Inspiration: The Old Yew

When I was a kid we used to call this tree the ‘Yoda Tree’, for obvious reasons. Most churchyards have at least one yew tree, the symbolism can go back before Christianity but in the context of the graveyards and the Christian churches is supposed to be representative of eternal life (being evergreens that live a fuck of a long time). Of course, they’re also poisonous, but given my well-known atheism I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions from that.

I was talking before about finding inspiration around your locality and how lucky I am to live in a place that’s full of such inspiration. This yew tree is certainly an important one for me. Yew made the great English longbows. Yew has ancient pagan AND Christian symbolism. Yew is found in the places of the dead because we plant it there to mark them. Yew is dense and dark, slow-growing, old, gnarled and amazing to look at.

Whenever I describe a graveyard in a fantasy game I imagine trees like this. In my mind something like it is found in Fanghorn, or in alien swamps on faraway worlds. They may be poisonous but the smell when you sit under a yew, on generations of slowly rotting needles, just after it has rained. That’s evocative.