yew trees as an entheogen?.. Options
#1 Posted : 7/26/2009 7:06:18 PM

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"Yggdrasil is commonly described as an ash tree. This is unlikely as, in the mythology, it is always referred to as an evergreen. A more likely candidate is the evergreen yew tree. Nigel Pennick suggests that an old name for the yew, needle ash, is the source of this confusion. There may also be a clue in the name Yggdrasil. Schroder interprets this as yew pillar (yggia from igwja = yew, and drasil from dher = support). To the Celts the yew was the tree of death and resurrection which ties in with the Hebrew Tree of Life and the general theme of these trees.

The yew contains an alkaloid poison called taxine, a shamanistic drug and a suitable choice to aid Odin's sacrifice. The toxin induces a near-death state enabling the soul to leave the body. With our modern, weaker, constitutions it is foolish to experiment with yew without proper training of the body and the right knowledge to prepare the potion. Very few have the skill and even then it would be dangerous - so don't be tempted to try to imitate Odin! Meditating near a yew tree in hot weather can produce trance as yew gives off a toxic vapour. This is also risky without an experienced helper to watch over and move you in case of an overdose. Yew's deadly poison also explains the Gallows and Terrible references derived from the name Yggdrasil"

...taken from this site..

anyone know of this "taxine"? BTW..the yew tree is the Yggrasil..the world tree of Norse cosmology. Odin was said to have hung from it for 9 days with no fod or water, pierced by a spear and sacrificed one eye in order to gain knowledge of runes and apparently the gift of language. He was said to have died upon to the tree and resurected a sorceror/wizard/seidman whatever.

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#2 Posted : 7/26/2009 7:23:29 PM
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Well ,"taxine" is not one toxin, there are many toxins in Yews like taxine A, taxane etc.

Some of them are microtubuline inhibitors, meaning that the stop mitosis of the cell ,an action akin that of colchicine. Drugs like that can be used against cancer ,since one of the features of cancer cells is their rapid division (see Paclitaxel, AKA Taxol coming from yew trees). Overall though ,mitosis inhibition in a healthy individual is not the best that can happen...

I think taxine A and Taxine B are cardiotoxic, having as a mechanism of action inhibitory effects on calcium and sodium channels. Two links on them that you might find of interest are those :

Toxicology Brief: The dangers of yew ingestion

Yews and Taxine A and B

#3 Posted : 7/26/2009 7:40:30 PM

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I have extensive knowledge about Norse mythology, as my home country is Norway. I do not for one second believe that Yggdrasil was anything else than the European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior). First of all, the only Yew found in Scandinavia is Taxus baccata, which is a conifer and is very rarely found. Yggdrasil is considered to both have normal leaves and being found throughout the region. The European Ash have the normal leaves, and it is also found nearly everywhere. Moreover, the full name of the world tree is askr Yggdrasil, which resembles good to the norwegian name of Fraxinus excelsior - Ask. It is correct that the description of Yggdrasil as a evergreen provides a problem, but to think that it is Taxus baccata, is purely speculation.

However, the use of Taxus as an entheogen or intoxicant is indeed interesting (maybe only in historical context), it would be interesting to learn more about this.
#4 Posted : 9/19/2016 6:20:40 PM

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Sorry for taking the dust off this old thread.

Jamie Im sure that you'll appreciate these two links:

A quick introduction to this guy's work with the yew tree

And a more in-depth lecture about the history and myths around this tree

Interestingly enough the Shipibo maestro that Ive started working with and who mainly works with the "flying tree" (an almost mythological tree for the Shipibo people), on his only visit to Europe had a vision where he understood that this tree originally came from Europe.
Listen to a man of experience: thou wilt learn more in the woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach thee more than thou canst acquire from the mouth of a master. St. Bernard
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