Celtic Tree of Life Meaning & Symbolism
Beautiful Celtic Tree of Life art prints and arty products by Lotti Brown (2 different tree of life designs)...
And a look at tree of life meaning, symbolism and history...
I've been having fun with some tree of life designs and now have not one but two gorgeous Celtic art tree of life pieces to inspire you to feel connected with the natural world...
The Tree of Life is for the World
The tree of life is a popular and instantly recognisable Celtic symbol – but its origins go back hundreds or thousands of years and tell us something about our origins as a society and how we thought about our place in the world.
The tree of life is something that unites humanity. There is the concept of a tree of life in many cultures, mythologies and religions, especially Indo-European, Siberian and Native American religions.
The tree of life is, of course, a very popular symbol in Celtic art and culture, but we also find the tree of life – which is variously known as the world tree, cosmic tree, or tree of knowledge – as:
An Ancient & Sacred Tree
In the Celtic world, our ancient ancestors lived amongst forests of oaks. The proto-Indo-European word for oak is ‘dorw’ meaning firm, strong, or enduring – which gives us words today such as durable or duration, meaning long-lasting.
The trees were very important symbols to our Celtic ancestors – in Celtic Ireland, a village would be based around an ancient, revered tree which would provide a gathering place for the village and represented the supply of food, shelter and warmth for the tribe. This tree was known as the ‘crann bethadh’.
Trees were also held sacred by the Celts as it was seen that the trees took care of life on earth, underpinning the vital role that they observed the trees had – feeding and sheltering animals, birds, insects and even smaller plants and mosses.
The Celts may even have seen trees as the ancestors of people or viewed them as the guardians of the Otherworld where the spirits dwelt. It is thought that the Celts planted young trees over the graves of departed loved ones and saw the tree as taking on or representing the dead person's spirit as it grew...
It is thought that the Celtic art tree of life symbol represents the forces of nature in balance – harmony in the world.
Tree of Life Meaning
The Celtic tree of life can be seen as a three-part symbol:
The meaning of the tree of life in Celtic art also represents the enduring nature of the tree (‘dorw’ – oak) and symoblises longevity, wisdom and strength as well as a sense of rebirth.
In the same way that the tree experiences the circle of the year – the seasons of leaves, fruit, decay, hibernation and regrowth – so we can hold hopes of re-birth in those ‘hibernation times’ of winter, darkness and emptiness.
Although in our modern Celtic art and culture the tree of life symbol is more akin to the oak tree of the Celts, in the Celtic crosses and manuscripts of earlier Celtic times, the ‘tree of life’ was often depicted in a vine-like form and often growing from a pot or chalice.
This is believed to have actually been a mistletoe and not a vine (A. Meehan – The Tree of Life).
The mistletoe is thought to have been highly revered by the ancient Celts. The mistletoe grows on the oak tree itself – as a kind of green spirit dwelling in the oak – and the mistletoe stayed green all winter while the oak tree had lost its green – perhaps the mistletoe was seen as the true living spirit of the oak tree that brought new life to it each spring.
Which tree of life do you like best?
The Celtic art tree of life is an important symbol for all of us...
Strength, a durability, a sense of safety and security within our world.
An ancient strength and wisdom that fills our natural world and continues steady through the upheavals of the seasons of life.
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