Trees are fascinating. We can appreciate their uniqueness and beauty, their complicated root systems, and the way they seem to offer a sense of peace and serenity when we enter their presence. Yet, we can find the greatest fascination by exploring tree symbolism, how it relates to us and our universal connection to all things.
Trees are perhaps best known as metaphors for life and spiritual growth. So by looking closely at tree symbolism, we can see correlations with our own lives. We can learn lessons that may inspire us and provide insights along our own spiritual paths.
Avia Venefica is well-versed in cultural symbolism. She earned her undergraduate degree in anthropology and has spent years studying the cultural and archetypal meanings of symbols. According to Avia, “trees are perfect examples of how to live, grow, transition, change and even die with grace.”
What Can We Learn from Trees (and Why?)
Avia explains, “Trees invite us to absorb their essence entirely, and we do this by tapping into their infinite branches of energies. Tree symbolism is a way of classifying, identifying and organizing the array of energetic knowledge they contain and incorporating this array in our daily life.
Our collective human intuition is beginning to touch this understanding: ‘To know something is also to join with it.’ And, to join with a thing causes entanglement with it.
Effectually, to connect with something on various levels is to create a new thread of creation in our own lives.
The process of learning and connecting with trees (or anything else for that matter) insures our longevity and places us in a position of higher vision.”
Lessons We Can Learn from Tree Symbolism
The following thoughts can aid in your awareness of what we can learn from trees:
- The importance of staying grounded (or deeply rooted) while simultaneously growing and reaching new heights to gain a higher perspective. We can view our beliefs and spirituality in much the same way. They serve as our “anchor” while we explore along our individual paths.
- Overcoming obstacles – tree branches will grow in and around any obstacles in their path – always finding another way.
- Always growing – if you notice tree branches, they are always reaching, growing, contorting, and expanding. We can relate that lesson to our own spiritual path to persevere in always expanding our knowledge and awareness.
- Tree trunks have an outer layer for protection (which correlates to our outer “ego”) and their inner core is where the tree regenerates and finds nourishment. We can relate this with our own lives in realizing that our own spiritual nourishment and development must begin from within.
- Trees incorporate the four elements of life: water (nourishing their roots and found in tree sap), earth (their roots burrowing into the earth for protection), air (where branches reach into the sky), and fire (using their wood rubbed together to create warmth). So trees are often viewed as a symbol of creation as a whole. We can learn from trees in seeing how they navigate and relate to life’s different elements.
Historical Cultural Awareness of Tree Symbolism
We can look back through the history of various cultures to further understand the importance of tree symbolism.
Here are just a few historic examples:
- Famously, related to Buddhism beliefs, Siddhartha Gautama became enlightened while sitting under a fig tree. There, he was born as Buddha and named the tree Bodhi.
- In Judeo-Christianity, from the Book of Genesis, we see parables about both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge.
- Sacred groves (a grove or gathering of trees symbolically important to particular cultures’ religious beliefs) were mostly prominent in the Ancient Near East and prehistoric Europe, yet also extend to various cultures throughout the world. These include “Celtic, Baltic, Germanic, ancient Greek, Near Eastern, Roman, and Slavic polytheism, and were also used in India, Japan, and West Africa.”
In sum, as you notice trees in your life, take a few moments to connect with “tree energy” and relate to the lessons we can learn. You may notice that you feel humble when connecting to tree energy – or peaceful, serene, or perhaps grateful.
In their grace and longevity, trees speak to us and offer depths of wisdom through their symbolism.