Monday, December 13, 2010

Trees 101: The Yew

Personally, I'm not a big fan of yews as to me their foliage smells too much like cat pee, but that doesn't mean that they aren't a magnificent tree to behold, nor hold a great deal of power within them. This is truly a tree of the Winter Solstice as the yew's spring season begins on the day after the solstice. Given that the darkest time of the year is when this tree begins its rebirth, it's considered a Goddess tree (with the Goddess in her crone form) as well as a tree of death. Ironically, this is also a tree of immortality as being an evergreen, it never seems to die in going dormant. All evergreens are considered to be trees of immortality. In ancient times, yews were traditionally planted in burial grounds as it was believed to be a gateway to the next world.

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.

3 comments:

A. said...

"Mystic" is a nice term, and certainly could include all the cobblestones on your path, to invoke metaphor. :)

Love your blog, and have a wonderful Yule...

Victoria said...

Thank you and you too! Peace!

A. said...

For some reason, I was trying to comment on your later post, but it went to the "Yew" post. Maybe I did that...hmmm...

At any rate, you understand the sentiment...:)

Take care!