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The Estry Yew in Normandy, about 1600 years old. European Yews are among the oldest trees in the world, some at least 20 centuries, though exact ring counts are impossible because they tend to hollow with age. Most parts of the yew are very toxic, especially the seeds within the red berries. Photo by Roi.dagobert on Wikipedia Commons.
The Miracle Yew

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This miracle song came fast to me on July 27, 2012 after talking to a new old friend, but the story comes from a fairy tale that I started writing in October 2008. I love the old English ballads like Pentangle would play, but they're often so tragic that I was glad to make a new ending for love lost and regained. I have wept for hours in awe of the layers of meaning and feeling buried in this story song; may it touch and heal your heart as well.

Guitar chords pretty simple, Am - G, Am - G - D, Am - G, Am - G - A
Press shift and click on song title to stay on this page and play melody in background from

"The Miracle Yew"

by Carl Johann Schroeder, July 2012

Under the ancient yew the war hero’s daughter grew,
Heeding the words he said every day she played.
“Never you put any part of it to your lips
And this tree shall keep you safe.”

There in its hollow, oh how she loved to hide.
When she was nine he called her to his side,
“More of the tale the time has come to tell
For how your mother loved you and here died.”

Wide-eyed the girl held on her tree to hear
How heavy with child her mother fled to here.
He was elsewhere when the enemy did appear
And passed them safe within her clever tree.

Too tired to leave hiding, there the water broke.
Tears of her father fell on her as he spoke,
“Two more days passed til your cries led me here,
By grace still warm in her cold arms.”

Neath the arms of her trusted yew, the girl to fine maiden grew.
Many boys came to woo, “But my tree must you so love too!”
By her side in the shade, just one boy with his tree book stayed,
And would ask for her hand in true love.

In his pride to provide, the old soldier declared
“When you’ve battled the enemy even as I dared,
And come back a man, then my daughter’s hand
In marriage you will win with my blessing.”

In the hollow she wept, and kissed him times ten.
“Here will you return, to kiss me once again!”
Nodding brave to comply, he said his goodbye,
And left for distant land to be slain.

Her father so sorry brought her the dreaded news.
She did forgive him, then hid herself in her yew.
With a fistful red berries and greenery too
she began to pray and to eat.

For two thousand years had her friend gathered strength,
Now moistened by tears, the ground swelled at length.
Strange roots rose up to catch her as she fell
And wrapped her gently as a baby.

The father’s anguish turned to wonder that day,
For her skin remained warm with no breath as she lay
Neath the miracle yew, as it came to be called,
With sleeping beauty held tight for display.

The decades and war heroes passed, and the world it changed.
Science conquered all enemies but for the things unexplained.
The girl in the stasis kept alive by a tree
Brought the curious, the reverent, and scholarly.

For the ones who count centuries it’s just a play of time
For the souls to return to all the dreams that are so fine.
One day came a certain young scholar to see
The girl kept alive by a tree.

In the awe of more beauty than he could yet explain
He dropped all his books and just had to kiss her again.
Her eyes fluttered open and the roots holding her withdrew,
So love was reborn in the faithful good yew.

Some ideas for the meanings of The Miracle Yew :

This song is about the return of the Goddess, whose energy is the feminine aspect of God which begins all blessed things. Divine creation comes from the ever rising cooperation of the feminine and masculine principles which take turns initiaing new beginnings and then fulfilling potentials until a new beginning is needed again. The song contrasts the old world which is done with the new world that's beginning, as bridged by magical assistance from timeless nature.

The tree is a representative for the Greek Goddess Gaia, the fertile source being of the generous Earth who holds the sacred dreams for life and love on this planet. Trees are the benificent towering royalty of the plant world, connecting Heaven and Earth to provide shade and habitat for endless life, converting the elements of air, light, water, and minerals into delicious fruits, sustaining leaves, and magnificent structures whose decay generates the topsoil for ages to come.

Yews have fascinated me for being both so long-lived and so toxic to most animals. They would seem to carry some ancient shamanic power that transcends normal limitations of time and death. Yews are traditionally planted in old graveyards. Cattle and horses are sometimes found dead near a yew from eating the leaves, but curiously the gentle deer is able to digest the poisons and will graze freely. Modern science has found a great gift in the yew as a source for drugs to treat cancer, that plague of today's polluted lost humanity.

In The Miracle Yew, the tree hollow is a transformative womb and birth canal for the Great Mother. Humans manifest stages of the divine destiny as they evolve, so it is fitting that a human mother embodying a limited form of the feminine source can only give birth in the tree before dying herself. To protect the unborn child within her, the mother had fled here from the enemy of her soldier husband, showing her origins in the old sacrificial system of good versus evil. By seeking protection in the tree she appealed to Gaia for her daughter's survival, and Gaia answered. The magical child will grow beautiful in a closer bond with nature, instinctively remembering the place in which she was born. She carries the next generation of Gaia's dream for humanity in harmony with its natural unified origins. The poisonous yew is beyond good and evil; it is the ancient watcher who knows the appropriate uses of all things to serve immortal love.

The girl's warrior father both protects and limits her in the past which he is from, holding her in his associations for grief and loss as she plays in the tree. To keep the yew from her lips is pragmatic advice, yet prefigures the first kiss to come from a new enemy. The next generation of man who will take his goddess from him is not a soldier, but a scholar who loves both the tree and the girl. The father condemns him to death by ordering him to fight the previous generation's battles that cannot be won. He was distracted elsewhere when his wife needed him, and now he is absent again for his daughter. So it is with the war between good and evil: we miss the soul in all, and everything dies.

The children obey the father, and the old warrior system kills the new man. He is the Christ sacrifice, that no more should die. The daughter forgives her father and then breaks his rules, to become her own person in the new covenant of her magical birth. Her mother is Gaia, and her lover was destined and natural. Denied her coming of age, the virgin returns to the womb of her tree, with no fear for the place between life and death. The ecstasy of love lies outside time and space; the French call the orgasm "Le petit mort", the little death. The girl thus deprived of her sexual awakening can still give her virginity to the loss of mortal innocence, by eating the succulent red berries plucked from fertile green leaves.

Interestingly, the fleshy red covering of the yew berry is itself edible and sweet. It is the bitter seed within which is so deadly if digested by humans (birds will pass it through). So too with the fruits of sex, which are so pleasurable on the surface but carry within the responsibility for new life and old death. Not surviving childbirth was until the 20th century a very grave likelihood, so before modern contraception the enjoyment of sex has always unfairly burdened the feminine with fears of uncertain death.

By embracing death as her lover, the girl becomes the new woman who surrenders her will to live to Gaia's dream from which she first came. The resurrection of the Christ comes through the 2000 year old tree to sustain the vision of her lost love. She is held through time to meet the rebirth of her new man, who is better suited to a future when wars no longer provide, but rather the sciences. Science is a masculine art based on the careful study of nature; it better answers all needs, though it cannot fully fathom the source of the miracles which the heart knows. The reborn new man cannot yet explain his love for the woman, but he will, in good time, as the soul becomes the sacred science of the future. Gaia releases the new woman to the new man, to give them together the blessings of the immortal life that awakens the dream of Heaven on Earth.

When you understand that the stories that move you are taking place within yourself, when you discover that peace begins with the cooperation of your own inner male and female to build the better world that is you, when you experience the freedom that comes from standing tall and strong as the timeless watcher across the lifetimes of assisting love, then you may hear the song as being about The Miracle You.

"The Miracle Yew" lyrics and music by Carl Johann Schroeder - copyright 2012, all rights reserved, when credited and not altered then permission is granted for public performance and free distribution of text to that end, no resale or commercial rights implied, contact author for further details. Text and photograph copyright Carl Johann Schroeder, all rights reserved.

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