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Tree of Life Meaning: What is it and its Symbolism

Tree of Life Meaning: What is it and its SymbolismUpdated on October 23, 2020 | Published on March 18, 2020

Tree of life meaning

A tree symbolizes strength and firmness. It is often used as a metaphor to talk about courage, constancy, and reliability. There is an esoteric tree of life meaning the source of life and magical properties. This concept is quite popular and mentioned by different ancient cultures.

Tree of Life Meaning


The tree of life is a mystical tree that has been mentioned by several religions. In each culture, the tree has been described in a unique way. Different races have called it by different names and they have their own mythology behind it. But the essence of this tree has been the same. It is a sacred tree whose parts each have a symbolic meaning.

The leaves, roots, and branches each hold an idea. This tree represents the aspects of life. It is a tree that elucidates a valuable lesson of how we should lead our lives. It’s rooted convey a strong basis, while the trunk symbolizes support, the branches depict sustenance, the leaves represent strength and the fruit speaks of sacrifice by offering itself.

History of Tree of Life Symbol


This symbol can be searched back to about 7000 BC. It was excavated from Domuztepe in Turkey. A similar symbol was uncovered in the Acadians which date back to about 3000 BC. This symbol represents a pine tree. The tree of life meaning was important to the Celtic culture.

It has been discovered that the Celtic tree of life symbolized balance and harmony. Different cultures and communities have their own myths regarding the tree of life.  Ancient Egypt, Iran, Mesopotamia, and other civilizations believed in this concept.

Tree of Life Meaning: What is it and its Symbolism

Significance of Tree of Life


1. As a Symbol of Connection

As a Symbol of Connection
As a Symbol of Connection

The Tree of Life is connected to everything. It represents togetherness and reminds us we are not alone but connected to the Whole.

2. Ancestry and Family

Ancestry and Family
Ancestry and Family

This tree symbolizes a connection to one’s ancestors and members of the family. It is an indication of how a family expands through many generations.

3. Strength

Strength
Strength

It is a symbol of tenacity. Trees can endure the harshest of climates and so they are symbols of resilience and vigor. A tree grows upright teaching humans how they too can grow tougher and wiser through experiences and by expanding their knowledge.

4. Individuality

Individuality
Individuality

The tree depicts uniqueness and individuality. It is a metaphor for how a person can grow throughout their life and become a unique expression.

5. Immortality

Immortality
Immortality

During winter the tree loses their leaves and appears as dead. But at the advent of Spring, there is a new beginning with fresh leaves and new buds. Therefore, the tree represents rebirth. It also symbolizes immortality because the tree forms seeds that are a continuation of its spirit.

6. Peace

Peace
Peace

The tree also symbolizes peace. It stands tall, calm, quiet and cools the environment. Therefore, it is a reminder to stay peaceful and spread calmness to the world.

The Spiritual Connection of the Tree of Life

The tree of life meaning has a deeper inherent significance. Most importantly, this tree furnishes the breath of life. Besides that, it has a spiritual impression. The breath of life is characterized by the spiritual essence of air because it helps in our breathing process and as a result, sustains life.

Lifeforce or the prana permeates in all beings. Prana flows in every living organism and helps in carrying out the life-sustaining processes. Also, this prana is used to refer to the breaths we take. The connection between our breaths and the flow of prana or life force is central in the teachings of yoga and pranayama (meditation).

The one who knows how to channel his breaths in the “right” manner will have their sixth chakra or the spiritual eye awakened. This yogi (the practitioner) will be blessed with eternal life in the spiritual sense because his soul will finally reach the destination it deserves.

Tree of life Symbolism and nurturing aspects

The tree of life symbolism is about various nurturing aspects of life. Branches of this large tree symbolically represent reaching out to the sun to receive nourishment. The leaves convert that nourishment into food. The roots go deep into the soil. It embraces Mother Earth and grows stronger with time. The aspects of the tree represent humility, acceptance, acknowledgment, and growth.

The Tree of Life and the natural elements

The tree of life meaning and the natural elements are deeply connected. Air, Water, Fire and the Earth interact and combine to help the tree grow. Through the air, the tree receives beneficial substances for its growth. Water provides rejuvenation and life to the tree.  The Sun has fire in it that gives power to the tree that helps it to grow.

The Symbolism of the Tree in Different Cultures

Buddhism and the Tree of Life

Buddhism and the Tree of Life
Buddhism and the Tree of Life

Buddhists refer to the Tree of Life as the Bodhi tree or the tree of enlightenment. Lord Buddha attained enlightenment under this tree and hence it is a sacred symbol indeed.

The Christian Tree of Life

The Christian Tree of Life
The Christian Tree of Life

In the Bible, we find that Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge and became aware of the sins. The tree was forbidden to them for their own sake. But after secretly savoring the fruit they became conscious of the good and evil of the world. The understanding of good and bad, sin and pleasure were then sensed by them. They were then cast out of the Garden of Eden to seek a life of their own.

The Tree of Life and Islam

The Tree of Life and Islam
The Tree of Life and Islam

The holy Quran refers to the tree of life as the tree of immortality.

The Tree of Life and Judaism

The Tree of Life and Judaism
The Tree of Life and Judaism

The Tree of Life is a common expression used in Judaism. It is mentioned in the Book of Genesis that it is different from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This tree of Life has been referred to in the Book of Proverbs and is associated with wisdom. It is a tree that nourishes and sustains life. This sacred tree stands in the center of a garden cultivated by Yahweh.

Jewish mysticism has referred the Tree in the form of ten nodes that are connected together.

Mesoamerican World Tree

Mesoamerican World Tree
Mesoamerican World Tree

Mesoamerican cosmologies acknowledge the concept of World trees. It has four cardinal directions that represent the fourfold characteristic of a central world tree.

Middle East

Middle East
Middle East

In Mesopotamian mythology, there is a mention of a ‘plant of birth’ that provides a child to the seeker. In, The Book of One Thousand and One Nights the protagonist in ‘The Tale of Buluqiya’ finds a place with jewel-crusted trees.

North America

North America
North America

In The World on the Turtle’s Back, a tree of life has been depicted. It has been said that this tree is found in the land of immortals in the heavens.

Turkish Symbols

Turkish Symbols
Turkish Symbols

The Tree of Life or the World Tree is the central symbol for the Turks. The blue sky behind the tree represents peace and the red ring denotes all the natural elements and the faith in the rebirth of the Turkish people.

The Tree of Life and the Norse World Tree

The pagan scriptures have referred the tree of life as the Norse World Tree. This tree is said to combine and bind together all realms of existence. It is an eternal tree with no beginning or end. The fruit of this tree keeps the Gods so young. The tree of life symbolizes the healing of the soul and living forever.

Scientific Representation of the Tree of Life

The biological representation of the Tree of Life is found in phylogenetic studies. Biologists depict the evolutionary relationships through the figure of a phylogenetic tree. Charles Darwin in his book, On the Origin of Species has mentioned the Tree of Life. “…I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever-branching and beautiful ramifications.

Art

The tree of life has been depicted by artists for many years. The sculpture of the Tree by Nancy Metz White was installed in Milwaukee in Mitchell Boulevard Park in 2002.

Music

The South Korean-Chinese band EXO has described the tree of Life in their debut musical MAMA. O.A.R., the American rock band displayed the tree of life in their album In between Now and Then.

Literature

The mention of the Tree could be found in popular books such as Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis; Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan; Known Space by Larry Niven, The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer and several others.

Movies

The Tree of Life is mentioned in the 2008 movie The Librarian. The Fountain by Darren Aronofsky and the Japanese anime, Dragon Ball Z: Tree of Might contains this tree in their theme. Also, Thor and Avatar have references to the Tree of Life. We can also find mentions of this tree in animated movies. Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Genesis of Aquarion, Ah! My Goddess etc. depicts the Tree of Life.

Jewelry

The symbol of The Tree of Life was used in jewelry in ancient cultures. Pendants were made of wood, stone or bronze. Nowadays also people use it in ornaments to express their life philosophy.

The Tree of Life in Real

Although the tree of life is a mythological concept there are a few real ‘tree of life’ in this world! Word of mouth had made them quite popular.

  • In the Caribbean, some coconut trees are said as the “tree of life” because they can produce everything needed for survival.
  • In West Africa, the tree Moringa oleifera is referred to as the miracle tree or the tree of life. It is a solution to severe malnutrition problems that are prevalent there.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park has a Tree of Life. It is an artificial tree with carvings of about 325 species of animals!

Closing Thoughts

The tree of life meaning is an ancient universal symbol. It represents strength, courage, vigor, and immortality. In different cultures the myths regarding this tree vary, nevertheless, they recognize and respect this concept. Nowadays jewelry is also available designed with this symbol.

Also, read our next article Interpreting Dark Night of the Soul