Saturday, August 27, 2016

In Which I Perform Another Unique Ceremony

St. Mary's, Cusop, Herefordhire (Cewydd Sant) on the Welsh Border. Surrounded by Yews.
My daughter did well keeping my lilacs alive while we were gone for the hot month of July. And our yard has nearly recovered from my one-year-old grandson turning off the automatic sprinklers.

I was out today shoring up a few of the lilacs that needed a watering base around them. Miss Canada, thriving so well this Spring, is not situated well to pick up the watering. And the new Firmaments and Pres. Poincaré planted in early summer could use the help.

After I was done, I thought about the yew needles from the Holy Yew at Cusop that I had finally found in my trip memorabilia. So I carefully got a few out and put one or two needles into the ground at the base of each lilac bush. In years to come as I sit under my lilacs, a small piece of the sacred yew will have become part of those plants.

The oak leaf is from another sacred site.
A Celtic Church and well in Cornwall.
It can't hurt.

So, we returned to the Holy Yew. I'm not sure why yet. The visit raised some questions that I emailed to the Cusop Historical Society (of which I am a proud member). But no further help on some family history mysteries have come forth.

I bought a book on Yew Trees while in Wales. It was frustratingly scientific in acknowledging that it is nearly impossible to date a yew tree because the oldest part, the center rots, and new shoots spring up making massive trunks on old trees.

The Church at Cusop had yews farther back than Doomsday as they were already notable in that record of the Conqueror. A website on Yews claims that they are pre-Christian.

St. Mary's is not the original name of the Church there. It was originally named for Cewydd Sant, corrupted by saxons into "Cusop" which is pronounced "CUE-suhp." And it gets a little weird. According to Catholics Online, his feast day is July 1. We missed it by a day, gathering our yew needles on the 2nd! But then, Wikipedia says:
Cewydd's Feast Day was 15 July, (originally 2 July before the Julian/Gregorian Calendar change).
Ha! Medievalist that I am, I think we hit it about right.

Cewydd was a 6th Century Celtic Saint and is known as the "Rain Saint," for if it rained on his feast day, it would rain another 40 days. In Wales, that might be a bit much, but we could use it out here in the desert in July (then my lawn wouldn't have died).

Some also claim he was a son of Brychan Brychniog, the Irish King who established himself (by force) in the middle of Wales and had numerous sons and daughters, all of them Saints, I guess to compensate for the conquest.

The return to the Holy Yew at Cusop. There's no telling how old that tree is.

Another Cusop Yew
Looking up into a Cusop Yew.
The call to return to the Holy Yew still mystifies me. I only know that it is a part of me and my family. And now it is a part of my garden. May the call last thousands of years.

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