Spirituality

Tree of Life symbol

By Sondra Crane
Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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person with arms outstretched under a tree at sunset
The tree is seen as a powerful symbol of growth, as the tree is the only living thing that continues to grow throughout its lifetime
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The Tree of Life symbol has great spiritual meaning for many people and religion

The Tree of Life is a universal symbol found in many spiritual traditions. It stands for many things, including wisdom, protection, strength, bounty, beauty, and redemption. This image is symbolic of the Creator as it sustains creation with its abundant fruit, protection and regeneration. It also represents humans as we too develop roots, strengthen our trunk and branch out to a wider vision of life as we grow. It provides provide shelter. Tall and strong, it has deep roots. It reaches skyward. It loses its leaves and grows new ones bears fruit gives shelter. With nurture and care, it lives for generations.

An important symbol in cultures and faiths around the world, The Tree of Life links the heavens, the earth, and all that is hidden and growing below. It seemed only natural to adopt it for pastoral counseling and learning programs promoting spiritual, creative and personal growth for people of all faiths and beliefs. It also bears seeds or fruits, which contain the essence of the living thing, and this continuous regeneration is a potent representation of immortality. It is the fruit that confers immortality in the Jewish creation story.

The Tree of Life is central to modern Kabbalistic study. It embodies creation, existence and the return to the divine in ten spheres and twenty-two connecting paths. In Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition underlying Judaism and Christianity, two different images are used. One is upside-down and the other right-side-up. The original icon emanates out of the divine world of unity and is depicted as upside-down, with its roots flowing from the divine place of unity and infinite light.





The trunk and branches reach down towards us, penetrating the worlds of spirit, psyche, and physical existence. This is said to be the Tree of Emanation, which flows downward from the source. The other Tree of Life Symbol flows upward, back towards the source, with roots in the ground and branches growing up to the sky. This is what the initiate climbs to return to the source and is the Tree of evolution or initiation. It is the initiate's responsibility to evolve and awaken, climbing it and penetrating the worlds of psyche, spirit and divine unity, reconnecting with the divine source.

From the Hebrew creation myth and from Jewish commentaries, the image is that of the life giving source that sustains and nourishes us. "God planted a garden in Eden, and caused to spring up from the soil every kind of tree, enticing to look at and good to eat, with the Tree of Life in the middle of the garden. Its beauty of gold and crimson transcends all other things created; its crown covers the entire garden and four streams - of milk, honey, wine and oil - issue from its roots."

The tree is seen as a powerful image of growth, as it is the only living thing that continues to grow throughout its lifetime. It is also a symbol for the true self and serves as a positive, healthy model for the unfolding development of both psyche and spirit. As we grow and develop, a larger and more mature personality emerges and begins to flower and fruit, providing its gifts and bounties to the wider world.

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