The tree is a spiritual symbol that's featured in many ancient spiritual traditions and faiths. Trees simultaneously reach up toward the sun and down into the earth, taking nourishment from both. They symbolize connection with spirit above and the rich nourishing earth below. The tree of life teaches us to pursue similar connections, as well, both on the earthly plane as we root ourselves in nature and in the spiritual plane as we reach upward.
The Spiritual Symbolism of Trees
Trees are a powerful symbol of connectedness. Roots and branches reach outward in a tangle of tendrils. Trees are known to form interdependent relationships in the forest, communicating through their root tips which reach out to underground fungi to send messages. Similarly, we are encouraged to reach out and make connections with those around us. Trees are always growing, reaching new heights every year. Tall and majestic, they represent strength in the storm and the ability to stand tall even if you've lost a branch or two. They’re peaceful creations, remaining stable and reliable. They may sway in the breeze but they're always waiting patiently right where you left them. They provide shade for the creatures below and a perch for those above. They live in perfect peace with their surroundings. Following the inspiration of the tree of life, you can aspire to a similarly peaceful existence.
The Tree of Life
The tree of life is a particular type of tree. It's not a palm tree or a pine tree. Rather, it's a deciduous tree, which is an important aspect of its symbolism. Throughout the year, deciduous trees go through distinct phases. They're lush and green in summer. In autumn, they put on a vibrant show of color before dropping their leaves and going dormant for the winter. In spring, new leaves spring forth and the cycle begins again. We go through similar cycles in our own lives. Taking a lesson from the tree of life, we can recognize that a period of dormancy isn't a disaster. Rather, it's a gentle gift that gives us a period of quiet contemplation before we burst forth into our personal spring once again.
For thousands of years in Paganism, trees have been a major focal point of mental, spiritual, and physical health. One of the most powerful meditations people used was to meditate with a single tree as a way to commune with nature. Once you start practicing daily, you will find that meditating at different trees will feel like different conversations. Each type of tree singing its own tune.
Tree Grounding Meditation
Tree meditation uses the power of trees for centering and grounding. Using tree meditation for grounding will allow you to connect you to the natural world and feel the strength and spirit of a tree within yourself.
Follow these simple steps to perform your own tree meditation.
Start by finding a quiet space in nature the tree must be healthy. Any tree will work but try to choose one that you connect with spiritually or that you feel has a strong grounding presence. Begin your meditation Sit with your back against the tree, Cup your hands together and Chant to the four directions North, south, east and west. Imagine your hands growing roots deep down into the earth. Understand the tree will lose leaves as the season change, as you will lose things but remember it will come back. The seasons change the Tree as the seasons will change you .
As you stand, try to embody the spirit of the tree. Your Hands are planted like roots on the Ground. Your core is strong like the trunk of a tree. From here, we will go into three different poses:
- For the first pose, raise your hands up above the crown of your head and cup them like a basin. Think of yourself like a tree growing upwards. Pull your shoulders back, but don’t become stiff. Allow yourself to relax. You can even sway in the wind like the tree. This pose represents the heavens. Hold this pose for as long as you feel you need.
- Next, lower your hands so they are eye-level, keeping them cupped. Keep your shoulders back Lower your gaze so your eyes are almost closed. Imagine you are illuminated from within. This pose represents Earth.
- Finally, lower your hands to chest-level. This pose connects you to humanity. Hold this final pose for as long as you want. When finished, lower your arms and embrace yourself by crossing your arms over your chest to end your tree meditation.
Below I will introduce a few of my favorite trees and what they can help with
Trees for Healing and Meditation
- Pine is known as the elder of the forest, it's known as the wisdom keeper.
- Aspen is the first tree that reappears after a fire has devastated the forest. Aspen represents renewal and new life. It is a tree that attracts energy to it.
- A maple leaf’s 5 peaks tap into the number 5 of numerology that represents the 5 elements, or 5 phases of life. The maple is an ally to help you to be able to move to new phases of life.
- Fir is one of the younger trees of a forest and is thought of as a student tree. Silver firs open the eyes and helps to see your future more clearly.
- Cypress and Cedarwood represent love and humility. They are an emblem of the heart, to learn to have respect for who you are.