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Natural Endings, leading to new beginnings, banishment of what is redundant, tradition

Eihwaz, the Yew Tree, represents of the cycle of death and rebirth and so is often associated with endings leading to a new beginning. Death was an ever-present feature of the Nordic world and so it is an issue confronted by the sacred system with the promise that half the warriors slain in any battle would win a place at the everlasting feast at Valhalla, to rise again to fight at the Last Battle. Warfare was considered as the most glorious of occupations and Odin was worshipped as God of War above all his other functions.

Because the yew is the longest-living tree, it was adopted by the Northern peoples as a symbol of longevity, tradition and eternal life and was frequently placed where ashes or bones were buried to transfer its immortality. Sacred to Ullr, God of Winter and Archery who himself lived in a grove of sacred yew trees, the yew which induces visions from its resinous vapour was the tree of shamans and magic. It was also one of the trees burned as the sacred yule at the Mid-Winter Solstice to persuade the sun to return and is called in the Norse Rune poem `the greenest wood in the winter.’

For this reason the rune is also in the Icelandic poem associated with the bow, often made from yew wood, as a symbol of new life from the old.