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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Yew (Taxus baccata)
( Click to enlarge)

This is the beautiful and majestic Yew tree that stands in the grounds of Saint Paul's church at Hunwick, a village about two miles from where I live now. My parents were married in this church, my brother and I were christened in it and many family funerals have taken place here. In fact, that was the reason for my visit today, to lay wreaths on the graves of family members.

It was bitterly cold but the church and the cemetery looked gorgeous amidst the swirling snow . In the older part of the cemetery, round the church, there are lots of very old trees and the blackbirds were poking about in the undergrowth for unsuspecting (probably sleeping) insects.

I'm smiling to myself as you'll probably wonder why I've put the heading, 'Happy New Year' with a photo of gravestones underneath! I wasn't taking a photo of the stones, interesting as they are, but of the Yew tree that stands sentinel to the church. To pagan civilisations, especially the Celts, Yew trees were (and still are) regarded as a sacred tree. To the Celts it's magical and a means of connecting to the otherworld, to ancestors gone before. It's no accident that churches stand next to a Yew tree and in many cases, a circle of Yew trees, a Druid grove. The trees often existed long before the church was built, planted there by members from ancient faiths.

The Yew is a tree symbolic of healing, transformation, death and rebirth ....... and so I find it an appropriate symbol for the beginning of a whole new year. Here is a beautiful passage written by Glennie Kindred:

"The knowledge we gain from the Yew makes it an extremely important tree for healing. It can help us overcome our fear of our own death and, by freeing us from this fear, bring us a greater stillness in our lives. Death heralds the end of something. It may be a physical death, or the death of our old selves, an old way of life or an old way of looking at things. Each end, each death, is a new beginning, hope, future and transformation. Sometimes things need to end or die before the new can begin, and understanding rebirth always requires seeing beyond our limitations."

To read more Glennie's words, click here.

The beautiful gates at the side entrance to Saint Paul's Church, Hunwick, County Durham
(Click to enlarge)

Wishing you Happiness, Health and Prosperity!


  1. Happy New Year Lesley. Fanatstic photos as usual!

  2. Thank you Mr. Bennett. :)

    It's STILL snowing heavily here! We'll appreciate the Spring even more when it arrives.