Yew is the tree of death and continuing life. It lives to a very great age, and can even propagate its own seed in its decaying trunk, thus making possible a sort of immortality. Yews are frequently found planted in graveyards, and its branches were often carried in funeral processions. Sprigs of yew are cast in graves, and in Brittany it is said that the roots of a graveyard yew will grow into the mouth of each person buried there. In a Chinese custom, trees are planted on graves to strengthen the soul of the dead person. In northern England a yew branch was used to seek out lost property, and the Scottish fiery cross used to summon the clans was of yew. The wood is used for magic wands, weapons and, in Ireland, for croziers and reliquaries. Yew wands are inscribed with ogham and runes, and yew is the name of one of the runic letters. It is the only British tree to keep its Celtic name in English.
from the 1998 calendar