Tree of Life Symbolism: 11 Fascinating Facts About this Symbol
Updated: Nov 6, 2021
One of the very first symbols I became aware of when I started exploring spirituality was the Tree of Life. It resonates deeply with me because of my innate connection with trees. I’ve used the symbol for my business logo as well and it symbolizes the interconnectedness of all that is Mother Nature and the universe.
The Tree of Life shows the branches reaching upwards to the s kies and heavens, while the roots are shown digging deep down into the earth. This depiction symbolizes the connection between our physical and spiritual realm.
The more I explored the sacred Tree of Life, the more fascinated I became about this deeply spiritual symbol. Read on as I share 11fascinating facts about the Tree of Life and discover why its symbolism is still so strong and relevant today.
1. The Family Connection
We’re all familiar with the “family tree” but how does this relate to the Tree of Life? If you look at how the branches are laid out, it’s similar to showing the connection between different family members on the family tree.
The roots indicate a shared and connected link with our past generation as well as our future generations. A tree can be seen as an representation of the growth of a family and the interconnectedness between all generations.
2. The Cycle of Life
The Tree of Life represents both death and rebirth. With every season, a tree undergoes a transformation. In winter, it loses its leaves and enters a period of hibernation which for many means a form of death. But, as spring approaches, new leaves emerge and this equates to rebirth.
This cycle of life demonstrates that we all undergo death and rebirth on a spiritual level and that’s it’s a natural process, not to be feared. When we understand that transformation is required in order for us to grow, just like a tree, then we can face the challenges with courage.
3. A Representation of Courage
I always say to my clients, ‘If a tree can do it, so can you!” Think of how a tree starts its life out as a tiny, little seed. Through determination and a soul understanding, the seed sprouts and pushes through the darkness of the soil to reach the light of the sun.
We, as human beings, all have the same determination and strength to grow from the darkness into the light. We simply need to acknowledge we have the courage. The Tree of Life represents this courage and tells us we have the innate wisdom and determination required to develop mind, body, and soul while accepting our own uniqueness and beauty. The tree never questions any of this, so why should you?
4. A Symbol for Many Religions, Myths, and Philosophies
The Tree of Life is represented in many religions, myths, and philosophies. In the Bible, it’s depicted as the eternal source of life while it appears as the “Tree of Immortality” in the Quran. In Chinese mythology, the Tree of Life is represented by a phoenix and a dragon.
n Buddhism, the Bodhi Tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment is a depiction of the Tree of Life. In Turkic mythology, the Tree of Life is a central symbol often seen woven into carpets. In Kabbalah, the Tree of Life is a central symbol of Jewish mysticism.
5. The Icon for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park
I bet you didn’t expect this one! But, yes, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park uses the Tree of Life as its icon. It has 8,000 branches and over 102,000 leaves. Pretty impressive! Three hundred animals are carved into the base of the tree and it’s so strongly constructed that it won’t get blown away during a hurricane. Now, you know where to go to the next time there’s a hurricane threatening your state!
The tree is tall too, reaching the sky at 145 feet tall (well, not quite but I think you know where I’m going with this!) It took over 18 months to build and while it’s man-made there are over 4 million actual living plants growing in the Animal Kingdom Park.
6. Gatekeeper of the Celtic Underworld
In Celtic mythology, the Celt worshipped the tree for its spiritual connection with ancestors and family as well as their gods and goddesses. In Celtic tradition, the Tree of Life represents the afterlife and the interconnection between heaven and earth.
Honored as the sacred tree, the Tree of Life represents the Celtic belief that the tree is their ancestor and considered the gatekeeper to the Celtic Underworld.
7. The History of the Tree of Life Goes Way Back
The Tree of Life symbol is nothing new and has been used since ancient times. The oldest example of this symbol was possibly the one excavated in Turkey which dates back to 7 000 BC. The Acadians, descendants of the 17th and 18th-century French settlers, used the Tree of Life symbol as far back as 3 000 BC.
This symbol was also found in Ancient Egypt, Urartu, and Ancient Iran. The origin of the Tree of Life has never been found but it’s obvious it’s not something new cropping up in the New Age!
8. The Tree of Life is a Popular Design in Jewelry
Because the symbology of the Tree of Life holds so many meanings and is a representation of many religions and spirituality, its design is popular on many jewelry pieces. Wearers of the symbol give the following reasons for wearing it:
It takes them back to nature
It gives them courage
It’s a representation of new beginnings
It gives meaning to the saying, “As above, so below. As below, so above.”
The circle around the Tree of Life represents connectivity, another reason for people seeking out this design for their necklace or bracelet.
9. Bob Dylan Wrote of the Tree of Life
Some people know how to weave words and turn them into magic. Bob Dylan did exactly that with the following words:
“The tree of life is growing where the spirit never dies, and the bright light of salvation shines in dark and empty skies.”- Bob Dylan
10. The Coconut Tree as the Tree of Life
We can argue forever about which tree should represent the Tree of Life and every culture has its own. But, who would have thought the coconut tree would have been considered the Tree of Life to some? Well, it’s an extremely versatile plant being able to provide sustenance through the milk and flesh of its coconut.
But, you can also make oil, wax, soap, clothing, and furniture from the coconut tree. So I guess if I was stuck on an island with a coconut tree I would also soon marvel at its life-giving properties and give it the deserving name as the Tree of Life.
11. The Meaning of Leaves, Branches, Trunk, and Roots
The Tree of Life is clearly depicted by the image of the tree which is made up of the leaves, branches, trunk, and roots. Each part of the tree holds its own significant meaning which enhances the symbology of the Tree of Life:
Leaves: Every leaf is unique and comes in different shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. This is a representation of all that is unique and special in every living and non-living being. However, despite these differences, the leaves also represent the community and how we are all connected.
Branches: With their expansive and “reaching out” features, the branch represents the human need to grow, expand, and develop their own consciousness. The branches also represent our arms and hands and how we can use these to express our compassion and love to others.
Trunk: The solid trunk is what gives the tree strength and it depicts the strength each and every one of us possesses within us. It also represents a place to which we can return, knowing it's always there no matter how far we stray.
Roots: The roots are the anchor of the tree while providing it with nourishment from the ground. The same applies to us as we seek grounding and nourishment through our religion and spirituality.
5 Ways to Use the Tree of Life Symbol
There are many ways through which you can use the Tree of Life symbol in your own life. Here are some great ideas.
You could choose to wear the Tree of Life symbol on a necklace such as this one or have it on a bracelet. Other pieces of jewelry using this design include earrings and rings.
I love this T-shirt for men with the Tree of Life design on the front.
For the women, here's a T-shirt you can wear to yoga or just about anywhere with the traditional Tree of Life design printed on it.
This Tree of Life wall decor is made with wood and would look beautiful on any wall in the home or office.
This beautiful journal is the perfect book for capturing all your reflective journaling!
With its deep meanings, the Tree of Life symbol can bring you a sense of grounding, growth, and transformation. It's an acknowledgment that we’re all interconnected which includes the connection between earth and heaven.
No one tree represents this symbol – all trees are the Tree of Life. Be it the pipal tree or the Baobab, the Acacia or the Yew tree, the Tree of Life symbology is deep and meaningful. And, fascinating!
PS: Read my blog on "Tree Symbolism: 8 Trees and Their Spiritual Meanings" to find out more about trees and their significance for anyone embarking on a spiritual journey.