Celtic: Ioho, Idho
Latin: Taxius baccata
Yew is one of the nine sacred wood used to light the ritual fires of the fire festivals. According to the Carmina Gadelica, these nine wood are the Willow of the streams, the Hazel of the rocks, the Alder of the marshes, the Birch of the waterfalls, the Rowan of the shade, the Yew of resilience, the Elm of the brae, and the Oak of the sun. The ninth wood is uncertain but was possibly Holly or Ash.
Yew Tree Symbolic Meaning
The meaning of Yew is a rebirth, which is quite fitting for the last traditional tree of the Ogham Alphabet. It means the completion of a cycle marking the ending of one phase and the beginning of the next. May the knowledge you have gained through studying this alphabet be a new beginning for you. An initiation. A life-changing experience. A transformation.
Groves can be seen in graveyards and churches all around the United Kingdom due to their association with death and immortality. Their roots are said to grow into the open mouth of the dead as a symbol of rebirth. They can live for thousands of years – thus its title the “Yew of Resilience.” The nature of the Yew is to root its own branches in the surrounding soil and thus ensure its own immortality.
Yew is rebirth and transformation
The eternal cycle of reincarnation.
Yew Tree Healing Uses
This tree is poisonous and a violent purgative. It has been successfully used as a cancer drug when chemotherapy failed. (Taxol). It can be used as a purgative in the form of incense. A tincture can also be used for lung conditions. The needle infusion can be used as a poultice and a wash. A tea from the leaves works on asthma, bronchitis, indigestion, and epilepsy.
Apart from the above healing uses, Yew is a very hard wood and difficult to work with. It’s inner strength and outer flexibility do. however, make it ideal for making bows. Wands made of Yew are considered extremely powerful. When distilled, the poison can be used for weeds.
As the guardian of rebirth and resurrection, it is an ideal wood to access your ancestors and the spirit realms. It reminds us that there are other levels of existence. Its ultimate lesson is the transcendence of death. It reminds us that something that has been used for a long time (be it a belief or material object) must be passed on or let go of as it is of no further use.
The ancient Druids were said to have bathed the dead in Yew to bring them back to life – this one or the next. The wisdom of the Yew Fairy is beyond words, but usually, comes to you with vision. The Greeks would sacrifice a black bull wreathed in yew to Hecate – the goddess of death.
Burn yew needles to communicate with the dead and with your ancestors. Use a sprig of Yew for dowsing. Let it accompany you into an initiation into the Mysteries! © by Druid Priestess Jyoti Eagles