It's said that yew trees grow out of the mouths of the dead buried in the cemetery. Perhaps that is so. It’s common to find very ancient yews growing in church graveyards. Since they live for thousands of years, it seems more likely that the graveyard was formed around the tree. The invading Christians loved to claim for themselves the sacred hills and groves that were revered by the people of the land they were conquering. The ancient yew groves were places where sacred rituals were held, the mysteries of sex, birth and death, places where you could go to be altered by the mildly hallucinogenic, resinous vapors that are released from the tree.
No yew tree should ever be considered dead. The remains of rotting trunks can be thousands of years old and then suddenly come to life again. A great deal of energy is held in the branches and that makes it possible for the tree to grow again by sending down an aerial root inside a hollow trunk or by rooting branches in the ground. So the yew tree grows again and again from its own rotted-out corpse.
We all grow from the corpse.
There are some who say that Odin hung himself on the World Tree Yggdrasil and their argument is that Ygg is one of Odin’s names and drasil is an old Norse/Icelandic word for horse. So perhaps the World Tree that Odin hung in was his horse but we must remember that the World Tree was there in the void from the beginning which is also the middle which is also the end and all of that was there long before Odin came on the scene. So what was the name of the tree before Odin? We might have forgotten but the Jotnir know.
Some say the World Tree is an ash tree and some say the World Tree is a yew. And some might even say that the World Tree is every tree and all trees.
What would you say?
If you know it as the yew then you may know its connection with Eihwaz, often called the rune of life and death. If you know it as the rune of the World Tree you may also know it as the rune that will assist you in traveling to the Nine Worlds that exist in its roots.
Eihwaz is the trunk with the branches growing up and the roots growing down and it is the branches growing down to become roots that send up a trunk that becomes new branches. To know this rune is to sit with your back up against a tree trunk and feel the life energy of the tree become mingled with the life energy of your body.
Death is born in the middle of life and a relentless desire to say eternally youthful, to pretend we are not aging, is imagining we can avoid the second half of life. Fearing the end we forget to live. Eihwaz is a relentless reminder that no one can stop the turning of the Great Wheel.
Eihwaz can be experienced as a rune of initiation.
Are you willing to die to yourself so you can become something new? Have you ever worked with the rune in this way?
When you come into a close relationship with Eihwaz you will be asked to consider what your beliefs are about concepts of up and down, above and below, upper and lower.
Do you believe that the branches are superior to the roots, or that what’s above is good or more important that what’s below?
Check and see if there are any vestiges of monotheistic religious teachings tucked away in your beliefs. When we speak about upper, middle and lower realms and the beings and the gods we imagine dwell there, do we as humans place a value judgment on the different locations?
What would happen if we turned the tree upside down, turned it just like the Eihwaz rune? Then we could see that there is no difference. Those who dwell above are not somehow better than those who dwell below.
The Eihwaz rune reminds us that there is no top or bottom, there is no above or below. There is constant motion. This is the case when we ponder the earth. There is no top or bottom. It just hangs in space, constantly moving.
Eihwaz reminds us that there is no seen and unseen. All things are visible. We limit ourselves when we think we can only see with our eyes.
Eihwaz will ask us to examine the beliefs we hold regarding the shamanic realms. Is there really a separation? When we decide to place things such as beings, gods, spirits, and creatures in the upper, middle or lower regions do we hold to the belief that they must stay there or that they always reside there? Who are we as humans to determine that? Is there a hierarchy present in who or what we decide to place where?
Have you forgotten to live? What songs of renewal can you sing as willing sacrifice?
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title Photo by Amaury Gutierrez on Unsplash