Humanity is divided by millennia of history and mythology. The myths or beliefs of a different sect, tribe or region differ by a mile. Although people have different beliefs and myths, we are bound by one feature that always appears in every legend – The Tree of Life.
Practically, every myth point to this characteristic- from the Yggdrasil in Norse Mythology to the Modhi plant in Buddhism to the Acacia plant in Egyptian mythology to the Tree of Life in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Therefore, the deeper you delve into the history, myths, and beliefs, the more you will realize our shared past. The Tree of Life is symbolic of the fact that we are one extended family. So, why does it keep cropping up? The Tree of Life is believed to represent the divine creator and the interconnectedness of all beings – from plants to animals. Let’s take a look at the origin of the Tree of Life in different myths.
Tree of Life in Celtic Mythology
A majority of Western and Central Europe were considered as Celts. Till 500 A.D, the Celts were the dominant pagan tribe in Europe. The Crann Bethadh or the Tree of Life was more than just a campfire story or myth. It represents the way of life of the Celts, and their deep reverence for nature. The Celtic mythology tree of life features a tree with branches forming intricate weaves with its roots to form a circle. The Celts acknowledged the fact that the trees are the center of all that occurred in life. They realized that the absence of green life is the absence of life itself. In fact, Celtics regards trees as the ancestors of man. The Tree of Life also served as the focal point for each tribe settlement. When a Celtic tribe searches for a new location, they will choose a place with a sturdy tree. The area surrounding the tree will be cleared of vegetation. Meetings and conflicts were solved under this tree of life. In fact, warring tribes would seek to destroy the tree of life of the enemy.
Tree of Life in Judaism Mythology
The Hebrew term “Etz Cham” literally means the Tree of Life. It is also used to describe the Torah. The Tree of Life is represented as a series of interconnected lines on a hexagon, which denotes the parts of the Infinite God that maintains both the supernatural and the physical world.
Tree of Life in Ancient Egyptian Mythology
The earliest reference to the Tree of Life in Egyptian mythology was a tamarisk tree that enclosed the coffin of Osiris; the Egyptian god of the dead. In later Egyptian texts, it was written that the Tree of Life grew out of the sacred mound, and its branches reached out to support the planet studded sky and stars. The trunk of the tree of life was referred to as the World Pillar – this was regarded as the center of the universe. Another reference to the tree of life or Axis Munde is found in the construction of the pyramids. Pyramids were built to serve in the capacity of an Axis Munde. Other carvings and artworks refer to the acacia tree from the goddess Isis and Osiris were borne.
The Tree of Life in Christianity
The book of Genesis, the first chapter in the Bible, shows a rather simplistic view of the Tree of Life and Knowledge. The early chapters of the Book of Genesis show the life of Adam and Eve, and how they were cast out for eating fruits from the Tree of Knowledge.
Tree of Life in Persian Mythology
In Persian mythology, the Gaokarena world tree is a sacred haoma tree. This tree produces all seeds, and it’s connected to every tree on earth. In a classic tale of good and evil, the Arman created a frog to destroy the tree. However, his plan was thwarted by the Ahura Mazda, who created two Kar fishes to prevent the destruction of the tree. The Haoma tree was personified as divinity – it bestows immortality, goodwill, and fertility. In fact, the Haoma tree was a prominent feature of the Zoroastrian festival.
Tree of Life in Hinduism Mythology
In Tibetan mythology, Buddha traveled to the lake Manasorova and took with him the energy of Prayaga Ra. Then, he planted the seed of the eternal Bayan tree near the lake. This act gave the banyan tree a divine status in Hindu mythology. In reality, the Bayan tree grows like the graphic representation of the Celtics tree of life – its branches intertwine with the root. The banyan tree grows like every other tree in the first stage of its life. However, its branches droop back down towards the soil. With time, the branch thicken and closely resembles the trunk. This unique trait is seen as a symbol of the Cosmic Dance, where all matter is the same. Furthermore, the Bodhi tree is also revered as a divine tree in Hindu lore. Mind you, Buddha himself never referred to the Modhi tree as the tree of life. However, it’s held in high regard by both Hindus and Buddhists.
Tree of Life in Islamic Mythology
It is closely related to the creation myths of Christianity and Judaism. However, the hadiths refer to only one divine tree, as opposed to the two divine trees in Christianity and Judaism. In this myth, the tree of Life is also referred to as the Tree of Immortality.
Tree of Life in Norse Mythology
Norsemen like their neighbors; the Celts had a high regard for trees. In fact, their mythology is dotted with the presence of tees with magical features; Thor’s Oak, Yggdrasil, and the sacred tree at Upsala. The Yggdrasil is referred to as the Tree of Life, and its branches and roots lead to the realms of man and gods. The great tree serves as a port of connection to the nine realms in Norse cosmos.