The Tree of Life. A multiple branched tree that symbolizes that we are all connected; all living things on earth are one. The concept represents a theory held by many that it is the interconnectedness of species that makes the world as we understand it today, exist and continue. Closely related to the Tree of Knowledge, connecting heaven and the underworld, both trees according to scholars are part of one, “world tree” or “cosmic tree.” The Tree of Life has been depicted in numerous religious publications from as early as the story of the Garden of Eden. Yet, we also see recognition of a similar tree in ancient Egypt. Egyptians referred to this tree as “a tree in which life and death are enclosed;” having claimed that Isis and Osiris (Egyptian Gods), emerged from their sacred Acacia Tree. The Tree of Life has made a profound effect on societies all around the world and the culture and folklore within them.
What makes this tree so special? A variety of different illustrations of what the Tree of Life looks like have been created over the years. A common design, is embraced here to the right in our Tree of Life Wall Art. Finely crafted and hand painted, this lovely metal sculpture’s bold design makes it the focal point in any room. Bright green leaves and deep red cherries highlight the bronzed brown base of the tree. Though there are many tree paintings where the artist has chosen to illustrate the Tree of Life, that appear unlike the one pictured. Such as our Tapestry Garden Print by artist William Morris. Originally created in 1879, the known tapestry designer chose to showcase the Tree of Life with its branches growing upward, as opposed to branching downward. Surrounded by a gorgeous floral border, this print has a smooth satin guard finish for the look of an oil painting. The beauty of the Tree of Life is that because it represents all living creatures, it can be portrayed in various ways.
The Tree of Life concept influences artists that have inspirational themes as well. An example of this is Bonnie Mohr’s Living Life Print, which embraces the idea of everlasting life, through the symbol of a tree. “Life is not a race – but indeed a journey. Be Honest. Work Hard. Be Choosy. Say Thank You, I love you and Great Job to someone each day.” A message of life lessons goes hand in hand with the theme of the Tree of Life; in that we must work together to live our lives happily and to the fullest, to ensure that all life continues to grow and prosper, just like that of a tree.
Tree of Life Across Cultures
As mentioned above, there are many societies around the world that have or currently do have a slight variant in their perception of the Tree of Life. Etz Chaim, Hebrew for Tree of Life, includes a further association with wisdom. According to the Book of Proverbs, “[Wisdom] is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her, and happy is every one that holdest her fast.” (Proverbs 3:13-18). In Indian traditions there are two symbolic trees, the Banyan Tree and the Peepal Tree; both varieties of the Fig Tree. The Banyan tree, in Buddhist culture signifies fertility and was worshiped by those wanting children; it is believed to have nourished mankind with its ‘milk’ before the advent of grain and other food. Moving on to Nordic mythology, where the Tree of Life is said to support the entire universe because its roots are so deeply implanted in the ground. The branches represent the spiritual realm, the middle section represents human persona and ego and lastly the roots represent the underworld and all matter of the unconscious sense. In China, a Tree of Life carving is typically shown with a dragon; which together signifies immortality. Among pre-columbian Mesoamerican societies, trees were thought of as world trees. World Trees provided people in this area with the four cardinal directions and they took direction from the tree as a central base point. This idea was found in art and many ceremonies of the time; as well as early languages of the Maya and Aztec people. An overall theme that is embraced by most mentioned above, is that the Tree of Life can also be “seen” in the sky in a band of stars, in our very own Milky Way Galaxy.
In an article by Sondra Crane, The Tree of Life Symbol, she describes beautifully the significance of each part of the tree: “The Tree of Life is a universal symbol found in many spiritual traditions. It symbolizes many things, including wisdom, protection, strength, bounty, beauty, and redemption. This tree is symbolic of the Creator as it sustains creation with its abundant fruit, protection and regeneration. The Tree also represents humans as we too develop roots, strengthen our trunk and branch out to a wider vision of life as we grow. The tree provides shelter. Tall and strong, it has deep roots. It reaches skyward. It loses its leaves and grows new ones …bears fruit …gives shelter. With nurture and care, it lives for generations.”