Updated: Oct 13, 2018
The symbol of tree in a tattoo... I am really excited about this post!!! More ancient than the human race, always connected to the mother earth, representation of nature, necessary to help us breath, nurturing with it's fruits, giving shelter, spreading the colour green, the indicator of seasons changing... the tree is a powerful and significant symbol in so many ways... I can write about the tree in general, the type of each tree and it's meaning or about the tree of life, a cultural, religious and mystical symbol that is present in most of ancient cultures and religions as well as a beloved tattoo choice for many. The tree of life is also referred as the sacred tree, the tree of knowledge, the tree of immortality, the world tree, or the cosmic tree. Greeks, Egyptians, Assyrians, Mayas, Scandinavians, Celts, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists have a sacred tree reference in their myths, sacred books and cultures. Those trees are to be worshipped and honoured, they symbolise the ultimate connection between the earth and the sky as well as interconnection to everything that is. It is interesting that for every civilisation a different tree has been chosen which makes sense (various continents, flora, countries, ages...)
Egyptians considered the Persea tree as the sacred symbol of life and death. It contained the key to the Divine Plan and Order which was known to anyone that could eat its fruits along with guaranteed eternal life. The tree can be found in the Sun temple in Heliopolis (read more in: http://www.ancient-wisdom.com/egyptheliopolis.htm) and holds the secrets of everyone's destiny. Its fruit symbolised the "Sacred Heart" of Horus. The phoenix was thought to rise from the burning persea tree at Heliopolis.
For Christians it is known as the tree of knowledge, the forbidden tree in the Eden's garden (intermediate Heaven) from the Old Testament as well as the tree of life in the Revelation . So in the beginning it symbolised the connection between humans and their God and eating the fruit of it defying God's order has condemned them to the cycle of life, death and sin. But after the revelation it is given to those who accomplish as a gift and a symbolisation of eternal Paradise (“On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations”, “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God”). We have to mention though that the tree of life has become the subject of some debate as to whether or not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the same tree.
Celts called their tree of life crann bethadh, they thought that it possessed special powers, they always chose the centre of their place of residence space to place it. All gatherings of the tribe and ceremonies were held underneath this tree so it symbolised warmth, wisdom, protection, nourishment for nature. They also believed that trees were actually ancestors of human beings. The unending net of knots in celtic tree of life design, signifies the endless cycle of life and death, the continuity of time and connection to Gods. This is the reason the brunches are connected to the roots in this design.
In Norse mythology the tree of life is called Yggdrasil and it is an eternal green Ash tree with branches that stretch out to harbour nine worlds. It has three roots, each one reaching to a different mysterious world.
For the Mayas the Yaxche tree, their tree of life, was in the centre of their Universe (axis mundi) and supported the world. For them it was a tropical ceiba tree and was considered as the navel of the world.
In esoteric Judaism, the religion of Kabbalah ("that which is received" in Hebrew) the tree of life is a symbol that describes the path of God. The design has 10 emanations (called sephiroth, meaning 'spheres') and represent the ten archetypal numbers of the Pythagorian system. Analyzing further the symbol is beyond this blog's purpose but in a few words it is a symbol of God's communication to us, a way to know our path and to understand our divine nature. It represents the individual and the whole. (you can read more in http://www.kabbalahandhealing.com/tree-of-life.html)
The Buddha became enlightened sitting underneath a Bo or Bodhi tree ("fully awakened" in Sanskrit).