Throughout history, the concept Tree of Life has been used in a spiritual and religious context; it even has deep roots in various mythologies. In order to talk about whether it’s good or bad we first need to understand the symbol and its meaning.
While it has various meanings in cultures and religions, the crux of it all is that the symbol represents that all the things are interconnected to one another in this universe.[toc]
The symbol, which depicts a tree with sprawling branches and roots contained in a circle, dates back to ancient times. It has links to philosophy, spirituality, and religion.
The earliest known examples of this symbol were found in Domuztepe excavations (modern Turkey) and dated back to 7000 BC.
It would be unfair to categorize Tree of Life to a single definition as it incorporates several things such as
- Representation of Growth
A tree symbolises strength and growth and having deep roots, it can weather any storm and keeps on growing. The journey of growth that starts from seed to full-grown tree, is similar to humans. The growth is also linked to growth in terms of knowledge and the experiences one gains in Life.
As it talks about a single tree, it symbolizes an individual human and his personal growth. Like every tree, every human is also unique and has their journeys carved out for them in destiny.
The branches of trees can be referred to as families and how they grow and expand as time passes by. It also gives a chance to see one’s connections with his family and ancestors.
The tree can easily be regarded as a symbol of peace and calm, and human nature is such that it feels at peace in a natural environment. A tall tree standing with breeze fluttering its leaves makes for a relaxing presence.
The evolution of human beings is also represented through the symbol of the Tree of Life. The circle around the Tree represents the universe, and the tree itself represents the existing life on the planet.
More about meanings
Tree of Life in Religions and Civilizations
The idea of Tree of Life has somehow been part of or mentioned in all major religions and civilizations throughout the course. Different theories and mythologies have separate meanings associated with it.
Let us discuss when and where this concept has been discussed and in what context in history, one by one.
The most prominent religion in the world has mentioned Tree of Life in its Holy book “The Bible” in the Book of Genesis. In Christianity, it is believed that the tree is present in the Garden of Eden and is believed to be the source of eternal life.
The symbol has various meanings according to religious experts, while the Mormons believe it to represent love.
The Catholics, on the other hand, believe it as humanity which is free of sin and corruption. It is also believed that the tree has healing properties.
In Judaism, it is believed that the Tree nourishes and sustains Life. The Jews believe that God created a garden where different kinds of plants were planted, which bore fruits, and the Tree of Life is believed to be at the center of the garden.
The Tree of Life has a great significance in Buddhism and is known as the Bhodi-tree. It is also referred to as The Tree of Enlightenment as it is believed that it was under this tree that Buddha sat and reached enlightenment, thus making it an extremely sacred symbol in Buddhism.
The concept has great prominence in Celtic beliefs as they believed that trees had power because it provided them with food, shelter, and warmth.
The Celts had a different belief for each part of the Tree and believed that roots, trunk, and branches represented the “the other world,” mortal world, and the heavens, respectively.
The most profound meaning can be found in the Baha’i belief system as they believe that the manifestation of God takes place through the symbol.
The founder of the Baha’i faith is considered as Tree of Life, which shows the significance of the symbol in the Baha’i community.
It’s a myth in Iranian traditions of two trees being the ancestors of all living creatures and have been referred to as the Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life for the Egyptians was the acacia tree. It was believed that the first-ever couple, Isis and Osiris, emerged from this tree.
Similarly, it has dual meaning as the symbol of death as well as of abundance. They believed that the roots represented the underworld, trunk as the symbolic center of the universe, and branches representing heaven.
The concept is also rooted in African culture. The baobab tree (bottle tree) is symbolized as the Tree of Life.
Due to the harsh climatic conditions of Africa, this tree can still store an ample amount of water and bear fruits, which could be a lifesaver in desperate times.
Tree of Life in Jewelery
We can see that this centuries-old idea has got deep roots in various cultures and religions. It’s a man’s nature that it tries to make something spiritual or something with religious significance, a part of their lives. The answer to how one can incorporate the symbol into their lives is by Jewelery.
The symbol’s design of a tree inside a circle is simple and looks aesthetically pleasing as a piece of jewelry, so people started making aesthetic designs of it.
The symbol’s link to philosophy, spirituality, and religion made them feel more connected with their beliefs and the surroundings around them.
Individuals who are into astrology or believe in the power of stones also incorporate their birthstones in the Tree of Life jewelery. In philosophical and spiritual teachings, the role of rocks in someone’s life is of high importance as they believe that the right stone could help and guide them in life.
It is also believed that the stones could change a person’s nature, help them heal, alleviate the financial problem, and various other stuff. In this regard, pairing the right stone within the symbol is quite popular amongst fashion lovers around the world.
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Make it a parure
It is best to go to your nearest jewelry store and find out the perfect piece of jewelry in the Tree of Life symbol, suited to you — the most common piece of jewelry is usually the ones containing the symbol charms.
The dual functionality of either fitting it into a bracelet or anklet makes it the quite essential choice for women of all ages. One could find the perfect color and size of the charm which suits and appeals to you.
For those looking to get something more visible, they should go for a necklace. A necklace is an ideal choice if you want the symbol to be slightly bigger and be prominent in a crowd.
A pendant can be found in gold, silver, or plastic depending on your choice and budget and would look beautiful on someone’s neckline.
Women or girls who are looking for some new earrings and want something different; they should go for Tree of Life earrings. Most people opting for the symbol want to see and feel it. I believe choosing it for your earrings is the right choice, especially when you don’t want others to notice them, you could keep your hair down.
Those looking for something different and want to show their creative skills should go for the Tree of Life ring. The rings most likely come in various designs and colors, which can give you ample options to chose from.
Good for men too
It’s also the ideal choice for a man who is looking forward to owning a Tree of Life symbol and incorporate it into his life, because getting a necklace or earring is going to raise some eyebrows, but a ring could look pretty cool and stylish.
Most importantly, the symbol has no negative connotations or effects in individual life but is pretty much respected in most cultures. As a result, it makes the jewelry wearable for many and can hold a different meaning to every other individual wearing it.
Women who are just impressed by the symbol and looking to make a fashion statement could wear it simply as their fashion choice.
Why It’s not Always Good
In most of the cultures around the globe throughout history, the concept of Tree of Life has been referred to as sacred because, as mentioned above in detail, it represents growth, individuality, family, peace, Life, and spirituality. While in most cases it is considered good but there are a few exceptions we will talk about.
Adam’s disobedience to God in Islam
In the religion of Islam, Adam is considered as the first human and Eve as the first woman who was created by God. They were allowed to enjoy everything in heaven, except to eat from a particular tree.
It was during their time there that Satan appeared in front of them and started convincing them to eat from the Tree. Adam got convinced and in disobedience to God, ate from the Tree, which later led to the two ousted from heaven.
The event is also described in the holy book of the Muslims “Quran”. As a result, the symbol of the Tree in this context is referred to as the disobedience of man towards God and the result one will face.
Adams cast off from Eden – Judaism
While the Tree symbolizes wisdom in Judaism, it was also the reason which led to the ouster of Adam and Eve. Islam and Judaism share quite similar values and guidelines and in some instances, their beliefs are also the same.
Just like in Islam, Judaism also tells the story that Adam ate from the forbidden Tree, which led to their ouster from the Garden of Eden. In this regard, the symbol was not great, after all.
The flawed concept of immortality
The concept of immortality through the Tree of Life is flawed, in my opinion, throughout history, philosophers and spiritual preachers have termed the shedding of leaves of a tree and the growing back of new leaves as a symbol of rebirth.
While this concept may be right for trees, but this doesn’t work on humans, and once they die, there is no evidence of rebirth.
Even if we consider that human offspring carry the traits of their ancestors and takes humankind forward, may in some context hold true, but every individual is unique in its own way, and once they die, there is no coming back.
Darwin’s Tree of Life
The concept given by Darwin is that all species are related through evolutionary history. Darwin proposed that there was a common ancestor of all the living beings, and just like a tree grows from a single seed, the living creatures came from a common ancestor.
In modern times, when scientific evolution is in its prime, modern scientists have rejected this concept and answered this with scientific proofs. Various scientists and universities have come saying that there is no reality to the Tree of Life presented by Darwin.
In Chinese mythology, the depiction of the Tree of Life is through a phoenix and dragon. As phoenix is referred to as a mythical creature which rises from its ashes, both these creatures and the concept of Tree of Life represents immortality in Chinese mythology.
As mentioned above, the concept of immortality is flawed, so in my opinion, the concept is also not good here.
No single Tree of Life
We must also see that in different cultures and religions, a tree that was sacred and significant to their religion and beliefs had been associated with the Tree of Life.
In Buddhism, the Bohdi-tree, and in Egyptian culture, the acacia tree. Similarly, in Chinese mythology, the dragon and phoenix.
This contrast and difference in each religion and culture shows there is no one unique Tree of Life, and everyone has given the symbol its own meaning.
One more contradiction in various religions and cultures we can find about this symbol, is its representation. In some cultures, the whole tree has a single meaning, while in some, each part of the tree – like roots, trunk, and branches, symbolize different things.
It won’t be wrong to say here that every civilization and religion throughout history has molded the concept as per their beliefs and made it such that it compliments their beliefs, values, and traditions.
Against scientific beliefs
The concept of religion, as we know, has no place in the world of science and where rational ideas are in discussion.
The concept of Tree of Life is entirely religious, spiritual, and mythological. In all the discussion and points discussed above, it all revolved around religion; thus, no scientific evidence can be taken from it.
This point alone is enough to convince that the concept of Life is not good but just created to provide emotional stability to humans and provide answers to those questions which could not be answered in those time due to the lack of knowledge and scientific evolution.
Finally, when we talk about the Tree of Life, it’s purely spiritual and mythical. One cannot find any scientific relevance to it, and it’s a concept in the minds of philosophers, spiritual beings, and some religions.
The concept which dates back to 7000 BC cannot easily be wiped out of people’s minds, especially when various religions have their sayings on this concept. In the end, we can just say that evidence suggests that Tree of Life is predominantly linked with good and positive; there are some cases where it is considered bad or flawed.
The silver lining we could take from the meaning of the Tree of Life from all the faiths and beliefs is of the strong, underlining, and hidden meaning of unity and staying connected.
All religions preach about harmony and living together in peace. It also indicates in most belief systems that everyone is connected with one another with some sort of cosmic energy, which cannot be explained in words. In short, the concept can be used to uplift individual spirits and give them a deeper meaning of Life and their individuality.