As a teenager, I was fascinated with Greek and Roman philosophy. I studied both the Greek and Latin languages in high school, and the mythologies of these cultures figured into my artwork, poetry and other personal creative passions. Through the years, these interests spread like tendrils from Zeus to Odin. From Odin to Kabbalah. From Kabbalah to Hinduism. Soon, it was less about the individual god or goddess and more about the philosophy or metaphor of their story, at large.
The Tree of Life is one such metaphor that seems, to me, timeless.... evolutionary, even, and embraced as such by countless cultures.
In Hinduism, the Tree of Life, as depicted by the Eternal Banyan Tree, is a metaphor for hope. After a creationist flood engulfed the earth, this tree reached into the heavens and held the child Krishna safely above the flood waters when land was no longer visible.
In Norse Mythology, let's look at the World Tree through this quote from the website Ancient Origins: "When Odin hung, speared, for nine days on the World Tree, he uttered the words that he had ‘sacrificed himself onto himself’. This stanza gives us a description of the unity existing between the Godhead and the Tree in the myths. To emphasize this connection, we find in old English the word treow, which means both tree and truth. Etymologically, then, truth and tree grow out of the same root. Subsequently, in the Norse creation myth, man and woman originated from trees. " Here, we could discern that the symbolism is one of infinity, of flowing ceaselessly from one creation to the next, and a symbol for the thread that connects us all.
In Jewish mysticism, the Tree of Life is depicted as the ten interconnected powers of the Divine Realm, and represents the harmony of creation.
Whether as a metaphor or symbol of creation, wisdom, harmony or connection, the Tree of Life, in some incarnation, figures into almost every world religion or culture. So is it any wonder this symbolism has maintained its allure throughout history and figures predominantly, even today, in popular culture and philosophical belief?
Trends in fashion are constantly evolving, but meaning remains eternal. And, when meaning seems lost, it's easy then to turn to fashion as a means of expressing our desire to rediscover that connection.
The Tree of Life can remind us (when it's easy to forget) about our connections to our environment, to one another, to a spiritual or higher good, sometimes even regardless or in spite of religious preference. It's all-inclusive, all-forgiving, universal, if you will.
Are you reaching back?