Yew Tree Books and Articles
Books by Janis Fry, published by Capall Bann
The God Tree
(Now out of print)
by Janis Fry researched with Allen Meredith. ‘The God Tree’ is the first book to take up the quest for the Golden Bough since JG Frazer’s classic study in 1915 with the discovery of the bough growing once more, as the rare adornment of a small number of ancient Yews. This book develops Janis Fry’s interest in ancient yews and also the rediscovery of the Tree of Life in ‘The Sacred Yew’ by Anand Chetan and Diana Brueton from the work of Allen Meredith. It reveals the fact that Yews of particular significance were brought to Britain from Ancient Egypt and the Holy Lands as dry staffs carried by pilgrims, at great personal risk, thousands of years ago. These were planted in remote sanctuaries, particularly in Wales where they sprouted and grew into trees. Thus those who carried them ensured the continued existence of something so precious, it was essential it be preserved for future generations.
Review of The God Tree by Michael Dunning of the Sacred Yew Institute:- ‘ The Original Tree of Life was hidden from mankind a long time ago. Gradually the voice of eternity through which it had once guided the souls of human beings became eclipsed by fear, anxiety, shame and greed. Some refer to this as the Fall, but it is a story that appears in various forms in the ancient myths of all peoples throughout the world. The eternal nature of the Tree of Life was slowly and deliberately down-graded to a symbolic concept in human imagination, where actual reference to it could only be found in the shards of myth and in the faded and fragile pages of medieval manuscripts…at least until now! It takes a lot of persistence and courage to revise ‘official’ history and well -established myth in order to present the truth, especially when that truth will most likely upset a lot of people. Allen Meredith was one of the first people in modern times to awaken to the truth. A tree that had been largely ignored or viewed as a graveyard companion suddenly spoke to him in his dreams. Allen was literally ‘gripped’ by the yew tree as he set out on a quest to communicate its true identity. Janis Fry joined in this quest some years later and the yew tree began to re-ignite the flame of eternity in human consciousness. The gestational period of the God Tree had begun. The yew cannot be compared to other trees. The few incalculably ancient remaining yew trees preserve the secrets of eternal life in the living language of their form, growth and gesture. The yew tree continually regenerates itself – it is forever young. 15,000 years ago, cuttings were taken from the original Tree of Life and for thousands of years the secrets of the yew’s powers were passed down through a living ‘blood’ line that was held in the potent wood of the tree itself in the form of yew ‘staffs’. Throughout these utterly compelling pages you will read about the holy hermits who risked their lives to transport these sacred staffs from Egypt and Palestine to the British Isles. The staffs were planted and eventually grew into magnificent and significant yew trees, some of which still exist in the British Isles today.
Janis Fry artfully leads us through a complex maze of historical, biblical and mythological information to the essential pulse and premise of her work – that the function of the yew tree and the secret of the holy graal are one and the same! I have been waiting for this book for a long time. My first encounter with the healing powers of the yew tree occurred in the early 1990’s. I was very sick and close to death. Through a bizarre sequence of events I was drawn to an ancient female yew tree in the south – east of Scotland. She nourished me under her living womb enclosure for over nine-years. The tree not only returned me to health, but also gave me deep experiential insight into her mysteries. At the time I felt very alone with an otherwordly ‘knowledge’ that I was unable to fully comprehend. It came as a great relief to discover the work of Allen Meredith and Janis Fry. We have often ‘joked’ over the years that we are the “yew people”, chosen, along with several others to fulfil certain key aspects of the tree’s return as a beacon of hope and healing to human consciousness in a co-creative relationship with our planet. There seemed to be a sequence to the events as if the yew was somehow orchestrating its own rebirth. Initially there was Allen, and the important work he began in the 1970’s to turn people toward an appreciation of the significance of the yew, a tree that had been ignored and abused for hundreds of years. In the 1990’s the “Sacred Yew” by Chetan and Brueton appeared, and following that in 2007, Fred Hageneder’s book “Yew - A History” emerged to ground the botanical, mythological and scientific knowledge base necessary for most western readers. There have been many other wonderful books published about the yew tree. But “The God Tree” is the next step in the sequence. It is not a book for the faint-hearted. The implications of the information revealed here are staggering and demands nothing less than a complete revision of the Bible story as well as Arthurian legend.
The God Tree is written in a style that is as thorough as Mircea Eliade and as suspenseful as the best adventure story. It is as fluid and as visual as the Matrix and just like that movie will lead you through the rabbit-hole to a world that you could not have possibly imagined. Buckle your seatbelt Dorothy – dry mythology and religious dogma is going bye - bye!’
‘The implications of the information revealed in ‘The God Tree’ are staggering and demand nothing less than a complete revision of the Bible story as well as Arthurian legend. This book is thorough, fluid and visual with the suspense of an adventure that will lead you to a world you could not possibly have imagined. Buckle your seat belt Dorothy – dry mythology is going bye – bye!’
‘Intriguing and thought-provoking book.’
Della Hooke FSA,
author of ‘Trees in Anglo Saxon England.’
Janis Fry's book, 'The God Tree' will make people think again and again about the Yew tree'
David Bellamy, Naturalist
Warriors at the Edge of Time
(Now out of print)
"Jan Fry takes us back to a time when we honoured the earth on which we live, through her contemporary account of the struggle to save the Gwenlais Valley in Wales from quarrying. Her knowledge and understanding of our spiritual roots enable her to weave a story which brings together insight and fable, ecological politics and a journey into our spiritual ancestry. Celtic mysteries intermingle with a fascinating search for the guardians of the valley, which grips like an adventure story.
At the heart of it all stands the yew tree over the holy well. Her insight into the importance of the yew is just one part of her authoritative account of our ancient spiritual practices, and their very real relevance today to ourselves and to the planet." Diana Brueton, previous editor of Kindred Spirit magazine and co-author with Anand Chetan of "The Sacred Yew"
The Sacred Yew
(This book is out of print but normally available as a second hand book on Amazon)
The Sacred Yew by Anand Chetan and Diana Brueton
from the work of Allen Meredith 1994
'What magic is there in the ancient yew tree? What is it in them that fires our vision and fills the soul with mystery, touching ageless history?
We associate our yew trees with our churchyards. There we constantly find them gracing the church and spreading their great arms among the graves. And many people may tacitly assume that the 'old folk' planted yews in churchyards. But no! The great yew trees can be 2,000 years old , or 3,000 or, in some cases, they may reach 4,000 years or more and our churches were mostly built less than 1,000 years ago. The yews came first, planted on sacred sites known to the Druids. The later church builders were sensitive to the holy places and knew where to build their churches. So let us awaken to the wonder of the yews, planted long before the churches were built and linked with ancient pre-Christian ritual and mystery.
What a marvel is the ancient yew! It is claimed that the great yew could be absolutely immortal! Grasp what it is doing. The central complex of bole and trunk often seems like a number of trees flowing into each other to make an entity of incredible strength. Then the branches around the central trunk dip down and reroot themselves so that, as a virtually new tree, they may send out further branches. Thus theoretically at least, the process can go on till the ringed complex covers a great area.
Our imagination is fired by this tree. Once we have 'seen' a yew tree, then it becomes fascinating to study the complex bole and and see how the streams of energy flow along its ribs. Our imaginative vision can merge with the wondrous structure. Theoretically, the yew tree could be ageless and never die, the central trunk like a compact pillar of immense strength.
Alas that through ignorance and indifference many great trees in our churchyards have been destroyed as inconvenient. But they are sacred trees and it is vital that we recover this knowledge. Preserving the great yews is a duty that we owe to our forebears, to the history of our countryside and to those who come after us.' Sir George Trevelyan
'One tree had always stood out. Though used for long bows, the Yew's regenerative powers and the poisonous nature of its leaves and seeds denied its use for other things. So many were spared the axe and grew to gnarled old age - patriarchs of a fast disappearing forest, things of wonder, mystery and imagination. They became special meeting places where decisions were taken, secrets shared, a place of reverence and worship, for the sacred tree could kill or cure.'
David Bellamy, Naturalist
Yew Tree Books
Two booklets Self Published by JANIS FRY
‘The Ankerwycke Yew, living witness to the Magna Carta’
By Janis Fry with research by A. Meredith
'This fascinating 20 page colour booklet tells the story of the Ankerwycke Yew at Runnymede and presents the evidence for the tree having been the site of the agreement of the Magna Carta by King John and the barons in 1215. This Yew, believed to be over 2,000 years old, may have been planted by the Egyptians on what was once an island in the River Thames, perhaps to honour a river they would have deemed sacred like the Nile. Runnymede was a special meeting place long before the Magna Carta or the Norman Conquest, and was most probably the site of the inaugurations of Saxon Kings beneath the Yew which would have bestowed powers of divinity and kingship.
Price £3.95 + £1.20 P&P. Total £5.15.
‘The Defynnog Yew, the oldest tree in Wales, perhaps Europe.’
By Janis Fry with research by A. Meredith
This colour booklet presents the case for the Defynnog Yew being the oldest tree in Wales, rivalling the similarly aged Fortingall Yew in Scotland for the title of oldest tree in Britain. Like the Fortingall Yew, the Defynnog Yew is now separated into 2 halves, one with a girth of 40 feet and the other 20. The 5,000 year old Yew on the north side of the church was probably planted to honour a tribal chieftain and was planted on a Neolithic burial ground. It would have been known by the Silurians, a Celtic tribe of that area, as an Axis Mundi. The booklet explains the importance of the Yew in the Celtic tree calendar and describes this Yew as unique in being both female with a male branch and carrying a golden bough, both these features sharing the same DNA as the tree.
Price £3.95 + £1.20 P&P. Total £5.15.
Ancient Yew Articles
Articles by Janis Fry researched with Allen Meredith.
Numbers of Ancient Yews in Britain
Britain and in particular Wales, has the largest number of ancient yews in the world (174 at the most recent count). Although there are still undiscovered yews, we now believe that in Wales, there are at least 44 yews aged at 2,000 years plus, 11 of 3,000 years plus, 1 at 4,000 years plus and 3 at 5,000 years plus, totalling 59 yews aged at over 2,000 years, in Wales.
BRITAIN’S LOST YEWS
Janis Fry researched with Allen Meredith
This list, taken from many sources, is not a comprehensive one but an estimate, of the number of yews lost in Britain, mainly since the 2nd World War. There were also losses in Victorian times with the loss of the knowledge of sacred side of the yew trees. There is no way of knowing the true figure as records were not made and collected at the time. The list may be just the tip of the iceberg as it is not always obvious when a yew has disappeared for ever. For instance I am certain there must have been a much earlier, older yew at Nevern in Pembrokeshire but no old stump or evidence can be found. Between the Victorian era and the 2nd Wold War, thousands of yews, of which just a few examples are included here have gone and since then somewhere in the region of 500 have been destroyed. This list has been researched from old records and books such as Arthur Mee’s ‘King’s England’ (1930’s), Vaughan Cornish ‘The Churchyard Yew and Immortality’ (1946), E.W. Swanton ‘The Yew trees of England’ (1958) and old illustrations and engravings of churches with old yews, where the yews are no longer there. This list is mainly about churchyards known to have lost yews. Many of those places would typically have lost several yews like Myddfai in Carmarthenshire where only 1 yew remains on the north side, out of a circle of at least 5 or 6 originally there ... read the full article
In addition to this list some 65 more lost yew sites are described in an article by Tim Hills of the Ancient Yew group:
Tim Hills also lists another 10 in the Diocese of Bath and Wells: