The Yew Tree Path: A Meditation

In the Celtic tradition, a way to honor one's ancestors and connect with ancient wisdom.


The following excerpt is from "Kindling the Celtic Spirit: Ancient Traditions to Illuminate Your Life Throughout the Seasons," published by HarperSanFrancisco, and used with permission of the author.


This inner journey will take you to meet one of your ancestors. The ancestor may be of your bloodline, from a past incarnation or simply a spiritual ancestor. He or she will be someone who has influenced your spiritual life or shaped you in a positive way. Do not choose who will appear: Let the choice be made for you.



Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. See before you a long avenue of ancient yew trees. Their branches have spread over the centuries so that they now entwine to form an arching tunnel, so densely interwoven it appears completely black, except that at the end you can see a small circle of pale yellow light... As you take your first steps into the tunnel, become aware of stepping beyond present time into the deep ageless realm of the yew-trees that stretches before the dawn of time. Feel the power of the Underworld embodied in these dark tree-beings, as they brood upon the wisdom of the deep.



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And after what may be a short time, or a long time, or no time at all, the pale circle of light at the end of the tunnel is growing bigger and shedding a glow...and the interwoven branches are beginning to thin, so that you begin to see patches of a violet-blue evening sky above you...



And now at last you step out of the tunnel and see before you a figure tending a small fire of fragrant wood that crackles now and then, sending out sparks of green and gold. On the eastern horizon to your left, a group of seven stars is rising. You approach the fire-tender. This is your ancestor.... He or she has been expecting you.



Approach the fire and greet this person...notice what he or she looks like: clothes, hair, face.... Is your ancestor old or young? Tall or short? Listen carefully while your ancestor tells you who he or she is and the role played in your spiritual development...(long pause) Your ancestor has a gift of wisdom for you today. Sit by the fire with this person and receive the gift, which may come in the form of words, or an object that is placed into your hands. Thank your ancestor for this gift, and if you have any questions, ask now.... When it becomes clear the conversation is drawing to a close, take leave of your ancestor in the way that feels most appropriate, then walk back through the yew tree tunnel bearing your gift into the world of time...into your present life.

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