What’s the meaning of the Tree of Life?
The Tree of Life is an ancient symbol that is germaine to many cultures and is the center of long-lasting mythologies.
It’s so pervasive that celebrities have embraced it and have made it a part of pop culture.
We’ll probably be seeing a lot more of it after actress Bella Hadid wore an enormous Tree of Life necklace to the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.
If you’re looking to find the meaning of the tree of life symbol in jewelry, it’s helpful to start with the Tree of Life itself.
What is this mysterious tree? Is it growing somewhere? Can you find the tree of life in some beautiful federally-owned park?
In short, the Tree of Life means eternal life, since that is how it fits into stories from various cultures.
It is also associated with the connection between Earth and something more eternal, such as heaven or gods.
It’s hard to summarize, since the tree of life meaning differs according to various cultures and religions, even if many people associate it with Christianity.
Below, we’ll describe the various Tree of Life meanings to various peoples of the world.
Origins of The Tree of Life Design
In terms of how the tree of life is depicted visually, it definitely comes in wide varieties.
That is due to the fact that the Tree of Life symbol sprang up in many different cultures, as we will outline below.
Whenever a symbol is used in various cultures, drawings or carvings of it will differ from one culture to another.
Also the Tree of Life’s meaning differs from culture to culture, and that is reflected in the design.
Sometimes it is depicted as a tree with a few branches. And sometimes these branches are bare.
But sometimes the Tree of life is drawn almost like a large shrub, covered in foliage.
The common point to jewelry with the Tree of Life symbol is that it is usually composed of a circle that goes around the outside.
The tree is inside, with branches reaching to the right and left and reaching the edges of the circle, and the roots going to the circle’s bottom.
The symbol dates back 7,000 years, with the oldest known example of it having been found in Turkey.
As you’ll see when we discuss the significance in various cultures, as the tree took on more and more meanings, the drawing got more complicated.
The simpler the tree depicted, the fewer meanings it has–more elements are there to correspond to additional meanings and associations.
1. The Tree Of Life As A Family Tree
As mentioned, the Tree of Life’s meanings are numerous. While the chief association may be as something that can make a person or deity live forever, there are others.
One is an association or symbolism of family or ancestry.
There is an extent to which this comes from the Celtic version of the Tree of Life symbol.
Trees play a big part in Celtic mythology, and the Tree of Life serves as a guardian between the human realm and the Otherworld.
Since our ancestors may have passed to this other world, the tree stands for ancestry and links to our families.
Of course, it is universally accepted that trees symbolize families because of the way they branch out and get larger over time.
2. Growing and Getting Stronger… as a Tree
It seems that this meaning of the Tree of Life is a universal significance of trees.
Trees put their roots down as far in the ground as possible, while also growing bigger around and taller.
Over the years, many trees are shaken by wind and storms. If they make it through, they’ll keep growing, which means they get stronger, as though it is the storm itself that has made them stronger.
3. The Tree of Life: Roots, Trunk, branches: Everything is Connected
This association has Celtic origins too. The Celts believed in connections between the physical and spiritual worlds.
They believed that spirits lived in everything, including trees.
Today, people use the tree of life to symbolize connections between cultures, generations, people and animals, people and Mother Earth.
4. The tree of life as a symbol of Immortality
Well, it is the Tree of Life, after all, so living forever would have to be a big theme, right?
Trees “die” each autumn, but are reborn again each “spring.” True, many trees will truly die one day, but they serve as an inspiration due to their seasonal cycles.
It is comforting to see them coming back each year, which is why so many people love spring.
Seeing the eternally-living nature of trees may make people think of loved ones who’ve passed on, and they may renew their faith in seeing them again one day.
That’s a pretty good reason to keep this symbol nearby at all times, on a bracelet or a necklace.
5. The tree of life means Strength and Stability
Many people look to trees as a symbol of stability because they grow straight.
When we think of how long they live, this is only intensified. The Tree of Life meaning originates from the Garden of Eden: it has been around forever.
6. The tree of life message: “Be Tranquil and Create Tranquility”
Trees are important giving things. They create shade, under which people can sit and calmly reflect.
They inspire us to cultivate a tranquil mindset, which can in turn make others calm.
7. Each tree is unique, we are Unique Individuals
No two trees are exactly the same. The Tree of Life meaning is of a reminder that the more we grow the more unique we become.
The Tree of Life Meaning: Grows and Evolves
Like anything that has huge contributions to mythology, the Tree of Life has a significance that developed over the years.
And it either spread from one culture to another or was independently developed in several major civilizations.
Either way, we see variations in the name and specifications of the tree. So let’s take a historical trip through the development of this magical tree.
Pyramids and The Tree of Life: Ancient Egypt
From ancient Egypt comes one of the oldest versions of the Tree of Life, far older than the one from the Old Testament.
In fact, it goes back past 3,500 BC. The mythology comes from the story of Set and Osiris, sons of the earth god, Geb, and sky goddess, Nut.
Set was jealous of his brother, so he played a very wicked trick on him. He threw a party where he showed off a big wooden coffin he’d built.
He let his friends try it out. When his brother got in it, he shut the coffin and threw it in the Nile River.
Whether or not Set expected the coffin to sink, it instead drifted with the river.
It washed up in Phoenicia, where it came to rest amidst the trunk of a large sycamore tree.
The tree then grew and the coffin essentially became a part of it. It then became a pillar in the palace of a King and is thought of as a symbol of rebirth for Osiris.
In this way, the Tree of Life meaning is a sort of gateway between the world we know and the afterlife.
Another version of the myth states that eating the fruit of the Tree of Life gives a person eternal life.
The Celts’ Tree of Life
There are very vibrant mythologies pertaining to a Tree of Life that spring from Celtic culture.
Celts were a large group of people spread across Europe–not actually Irish or Scottish as some believe.
They used trees for both food and shelter, and were closely invested in them.
The Celts noticed that acorns from trees would become their own trees, embodying the all-important circle of life, one that stretches to a near-eternity.
Thus, they believed that trees were their ancestors reincarnated. Due to that belief, Celts would always plant a tree in the center of any new village they’d start.
This tree, they named the Tree of Life, the Celtic tree.
In terms of their ancient cultures, the tree eventually became associated with harmony and balance.
The Christian Tree of Life Meaning: The tree of knowledge of Good and Evil
Well, as you may have heard, there is a Tree of Life myth in the book of Genesis, in the Bible.
It’s in one of the first stories in the Bible, and one that is extremely important to all of Christianity.
Here’s why. God created a tree called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (which is not the same as the Tree of Life–keep reading).
Right after doing so, he created animals to be companions to Adam, the first human, and then he created Eve.
He told Adam and Eve to eat from any tree except for the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
When the serpent (Lucifer, or Satan) tricked Eve into eating from the tree, it was the first sin.
It stopped humanity from being perfect, and showed Adam and Eve the difference between good and evil.
This isn’t explained in detail in the Bible, but it is the case.
Eating from the Tree showed Adam and Eve the difference between good and evil
You can see how this is a big part of Christianity, since original sin set in motion the entire quest of man to try not to sin, but, when one does, to ask forgiveness from Jesus, who would later take human form and die on the cross to atone for our sins.
In Genesis 3:22, God worries that Adam and Eve might decide to eat from the Tree of Life, which is first introduced in this verse.
When one eats from the tree of life, one becomes immortal, like God and his son Jesus.
To prevent this, not only did God expel the two humans from the garden, but put a cherubim in front of the Tree of Life with a flaming and rotating sword to guard it.
As you can see, the Tree of Life is a sort of ultimate taboo. It separates mortals and immortals.
In this way, it is tied to the episode–Eve’s first sin–that brings about death in humans and that makes Earth what we know it as, rather than as a lush, perfect garden.
The Tree of Life meaning in the Quran’s Garden of Eden
There is some overlap between the Bible and the Quran.
Jesus is a major figure in both, and the Garden of Eden figures in both as well.
In this story, the entity that Westerners know as God is known, of course, as Allah.
He communed with characters named Adam and Eve, and in an echo from the Old Testament story, cautioned his friends not to eat from a tree.
This tree was called the Tree of Immortality. The tree of life meaning is the same as the Tree of Immortality.
In the Quranic version of the story, the serpent told Adam not to eat from the Tree of Immortality, and told him how much power he and Eve would get.
This persuaded Adam to do it. So Allah expelled the two from the garden and to what we now know as Earth.
He told them that while they learned to atone for their original sin, they’d receive his guidance.
The tree then became a symbol of God’s guidance for mankind learning to better itself and live within Allah’s favor.
The Tree of Life Meaning in Buddhism
The tree of life is as central to Buddhism as it is to Islam and to Christianity.
However, it functions very differently in this tradition. It is not so to speak the same tree! Buddhism doesn’t have a construct of a God, a supernatural deity that serves as a sort of boss of humanity.
A central figure in Buddhism is the Shakyamuni, or original, Buddha. He is sometimes known as Siddharta Gautoma, sometimes spelled Gotoma.
He was a prince who wanted to gain enlightenment. After searching every religion and philosophy he could find, Siddharta felt that he still hadn’t found enlightenment.
One day, exhausted, he slumped against the Bodhi tree, giving up, no longer thinking of his spiritual quest.
It was then that he suddenly found enlightenment. Therefore, the Bodhi Tree becomes the Tree of Enlightenment.
It then becomes a symbol of ridding oneself of the cares of the world, relaxing, and thus finding enlightenment.
Turks and the Tree of Life
In Turkish culture, the Tree of Life has a fun and inspiring name, the “World Tree” (not to be confused with the Norse World Tree).
The ring around the tree serves as a symbol of the circle of life to a people who believe in rebirth.
It’s called the World Tree because it’s in the center of the world, giving balance to the planet.
Mayan Tree of Life
As is the case with many cultures that have a tree of life, The Mayan Tree of Life relates to their creation myth.
In this story, the gods planted ceiba trees at the four corners of the Mother Earth to hold it up.
They then added a fifth in the center for stability. This tree grew roots that descended to the underworld, and branches that rose to the heavens.
The Mayans, like the Turks, called this tree the World Tree, and it has a Tree of Life meaning, as it gives people a way to go from the underworld to the heavens. So we now have 2 “world trees”!
It is meant to encompass all cycles of life in that way.
Tree of life meaning: Why Wear Tree of Life Jewelry?
Now that we’ve looked at how the Tree of Life developed and came to mean different things to different cultures, we should explore the benefits of wearing the Tree of Life symbol.
The first category of reasons to wear jewelry with the Tree of Life pertains to ways in which it can bring a person comfort.
This means making a person feel he or she is being either protected or charmed, or made to feel certain virtues.
Here are some things that the Tree of Life will remind a person of that will give her or him comfort throughout the day:
The tree of life means Family
As we’ve seen, the many cultures who’ve cultivated a Tree of Life mythology associate it with various generations, and with a connection to one’s ancestors.
Our ancestry has so many skills, talents, and virtues that it has shared with us. Shouldn’t you be aware of this every day.
Newness/Rebirth is another meaning of the tree of life
Above, this article explored ways in which various cultures revere trees due to their rebirth each spring.
You’ve heard the saying “today is the first day of the rest of your life,” and wearing jewelry with the Tree of Life symbol will give you a reminder of the potential for newness and better things in your life?
May the symbol cause these things? Perhaps!
Stability is also a tree of life meaning
Trees are all about roots, and hopefully you are too. Having this eternal symbol of stability against your skin is said to give you great stability. Who doesn’t want that?
We bet you get excited when you see people wearing various pieces of life jewelry.
It’s fun to see people who symbolize and believe in certain concepts. It can be a way to find friends or special loved ones in our lives.
Everything we wear communicates something. Wearing Tree of Life jewelry can communicate so many valuable things to people around us:
A growing strength
People who know what’s the Tree of Life meaning will know that you’re committed to being a person who is not only strong, but also growing and developing. Trees are both incredibly strong and always improving.
Relationship to god
As we’ve seen, there is incredible religious significance and meaning in Tree of Life jewelry. The Tree of Life is associated with central myths in all the major religions.
Thus, wearing accessories with the Tree of Life show people your spirituality, and in a way that is quite subtle.
The Best Of Tree of Life Jewelry
Now we’re ready to show you so many wonderful ways to rock the Tree of Life symbolism we’ve described throughout this article.
Beautiful Bracelets Bursting with Benevolence
One great casual way to wear Tree of Life jewelry is to buy a bracelet sporting the tree.
Often, the bracelet has a main pendant with the signature ring around the tree itself, and then the tree.
You can go in a simple and classic direction with a simple sterling silver band.
Or, you can find bracelets with colorful, whimsical, beads making up the main bracelet, with a metal tree charm attached. You can also go super earthy with a “vegan” bracelet made of cork.
You don’t have to go in a super casual or more formal direction, but can be anywhere in between.
Many bracelets are very affordable, coming in at under 40 USD.
Charmed, I’m Sure
And if it’s affordability you’re going for, an even better option might be a Tree of Life charm.
It’s amazing how many individual charms are out there, in gold, silver, and any color imaginable.
Some are in the classic ring shape, some with the tree standing free, some heart-shaped.
When you attach these to a chain or bracelet you already have, you have the chance to combine them with other charms you may have, mixing and matching.
A Unique Earring
In almost any everyday setting, you can look great in a Tree of Life earring.
Many pieces of this jewelry with the charm already attached are available.
You can find simple hoops or studs or a more bohemian look. The latter is perfect for more casual gatherings and situations.
Tree of Life pendants are probably the most common and popular form of jewelry featuring this iconic symbol.
The thing that’s so great and fun about pendants is that they mix in various stones with the main metal.
You might choose to go with a pendant that has a combo of ruby and diamond.
Try a Tree of Life Ring
If you’re committed to the symbolism of the Tree of Life, or if you just love its appearance, with its cascading branches, you’ll probably wear various forms of jewelry featuring it.
If you’re looking to supplement your other jewelry with a ring, you can find items with bands of different sizes, with the main part of the ring larger or smaller as well.
That means that those seeking lighter rings will find them, and those looking for jewelry that really catches the eye will have opportunities, too.
Sometimes colored stones will make up leaves or fruit of the trees.
There’s no reason you can’t have multiple Tree of Life rings that all look different.
By the way, there’s no reason you can’t opt for a Tree of Life tattoo in addition to great jewelry.
You may go with something size of a lima bean or a glorious tree that covers your back.
Who knows how much prosperity, strength, and balance you’ll acquire that way!
Tree of Life Meaning FAQs
Q. What is the meaning of the tree of life in the Bible?
A. The Bible is the only major text in which the tree has basically a negative connotation.
Instead of being something for people to enjoy, it sits in the Garden of Eden and is guarded by a cherubim with a rotating, flaming sword.
God expelled Adam and Eve from the garden so they wouldn’t eat of the tree and become immortal.
Q. Where is the tree of life today?
A. The tree of life is a strictly mythological lifeform, so it doesn’t exist in a particular, physical location.
However, according to mythology it is located in the region of the myth’s origin, such as Africa, Turkey, etc.
According to Mayan myth, the tree is in the center of the Earth!
Q. Is the tree of life religious?
A. While the Tree of Life it is a part of the main stories and texts of the world’s major religions, it also comes from secular myths from many cultures.
It’s significance, is often life-affirming and refers to many universal concepts like balance or permanence, which aren’t solely religious.
Q. Is the tree of life a symbol of God?
A. It is more a symbol of life and of the repeating nature of life. Trees grow their leaves again each spring, and the tree is, among other things, a bridge between the life we know and the afterlife, or otherworld.
Q. Is the tree of life good luck?
A. The Tree of Life symbolizes renewal, strength, and stability, and someone who has those qualities would probably have a good experience in life, even if this isn’t quite luck.