Humans are often drawn to nature – particularly woodlands and forests. There’s something holistic about being in the presence of a tree, and many people claim to feel soothed and calmed, simply by sitting under its shade.
Unsurprisingly, the motif of a tree – the Tree of Life – appears in many different cultures across the world. Here’s some more information about its origins, and its religious and historical relevance throughout history.
The Roots of the Tree of Life
The symbol of the Tree of Life, occasionally called the Sacred Tree or Tree of Knowledge, is important to several cultures.
The Ancient Egyptians believed that The Tree of Life symbolised the chain of events that brought the world into existence – representing the natural order of things. Other trees were also important – such as the tamarisk tree, which concealed Osiris’s tomb, and the sycamore, which was believed to connect the world of the living with the world of the dead.
The Assyrians also placed great importance in the Tree of Life, and the motif was often used in their ancient carvings. However, historians aren’t sure what symbolic value the tree had in Assyrian culture, as there is no textual evidence to tell us.
The symbolic tree also appears in several of the major world religions. Buddha is often depicted gaining enlightenment underneath a tree, and the Tree of Immortality features several times in The Quran. In Christianity, the Tree of Life represents the perfect state of humanity (before the fall of Adam and Eve), and in Judaism, it’s linked to divine wisdom.
The Tree of Life is also the central symbol of the Kabbalah, and depicts the ten Sephirot powers – or ten stages that brought the world into being. The first three Sephirot show the initial primordial energies of the Universe, then the remaining Sephirot show the evolution (the stage called the Abyss). The higher Sephirot depict divine energy.
However, the Kabbalistic Tree of Life also relates to Man, and the inner self.
Understanding the Tree of Life
There are many different understandings of what the Tree of Life really represents. For some, it’s a symbol of development and evolution, with the roots pushing upwards to form the trunk, branches and eventually an abundance of leaves.
It’s also a representation of the connection between the earth and the heavens – or as some call it, Mother Earth and Father Sun. It’s recognition of the life that supports us all, and the spiritual realm to which many of us aspire to gain better understanding of.
The Tree of Life can also be taken to be a symbol of elemental power – the unity of earth (where the tree is grown), water (which sustains it), fire (the power of the sun) and air (in which the tree flourishes).
Whatever your thoughts on the Tree of Life, most people agree it’s a powerful, visually appealing symbol – which is why it so often appears in décor and on clothing. Our Tree of Life wall hanging is one of our most popular items, perhaps because people like to be reminded of growth, spirituality and elemental power when they’re at home. It’s a versatile item, which can also be used as a throw, beach wrap or table cloth – the options are endless.