Celtic Meaning of the Yew Tree

Celtic Meaning of the Yew Tree

Yew Tree Meanings According
to the Celtic Ogham

The Celtic meanings of the yew are vast and intriguing. Much of this has to do with the hardiness of the tree, and its amazingly long life-span.

When we take a look at yew meanings, it's important we approach our observations with a holistic point of view. The Celts gleaned natural information this way - by taking in the whole organism, allowing it to speak a full, complete language, thereby tapping into the tree (or plant, animal, etc) to gain insight into its secrets. When we take a broad view of the attributes of the yew, we get symbolic meanings such as the ones listed here:

Symbolic Meanings of the Yew

  • Power
  • Honor
  • Silence
  • Mystery
  • Illusion
  • Victory
  • Mystery
  • Worship
  • Strength
  • Sanctity
  • Longevity
  • Leadership
  • Introspection

Celtic Ogham symbolism of the yew tree speaks of eons captured within its silent woody rings. Within the folds of the yew bark lurks ages of history encapsulated in its stoic stance.

The ancient Celts were a curious people, particularly their Druids who took it upon themselves to absorb the wisdom of the gods as found through its physical form (nature). This natural wonder and curiosity was at once spurred and slaked when in contact with the yew.

Firstly, the yew is a loner. It's isolated occurrences would have peaked the Celts interest because solo elements in nature are unique and thus granted special study.

Secondly, the evocative and dark twists of the yew gives it an otherworldly presence. As if its solitary status weren't enough fuel for it's symbolism of wisdom, knowledge, and magic - it's gnarly contortions surely seal the yew's reputation as an otherworldly oracle.

Thirdly, the symbolism of the yew deals with longevity. A single yew has untold lifetimes under its belt. New yews are born from existing systems. The oldest yew is known to be at least 3,000 years of age.

Shields and weaponry made from the yew were highly admired by the Celts and were considered extremely auspicious on the battlefield. It was thought that the longevity of the yew was transferred to the Celtic warrior. Using the element of yew in battle would assure victory and long life to the warrior.

Staves, rods, and other tools used for divination or spiritual rites were made of yew to augment the energetic atmosphere of the ceremony or procedure. It was thought the otherworld would whisper through yew staves during rituals and initiations.

Lastly, it's interesting to note the paradox of longevity juxtaposed to the yew's poisonous nature to humans. The Celts no doubt knew its lethal ways and counted this among its many attributes. This aspect of death (mortality) played against its symbolic longevity (immortality) would add tremendous strength to the symbolism of the yew, ranking it highly sacred among the spiritual clans as well as the Ogham.

Keep grooving through the groves of Celtic meaning of trees - just click on the branches below:

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Post script: Image by Ropley Winton

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