Dia daoibh, Conas atá tú? (God to you ‘hello’, how are you?) I hope you are all staying safe out there. We are learning about the beautiful Taxus baccata (Yew Tree) and it’s magickal associations. This tree has been around since before the Ice Age which I think is pretty freaking awesome and I feel personally adds power to my experiences with them growing up.
Before we start I wanted to share a story from my childhood, as the Canada Yew is common where I grew up. In fact, I had these in my backyard and they made a hedge completely lining the perimeter of our back and one side of our massive yard. They were magickal to me and as I astrally traveled as a child, I often used mental images of venturing through the lush, soft green bud-like greenery and red berries of the yew hedges in my backyard as my astral gateway to leave this world behind. From there I would explore worlds that would blow my youthful mind. Going back to the story, lol, one day I was playing outside in the backyard with my younger brother who was standing with his back to me and was super close to the yew hedges. It looked like he was eating something. I ran over to him and saw he was eating the yew berries, plucking one red squishy cup like berry at a time and feeding them to himself. To my knowledge, no one had ever told me whether or not they were safe to eat, but I somehow knew. I vividly remember screaming at him and smacking his arm. I kept yelling: “those are poisonous, they’ll kill you! STOP IT! That’s it! I’m telling”! Turns out, they can be toxic enough to kill you. I will go more into that in a moment. He had to be rushed to the nearest ED where he received emergency treatment and he was fine afterward, but I will never forget that.
You can find this species of the Evergreen tree. These trees are all in the Conifer family, if you’re interested in the taxonomy. They are native to areas such as: Western, Southern and Central Europe, northern sections of Iran, southwest Asia and Northwest Africa. The Canada Yew is what my brother had eaten from. They are from the taxonomic family Taxaceae and Pinales is their order. Their berries are actually generally safe to eat (and they aren’t really berries, the red part is called the aril and it’s like a hollowed out berry with the top cut off so you can see into it and it’s filled with this jelly-like substance in it and inside the gel is a dark seed) but their seeds can kill you. The leaves are also highly poisonous to humans. So yeah, don’t eat from the Yew okay? The only part that is “safe” to eat is the aril, I don’t suggest it though!
Yew trees, like many other trees, have aliases. Some of these include: Canada (or Canadian) yew, Pacific or Western yew, Mexican yew, Chinese yew, Sumatran yew, Japanese yew, Florida yew, Tree of Resurrection, Tree of Eternity and a bunch more!
Yew trees are not included in the Celtic tree calendar, however, they are the last (20th) tree of the Irish Tree Ogham and they are one of the most powerful and sacred of trees to the Irish.
These trees are imbued with power of the letter I (Iodhadh) in the Ogham Alphabet.
Celestial Bodies: Saturn and Pluto.
Elements: Water and Earth.
Symbolism: Death, rebirth, resurrection, transformation, life, immortality, reincarnation, ancestor work.
Deities: Banbha, Dione, Astarte, Persephone, Artemis, Odin, underworld and death Gods and Goddesses, Dark or Night Deities, Crone Goddesses.
Animals: hummingbirds, eagles.
Colours: Black and shades of dark green.
Magickal correspondences: Death, rebirth, resurrection, renewal, rejuvenation, transformation, life, immortality, reincarnation, ancestor work, necromancy, communication with the dead, healing especially from heavy traumas, recreating yourself, vitality, protection, longevity, Winter Solstice magick and divination, strength, Divinity and change.
Healing: As we’ve already discussed, this tree is HIGHLY POISONOUS so don’t ever consume it, also be careful about touching it without gloved hands as your skin is the largest organ of your body and it can absorb what touches it, including the toxicity of this tree. For healing, I would focus on using it in spells (or as a wand as an example) for healing. Make sure if you are using it as a wand you buy from someone who knows how to safely work with this powerful tree so that your wand will be safe to touch and use.
Using Yew in your magickal and spiritual practices:
- Yew Wands! Again, make sure that you or someone else knows how to work with Yew so it is safe to use after construction. It’s a powerful choice for a wand, especially when working with ancestors, the dead, and spirits. If you construct the wand, educate yourself on how to do this so you don’t kill yourself.
- Use dried leaves or berries in a small witch bottle you can wear as a necklace. This can be used for any intent that ties into Yew’s properties and correspondences.
- Plant outside and construct an outdoor ancestor altar near the tree for more powerful and clear communication with your ancestors.
I hope you enjoyed this teaching and find it enriching to your personal practices. Take care everyone!