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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Trees In Creation Stories

The Ash Yggdrasil by Friedrich Wilhelm Heine

Trees are central in the creation stories of diverse cultures including the Celts, Greeks, Indonesians, Scandinavians, Siberians and the Japanese.
In early civilizations , the tree symbolized a two-fold identity; the World Tree, which connected the realms of existence and the Tree of Life, which represented the source of life and abundance. Numerous times these aspects were attributed to the same tree.
One of the most recognized World Trees is the Ash of Norse Mythology called the Yggdrasil. While many cultures believed in the existence of three realms ( heaven, earth, and the underworld) Norse legend tells of nine realms existing on tree levels. These realms were said to be connected by the nine roots of Yggdrasil.


 The Tree of Life in ancient Egypt was usually portrayed a top a sacred mound, As the Axis Munde, its branches reached to the stars and its roots extended deep into the netherworld. Osiris, the god of the dead was sometimes represented as this world tree.

In Finland, the Tree of Life also served as the cosmic sky pole that held the heavens aloft. It was believed to extend from the North/Pole Star through the center of the Earth.

Trees are central in the creation stories found throughout the world cultures. Lithuanians designated certain areas as holy groves.  Ash groves were dedicated to Apollo and Myrtle trees were believed to be sacred to Aphrodite. Twin sycamores flanked the gates of the Egyptian heaven where the sun god Ra appeared each morning.
Trees also served as religious  symbols for Christians and are mentioned throughout the Bible. Of the trees in the garden of Eden, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. the latter is probably the most famous. However, it is the palm tree that is most symbolic in Christianity for strength and longevity.
The palm tree is a symbol of the garden of paradise and Christ's triumph over death.

This dual notion is not far from Pagan concepts of the Tree of Life providing sustenance and trees in general representing the turning of the Wheel of the Year and the soul's immortality through rebirth.

1 comment:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

And don't forget the groves of oak trees that were sacred to Druids! Great post, enjoyed it very much!