The Tree of Life is a towering symbol in world iconography – appearing across mythology, science and philosophy since the earliest recordings of civilization. Depicting universal interconnectedness and interdependence, the Tree of Life remains a powerful reminder that our own health and happiness are inextricably tied with the happiness of all living beings.
Tree of Life Symbolism:
- The Tree of Life is present in cultures around the world – known in various myths as the Cosmic Tree, the Holy Tree, or the World Tree.
- The Tree of Life is historically associated with qualities such as wisdom, strength, protection, growth, beauty and abundance.
- The overall interconnected system of roots, trunk and branches mirrors the human system of body, psyche and spirit.
- The many leaves can be thought to represent the uniqueness of all earthly creations, including ourselves; we are all different shapes, colors and textures, yet the Tree of Life reminds us that we can coexist peacefully.
- The numerous branches can also represent our human need for expression and growth in arts, sciences and spiritual understanding. The branches also symbolize our potential to improve and expand the human condition through compassionate action (literally reaching out our hands and arms).
- In modern psychology the Tree of Life is sometimes used to illustrate a healthy model for the positive development of the self – the tree is one of the only life forms on earth that grows its entire existence, an ideal that encourages us to keep rising.
- In many spiritual traditions the Tree of Life plays an important role in creation stories, with different worlds or deities often springing from the tree’s being in the form of fruit or seeds.
- In Buddhism the Bodhi Tree is an important symbol of knowledge and enlightenment, serving as the root of wisdom from which Buddha discovered ultimate truths about the universe (while meditating beneath the tree’s shelter).
- In biological and zoological studies, the Tree of Life is informally referred to as a linear model for evolutionary formation of our planet’s bio system, with all expansion of life originating from a root source or system.
- The Tree of Life remains a popular symbol in art and philosophy because of its omnipresent influence on a vast number of cultures. Many recent notable books, films and works of literature have embraced the Tree of Life as a central character, motif or theme upon which the growth of the individual is measured and played out.