The concept of the Tree of Life is a universal one and spans science, religion, philosophy and mythology as well as popular culture. It is a common metaphor for the interconnectedness of all life and whether it is referred to as the Tree of Knowledge or the Tree of Life, it is always portrayed as the same tree – one thing many different belief systems manage to agree on. From ancient Egyptian mythology to China and later Christianity, the roots of the Tree of Life span almost every known belief system.
In science, the Tree of Life has been used to describe the interconnectedness of all life on Earth in an evolutionary context. Charles Darwin wrote in the Origin of Species: ‘I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever-branching and beautiful ramifications.’
You don’t have to look very far in popular culture to see how the Tree of Life still influences us today. From video games like the Prince of Persia where a gigantic tree in the desert keeps an evil deity locked away, to Hometree and the Tree of Souls in James Cameron’s Avatar. In Marvel Studios Thor, Thor explains how Earth is linked to his world by Yggdrasil, the Norse mythological Tree of Life, in this case an Einstein-Rosen bridge which connects the planets in the Nine Realms.
The Tree of Life also lies at the heart of the Kabbalah – the Jewish mystical teaching made popular by celebrities such as Madonna, Britney Spears and Demi Moore. In the Kabbalah, the Tree of Life is shown as comprising of ten interconnected spheres – the sephirot. This forms the framework of the cosmos upon which everything else hangs. The Kabbalah teaches that it is the pattern from which the universe was created and by which the soul itself was born and forms a structure by which all things can be understood.
In simplistic terms, the Tree of Life is a symbolic model that forms the fractal building blocks of reality and everything else – right down to our personalities. It’s probably easiest to think of it as a map which shows the route energy takes as it flows from the universe down to find expression in the physical world.
The Tree of Life has also been linked to the Tarot from its earliest beginnings influencing the Tarot’s symbolism and development. When we see that the Tree of Life is a universal symbol that can be understood by all, then it follows that any system of divination based on this can be applied to anyone as it reflects the human spiritual and mythological journey.
The Tree of Life is an ancient symbol which is as relevant to us today as it ever was and shows us that not only are we all connected by our scientific, philosophical and spiritual teachings are connected as well.
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