The Secrets of the Trees
We hold our Mystic Magic in the Forest weekend retreats at Rosliston, in Rosliston National Forest, near Burton upon Trent, just south of Derby in the Midlands. Our retreats are themed, but often include an appreciation of nature, walks, the significance of trees in Spiritual and Pagan history, and their myths and legends.
This blog charts the story, in instalments, of those trees, and all of those to be found at Rosliston, around forty species. Each tree is to be found at Rosliston, but may also be found more widely around Great Britain, Europe, North America and beyond.
In these blogs I describe each tree, explain where they are found, what their history is and how they have related to our history. I also explore the myths and legends surrounding the trees in different countries and from different traditions as well as how herbalists have used them to treat human conditions and how products from the trees have been used throughout history. I hope that you enjoy reading these tree blogs as much as I have enjoyed writing them for you. If you would like to come and see them in their natural habitat why not join us for one of our retreats?
Yew- taxus baccata
The Yew is amongst the most widespread native trees in Britain, with a mysterious and sacred heritage. A conifer, it has flat needles and red berries which flower from February to April.
They grow to a great age, with a thousand years not being rare, the oldest believed to be around nine thousand years, the Fortingall Yew in Perthshire, and to a height of around 30 metres.
The red berries fruit is poisonous, but the skin is edible for birds. The yew is often found under oak trees and in Churchyards. The timber is hard and heavy ensuring its use for longbows, spears, ships masts, furniture, ornamental work, and wine and water barrels.
The Vikings used the wood for nails.
It is sometimes known as the tree of death and is to be found on many ancient Celtic and Saxon burial grounds. Christians use Yew at Easter to symbolise the continuation of life, and twigs were often put in shrouds and coffins to protect the spirit.