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Symbolism of the Tree

“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven, unless its roots reach down into hell.” The tree is like man; physically and psychologically. Its roots are connected to the earth, like our feet. But the earth is also the unconscious, where our psyche is rooted. The stem is like our spine. It is the connection between heaven and earth (or heaven and hell) and therefore it is the connection between the conscious and the unconscious. The branches that reach up to heaven are like our brains, and is also our conscious and our spiritual connection to God.

The tree is the Great Mother, that gives life, the Tree of Life. But it is also the tree of death, since coffins are made out of wood and in the past shamans were buried in the stem of a tree. To go into the stem of a tree is to become one again with mother nature; it is the womb.

The tree plays an important role in many great religions. In Genesis Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. In Norse mythology there is Yggdrassil, the tree in the centre of the world that connects the world (Midgard) to the realm of the gods (Asgard), but also to other lower worlds (Niflheim, Alfaheim etc.). Odin hung from this tree to gain ultimate knowledge, but he lost one eye (you need to lose an eye in order to see).

The tree means life, wisdom and transformation. It is connected to the sun (masculine) and the waters of life (feminine). Without them the tree can’t grow. It is the unity of opposites.

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