Tree of Life Meaning Through 11 Cultures

Last Updated on October 3, 2023


From ancient cultures like the Celts and the Mayans, Nordic mythology, and Buddhism, the Tree of Life is a symbol of mystic energy which appears in numerous civilizations.

The Tree of Life or the Tree of Knowledge is in folklore and mythology from almost everywhere in the world.

The trunk of the Tree of Life represents stability, the roots are a stable base, the branches offer nourishment, the leaves represent power, and the fruit represents sacrifice by offering oneself.

The connotations of the Tree of Life differ slightly from society to society. However, the idea that the same tree connects the physical and spiritual realms is a common feature in all of them.

Photo by Emma Gossett on Unsplash

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History and Origin of the Tree of Life

This life symbol has been used since ancient times. The earliest known example was discovered in Turkey in the Domuztepe excavations around 7000 BC. After that, the sign has spread in many ways.

 The Acadians have a comparable image of the tree that dates back to 3000 BC. The symbols resembled a pine tree, and since pines do not die, they are said to be the first representations of the Tree of Life.

As a profound figure in mythology in Ancient Egypt and other cultures, the Tree of Life predates the Celts without a doubt. This symbol relates to a wide range of styles, although the Celtic rendition dates to the early 2,000 B.C.

Symbols like the Tree of Life were also discovered in Northern England close to 1,000 years before the tree was associated with the Celts.

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

The Celtic version dates back to the Tree of Life symbol from the Norse, who thought that a global ash tree was the foundation of life on Mother Earth.

The design of the world trees in Norse and Celtic cultures differs in that it is circular as the tree’s roots and branches connect. The style is essentially a tree of eternal life in a circle, connecting the upper and lower worlds.

A Connection to Everything

The perfect illustration of natural interconnection is through trees. According to a new study, trees have an intricate conversation with their surrounding neighbors. They “talk” to one another through pheromones and interlinked root systems.

Everything is tied to the Tree of Life. It symbolizes unity and reminds us that we are not alone but part of the whole. This helps the personal growth journey of any human being in need of it.

The Tree of Life is often represented as a gigantic tree with roots that reach deep into the earth and branches that reach high into the sky. This signifies the intertwined nature of everything in the cosmos and a timeless bond between the physical realm and the spiritual realm.


The roots and branches depict how a family grows and stays bonded through time. This symbolism is present when we utilize family trees to display our ancestry. Therefore, the term’ family tree’ is frequently used when discussing our ancestors.

The Tree of Life sign indicates a connectedness to the family through its complex branch pattern, with shared roots connecting us to the previous and future descendants.

A tree’s life is often compared to the growth of a community: a tree sprouts from a seed, and as it expands and spreads out, it produces new fruit and energy for the next generations.

Growth and Strength

Trees are among the world’s longest-lived organisms, with some species lasting for up to 5,000 years. They begin as small seeds and progressively grow to enormous proportions.

To see a seedling grow into a tree is a profound involvement that many cultures value in terms of spirituality and religion.

Trees are the ultimate sign of unshakable endurance, surviving cold, floods, extreme heat, and droughts. These magnificent organisms can thrive and survive in the roughest environments while also adapting to the passage of time.

Image by eko pramono from Pixabay


The tree loses its leaves in the winter and looks as if it has died. However, by Spring, there is a fresh start with new buds and leaves. As a result, the tree is associated with rebirth. It also represents immortality since the tree produces seeds that carry on its spirit.

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The tree also represents peace. It is tall, peaceful, and quiet, and it helps to chill the area. As a result, it serves as a reminder to keep calm and encourage peace. A tree evokes a sensation of tranquility.

You’re familiar with the peaceful sensation that comes with it if you’ve ever sat under or meditated under one.

Tree of Life Meaning in Ancient Cultures

1 Christianity

The biblical account depicting the famed tree of knowledge in Eden is an important story in the Christian religion. Therefore, the tree of Life pendants are often worn to symbolize God’s love.

In the Bible, Adam and Eve ate an apple from the Tree of Knowledge and were aware of their sins. For their safety, the tree was forbidden to both. However, they were mindful of the world’s good and evil after tasting the fruit.

They were then able to discern between good and evil, pleasure and sin. After that, they got banished from Eden, searching for a new life.

The Book of Genesis clarifies that Adam and Eve were never to eat the fruit of only one tree, the Tree of Knowledge.

2 The World Tree in Buddhism

The Bodhi Tree is referred to as the Tree of Knowledge in Buddhism. According to Buddhist beliefs, Buddha attained spiritual enlightenment while sitting under the tree. Therefore, in Buddhism, trees are extremely important.

They symbolize enlightenment, as Buddha attained nirvana while sitting under a Bodhi tree. The Tree of Life is, therefore, such a prominent symbol.

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3 The Ancient Celts

In Celtic tradition, the Tree of Life possessed special powers and is greatly honored. To them, in the Otherworld, trees were considered ancestral protectors. As a result, this Celtic tree is associated with ancestors, ancient Celtic druids, and family.

The Celts adopted the Norse Tree of Life sign as a universal symbol, which depicted a world ash tree known as Yggdrasil.

Trees were considered sacred in Celtic culture, and each kind had its mystic significance. When they died, the Celts believed humans turned into a Tree of Life, continuing their life cycle.

The Celts observed as the trees lost their leaves, blooming and bearing fruit as part of the natural cycle. Trees thus represented the cycle of life and rebirth for the ancient Celts and other ancient cultures.

Throughout its roots, the Tree of Life symbolizes the link to the underworld. The tree trunk connected branches that soar into the sky. This World Tree connected the spirit world with humans. As a result, the Tree of Life was also a symbol of protection and knowledge.

4 Islam and the Tree of Life Symbolism

In the Quran, there is also a Tree of Life. The Tree of Immortality, also known as the Tree of Life, can be found in Eden’s Garden. In the Quran, Allah warns Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit on the Tree of Immortality, as they were told in the Bible.

Because they ate from the tree, Allah banished Adam and Eve to Earth, where they must live and learn to repent of their transgressions. Allah tells them, however, that they will be guided while on Earth. As a result, in the Quran, the Tree of Life represents both repentance and learning from one’s faults and the mercy of God.

Image by Ralph from Pixabay

5 Tree of Life in Judaism

In Judaism, it is distinguished from the tree of knowledge that represents evil and good. Instead, it’s a tree that feeds and supports life and a person’s personal growth. It is in the midst of Yahweh’s garden.

The Tree has been described in Jewish mysticism as ten interconnected nodes.

Kabbalah is an ancient kind of Judaism mysticism whose supporters believe it dates back to the beginning of time. Kabbalah rose to prominence in written history throughout the 12th and 13th centuries in France and southern Spain.

In essence, practitioners of Kabbalah believe that we all have a direct relationship with God or the source of creation, like spirituality in other religious beliefs.

The Tree of Life is depicted in Kabbalah as a symbol with ten Sefirot, or divine energy and spiritual paths. Outside and inside the human body, this heavenly life energy flows. The Sefirot are like the chakras in Eastern religions in this way.

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6 The Norse World Tree

It is also known as the Viking Tree of Life in Nordic mythology. However, the Yggdrasil Tree was the name given to it by ancient Nordic people. The huge tree sprang out of the Well of Urd, a never-ending lake that stored global wisdom and other strong cosmic powers.

The roots and branches of the Yggdrasil Tree held the Nine Worlds of the Galaxy united. The tree’s vitality was so crucial that the entire world’s well-being depended on it.

Odin, the Nordic god, desired the knowledge found in the Yggdrasil Tree. To show his devotion to the mission, he sacrificed his eye and threw himself on his spear, then hung himself for nine days from a tree branch, nearly losing his life in the act. He did, however, survive, obtaining knowledge from the Universe in the process.

7 Egypt and the Tree of Life

In ancient Egyptian mythology, it is believed the Tree of Life symbolizes the duality of life and death. The branches of the single tree standing symbolize holy abundance. The roots of this massive tree represent ties to the netherworld.

The ancient humans of Egypt believe it to date back to at least 3150 BC. According to Egyptian mythology, after the Universe was created, the deity Geb, their Earth’s God, and Nut, the Sky Goddess, gave birth to their son Osiris.

He became the world’s first ruler. Other gods were born after him, including Isis, who later became his wife.

8 Pillar in Byblos

When the king of Byblos, Malcander, came across the tree, he sensed a wonderful fragrance coming from its trunk. He was so taken with the Tree of Life that he had it removed and turned it into a pillar. On the other hand, Isis was still on the search for her lost spouse.

She could smell the beautiful scent emanating from the pillar where Osiris was encased as she passed by. The king told her she could have anything she desired once he discovered Isis was a goddess. She, of course, requested the pillar, which the king graciously granted her. Isis took it back to Egypt and re-planted it.

The Egyptian Tree of Life is based on a tree that changed into a pillar, then back into a tree. Another Egyptian mythology suggests that acacia trees gave birth to all the gods.

9 The Tree Symbol in Africa

The baobab tree is the most closely associated with the Life Tree in Africa. Such a tree was formed by God, according to origin legends from all around Africa. The baobab tree predates humans, so they have been in Africa as long as the population has.

Baobab trees were thought to have mystical qualities by several African cultures. Picking the white blooms from the tree, for example, would attract a lion who would eat you.

Image by shell300 from Pixabay

Crocodiles would be less likely to attack you if you drank baobab seeds soaked with water. Likewise, soaking a newborn in water with baobab bark would make the child as tough as the baobab tree.

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10 Greek and Roman Mythology

There are several legends in Greek mythology involving magical trees like the World Tree or the Tree of Life. For example, Zeus marries Gaia, the Greek goddess of the Earth, and a great oak tree arises from it in one narrative.

Zeus becomes one with the tree in other tales, as does Osiris. Different legends of the Greek World Tree or Tree of Life talk about the connectedness between the roots and branches and the underworld and stars.

When Hera married Zeus, Gaia, the Earth goddess, gave her a mystical apple seed to grow in Hera’s Garden as a wedding present. Like other Trees of Life, Hera’s apple tree held the Universe intact. Hera sought the help of a dragon to protect the tree.

11 What the Mayan Tribe’s Tree Symbolizes

This Mayan tribe believed that Heaven was hidden behind a mystical mountain. A Tree of Life developed at the place of creation full of life force, connecting the Underworld, Heaven, and Earth. Everything spread out in four directions from that point.

The core of the Mayan Tree of Life is a cross, which represents the root of all life. Connecting the physical world with the spiritual.

Image by David Bolander from Pixabay

How to Use the Tree of Life to Call in Good Luck and Abundance?

 The Tree of Life symbol has been used in accessories since ancient times. Tree of Life jewelry was made from stone, wood, and even bronze. Today the pendant is also used as an ornament or good luck charm in one’s home.

Photo by FANQI on Unsplash

Its symbolism stays the same regardless of whether you choose to wear your Tree of Life emblem, whether on accessories, clothing, or even tattooed. The Tree of Life represents growth, peace, and a sense of interconnectedness with the Earth.

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