Yew Trees

HOLY WELLS AND YEW TREES

Janis FryLlandybïe, WLS, United Kingdom

9 FEB 2019 — 

Water, as we all know, is one of the most sacred things of life and in days gone by, Holy Wells were celebrated, particularly Holy Wells under a Yew tree. There used to be hundreds of these. They were on the south side of the burial mounds, where the Saxons planted their yews, under a female yew. This may have been because they were associated with a mother goddess such as Brigid, who when Christianised became Saint Bride, but also so that the yew berries could fall into the water, enabling the yew to add healing in a homeopathic way. In traditional, medieval Irish stories, the Salmon of Knowledge also swam in these wells or pools, its flesh dyed pink by the yew berries. This linked back to the Norse legends of the World Tree, Yggdrasil, once translated as an ash but now known to have meant a female yew, which hung over a well. Yew trees over Holy Wells still extant in Britain, include a number associated with St. Bride and also Hope Bagot pictured here, the Holy Well of Gwenlais, Ffynon Bedr, Broadwell, Holywell Dingle, Eardisley, Dolforwyn and Yazor but sadly the few that are left are fast disappearing and should be adopted by communities, to prevent that happening.

Many of these sacred wells were filled in with the coming of Christianity, the one at Cantref near Brecon, disappearing under the church wall, only to appear again on the other side! where it is now celebrated but unfortunately separated from its yew.

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