The tree is perhaps our mightiest ancestor, a supreme role model of wisdom, compassion and patience. They are cornerstones to the ecosystem, tending to the soil, climate, oxygen and waters. They host and support a vast pageantry of organisms, and eventually give themselves back to the soil. Even as decaying logs, they are one of the richest ecosystems. Through their seasonal transformations, they teach the dance of the elements and laws of nature. But we need to be quiet enough to appreciate this.
Our ancestors worldwide recognized the divinity in trees. They lived among them, witnessing their ways. They worshipped them, as our indigenous peoples still do.
We see this in their role as protagonists of myth and folklore. Egypt hailed the tree of life. The Kabbalah has its Tree of Life. The Nordics have the Yggdrasil. The Bible tells of the burning bush and Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Symbolically, the tree can represent the human spine. It also shares the form and functions of our lungs; trees carry out the other half of our breath cycle. The tree can also be seen as the world axis, a bridge between two worlds with branches sprawling to the heavens and roots burrowing into the underworld.
In this depiction, the Tree of Life carries the chakras or 7 major energy centers. Each one contains a portal to elements of the soul’s journey. Throughout the image are depictions of the cycles of life, birth, death, evolution and continuation. I leave it to you to explore the symbols and reflect on their personal significance.
The preparation sketch, mapping the tree.