The Magic of Yew

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Originally posted on 5 Sept 2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

yew5
Yew leaves and berries, courtesy of Google images

Yew is a tree that commands much respect. If you don’t, it can kill you. Harsh? Not at all. Yew is a very poisonous tree, every part of it from bark to berry seeds, however, the fleshy fruit of its berries is not poisonous but the seed within is. This is because of Taxine, a toxic alkaloid component in the leaves, bark, wood, and seed of the Yew. Even when the Yew tree has died, its toxicity is still there. Handle with care.

handle of my wand
My Yew wand with crow fetish, photo by i.macy

So, how is it that you see so many lovely objects made from Yew? Everything from boxes to wands! As a matter of fact, my personal wand is Yew and I’m still here. The people who make objects from Yew wood know chapter and verse on how to protect themselves during construction of their beautiful items. It is essential to wear a good respirator mask, especially whilst sanding Yew wood, and gloves. It is also best to wear long sleeves and trousers and shoes…. this is not a job for wearing your shorts and vest top on a hot day. You don’t want the dust from sanding settling on your skin. Of course, most people would bath or shower after working in this way, however, it is very likely if you have a pet that the pet could lick your hand before you had a good clean up. This would end in tears, I’m afraid.  Yew is as toxic to pets as it is to humans so please don’t give Yew to your dog as a chew stick. If you have a Yew wand, keep it in a place where pets can’t get at it.

Hoping I have made my point about the dangers, let’s talk about the magick! The Yew is one of the most magickal trees for protection, reincarnation/rebirth, necromancy, and longevity spells. It is the 5th vowel of the Ogham alphabet, Ioho. It is called “Tree of Resurrection” or “The Tree of Eternity”. It is the Ogham of Winter Solstice and the Dark Half of the year. Yew is a wood of great strength.

5000 yr old yew in dafynnod wales graveyard
5,000 year old Yew in Defynnog, Wales

Yew is wonderful for connecting with your ancestors.  As it is the only biological creature capable of living indefinitely, possibly forever, it is much sought-after for longevity spell work. It is also exalted as a tree of rebirth which gives way to a Breton legend that the tree is said to grow a root into the open mouth of each corpse buried in the graveyard. This root is a symbol of rebirth with the spirit reborn in much the same way as the tree itself is reborn. And, so it may be as so many graveyards have Yew trees growing in them.

“Just as the Yew tree possesses an immortal ability to renew itself, so too do you.  Living for centuries, it is a silent witness to the passing of time. Evergreen, its red, waxy cup-shaped berries, enclosing a small poisonous seed, predict protection. A good thing in your life will continue, just as a branch grows down inside the hollow trunk, embedding itself in the soil to sprout a new tree. If you remain working quietly at what you want, like the inconspicuous small green female flowers, you will attract your aim.  Communication will surprise you in the same way that the large bright yellow flowers on male trees throw out clouds of yellow pollen when ready to mate.” ~ Tree Magick by Gillian Kemp

Yew Necromancer Witch Bottle
Necromancer’s Witch Bottle Necklace ~ photo by i.macy

Because of the possibility of poisoning, some witches or practitioners of delving into the past and connecting with their ancestors or other forms of necromancy, are not comfortable with using Yew outside of some form of containment. One of the things I have fashioned for myself as a hedge witch, travelling the hedge between Worlds to connect with my ancestors, is my Necromancer’s Witch Bottle Necklace. It is a simple glass bottle, filled with enchanted herbs and Yew, then sealed, not to be opened. I won’t divulge every item that goes inside this witch bottle but it has herbs which summons Spirit, help Spirit to manifest, eases the souls of the dead, appeases and relaxes any traumatised Spirits, to make the Spirit manifested tell the truth, and tobacco to show hospitality to the Spirit(s). The small stick of Yew is included to banish malevolent Spirits.  We do offer these in our Etsy shop. This witch bottle is also effectively worn when doing any spell work which may concern longevity or for doing any kind of past-life regression work. It is very protective and helpful in the case of the latter.  It is also said to be a bringer of dreams and helpful in overcoming fear of our own death. Yew teaches death as transformation, not an end. The witch bottle also can facilitate connection with your Spirit Guardian.

Correspondences:

Planet: Saturn and Pluto

Element: Earth and Water

Symbolism: The Tree of Life, Immortality, Rebirth, Protection, Longevity, Change, Divinity, Strength

Metal: Lead

Stone: Olivine

Birds: Eagle, Hummingbird

Colours: Black, Dark Green

Deity: Banbha, Dione, Artemis, Persephone, Hecate, Astarte, Odin. Yew embodies the crone aspect of the triple Goddess. Yew is one of the Guardians of the Underworld that assist in guiding souls from one world to the next.

Old Yew, which graspest at the stones

That name the under-lying dead,

Thy fibres net the dreamless head,

Thy roots are wrapt about the bones.

~Tennyson

Many thanks for reading, be safe when handling Yew, and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

PS… please don’t forget to follow us here on Wytchencrafts as the SpeakingofWitch blog will be removed once we have all our blogs transferred over. x

The Magickal Ash Tree II

Originally posted on 22/06/2017 by Isabella via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

So much can, and has been, said about the magickal Ash tree that I’m not sure where to begin – or to end – this blog. I can only really attest to what I personally know, right? In that case, Ash is a wonderful wood to work with, as a wand carver and rune maker, I find Ash wood the easiest to carve and sand, and the result is always gorgeous. It is also quite a chatty wood, for me, anyway, as I listen to the wood to get the direction of where to go with carving for wands. It always has much to say. The spirit of Ash is quite strong! (Well, it IS believed in some traditions that Witches live in Ash trees) But mainly, the point of this writing is not much to do with making wands, or runes. It was intended to be a hopefully helpful bit of information regarding the bark and wood of the Ash tree in magickal usage.

Many people write to me when looking through our Witchcraft Supplies section in our Etsy shop asking questions. I have come to realise that most people do not read the description provided, and that is mostly down to how hard the description is to find if you are using your phone’s Etsy app to shop. Therefore, I’m happy to explain here as much as I can on how to use wood bark and shavings in your magick. Ash is definitely a wood you want in your potionary stocks, when we have it available, that is.

Ash Wood
old photo by i. macy ~ will be a WytchenCrafts label from here on

There are many magickal uses for all parts of an Ash tree, however, as said, we’ll only stick to the wood and bark here. The wood is traditionally burned at Yule to bring prosperity into the New Year ahead. Maybe you don’t have a fireplace, but you can use it in a loose incense mixture and burn on a charcoal disc for the same effect. Ash is also known as one of the three trees in the Faery Triad (Ash, Oak, and Thorn) along with Oak, and Hawthorn. Ash is a wonderful wood for promoting “brain power”. We have had, at one time, a talisman in our shop to this very purpose and will be having them again in future. In meantime, you can use the bark and or shavings in poppets for this purpose as well. Ash bark rubbed into a wart is said to make it go away. And Ash wood and bark is said to have magickal effectiveness in protection from drowning, sea power, and healing. Ash is also used for protection of any kind, whether in loose spell incense, poppets, or in witch bottles.

If you have a need and you can, at the very least, fashion a witch bottle, adding Ash shavings or bark to the ingredients, it will most likely be quite effective. Every witch has his or her preference in how a wood, herb, or flower is used in their magick. You can find your most effective vessel, we can provide the ingredients.

A few other facts about Ash which may be helpful to you in planning your spell work:

Planet: The Sun and Neptune

Element: Water, Fire

Symbolism: Mastership and Power

Stone: Turquoise, Lepidolite (Increase psychic awareness)

Birds: Common Snipe

Colour: White, pale Blue

Deity: Eostre, Frigg, Hel/Holle, Minerva, Nemesis, Odin, Nemesis, Poseidon, Neptune

Folk Name: Hoop Ash, Nion – (a rune name from the Irish Gaelic word Nionon which means heaven.)

The Ash tree is also a sacred tree to the Celts and to Druids. The ogham for Ash is “Nuin” or “Nion” and it is most likely sacred to the Norsemen as it is associated with and said to be Yggdrasil. Ash is the third month of the Celtic Tree calendar, February 18th – March 17th and the 3rd consonant of the ogham alphabet. 

I hope this little article has been of use to the magickal community in your quest to use Ash wood in your spell work. Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all x

Sources 

Woodland Trust, UK

Cunningham’s Encyclopaedia of Herbs

Druidry