In ancient times, our Celtic Druid Ancestors devised a system, part alphabet, part calendar/zodiac, to be carved using simple notches onto wood or stone. Each character was a number and a letter. The consonants were time periods – mostly lunar months and the vowels were the solstices or equinoxes. Each symbol represented a tree or shrub, around which grew an extensive mythology, recording historical and religious stories, the uses of each tree both for craftwork and medicinally, and a divinatory system similar to the tarot. To the Celts, the whole landscape was alive with meaning, and wisdom – the wisdom of the trees.
Yew, Ogham name Ioho, rules 22nd December, Winter Solstice. The latin name for yew is taxius, the Greek word for bow is toxos, Toxin means poison so it is not surprising that Yew tree wood is used to make the best longbows and the poison for arrows. Yew trees planted in churchyards were thought to protect the corpses buried there and preserve their spirits ready for rebirth.