Why do so many people wear the tree of life symbol? Can this symbol help you on your path? From ancient mythology to modern culture, this tree has always had a big place in the human mind. Let's learn more about it.
An universal symbol
The tree of life is an important symbol we can find in different cultures.
This large tree, deeply rooting to the ground, expanding its branches to the higher sky, shows us how each thing is connected in life. It is an Axis Mundi, connecting all worlds. At the beginning of all things, this tree was small. And seeing it now, strong and stable, it refers to vitality and longevity. Taking place between the deep soil and the sky, it teaches us our place in nature. The tree of life also suggests the idea of family, generations. The tree connects everything in different universes.
Several cultures emphasized different aspects of the tree of life
The most ancient representation we know was found in Turkey and is estimated to be 7000 BC
For the Celts, the tree represented balance and harmony. It could also represent different worlds connected (the roots for the world below, the trunk for the human world, the branches for the world above). Losing its leaves during winter, then growing again in spring, the tree is a symbol for rebirth. Each tree had a specific symbolism for Celts and took an important place in druidism.
Present in Buddhism as the Bhodi-tree, it is the tree under which Buddha had his spiritual awakening and reach total enlightenment. Its roots symbolize specific feelings (love, wisdom, but also cupidity, illusion, or hate). With meditation, we can expand our perception, go past the lies and deception, to reach true knowledge.
A world tree is also present in Mesoamerican cultures (Maya, Aztec, Izapan, Mixtec, Olmec) as a gigantic tree expanding in the four cardinal directions, connecting the underworld, the earth, and the sky.
In Norse culture, the tree is the Yggdrasil, the sacred tree holding the nine worlds in place. The whole world depends on the Yggdrasil, on which Odin hanged himself for nine days, to gain knowledge of the universe.
An Iroquois myth is the tale of a sacred tree in the heavens, a place for humans to live. When a pregnant woman fell from it, landing in an endless ocean, she created the world we know planting a peel from this tree.
Perceived as the cosmic world tree in Hinduism, as the tree of knowledge in Christianity, it's present in even more cultures.
The tree of life has even strong representation in literature, for example, the tree of Gondor (and many more) in Lord of the rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, or the sacred trees spaceships described by Dan Simmons in the Hyperion's cantos.
Did I forget to mention an important myth about the tree of life? Let me know in the comments!