Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Carpe Diem #1007 Yew

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This wonderful month full of the mysteries of nature is running towards its end and with the tree we will explore today that end is coming in sight. Today we will explore the Yew (the last used tree in the sacred Ogham alphabet). Yew is a gorgeous, ever green, tree / bush, but beware ... it's very poisonous, even the sawdust.

Yew tree
The Yew is considered to be the most potent tree for protection against evil, a means of connecting to your ancestors, a bringer of dreams and otherworld journeys and a symbol of the old magic. In hot weather it gives off a resinous vapor which shamans inhaled to gain visions. Yew wood was regarded as especially magical to the Celts, due to its connection with the dead and the ancestors which were deeply respected. 

inhaling Yew
the shaman flies away
visions returned

© Chèvrefeuille

The Yew tree is the last of the 20 trees in the Tree Ogham, a Celtic system in which the Druids encoded their wisdom. Each spiritual insight is represented by a tree, the first letter of which creates an alphabet system. Each letter is written as a line on, or crossing, a central stem line. These symbols can be found on the edges of some standing stones in Ireland and Wales, but they were probably, for magical and communication purposes, carved on sticks of Yew. It was used as a silent communication system by the Druids.

secrets hidden
on a stick of Yew wood
sacred wisdom

© Chèvrefeuille

The Yew tree, or Yew wood, the Tree ogham Idho , is the link to spiritual guidance through your ancestors, guides and guardians in the Otherworld. The Yew is here to remind us that there are other levels of existence beyond this material plane. By understanding the illusionary nature of the life we have created for ourselves, we can live our lives more consciously. Often death is fraught with a sense of loss, but the Yew can teach us to see death as a form of transformation and that it is never final.

fragile wings
pointing the way to transformation -
the summerbreeze

© Chèvrefeuille

Yew tree (2)

The knowledge we gain from the Yew makes it an extremely important tree for healing. It can help us overcome our fear of our own death and, by freeing us from this fear, bring us a greater stillness in our lives. Death heralds the ending of something. It may be a physical death, or the death of our old selves, an old way of life or an old way of looking at things. Each end, each death, is a new beginning, hope, future and transformation. Sometimes things need to end or die before the new can begin, and understanding rebirth always requires seeing beyond our limitations.

In recent years it has been found that taxol, a chemical found in the bark of the Yew, inhibits cell growth and cell division, and may have some promise in the fight against cancer. The biggest problem is that such a huge amount of bark is needed to produce even small amounts of taxol.

Our ancestors preferred the Yew above all other trees. It has always been held sacred and understood as a link with death and rebirth. It was used by early man for making weapons, tools of death, and now thousands of years later it is providing a possibility of averting death for cancer patients. It is a powerful reconnection to humankind for this tree when you consider that each person with cancer has to face their own death, whether they are cured or not. 

One of the most valuable abilities of the Yew is to provide the opportunity for people to turn and face death, to progress beyond fear to a communication with what is beyond our reality, which will bring understanding, clear insight, enriched by a deeper experience of life.

For closure of this episode about Yew I love to share a "pi-ku" which I found in my archives and fits this episode in my opinion.

the sun rises
the heat
already tangible
spirals above the stream
another day starts in mysterious ways 

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until August 1st at noon (CET). I wil (try to) publish our new episode, Ogham, later on. For now ... have fun!


  1. Carpe Diem Challenge # 1007 Yew:

    deep within the yew
    the trilling notes
    of a song thrush