The tree of life is a widespread fundamental archetype valid in several world mythologies, philosophical and religious traditions. The tree of life concept is very much related to the sacred tree concept. Furthermore, the tree of life is known to connect different forms of creation and is a vital part of the cosmic tree or the world tree. This tree of life is further recounted in different cultures, folklore, and fiction that is related to fertility or immortality. In most of the cases, the origin of the tree of life resembles religion.
Tree of Life in Chinese Mythology
In accordance with Chinese mythology, the carving of a tree generally represents a dragon or a phoenix, which actually means immortality. According to a Taoist story, there was a tree producing peach of immortality in every three thousand years, and anybody eating the fruit received immortality. An archaeological discovery made in the ’90s contained three different bronze trees of approximately four meters high. The base of which was of a dragon and several fruits were hanging from its branches. The leaves of this ancient Chinese tree of life represents people and coin. Furthermore, at the apex, a small bird could be seen along with the sun and coins in between.
Tree of Life in Buddhism
According to Buddhist tradition, the Bodhi tree is where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. It is situated near Bodh Gaya in India. In accordance with the Tibetan tradition, when Gautama Buddha went to the lake of Mansarovar with his five hundred disciples, he took with him all the energy of Prayaga raj. When he further arrived he installed his overall energy of Prayaga Raj now commonly known as Prayang. This was the place where he planted the seed of the eternal Pipal tree right next to Mt. Kailash which is now known as the Palace of Medicine Buddha.
Tree of Life in Christianity
According to Christianity, the tree of life is first mentioned in Genesis 2:9 and 3:22 and is described as the source of eternal life especially in the Garden of Eden. Then it is also mentioned in the Book of Revelation and is most prominent in the final chapter of the book as a part of the new garden of paradise. Furthermore, Pope Benedict XVI has also said that the Cross is the actual tree of life. Saint Bonaventure has also taught us that the medicinal fruit of this tree is Jesus Christ himself.
Tree of life in Norse Mythology and Germanic Paganism
The eternal tree of life is found in Norse religion as Yggdrasil which can be simplified as a massive tree with several extensive lore all around it. Examples of it include sacred groves, Thor’s Oak, and the Sacred tree at Uppsala. According to Norse mythology, the apples from Iounn’s ash box is known to provide immortality to the Gods.
In Germanic Paganism, plants and trees play a prominent role, appearing in several aspects of texts, possibly in the name of Gods.
As a symbol, the Tree of Life dates back to ancient times. The oldest example of it was found in the Domuztepe excavations in Turkey, which is dated to almost 7000BC. The symbol of the tree of life represents balance and harmony as an important part of the Celtic culture.