Rekindling the Tree of Life
The tree is at the heart of creation stories around the world. For centuries, in Europe and Britain, the tree of life represented the entire cosmos. This complex religious mythology was rooted in daily life. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to live the life of my Celtic ancestors – the tree of life rooted in the psyche as a symbolic quest for spiritual fulfillment. The Clan planted a tree for every newborn child. The Irish Celts would leave a great Oak tree in the centre of a new settlement, known as the ”Cran bethad” or tree of life, as the spiritual hearth and source of well being. Meetings, celebrations and the choosing of leaders were done beneath this sacred tree, to absorb the energies from above and below.
The ancient Celts understood that all living things are spiritual beings. Trees not only provide sustenance and shelter, but have great spiritual wisdom and act as doorways to other worlds and the divine. For the Egyptians the world tree was the great Acacia. In India the cosmic tree is the mighty Banyan tree of fertility and immortality. The Arbutus or Madrona and the Cedar tree is sacred to the Costal Indians of British Columbia and the Jewish Kabala tree of life is a complex diagram revealing the evolution of the universe and our place in it. With its roots in the earth and branches extending skyward, the tree is a powerful doorway for Shamanic healing traditions.
From the near to far east, north and south America, the tree of life, world or cosmic tree prevailed for centuries across ethnic and cultural societies until now. What happened? What have we done with our respect, our reverence for our very source – nature? The industrial revolution was spawned out of human desire to make life easier, but it has done so at the expense of the hand that feeds us. Have we forgotten that the earth and all its creatures, humans included, are bound to a single destiny? Ironically, the industrial world on its own cannot survive without the resources of the natural world. Everything you touch, own, create or buy has come directly or indirectly from the earth’s bounty. Of all the plant life on earth, trees sustain every aspect of human life. Guardians of soil, water and air, they make the world livable.
Like my distant ancestors, trees are central to my spiritual life. I have leaned, through time and stillness among the trees; they are reaching out to us. They ask that we awaken to our instinctual primordial spirit so we may reunite with our place in the nature of things.
When I am drawn to a tree I research it’s botanical, magical and spiritual associations. It