Idho (EE-yoh)


The Letter

The Tree
Yew - Ibar

The Fifth Season - The Eve of Winter Solstice

Place on the hand
The Pad on the Palm at the Base of the Little Finger

Color ~ Irfind – very white

Illat ~ Eaglet

Goddess ~ Cailleach

Metal ~ Lead

Animal ~ Deer

“I am the tomb to every hope.
Who but I know the secrets of the unhewn dolmen”

Note ~ f
Planet ~ Saturn

Word ogham ~ age, memory, oldest of woods, fairest of the ancients, most withered of wood, sword

The day for this tree is the Eve of the Winter Solstice.  Yew is a death tree in utopian countries.  It is sacred to Hecate in Greece and Italy.  In Rome when black bulls were sacrificed to Hecate they were wreathed with Yew.  In Ireland the Yew was the coffin of the vine, wine barrels were made of Yew.  It is thought to make the best bows. It is one of the five magical trees of Ireland.

Magical properties - gender - feminine, planet - Saturn, element - water, powers - raising the dead.  Highly toxic. 

The Yew is the central tree of death, said to root in the mouths of the dead, release their souls and absorb the odor of the decaying process of bodies. 

Therefore it is Hecate's tree, Goddess of all composting material as a gift to the fertility of the underworld.  The yew is life in death because she takes longer than any other tree to come to maturity except for the oak.  

This is the essence of the self, that which is inherited from the ancestral past.  It is the eternal root of the self.  It is the ultimate measure of the passage of the soul from life to life.  Idho refers to transformation from one state to another or movement of some kind.  It can be fraught with discomfort and a sense of loss.  There is a high likelihood that Idho indicates that there is either ignorance of a certain forthcoming transformation, or that one is immanent.  The main challenge is the inner feeling of loss and sorrow.  This grief must be worked through before change can be fully understood.  Keep in mind that birth always follows death in the endless cycle of creation.

Botanical Information
The yew is a slow-growing conifer, as can live as long as 1000 years, possibly reaching 65 feet in height.   Because it’s hard, springy wood was the source of English longbows it is much less common in recent times.  The evergreen needles are very broad, and the seeds are produced in red, berry-like cones.  Yews are toxic; one of the toxic compounds, taxol, is an effective treatment for some cancers.  Yew is in the Yew family.         

*** Personal note - there is a lot of confusion on the placement of Ailm, Idho, and the Extra Day. In the White Goddesss, Graves speaks of Ailm as if it were on the Winter Solstice but then says, the day of the divine child's birth, the Extra Day. Then in his section on Idho he says Idho is placed on the Eve of Winter Solstice. In my own experience and practice, I have finally decided, based on my own personal take on it all, to place Idho on the Eve of Winter Solstice and Ailm on Winter Solstrice, with Mistletoe on the Nameless Day, or the Extra Day of the year, truly a special day in its own right.