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Wisdom Of The Trees

In the Early Medieval fourth to tenth centuries the Ogham Alphabet that dates from this time contained the collected lore and wisdom of a select group of trees, and one of those in this Celtic Tree Alphabet is the Yew Tree. There has long been a tradition of yew trees in churchyards, and some of these ancient yews predate the churches they stand guard over. It is apparent that as shown by the Ogham Alphabet, the respect that was held for the yew tree helped in its survival in medieval churchyards, even as pressure grew for the wood of the yew tree to make bows, as the medieval archers wreaked havoc on their opponents as the wars in this period of medieval history gathered pace.

The evergreen nature of the yew tree makes it particularly special to the Christian faith as the ever present green branches is suggestive of the promise of eternal life that Christianity promises, and its known longevity has made it a favourite in the churchyard. Even today it is used to line pathways, stand sentinel at gateways and doorways, and planted as a memorial event.

The most ancient yews in our churchyards have gathered stories and mythology around them over the years, and one such tale is that yew trees will find their way via their roots into the graves and tombs of the churchyard and collect the souls within, with the more gruesome alternative being that they also find a nourishing meal...

Ancient yew trees have a particular character, but they are not the only evergreens in the churchyard; holly, ivy, and box trees often provide a green backdrop to the quintessential English churchyard, but in true gothic manner, it must be remembered that all these plants can be fatally poisonous to humankind and other animals. It would seem that it is only birds who manage to navigate their way into the fruits of these trees and plants to find the seeds within without causing any harm to themselves.


It is not only evergreens that are important in churchyards. Other trees can grow to a great age like the oak and beech, and these trees also play their part in sharing their wisdom. Added to this, in some cases and circumstances, people have planted for their loved ones a favourite tree, be it an apple tree, or some other tree that has special meaning to them, as a special memorial, continuing the tradition of regeneration and renewal.

The images and poems on this page are a celebration of the yew trees and other plants and trees that I have encountered in the places I have visited and was fortunate enough to share their wisdom, often glimpsed with delight when the sun or twilight at certain times of the year highlights exactly why they are situated where they are in relation to the landscape. They come alive with a powerful energy and the result is magical, visually and emotionally. 



Alice, Alice, you loved being with the druid trees

When the sun opened up the doorway to the otherworld

Alice, Alice, now you are not alone

Sister and brother, siblings under the trees

Alice, Alice, running through the gateway

Following the sun's rays to the otherworld

Alice, Alice, hold hands with your brother

Never let go, siblings under the trees

Alice, Alice, we will always remember you 

As the sun comes back to caress the yews

Alice, Alice, who waited for her brother

Now you will always be two

Photography and Poetry by Shelley Turner

Dedicated to my Brother

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Photography and Poetry 

By Shelley Turner


The time I come alive

Is in the twilight and the gloom

Wait here long enough

And you might see me

Quivering in the night

Relishing the gathering quiet

And striving with all my might

For my right to thrive

People think trees might slumber

In the soft dark of the night

But come the half light

We dance to a different tune

Flirting with bats and moths

There under a silvery moon

Embrace At Dusk
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Photography and Poetry 

By Shelley Turner

Embrace At Dusk

As the sun kisses goodbye

I know I will never

Love anybody else like you

What would I do if you left me

Never felt your love warming me

Through and through

In the twilight I remember

How it was before you

How I cried time and again

Nobody to share my life with

It just rained and rained

But now your light embraces me

And I am reassured 

You will always find me

Before the night falls

While the last of the light

Still lingers and then fades

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Photography and Poetry

By Shelley Turner


We are the maidens

Of the churchyard

And we protect

Your family

And your loved ones

As we can

And as we should

Because we are sisters

And we know about bonds

That can keep you tied

Not always good

But this is not a burden

For us anymore

Our leaves carpet the ground

Keeping you warm

In the winter sun

A sisterly blanket

Fondly laid

And held gently in place

With our roots

In reverent soil

With infinite grace

The Trees Whisper Your Name

The Trees Whisper Your Name

I came back to find you

Because I needed to be reminded

That the trees remembered you

That they still whispered your name

We always said that they knew us

When we stopped here

Enjoying the shifting shadows

On our walks through

The leaves shivered quietly

Letting the light filter down

Then the whispering started

And they said your name

They comforted me with memories

Sharing their love for you

I think you understood them

And they will never forget you

DSCF1523.jpg The Trees Whisper Your Name copy 2.jpg

Photography and Poetry

By Shelley Turner

Don't Forget

Photography and Poetry

By Shelley Turner

Don't Forget

Don't forget how the light danced

For you under the trees

Entrancing you always

Stealing you away from me

Sometimes I think you found it

Almost impossible to leave

But we had to part for a while

And you grieved for the trees


Now we have returned

And I can see your eyes glisten

Tears of joy and happiness

To be here again and just listen

The light still dances for you

The trees recognise a kindred spirit

I don't think they will let you go this time

I might have to leave you here

You warned me this would happen

But it's alright I understand

I knew the trees would call you

I'll just let go of your hand

Comment below on the poems if you would like to..
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