"In Wonders We Sail, Questing for the Answers in Veil"

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Buddha Under The Bodhi Tree
The tree is one of mankind's most potent symbols. It is the embodiment of life, the point of union of the three realms (heaven, earth and water), and a world axis around which the entire universe is organized. Ancient peoples widely believed the tree to be infused with an abundance of divine creative energy (often personalized in the form of supernatural creatures) which could be consciously harnessed by the adept, allowing access to other states of being. Forests came to symbolize mystery and transformation, and were home to sorcerers and enchanters.

Tree worship was widespread in nearly all parts of the globe where the climate was favorable to tree growth. Some tree symbols are virtually worldwide. For example, evergreens universally stand for longevity and immortality, while deciduous trees represent regeneration and rebirth: in their own way, both serve to reassure men and women of their own continuing existence.However, in general, individual species acquired their own, culture-specific significance. The oak was revered by the Celtic and Norse peoples, while in ancient Greece the elder was considered sacred to Pan, the ivy to Bacchus, the bay to Apollo, the laurel to Dionysus. In Egypt the tamarisk was sacred to Osiris. In ancient China, trees in the vicinity of tombs or temples were protected as it was believed that the spirits of the dead and of the gods resided in them. 

Many trees were believed to have healing properties because they symbolized specific illnesses. Thus, since the aspen trembles in the wind, it was used in the treatment of fevers. Hazel was thought to possess magical powers, and was used for water divining and to make the magician's wand. Wood itself also carried symbolic meaning and was thought in the Middle East and India to represent the prima materia, the fundamental material from which all things were made.

The Palm Tree

Tall with radiating foliage, the palm tree suggests the sun and therefore came to represent fame, victory and righteousness. Palm leaves were funerary emblems symbolizing the afterlife.

The Pine Cone

With its flame-like shape and erect appearance on the tree, the pine cone was for the Greeks a sign of masculinity. The Romans held it to be a symbol of purity, sacred to Venus.

The Christmas Tree

In the winter solstice celebrations of Scandinavian and other North European peoples, the decorated evergreen symbolizes the life-force that persists even in the dead months of the year.

The Forest

The symbolic interpretation of the forest is ancient, dating back to the time when landscapes were heavily wooded and clearance for agriculture was an arduous task. The forest is a place of darkness, chaos and uncertainty, in contrast to the order and openness of cultivated land. To those who show no fear, however, it may be a place of peace and refuge. Psychologically, it is a symbol of the unconscious, where there are secrets to be discovered and perhaps dark emotions and memories to be faced.

The Tree Of Life

Standing at the center of Paradise, the Tree of Life is a representation of perfect harmony. The twelve (sometimes ten) fruit in the branches are the rewards of spiritual growth - among these are wisdom, love, truth and beauty. The fruits are manifestations of the sun. Immortality is given to those who eat them, or drink an essence extracted from the tree itself.

The World Tree

With its roots around the earth and its branches in the heavens, the World Tree symbolizes the potential ascent of humankind from the dense realm of matter to the rarefied reaches of the spirit. A notable version of this symbol is Yggdrasil, the Scandinavian Cosmic Tree, from which the Nordic god Odin hung and suffered for nine days and nights.

The Inverted Tree

The Inverted Tree has its roots in the spiritual world and grows down towards the Earth. It symbolizes the creative power of the spirit, as well as the belief that human life is the descent of spirit into bodily form. This symbol was used by magicians: the example here is a Kabbalistic Tree of Life showing the sephiroth -  the ten aspects of God.

Two Trees One Root

The esoteric traditions teach that the differences of the physical world stem from an original state of oneness. The aspirant on the spiritual path must gather together the fragmented pieces of his or her own true nature. The two trunks from one root show duality emerging from unity, yet retaining their oneness in the reality that underlies appearances.

Tree As Woman

Outwardly this image symbolizes the Mother Earth, the nurturing feminine principle. But inwardly it is also the invisible life-force slumbering within the Earth until inseminated by the masculine energy of the wind, rain and sun.

Tree of Knowledge

This is a dualistic symbol, embodying the knowledge of good and evil. Tempted to taste the fruit, Adam and Eve were doomed to the world of opposites. In addition to its familiar role as Tempter, the serpent entwined around the tree is an ancient mystical symbol of earth energy rising. The Tree of Knowledge is also depicted as a vine.

Tree as Man

This is one of the most powerful fertility symbols, representing the male energy which impregnates the earth with life but is itself subject to the eternal cycle of decay and renewal. Sometimes referred to as the Green Man, the symbol recurs across Western cultures, appearing as various figures from the god Pan to Herne the blunter.

Specific Trees

Different species of tree carry their own symbolic meaning in both Eastern and Western cultures. For the Celts and pre-Celtic Druids, the oak represented both divinity and the masculine principle, while for the Romans it was the emblem of Jupiter, lord of thunder. The fig tree was a Buddist symbol of enlightenment. In Chinese Taoist tradition, the peach tree stood for immortality.

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