Awaken the Tree of Life Within
I am beginning to finalize my book “Tree Spirit Tarot – Awaken the Tree of Life Within.” It will be a book and tarot deck based on 78 different trees. The seed for this book was planted as a child, but it is only now after 60 years of living, learning and remembering that it has finally taken root. I wish to share what I am creating as a way to bring it out to the world. I will be posting a series of three-four posts in one day to set the stage. After that I will share one to two trees per week. Enjoy!
PS. If you have a beautiful photo of any of the trees I am featuring I would love to use original photography and credit you in the book. If you are a professional photographer I will also credit your website etc.. Right now I am using a combination of my own photos with a few from friends and family, but the majority is from I-Stock/Getty images. I’m also looking for a publisher or investor(s) who can help turn this concept into a box set that functions like other tarot sets.
Trees have been and continue to be cross-cultural symbols of our psyche, our soul and our natural world. They hold our collective and sacred stories. Trees came before us, creating the perfect environment for us to thrive, they enriched the soil and cleared the air. Our first breath is directly connected to trees. Trees inspired our ancient ancestors to learn how to receive their gifts of food, shelter and fire. The more they learned, the more they realized that trees offered the raw materials for tools, clothing, paper and medicine. Trees literally provided the “spark” that ignited our consciousness to create stories, art, music, language, math, time and belief.
During the mid-20th Century, Swiss psychoanalyst, Carl Jung (1875-1961) pioneered the field of behavioral psychology. He studied concepts such as individuation, the conscious and unconscious self, as well as the collective unconscious. He identified archetypes that represented the human condition. Jung felt that the human psyche was “by nature religious,” and what set humans apart from other species was their search for meaning in both life and death.
He theorized that the psyche individuated (or separated) itself from its soul in search of its unique purpose in life. Yet during this quest for purpose, the psyche ultimately longed to return home to the soul and feel whole. As a result of his work, Jung saw trees as the archetype of the psyche and mandalas as the archetype of wholeness.
The word archetype, (“original pattern from which copies are made”) actually dates back to Plato. Plato, a Greek philosopher (424–347 BCE), identified archetypes as ideas in pure mental form that were imprinted into the soul before it was born. This concept of archetypes, as shared stories are also found in nature. Trees helped humans to see the circular movements of the sun, moon and stars. They also saw how the rings within trees mirrored the orbits circling above them. These archetypal rings formed the basis of sacred geometry.
The word “sacred” is synonymous with the concept of “divine/sky.” The word “geometry” comes from the Greek words “geos/earth” and “metron/measure.” Together this translates as the “divine measuring of the earth,” or “divine and earthly measurements.” By tracking the stars and planets in relationship to the earth, sun and moon, patterns were revealed that brought order to chaos.
For some cultures, this ushered in a time of harmony, for others it signaled a time of mind expansion, for a powerful few, they saw it as man’s triumph over nature. Each culture began to create their own unique understanding of the universe and their relationship with trees. This led to many mythical stories between trees and humans as metaphors of humanity and creation.
For the majority of cultures, trees were seen as divine Trees of Life that grew from the watery world of earth. Most of these trees were seen as parents or guardians of all living creatures. They stood as connectors between the earth and the sky.
The Book of Genesis tells the mythical story of two trees that stood in the Garden of Eden. One is the Tree of Life and the other is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The garden is tended by a “God” known as Elohim who forbids Adam and Eve (who were formed from earth and given life with his breath) to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. When they disobeyed this order, they were cast out of the garden and forbidden to eat from the immortal Tree of Life. This became symbolic of mankind’s separation from nature and of knowing the infinite nature of their soul. As monotheism (belief in one god) grew through the Roman Empire the knowledge of our natural world was shut down. This plummeted Europe and surrounding countries into the Dark Ages for almost 1300 years.
When Old World explorers began discovering the “New World” they encountered many stories of trees. Inspired by these new trees, Renaissance scholars and cultural leaders began to regain knowledge of their natural world.
The majority of ancient texts were destroyed, but some began to resurface. Both the Kabbalah and the Tarot appeared during the Renaissance. The Kabbalah is also known as the Tree of Life, and the word Tarot is believed to come from the Italian word Tarocco, meaning blood orange. Even the original Hebrew word for “God,” Elohim, forms the root name Elon, which means oak tree. These and countless other stories inspired by trees began to be known.
As we bring these stories to consciousness we can remember that we are not separate from nature, trees or our soul. By understanding that we are all interconnected, we can reconnect to one another through our shared roots and our collective history. These sacred and archetypal stories are held within us, as the collective unconsciousness.
By awakening the Tree of Life within, we return to the garden of our soul.
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” – John Muir