A Quick Guide To Understanding The Tree of Life Meaning
If you happen to see a symbol that looks like a tree inside a circle and worn as adornment, that is the Tree of Life symbol. The Tree of Life has been popping up in stories and myths. The tree has been a living symbol of strength, abundance, and knowledge. We'll get to see what the significance of the tree of life is and how its effect is prevalent until now.
What is the meaning behind the tree of life symbol?
What do we know about the tree of life? It is rooted in religion, faith, and mythology. The tree of life is related to the concept of the sacred tree. The sacred tree concept and story can be found in all the ancient cultures and beliefs.
If you have noticed, the Tree of Life symbol has three major parts - the leaves, the branches, and the trunk and roots.
All leaves are not made to be alike, much like how people are. Everyone is unique and this is where the leaves' meaning takes shape. It is a reminder that we are all under one roof and are connected and are equally special in our own right. We are also reminded that we can coexist peacefully.
The branches represent the expansion of self and reaching towards each other. By expansion of self, this is through continuous learning and expression, among other things. If you can imagine an action of arms outstretched, it looks familiar, right? This is also symbolic of the openness of possibilities for growth and development and again, connectedness.
Trunk and Roots
The trunk and the roots are the anchors of any tree. Being an anchor needs strength and fortitude. It is also a constant reminder of what we are made of as individuals, that we all come from one place regardless of any concept that separates us - race, religion, or other things. The roots remind us where we all come from, should we stray far.
How old is the tree of life symbol?
The Tree of Life symbol has been existing for ages. Turkey was the first sighting of the Tree of Life symbol back in 7000 B.C. where it was found in Domuztepe. Thinking about the significance, it might even be older.
Where did the tree of life originate?
The Acadians believe that pine trees are the tree of life, given that they do not die. Ancient Egypt, on the other hand, believes that the Tree of Life is the actual embodiment of life - the branches above being the heavens and the roots representing death. We also have origin stories from various religions, the most famous being the Christian belief of the tree of life which is guarded by angels. The Celtic Druids also place high importance to the tree, making it their center when settling in lands.
Why is it called the tree of life?
If you look at it from a scientific and academic level, a regular tree has a lot of uses. It provides shade and protection from the elements, is a source of oxygen, bears fruits for sustenance, and more. Any tree at this point can be called a Tree of Life and that is how trees are special, no matter what tree it is.
What are the spiritual meanings of the Tree of Life?
There are meanings to the symbolism behind the Tree of Life. It is varied at best and very spiritual as we will read below.
Balance and Harmony
Did you ever wonder why trees are important in the world? It is not just because of the mentioned reasons in the previous section. It is the great equalizer of nature. Nature can be destructive in the absence of trees and they are needed to provide the right balance. This is symbolic of the balance that it brings to the world and the balance that you should emulate.
With harmony, it is evident due to how the tree looks. All of the elements that make up the tree work in sync to function properly. The same should go with how we are towards other people. We can all coexist in one world regardless of our differences in life.
Sky and Ground
You see tall trees reach great heights, like the redwoods around California or the trees in the Amazon, right? Trees are representative that no matter how tall they may grow, they are still firmly planted on the ground.
Same as how we should be as people. We all are goal-driven and can "grow" and improve. This is a reminder that no matter how much we achieve in life, we should never forget where we came from and what our roots are.
Heaven and Earth
Same with the concept of Sky and Ground and that of the Ancient Egyptians beliefs, there is a certain duality with our existence. We can reach the heavens as far as our minds can muster. But we also are reminded where we are rooted and that we will always have a home on the earth.
Mind and Body
You heard of the saying, "the mind is a terrible thing to waste?" That is true! We as humans have the immense possibility to expand our minds like no other. We are capable of complex things like equations and technological improvements, while also paired with a heightened level of understanding with everything around us. I can't even begin to comprehend the possibilities of the human mind!
And with that, we should also be mindful of our bodies. It should always be strong to support the mind's endless reach, just like the trunk of a tree.
Rebirth, Transformation, Union, and Fertility
A tree will never be truly dead if its roots are firmly planted on proper ground. The change in seasons as well will show leaves changing color and falling, only to be replaced with new, unique, and beautiful leaves. This is a testament to how rebirth is real and possible in such a lovely symbol. This is how the idiom "turning over a new leaf" originated.
It is also transformative by nature given that no tree grows the same way twice. There will be subtle differences in each stage of transformation, much like how a person is in real life.
With the tree's branches interlocked and rooted towards the trunk, this symbolizes the union of every living thing on Earth.
A tree is also symbolic of fertility in terms of trees that bear fruit. Like women by default can bear children, trees can grow fruits that will give sustenance to all living things. The cycle then perpetuates from seed to fruit and back again. And the color green is an indication of fertility and vitality.
Wisdom, Power, and Heritage
Oh, you think that the elephant is wise just because it eats peanuts? I'd better stop you there because the granddaddy of all knowledge is none other than the tree. In the book of Genesis, God places the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the Garden of Eden, where the tree of life stands as a symbol of God's life-giving presence and the fullness of eternal life available in God. Since then, the longevity and fortitude of the tree is a testament to its wisdom.
Growth and Strength
The tree, as it stands, is a symbol of growth and strength. Being grounded to the earth gives that stability to withstand anything mother nature whips it.
Family and Interconnectedness
This is the reason why we have the term "Family Tree." I do remember back when I was a kid and one of my cousins had a project at school where she needed to illustrate a simple family tree with pictures. Our family is big and she had difficulty doing so since we were a lot. Good thing she didn't need to link our great-greats in.
In line with my short story, the close-knit ties towards that side of my family are a show of how interconnected we all are. This is not just limited to family - we also have the "six degrees of separation" where no matter how far anyone is from anyone else in life regardless if they never met, there will always be a connecting thread.
The tree has all that, connecting nodes towards one another and illustrating that we are all family.
What is the tree of life in Norse, Celtic, and Germanic paganism mythology and religion?
In Irish folklore, the Tree of Life is known as Crann Bethadh. The Celtic practice was that when they settled on certain lands and started a community, they would always plant a tree at the center. The tree being planted is always an oak tree. That is where the ancient Druids gather to meet and also provide shelter and a source of fuel for fires and medicinal uses. Druids even believe that the Crann Bethadh is also a sort of spiritual doorway where they could communicate with the spirits and elements. It is so important to them that it is a crime to chop down the Crann Bethadh but is an achievement when you do it on someone else’s settlement and a sign of victory.
Legend of Treochair
This great Irish story is about a giant named Treochair (translated to “three sprouts”), who approached a certain king and brought with him a branch of a tree that bore several varieties of fruits from different plants. He then provided this to the king by shaking the branch. After consuming the fruits, the seeds were then planted at the four corners of Ireland and the center. This is what became the Five Guardian Trees.
Yggdrasil Odin's Tree
The Norse belief of life within our realm and beyond lies with a big tree named Yggdrasil. Legend has it that this tree holds all nine realms of the universe and that without it, all the realms will cease to exist. It is described as a gargantuan ever-green ash tree and is being taken care of by Odin, one of the primary Norse gods and father to Thor, God of Thunder.
Viking Settlement Symbol
Similar to how the ancient Celtic Druids place importance on their trees, the Vikings also hold trees high up in that regard. Why is that? Vikings are Norsemen. And what do Norsemen believe? Yggdrasil, of course! This is why every time Vikings settle on certain lands, they also plant a tree to remind them of the importance that Yggdrasil has with their life and beliefs.
What does the tree of life symbolize in different cultures?
As we explained earlier, the history of the Tree of Life is rooted within different religions and cultures. It is important for each and we will discuss it more in the following sections.
What is the Assyrian Tree of Life?
To the Assyrians or part of Mesopotamia back then, their tree of life does not even look like your average tree. It consists of crisscrossed nodes and is being guarded by mythical figures and kings who existed then.
The reason why it is being well guarded is due to it being a symbol of power and dominant authority. With the Sumerians, it is the same. The story behind it is that Inanna or Ishtar, goddess of fertility, found a tree that was uprooted by a river and wanted to make a throne and other things with the wood of that willow tree. However, a serpent made a home within the tree. To help slay the giant snake, she called on Gilgamesh (yes, that guy from the Epic of Gilgamesh) who is a strong warrior, and slew that serpent for her.
What does the Tree of Life (Bodhi or Bo Tree) mean in Buddhism?
In Buddhism, their Tree of Life is a fig tree called the Bo Tree or the Bodhi Tree. A certain guy named Siddharta Gautama achieved enlightenment while sitting under this tree. That guy ended up being the famous Buddhist figure, Buddha. That is how the Bodhi Tree is representative of life and enlightenment to Buddhists.
What does the Egyptian tree of life mean?
If you were reading this article early on, we touched on the subject of the Tree of Life belief in ancient Egypt. They believe that the tree is representative of both life and death, heaven and the underworld, plenty and the void. That leaves the main body of the tree as the center of the universe.
Osiris, a god from the ancient Egyptian mythological cadre, is a dual god - fertility and death. Their Tree of Life is closely associated with Osiris as the god has both qualities described on the tree. Which is in Egypt, if you see the designs of the Tree of Life jewelry there, it will also include Osiris.
African belief in the tree of life
In history books, Africa has a lot of upside-down-looking trees. By upside-down, it looks like the roots are in the place where the tree branches should be because the actual branches are less thick and more vascular. This tree is called the Baobab tree. The Baobab tree surprisingly survives in the arid African climate and can bear fruit too! This is why Africans hold this tree in high regard and is considered their tree of life.
What does the tree of life mean in Islam?
There is a tree in Islamic belief called the Tree of Immortality, which is also mentioned in the Quran. It is kind of like the Tree of Life that is found in Biblical texts and is minor in impact with the Quran. Nonetheless, it is an important symbol in Muslim art and architecture and has endured up to this day.
This tree in the Quran is a combination of more than one tree - there is the Zaguum, which is the Infernal Tree or the Tree of Hell, The Lote-Tree which is found in the Uttermost Boundary, and the Tree of Immortality itself, which is found on the Garden of Eden.
What does the Jewish tree of life mean?
The Etz Chaim or the Tree of Life is found in the Torah and has its origins the same as that of the Book of Genesis. It is also mentioned in the Jewish Kabbalah teachings in the Sefer Yetzira or the Book of Creation. The Kabbalistic belief is more at home with precision in terms of sacred geometry concepts, which they incorporate with the Tree of Life concepts with about the jewelry designs. For the Jews, the tree symbolizes unity and joy.
What does the Hindu tree of life mean?
In the Sanatana Dharma or one of the sacred books of Hinduism, it is mentioned that the Tree of Life is known as Kalpavriksha Kalpavruksham or the World Tree. For the Hindu people, the tree is sacred as it gives off a mesmerizing aura and is resplendent in gold. It is known that the tree provides wish fulfillment to those who give offerings and pray the proper chants. Divine beings called the Gandharvas guard the tree. It was said that the tree was located on Earth for a while but was taken back by the king of the gods, Indra as humans are misusing the tree’s wish-fulfillment properties to give ill and bad things.
The origin of the tree within their beliefs came from the story of the Samudra Manthan or the “churning of the ocean of milk.” Gods and demi-gods, after endless wars, agreed to churn the universe to create life and out of that churning process came wondrous entities, including the Kalpavriksha.
What is the tree of life symbol in Christianity?
In the Christian belief, Earth had a very beautiful and sprawling garden in existence called Eden. And in that garden laid two trees - The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve, the first man and woman were living within the garden where God has blessed them with safety and enough sustenance to live. They were both instructed not to eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil but instead were to eat from the Tree of Life. That was all and well until the serpent came, which was believed to be a manifestation of Satan. The serpent then convinced Eve, who in turn convinced Adam to eat from the forbidden tree. There they realized their nakedness and God was so angry that they were forbidden to eat from the Tree of Life and subsequently cast out of the Garden of Eden and thus unable to return as a flaming sword is stuck by the entrance. The Tree of Life was mentioned to bestow those who eat its fruit, eternal life.
There may have been knowledge given with the forbidden tree but as God would like to think that Adam and Eve would have chosen to go to the Tree of Life instead. This mention, among other subsequent mentions within the Bible, places the Tree of Life as an ever-giving and wise entity that will never be achieved ever again. However, jewelers might concur as the Tree of Life symbol is everywhere and wearers still believe in the blessings it brings to everyone.
What is the tree of life mean for the Turks?
Like the Nazar boncugu or the Evil Eye amulet, the tree of life is a central symbol in Turkish culture. The Tree of Life is also rooted in ancient Turkish myths. For them, the tree represents growth and rebirth. There is also the element of Tengrism, which means the religion and belief of Sky Gods, mostly attributed to early Turkish shamanism.
The shamans believe that the roots of a tree flow to the middle of the Earth, where it meets with the North Star that situates itself in the middle of the sky. The branches are believed to be pathways between Earth and the ethereal planes of the universe. For them, the tree also symbolizes ascension towards the sky and is illustrated more like a ladder, closer in design to the Assyrian Tree of Life, than an actual tree.
Native American Tree of Life
Native American tribes are known to be deeply intertwined with spirits and nature. That being said, trees are greatly important for them and they have a lot of stories to tell about them. One of them is the Natchez Indians that were last situated in Ancient Mississippi and built Earth mounds. Within their tribe, they believed in the existence of a cedar tree (a very important type of tree for them, especially Red Cedar) that is connected to the heavens and the underworld. Does this sound familiar to you? If yes, this is because it is closer to the Ancient Egyptian belief of the Tree of Life.
Another story would be the tree behind a giant turtle’s back. Legend has it that a giant tree-bearing fruit exists and a pregnant woman was reaching for some of its fruit when she fell. Earth, in this story, was solely made of water so our heroine in the story almost drowned but was saved by a giant turtle and laid on its back with some mud to keep her from slipping. As the woman has a piece of wood from the giant tree on her hand, she decided to plant that bark in the mud and that decision led to the formation of what is now the Earth.
There is also Iroquis legend referencing a “tree of peace” where warring tribes and other outsiders called a truce and a proposal of peace by way of planting a tree where it can grow as high as the sky and its leaves and branches spread out across the Earth. From there, they can all gather and talk about peace.
World Tree in China
Chinese belief implies they also have a World Tree. They have more than one world tree! The commonly depicted one is the design where a phoenix is perched and a dragon lays sleeping around the base of the tree. The phoenix is a symbol of rebirth while the dragon means immortality.
What does the tree of life mean in jewelry?
Unlike most specialized jewelry like the Evil Eye jewelry or the Hamsa Hand, the Tree of Life is widely and positively accepted by all. Anyone can wear it without fear of religious judgment or backlash. The symbol has a special meaning to anyone. But for whatever reason you have in wearing the Tree of Life jewelry is up to you. Even if you would only wear it just because it looks good or trendy.
Whatever stage you are in life, might it be a major change in your life, like reaching adulthood, graduation, getting married, or losing a loved one, the Tree of Life jewelry is highly appropriate. These stages in life signify growth, wisdom, and the interconnectedness of life and death, which the Tree of Life all has.
The Tree of Life jewelry is not just simply a motif with a tree inside a circle. Various jewelers have turned the piece into ornate art and the design varied but maintained the same intention and meaning. Regardless of what form it takes, the Tree of Life holds a special place to everyone's belief or it may not. It is really up to the wearer.
What is the available tree of life jewelry?
As with other specialized jewelry, the Tree of Life is also available in many forms. We will talk about each one in detail right now!
Tree of life earrings
Tree of life earrings is conspicuous and delightful however the sole drawback is that you simply won’t be able to see them. If the aim of sporting a bit of tree of life jewelry is a fashion statement, you would wish to wear it wherever you'll be able to see it. Unless you are looking at a mirror.
Tree of life necklace
Tree of life pendants are the popular choice as they appear fashionable with their excellent design. Available in an exceeding range of designs, from bohemian to classic to minimalist, there’s one thing for everybody.
Tree of life bracelet
Tree of life bracelets lean towards the bohemian style and can be paired casually. Even men can wear it and look stylish. These can also be combined with a red string bracelet that acts as a protective piece of jewelry.
Tree of life ring
Tree of life ring designs are unique and quite creative, from minimalist designs to the most intricate. These mostly come in the form of signet rings with the Tree of Life as a design. The best thing is you can see it on you and it reminds you what your connection is with the Tree of Life.
Tree of life anklet or ankle bracelet
Tree of life anklets are also bohemian in feel and would go well with casual outfitting. This piece of Tree of Life jewelry will give you a sense of being carefree like the branches and leaves whilst being deeply rooted at the same time.
Tips before buying tree of life jewelry
If you ask anyone, it is not a big deal and there is not much special consideration before choosing a design for your Tree of Life jewelry. These tips below are more of a personal choice than anything else.
- Choose a tree of life jewelry style
- Pick a metal or gemstone
- Add an engraved message, event, name, or date
- Add stones to represent birthstones and loved ones who have passed on
- Wear it every day as a reminder of how important family is in your life
The Tree of Life jewelry, along with the Hamsa Hand and the Evil Eye jewelry has placed its identity to the world in its emergence. The stories behind its genesis alone are both far and wide and very interesting.
In conclusion to this piece, we would love to see anyone wear the Tree of Life jewelry - young, old, regardless of gender, race, and creed. You may check out our store for our available Tree of Life pieces. The Tree of Life symbolizes unity and that we all are one and come from one. So let us get connected and wear one now!