The Celtic tree of life and its symbol is featured in nearly all forms of history and religion.
It is an exceptionally old symbol that symbolises both harmony and balance, dating back to ancient Egypt where the tree of life appeared on tombs. Possible even predating the Celts.
In modern times this Celtic symbol is used for decorations, tattoos and art work.
What is the meaning of the Tree of Life symbol?
- It represents life and how as we move through life our knowledge, experience and wisdom grows just as the tree does, becoming stronger every day. The tree of life symbolises the forces of nature are coming together in perfect harmony to maintain balance in the universe.
- It is known that when a new settlement was formed in Ireland, a tree was planted in the middle of the plantation known as Crann Bethadh(basically meaning Tree of Life)
- Trees were an important part of Celtic culture. The Celts believed that trees were the ancestors of human beings.
- It was believed in Celtic mythology that the Celtic tree of life possessed special powers.
- People used to hold assemblies beneath it, and it also provided shelter, food and acted as a home for wildlife. Without trees, life would have been extraordinarily difficult.
What type of tree is the Celtic tree of life?
- Countless Irish legends revolve around trees. One could fall asleep next to a particular tree and awake in the fairy realm.
- This is why the tree of life symbol itself relates qualities to it such as wisdom, strength & longevity.
- The Celts believed that their enemies would be rendered powerless if their sacred tree was cut down.
- The Celts derived the meaning of rebirth from the seasonal changes they would see each tree go through(Summer to Winter and so on).
- Rituals were often performed on the basis of birth and death and rebirth.
- It was believed that the roots of the tree penetrated depths of the lower world, branches of the tree reached out and stretched out to the heavens, and the trunk remains on the earth’s plain.
Other things to note about what the tree of life (Crann Bethadh) symbolizes
It was believed that the tree was able to bless people with prosperity.
The towering height of Oak trees is associated with qualities such as endurance and nobility. Basically, the bigger the tree the more fertile the land and the more the settlement would thrive from.
The Oaktree is also known to attract lightning, this characteristic of the tree is considered to be of great importance by celts and in Celtic symbols.
In physical products, the tree of life appears in everything from jewellery to wall plaques.
Some of you might dismiss the tree of life and what it represents as untrue. It is totally understandable, especially in a modern age.
But keep in mind that all mythology no matter how bizarre originated from some truth.
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It represents life and how as we move through life our knowledge, experience and wisdom grows just as the tree does, becoming stronger every day. The tree of life symbolises the forces of nature are coming together in perfect harmony to maintain balance in the universe.
Yes and no. While it was extremely important in Celtic mythology it also appeared in anchient Egyption tombs and the Norse had a tree of life symbol as well, which arguably could have been brought to Ireland.
There are several references to the tree of life in the bible, including:
“And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever… So He drove out the man, and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
“And the Lord God brought forth of the ground all manner of trees, fair to behold, and pleasant to eat of: the tree of life also in the midst of paradise: and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
(Genesis 2:9) Douay-Rheims Bible (Catholic)
“And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
(Genesis 2:9) King James Bible
Good question. One could argue both points but evidence suggests that the Norse brought it to Ireland. It appears in Norse religion as Yggdrasil, the world tree, a massive tree with extensive lore surrounding it.
Acacia Nilotica is portrayed hugely in Egyptian mythology. It is referred to as the tree of life, and from under this tree the first gods of Egypt were born. Osiris, god of the underworld, rebirth and the spirit was also born from an Acacia Nilotica tree.