Eiwaz or Eihaz was a word for yew, defense and the name of the rune ᛇ. The rune is sometimes associated with the World tree Yggdrasil, which, imagined as an ash in Norse mythology, may formerly have been a yew or an oak. eo/ei.
The yew is a tree with rough bark,
greenest of trees in winter,
hard in the earth, supported by its roots,
a guardian of flame and a joy upon an estate.
Eihwaz represents the pinnacle to which all things revolve and spin out of. It is the mystery or the power of life. It is the death that renews and brings new life. It represents cycles and is a rune of wisdom and communication.
In all cultures, including that of the ancient Norse, all rites of passage, particularly those marking the transition into adulthood, contain the symbolism of ‘death’; the idea being that one’s former ‘self’ has died and given birth to a new persona. The Eihwaz rune represents the passage through which we must enter in order to gain the knowledge and acceptance of our own mortality. Eihwaz symbolizes the physical manifestation within time.
Traditionally, the Eihwaz rune represents the yew tree. There is much association of the yew tree and the ancient Norse, principally derived from the fact that yews are evergreens which retain their greenery even through the coldest of winters, and because their red berries are seen as symbolic of the ‘Blood of Life.’
The yew tree is a powerful stave of protection and banishing, not only because of its association with the forces of life and death, but because of its association with the bow and arrow made of yew wood, which was common to the folk of the Norse.
Reverence for the yew tree dates back to before the times of the Celts and beyond. Yggdrasil, the World Tree or the Tree of Life, is a yew tree. Eihwaz represents Yggdrasil. In Norse mythology and cosmology Yggdrasil is the axis about which all else revolves and spins out of. Yggdrasil contains the mystery of life and death and is the life-giving force which has its roots in the Underworld and death.
The rune anticipates difficulties through thought and right action. It is a time to deal with things at hand, rather than put them off until they resurface at a later date.