some.] For more information on using acorns as food check out the website www.eattheweeds.com/acorns-the-inside-story

4. Aesthetic facts – a. Acorn images have been used for centuries to decorate utensils and curtain ties.
[I should decorate more with acorns.]
b. Acorns have been a wonderful symbol of the power of plants, trees, seeds and forests for many people. Here's some quotes:

                 Ralph Waldo Emerson: The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.

                 Kirk Hayes: It takes time to get foundations established, but you can't grow an oak
                                      tree without planting an acorn.

For more acorn quotes and information check out this website www.comfortdoc.squidoo.com/acorns

5. Mythological facts – a. Acorns are believed by some to protect from lightening if put on a window sill (or hung from curtain ties).
[This is probably a throw back to Norse and Greek mythology. Oak Trees are sacred to the gods of thunder, Thor and Zeus. I would guess that is related to Oak Trees being tall and probably being often struck by lightening and surviving.]
b. Acorns are also believed by some to keep a person young if carried in a pocket.
[That must be why Peter Pan carries an acorn to give to Wendy as a kiss! I wonder how hard it would be to attach an acorn onto my key chain. Then it could go in my pocket and still be very practical. I need to work more acorns into my life.]
c. Oak Trees are believed to protect from illness. 
[Fascinating, youth and protection.]

6. Personal Creativity -Okay, now onto some of my creative thoughts about acorns:
a. Let's start with a digital drawing I made of an acorn for a story.

b. Here's the beginning of a poem I wrote that includes acorns.

By K.C. Beck ‘06

By the black twig of hawthorn,
By the empty husk of acorn,
By the ground up goat’s horn,

The people will mourn,
A veil will be worn,
A widow forlorn...

c. Here's excerpts from a play I adapted from J.M. Barrie's book, Peter Pan. This is part of Act 2, Scene 2, where Wendy has asked Peter to give her a kiss and has extended her cheek toward him to receive it:

          (Peter moves away from Wendy as if she were crowding him, pulls off an acorn
          button and drops it into her hand, she looks surprised and slowly returns her face to
          where it had been before.)

          Wendy - (Nicely.) I will wear your kiss on a chain around my neck. (Wendy strings
          the acorn and puts it on. Formally.) Peter, how old are you?

          Peter - (Uneasily.) I don't know. (Pause.) But I am quite young.

See the connection between acorns and youth? Here is an excerpt is from Act 4, Scene 3, where Wendy has been struck by an arrow while flying to Neverland and lies on the ground with the arrow sticking up:

          Slightly - (Instantly.) The Wendy lady lives!

          (Peter kneels beside her and finds his acorn on a chain round her neck. Shows it.)

          Peter - The arrow struck this. See. It is the kiss I gave her. It has saved her life.

          Slightly - (Quickly.) I remember kisses, let me see it. Ay, that's a kiss.

          Peter - (Begging.) Wendy do get better quickly, so we can go see the mermaids.

And there's the connection between acorns and protection!

d. I'm not completely sure, but I think acorns are going to play a role in one of the chapters of my fantasy series I'm working on, The Sylfaen Tree Saga. That chapter hasn't been written yet and is still percolating in my subconscious. We'll see.


What does the choice of acorns for the first topic symbolize to me?
[Maybe my subconscious is trying to keep me young, or is afraid lightning will strike, or is saying my writing needs to be protected from illness.]

After spending all this time exploring acorn's uses and meaning, I think the fact that my muses guided me to acorns as my first topic symbolizes my desire for a good solid beginning, a unity of purpose, a simple beauty that holds secrets and great potential and a need for patience.

Next time, I'll share a book review of a children's book that has a lot of acorns. Just a little more whimsy, then I'll do a serious topic.

What does an acorn symbolize to you? Or do you have any symbols that you have worked into your life? Please share. I'd love to hear about them.


Chris said...

To me it symbolizes the power of information. Inside that little thing is the complete blueprint for a giant (as stated in your Emerson quote). I'm an engineer and I see beauty in efficiency and patterns. Inside an acorn is a program for making something (a tree) that can make more programs (acorns). Humans can't even take credit for the concept of computer programming. Nature already thought of it by using genetics a billion years ahead of us!

KC Trae Becker said...

There's nothing new under the sun. We can't take credit for any of our ideas. They are all borrowed from what we see or sense. Sometimes we can put ideas together in a new way. That's about as original as we get.