The yew has been used to make bows, arrows, spears and magic wands. The witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth used wands made of yew to work their magic. Along with the birch and oak, the yew was the third tree in the three pillars of wisdom. The yew is symbolic of stability, sovereignty, and mystery. Yew wood has also been used to make household items such as bowls, shutters, boxes, handles and hooks, and various religious and altar objects. It has been rarely used to make furniture. Yew leaves and bark, as well as the tree's seeds are all poisonous to humans and should never be ingested. However, at one time the skin of yew berries was used as a laxative and a heart medicine. Traditionally, to dream of yews is a portent of death, either one's own or that of a loved one.
The yew vibrates to both masculine and feminine energies. It is ruled by Jupiter, Mars and Saturn and is governed by the elements of air, water and fire. Yew can be used in ritual to enhance psychic abilities, to bring one closer to their ancestors at Samhain, and in protection spells. When using yew in any magickal capacity, remember to never ingest any part of the tree and to wash your hands well after handling it.
"Ancient Yew" courtesy of Giles C. Watson on flickr.