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Trees and Spirituality: Using Trees to Help Us Through Our Journey of Life

Updated: Jan 9

Trees are magnificent entities. Not only through their pure beauty but also through the remarkable healing and transformative energies they send out. Ever since being a child, I have felt a strong connection with trees and have always wanted to touch them, hug them, and play imaginary games as I sat high up in their canopies.

As I got older, I would take refuge in their shade and touch their beautiful trunks so that I could still benefit from their energies. I take comfort from all the trees planted in my garden – the minute I step into my garden I feel as if an invisible arm is surrounding me in a huge hug, assuring me that I am safe and sheltered. That’s how amazing the energies of trees are!

Trees and Spirituality: The Tree of Life

For centuries, trees have been worshipped for their ancient wisdom. Trees were recognized as symbols of power, fertility, and renewal. The Tree of Life symbol is venerated in many cultures and religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, and Celtic.

The core symbolism of the Tree of Life is the reflection of our connection with all that is the afterlife. It's the connection to our ancestral roots and all that is divinity.

In Christianity, the tree is connected with Adam and Eve and we all know what happened there! But, it's also known as the tree of eternal life and is a representation of love and the wisdom of God.

The Celtic culture venerated the tree as the gateway to the spiritual world. They saw these magnificent entities as gateways to all that was spiritual, believing they connected both the lower and upper world. The roots go down deep below while the branches reach out up above.

In the Celtic culture, trees are sacred and are considered the home of deities or nature spirits. Different trees have different meanings and are worshipped accordingly.

In Buddhism, it's known that Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. This tree is now revered as the tree of life which represents existence and enlightenment.

For many people, in times gone by and today, trees represent the following:

  • Strength and steadfastness

  • Connection with all that is, above and below

  • Peace and harmony

  • The circle of life and rebirth

Wearing pendants representing the Tree of Life is one way of helping you connect your soul with trees.

Using Trees for Healing

Throughout ancient times, people have turned to trees to help them heal, connect with their spirituality, or even for their traditional medicinal properties. Here's a list of some of the trees known to be worshipped for their sacredness or to be used for their healing properties:

  • Oak: Known for its huge stature, many would turn to this tree when searching for steadfastness. It was often known as the sacred tree of the weather gods.

  • Baobab: This tree has been revered for centuries and holds great spiritual significance in Africa and Australia. it's believed to be the gateway to the afterlife. This tree is often known as the Tree of Life because of its ability to store huge quantities of water.

  • Willow: In Celtic nations, this tree was used to make harps. In Greek culture, folklore talks about the goddesses, Artemis, and Hera being connected to this tree. The willow was revered for its feminine qualities and is often associated with the moon.

  • Yew: This tree is considered one of the most magical spiritual trees. The ancient Greek culture held it sacred as it was considered the protector of the soul. This belief is held by many other cultures and Yew trees were planted at burial sites for this very reason. In Nordic mythology, it's believed Odin hung himself for nine days from the Yew.

  • Black Elder: The elder was grown in gardens to bring good fortune and to offer protection. It's also known for its healing, and medicinal properties and the flowers are used to make tea for treating sinus problems. The berries are known for their anti-viral properties.

These are only a few of the trees worshipped for their many special qualities. I encourage you to explore further and discover for yourself how special these plants are. You may enjoy reading Suzanne Simard's "Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest" a fascinating story as she talks about her journey into the intimate world of trees.

How I Use Trees to Help Me and Others Heal

I trained as an environmental educator many years ago. My passion for all things natural encouraged me to study in the field of nature conservation and my practical training included teaching children about nature.

My first job was in the forests of Tsitsikamma. I would take groups of school children into these forests and the first thing I would ask them to do was to pick a tree and hug it. With much giggling, the children would run around finding their "favorite" tree. It didn't take long for the children to quieten, as they hugged and connected with their tree.

With teenagers, there would be much sniggering but I insisted. "Go and find a tree you like. Then hug it", I would instruct them, ignoring their raised eyebrows. Trees weaved their magic, as I knew they would, and soon my group of teenagers would be silent as their melted into their trees.

I learned to use trees to calm down hyperactive children, angry teenagers, and even skeptical adults. My niece, from a very young age, instinctively knew to climb the grand old tree that grew on our family farm whenever she was hurting, feeling sad, or mad. When life got tough on the ground, up she would scramble. And, we would often find her nestled deep into the branches of this tree.

That's the pure and wonderful magic of trees! Healing through nature...

When I started as a healer and life coach, I gave every new client a tree to take home. I called them the "Journey Tree" and I encouraged my clients to nurture and love their trees. After all, this was the symbolism of their journey through life, and to this day, many of my past clients share pictures of their "Journey Tree" and how they've grown (both themselves and their trees).

I read an interesting analogy the other day about trees and our own personal growth. To measure our growth, imagine each growth phase of a tree is a symbol of our own personal growth.

Each new ring on a tree is a representation of our own cycle of growth through our own journey. As trees grow so do we. As trees grow more majestic and grand, or willowy and graceful, no matter what the outer environment does, so do we.

As long as we open ourselves to transformation and embrace it, we will grow. Change is unavoidable, it’s going to happen. The trick is to find ways of embracing it so that we come through it, transformed.

Final Thoughts

Take lessons from trees. Watch them embrace the changes of seasons. Learn from them. Allow yourself to take comfort and strength from them. Hug them. Touch them. Sit quietly in their shade and listen to their leaves gently rustling in the wind.

As you travel through your journey of life, know always that you are surrounded by love, support, and protection which are the amazing energies of trees!

This post was originally published on January 10th, 2021, and updated on June 1st, 2022.

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