The Tree of Life is a symbol that we have met numerous times in one way or another throughout our lives, maybe even leaving you wondering or curious what this is all about and what makes this tree so special.
The Tree of Life is a sacred fundamental concept in many of the world’s mythologies, religions, spiritual and philosophical traditions, making it definitely hard to pinpoint who spoke about it first.
However, this proves how deeply sacred, potent and universal the concept of The Tree of Life truly is. It can be seen as the tree of knowledge, connecting heaven and underworld, the tree of life, connecting all forms of creation and the creator, showing up as both forms of a ‘worldly’ tree as well as a ‘spiritual’ tree.
The meaning of the Tree of Life
While the Tree of Life symbolises many different things, there are some common themes that the symbol represents within multiple cultures.
Knowledge and Deeper Awareness of Self & others
The Tree of Life can be considered a symbol of knowledge, ancient wisdom, and insight within one’s self. It is a symbol to obtain focus in a quest to finding awareness and knowledge. In Buddhism, the Bodhi Tree is where Buddha received enlightenment. The symbol is associated with wisdom in the book of Proverbs. The Nordic cultures believed the tree of life is a magical fount on knowledge.
A Connection to Everything
The Tree of Life commonly represents the interconnectedness of everything in the universe. It symbolises togetherness and serves as a reminder that you are never alone or can ever be isolated. You are connected to the world, to nature, to the Mother. The roots of the Tree of Life run deep and spread wide and deep into the earth, thereby accepting nourishment from Mother Earth. Its branches reach up into the sky, accepting energy from the celestial lights and the ether.
Ancestry, Family, and Fertility
Thinking of a family tree, the Tree of Life can also stand for the connection to one’s family and ancestors. The Tree of Life has an intricate network of branches that represents how a family grows and expands throughout many generations. It stands for fertility as it always finds a way to keep growing, through seeds or new saplings. It’s green-ness and lushness are signs of vitality and fertility.
Growth and Strength
A tree is a universal symbol of strength and growth as they stand tall and strong all over the world. They spread their roots deep into the soil to ground and stabilise themselves. (And yourself, if you are a tree hugger!)
Trees can weather the toughest of storms, which is why they are such a prominent symbol for strength. The Tree of Life represents growth as a tree starts out as a small, delicate sapling and grows over a long time into a big, strong tree. The tree grows up and outwards, just as a person who grows stronger and increases their knowledge and experiences throughout their lifetime.
The Tree of Life can stand for one's individuality as trees are all unique with their branches sprouting at different points and in different directions. It speaks for a person's personal growth into a unique human being as different experiences shape them into who they are. Over time, trees gain more unique characteristics, as branches break off, new ones grow, and as the weather takes its toll - all throughout which the tree remains strong and sturdy. This is a metaphor for how people grow and change throughout their lifetime and how their unique experiences mold them and enhance their individuality.
Immortality and Rebirth
The Tree of Life is a symbol for rebirth as trees lose their leaves and seem to be dead during winter, but then new buds appear and new, fresh leaves unfurl during the spring. This represents the beginning of a new life and a fresh start. The Tree of Life also symbolizes immortality because even as the tree grows old, it creates seeds that carry its essence so it lives on through new saplings.
Trees have always evoked a sense of calm and peace so it is unsurprising that the Tree of Life is also a symbol for peacefulness and relaxation. Trees have a relaxing presence as they stand tall and still while their leaves flutter in the breeze. The Tree of Life serves as a reminder for the unique, calming feeling that one gets from trees.
The Tree of Life in different cultures
Symbolically, the Tree of Life can be followed all the way back to ancient times.
The oldest known example was found in Turkey dating back to about 7000 BC. It is believed that the symbol spread from there in various ways. Below are just a few of the explanations and occurrences in ancient culture.
According to the Mesoamerican culture a ‘world tree’ is what connects heaven, earth and the underworld, growing at the point of creation of it all. Everything flowed out from that spot in four directions (North, South, East & West). The world tree embodies the four cardinal directions which and its trunk represents an Axis Mundi (axis mundi is the Latin term for the axis of Earth between the celestial poles) which connects the underworld and the sky with the plane of the terrestrial realm.
Tree Of Life in the Relief of Ramesses II - Source
The Tree of Life, also referred to as the sacred, mythical Ished tree, was a potent ancient Egyptian symbol and icon in the mythology and legends of Egypt, symbolizing Knowledge of the Divine Plan or the equivalent to a map of destiny. The Egyptians believed that the Tree of Life was the place where life and death were enclosed. East was the direction of life whereas West was the direction of death and the underworld. In Egyptian Mythology, Isis and Osiris (also known as ‘the first couple’) emerged from the Tree of Life. According to the ancient myths the fruit of the Tree of Life provided eternal life and knowledge of the cycles of time.
In Buddhism the Tree of Life is also referred to as the Bodhi Tree, the tree beneath which Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment by meditating under the tree for 40 days straight reflecting on his experience of life, determined to find truth and harmony both from nature as from within.
For the Ancient Celts, the Tree of Life was a symbol of balance and harmony. Trees in general were an integral part of the Celts culture and beliefs, with the Celtic Tree of Life holding great importance. The Tree of Life was a representation of how the nature’s forces combined to create balance and harmony.
The Tree of Life was called crann bethadh by the Ancient Celts, who believed that it had magical powers. Celtic people honored the Tree of Life by leaving one big tree in the middle of their fields when they cleared their land. Underneath the branches of this tree, the Celts held gatherings and appointed their chieftains. The tree was able to provide shelter, food, and medicine, leading the Celts to believe that it had enough power to care for all life. Chopping down the tree was considered a serious crime meaning that the biggest triumph one would be able to achieve over their enemy was to chop down their Tree of Life.
There is a Taoist story in Chinese Mythology which describes a magical peach tree that only produces a peach every 3,000 years. The individual who happens to eat this fruit receives immortality. The Tree of Life is preotected by a dragon at the base of it and and a phoenix on top.
The Tree of Life is mentioned in the Book of Genesis as the source of eternal life and is described as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which was planted in the Garden of Eden. The term ‘Tree of Life’ appears another 11 times in subsequent books of the Bible. In Eastern Christianity the tree of life is the love of God.
The Tree of Immortality is mentioned in the Quran and is different from the Biblical account insofar as only one tree is mentioned in Eden which was forbidden to Adam and Eve by Allah. The Hadith do mention other trees in heaven and while the tree symbol plays a fairly minor role in the Quran, it became an important symbol in Muslim art and architecture and is also one of the most developed symbols in Islam. In the Quran, there are a trio of supernatural trees: The Infernal Tree (Zaquum) in Hell, The Lote Tree (Sidrat al-Muntaha) of the Uttermost Boundary and the Tree of Knowledge which is in the Garden of Eden. In the Hadith, the different trees are combined into one symbol.
I allow nourishment
The Tree of Life can be found in our latest design, our I allow nourishment pieces. Inspired by the Tree of Life our I allow nourishment pieces are reminders to lean back into yourself as if you were to lean against the trunk of a tree. To lean back into the trust that your true nature can hold all of you and all of life. That your true nature is nothing else than a reflection of Mother Nature and every being around you. That ultimately we are all connected. This is what 'I allow nourishment' is about. And that is why self-nourishment is so incredibly important.
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