The ancient Ants had the utmost respect toward the Oak tree. That is visible even today because many traditional rituals have incorporated something connected to this tree. For Slavs, this tree was a symbol of Gods, and it was believed that Oak like all the trees has a soul and that it represents the life itself. The top of the tree represents heaven and its roots represent the underworld. There is another explanation, that says that the roots are representing our descendants, bore is a current life and branches and leafs which are renewable, are representing the next generations.
Slavs believed that gods live in Oak tree, and that is why they have used it as a primitive temple.The tree itself was a temple. Most of this holy places were deep in the forest. You would recognize it because many simple structures were in that area, but in the centre of this, you would see the enormous tree.
Later temples were upgraded, by building a fence around that area, but nothing was touched in the nearby of the Oak. The majority of figures and statues from this period that were found, were carved out from Oak tree material.
The god who was connected with Oak is Perun, Slavic god of thunder and stormy sky. You know that lightning bolt often strikes at Oaktree, and that is why Slavs believed this is Perun’s favorite place. Because of this many social aspects, of Slavic society were close to Oak.
For example, if any disputes occurred between two or more persons, trials and resolving of this matter took place in front of the Oak tree. Tribe gatherings were also, in front of this tree, and it was respected in a measure, that even if a blood enemy is found near this tree, at that situation no fights or blood spilling were involved.
Nobody wanted to disrespect and desecrate the environment of the holly tree. Slavs also believed that Oak represents happiness and that fairies are living in the treetop. It was believed that whoever does any harm to the tree, will experience a cruel destiny, and even death.
The bond between Slavs and this tree is so strong that even today when Christianity is the main religion, Oak tree is used in many rituals, and that just shows what kind of respect Slavs have toward it.
For example, on ”Badnje face”, the night before Orthodox Christmas, that got his name from Oak, (Badnjak means a part of Oak) people are still gathering around the fire that was set up with the Oak three. During that night Badnjak is brought into all the houses. On Christmas day, it is used to create sparks in our fireplaces, and while doing that we are saying our wishes.
During foreign occupations and church prohibitions, people gathered around this tree to practice their religion, although the Oak tree is linked with Slavic pagan religion. Oak three called ”Zapis” are the holy places, where prayers took place, and they are often old trees that even have a few hundreds of years. It was believed that these trees protect nearby residents and their goods, including nature at that area.
As in the past pagan times, this is a holy place for Christian people, and the same rules apply when it comes to your actions toward him. You must not harm it because you will suffer tough consequences. Even it the tree falls down, nobody is touching him. Most of the rituals are still performing there. You had an example in Serbia where and old Oak fell on the road. A new part of the road was made near the old one because the people didn’t want to touch the ”Zapis”. Many legends in Slavic culture were about a treasure that was hidden in an Oak tree. And many history stories do tell that Slavs often kept their most valuable items in some holes of this tree.
If you would have some little Oak that rose in your backyard, you should protect him and nurse him because it will protect your house and family. If the is on some amiss place, you should just transplant him to the more suitable position.