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The concept of a tree of life as a many-branched tree illustrating the idea that all life on earth is related has been used in science, religion, philosophy,mythology, and other areas. A tree of life is variously,
1. a motif in various world theologies, mythologies,
and philosophies; 2. a mystical concept alluding to the interconnectedness of all life on our planet; and 3. a metaphor for common descent in the evolutionary sense. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, the tree of knowledge, connecting heaven and the underworld, and the tree of life, connecting all forms of creation, are both forms of the world tree or cosmic tree.  According to some scholars, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, portrayed in various religions and philosophies, are the same tree.
Conceptual and mythological "trees of life"
Various trees of life are recounted in folklore, culture and fiction, often relating to immortality or fertility. They had their origin in religious symbolism.
In Egyptian mythology, in the Ennead system of Heliopolis, the first couple, apart from Shu & Tefnut (moisture & dryness) and Geb & Nuit (earth & sky), are Isis & Osiris. They were said to have emerged from the acacia tree of Saosis, which the Egyptians considered the "tree of life", referring to it as the "tree in which life and death are enclosed". A much later myth relates how Set killed Osiris, putting him in a coffin, and throwing it into the Nile, the coffin becoming embedded in the base of a tamarisk tree. The Egyptians' Holy Sycamore also stood on the threshold of life and death, connecting the two worlds.
What is known as the Assyrian Tree of Life was represented by a series of nodes and criss-crossing lines. It was apparently an important religious symbol, often attended to by Eagle-Headed Gods and Priests, or the King. Assyrilogists have not reached consensus as to the meaning of this symbol. It is multi-valent. The name "Tree of Life" has been attributed to it by modern scholarship; it is not used in the Assyrian sources. In fact, no textual evidence pertaining to the symbol is known to exist.
In the Baha'i sacred writings, the "Tree of Life" refers to the reality of the Manifestation of God in whatever age he appears. Hence, today, the Tree of Life is Bahá'u'lláh. But, as the Baha'i Faith teaches the essential unity of the Manifestations of God in the divine realm, the Tree of Life also refers generally to all the Manifestations of God. Elsewhere, the Tree of Life is identified with the Book of the Covenant (the charter of the Covenant of Baha'u'llah).
In Chinese mythology, a carving of a Tree of Life depicts a phoenix and a dragon; the dragon often represents immortality. A Taoist story tells of a tree that produces a peach every three thousand years. The one who eats the fruit receives immortality. An archaeological discovery in the 1990s was of a sacrificial pit at Sanxingdui in Sichuan, China. Dating from about 1200 BCE, it contained threebronze trees, one of them 4 meters high. At the base was a dragon, and fruit hanging from the lower branches. At the top is a strange bird-like (phoenix) creature with claws. Also found in Sichuan, from the late Han dynasty (c 25 – 220 CE) is another tree of life. The ceramic base is guarded by a horned beast with wings. The leaves of the tree are coins and people. At the apex is a bird with coins and the Sun.
Germanic paganism and Norse mythology
• In Germanic paganism, trees played (and, in the form of
reconstructive Heathenry and Germanic Neopaganism, continue to play) a prominent role, appearing in various aspects of surviving texts and possibly in the name of gods. The tree of life appears in Norse religion as Yggdrasil, the world tree, a massive tree (sometimes considered a yew or ash tree) with extensive lore surrounding it. Perhaps related to Yggdrasil, accounts have survived of Germanic Tribes' honouring sacred trees within their societies. Examples include Thor's Oak, sacred groves, the Sacred tree at Uppsala, and the wooden Irminsul pillar. In Norse Mythology, the apples from Iðunn's ash box provide immortality for the gods.
• Etz Chaim, Hebrew for "tree of life", is a common term used in Judaism. The expression, found
in the Book of Proverbs, is figuratively applied to the Torah itself. Etz Chaim is also a common name for yeshivas and synagogues as well as for works of Rabbinic literature. Further, it is also used to describe each of the wooden poles to which the parchment of a Sefer Torah is attached. Jewish mysticism depicts the tree of Life in the form of ten interconnected nodes, as an important part of the Kabbalah. As such, it resembles the ten Sephirot. The Tabernacle and The Ark of the Covenant were both made of Acacia or shittah-tree. Traditionally, the burning bush was believed to be acacia. Many Christians consider the acacia the tree of life. Ezekiel 47:12 states: "Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal." The tree of life is mentioned in the Book of Genesis (for example Genesis 3:22); it is often considered distinct from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (but see introduction). InChristianity, the tree of life is symbolically seen as Jesus Christ. As in Eastern Christianity the tree of life is to love God. Revelation 22:2 states: "Down the middle of the city street, on either bank of the river were the trees of life, which bear twelve crops of fruit in a year, one in each month, and the leaves of which are the cure for the nations."
• Flora in general play a central role in the Indian culture, which has largely a vegetarian
tradition. The symbolism of the tree is mentioned in the 135th hymn of the 10th book of RigVeda, and in the 15th chapter of Bhagavad-gita (1–4). Two varieties of the fig (called Ashvatta in Sanskrit), the banyan tree and the peepal tree are the most revered in the Indian tradition, and both are considered the trees of life. The banyan symbolizes fertility, according to the Agni Purana, and is worshipped by those wanting children. It is also referred to as the tree of immortality in many Hindu scriptures. The banyan is believed to have nourished mankind with its ‘milk’ before the advent of grain and other food. The fig tree is either a player or an observer in several scriptural events in Hinduism. The sages and seers sit under the shade of the fig tree to seek enlightenment, hold discourses and conduct Vedic rituals. The Bodhi tree under which Gautama Buddha achieved enlightenment is a peepal tree. The fig tree assumes special importance in the Indian tradition owing mainly to its 'two-way growth' (aerial 'roots' growing downwards).
The Book of Mormon
• The Tree of Life is shown to Lehi and then also to his son Nephi in a dream or vision, between
600 and 592 B.C., according to the Book of Mormon. Lehi recounted the tree as "a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy." (1 Nephi 8:10)
• Nephi's vision is found in 1 Nephi 11:8 "And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me: Look!
And I looked and beheld a tree; and it was like unto the tree which my father had seen; and the beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow." Nephi seeks to learn from the Spirit what the tree represents: "10 And he said unto me: What desirest thou? 11 And I said unto him: To know the interpretation thereof." Nephi is then shown in vision Mary with the baby Jesus in her arms, after which the Spirit says "21 Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw? 22 And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things. 23 And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul." These visions were experienced by Nephi and Lehi before they departed from the Bible lands and travelled by boat to the Americas.
"World Tree" or "Tree of Life" is a central figure in Turkic mythology and also in Turkish mythology as a branch of it. • World tree defines "tree worlds cosmology"
• In Urartu around 13th to 6th century BC, the
Tree of Life was a religious symbol, drawn onto the exterior walls of fortresses and carved on the armour of warriors. The branches of the tree were equally divided on the right and left sides of the stem, with each branch having one leaf, and one leaf on the apex of the tree. Servants (some winged) stood on each side of the tree with one of their hands up as if they are taking care of it. This tree can be found on numerous Urartu artifacts, such as paintings on the walls of the Erebuni Fortress in Yerevan, Armenia.
Main article: Mesoamerican world tree
• Among pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures, the concept of "world trees" is a prevalent
motif in Mesoamerican mythical cosmologies and iconography. World trees embodied the four cardinal directions, which represented also the fourfold nature of a central world tree, a symbolic axis mundi connecting the planes of the Underworld and the sky with that of the terrestrial world.
• Depictions of world trees, both in their directional and central aspects, are found in the art
and mythological traditions of cultures such as the Maya, Aztec, Izapan, Mixtec, Olmec, and others, dating to at least the Mid/Late Formative periods ofMesoamerican chronology. Among the Maya, the central world tree was conceived as or represented by a ceiba tree, and is known variously as a wacah chan or yax imix che, depending on the Mayan language. The trunk of the tree could also be represented by an upright caiman, whose skin evokes the tree's spiny trunk. Directional world trees are also associated with the four Yearbearers in Mesoamerican calendars, and the directional colors and deities.Mesoamerican codices which have this association outlined include the Dresden, Borgia and Fejérváry-Mayer codices. It is supposed that Mesoamerican sites and ceremonial centers frequently had actual trees planted at each of the four cardinal directions, representing the quadripartite concept. World trees are frequently depicted with birds in their branches, and their roots extending into earth or water (sometimes atop a "water-monster", symbolic of the underworld). Way.
• The central world tree has also been interpreted as a representation of the band of the Milky
• In the Japanese religion of Shinto, trees were marked with sacred paper
symbolizing lightning bolts, as trees were thought to be sacred. After they died, ancestors and animals were often portrayed as branches on the tree. The Book of One Thousand and One Nights has a story, 'The Tale of Buluqiya', in which the hero searches for immortality and finds a paradise with jewel-encrusted trees. Nearby is a Fountain of Youth guarded by Al-Khidr. Unable to defeat the guard, Buluqiya has to return empty-handed. The Epic of Gilgamesh is a similar quest for immortality. In Mesopotamian mythology, Etana searches for a 'plant of birth' to provide him with a son. This has a solid provenance of antiquity, being found in cylinder seals from Akkad (2390 – 2249 BCE). One of the earliest forms of ancient Greek religion has its origins associated with tree cults. origin of the land in which a tree of life is described. According to the myth, it is found in the heavens, where the first humans lived, until a pregnant woman fell and landed in an endless sea. Saved by a giant turtle from drowning, she formed the world on its back by planting bark taken from the tree. Contemporary Welsh artist Jen Delyth created a Celtic Tree of Life symbol, in part based on ancient Celtic veneration of trees and traditional Celtic designs.
• • In a myth passed down among the Iroquois, The World on the Turtle's Back, explains the
• In Dictionaire Mytho-Hermetiqe (Paris, 1737), Antoine-Joseph Pernety, a famous alchemist,
identified the Tree of Life with the Elixir of Life and the Philosopher's Stone.
• In Eden in the East (1998), Stephen Oppenheimer suggests that a tree-worshiping culture
arose in Indonesia and was diffused by the so-called "Younger Dryas" event of c8000 BCE, when the sea-level rose. This culture reached China (Szechuan), then India and the Middle East. Finally the Finno-Ugaritic strand of this diffusion spread through Russia to Finlandwhere the Norse myth of Yggdrasil took root.
• Rastafari and some Coptic Christians consider cannabis to be the Tree of Life.
• A 2 1/2 story high "Tree of Life" sculpture by Wisconsin artist Nancy Metz White was installed
in Mitchell Boulevard Park in Milwaukee in 2002. The tree is made of brightly painted welded steel and forge flashings recycled from Milwaukee heavy industry.
• Pictorial representations of the Tree of Life can be found in the album artwork for rock
band Mudvayne's L.D. 50(NOPE); and on the outer casing of the album Salival, by rock band Tool. In addition, the Tree of Life was used in the visual displays shown during several of Tool's concerts, especially during the song Triad. Metal band Dååth (pronounced 'doth') also uses the Tree of Life as a basis for their music. their song "Touching the Spheres of Sephiroth". One of the tracks on the soundtrack album for the film The Fountain is called "Tree of Life". The duo "Trees of Life" did the soundtrack for the animated film Tamala 2010. Guitar virtuoso Steve Vai has a Tree of Life inlay in his Ibanez JEM guitars Dillinger Escape Plan bassist Liam Wilson has a Tree of Life tattoo on his chest American jam band O.A.R. featured a tree of life both on the cover art and on the actual c.d. for the album In Between Now and Then Double album "Bath"/"Leaving Your Body Map" by avant-garde metal band maudlin of the Well was constructed based upon a parallel qabalistic Tree of Life structure. The double album Axis Mutatis by the electronic group The Shamen contains in some limited editions the instrumental album "Arbor Bona Arbor Mala". The title refers to the tree of life, the ancient symbol found in virtually all Shamanic cultures, linking the underworld with the earth and the heavens. Also, on the cover of Axis Mutatis appears a representation of the tree of life by William Latham.
• • In their album Emissaries the black metal Melechesh make a reference to the Tree of Life in • • • • • • •
See also: Phylogenetic tree The tree of life in science describes the relationships of all life on Earth in an evolutionary context. Charles Darwin talks about envisioning evolution and ecosystems as a "tangled bank" in On the Origin of Species; however, the book's sole illustration is of a branched diagram that is very tree-like. The evolutionary relationships of the tree of life were refined using genetic data by the great American microbiologist Carl
Woese, the discoverer of the domain Archaea and a pioneer in molecular (genetic) methods in evolutionary biology.
• The Tree of Life on the Web is an ongoing Internet project containing information
about phylogeny and biodiversity, produced by biologists from around the world. Each page contains information about one group of organisms and is organized according to a branched tree-like form, thus showing hypothetical relationships between organisms and groups of organisms. The phrase the tree of life is often used in association with the DNA molecule, and has sometimes been associated with the maternal placenta. The neuroanatomical term tree of life describes the branching pattern between the cortical grey matter and subcortical white matter of the cerebellum. In the world's rain forests, trees' leaves and branches form a canopy, which traps moisture and protects the diverse ecology underneath from the equatorial Sun. The phrase trees of lifeis used to describe this protective barrier, as, in its absence, life quickly abandons the area, due to extinction or migration. In February 2009, BBC One broadcast an animated, interactive tree of life as part of its "Darwin Season". The program was narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
• • •
"From the first growth of the tree, many a limb and branch has decayed and dropped off; and these fallen branches of various sizes may represent those whole orders, families, and genera which have now no living representatives, and which are known to us only in a fossil state. As we here and there see a thin, straggling branch springing from a fork low down in a tree, and which by some chance has been favoured and is still alive on its summit, so we occasionally see an animal like the Ornithorhynchus (Platypus) or Lepidosiren (South American lungfish), which in some small degree connects by its affinities two large branches of life, and which has apparently been saved from fatal competition by having inhabited a protected station. As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever-branching and beautiful ramifications."– Charles Darwin, On the Origin of
• In J.R.R Tolkien's The Silmarillion, the Two Trees of Valinor are the sources of light in Middle• Earth. In Stephen Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, The One Tree (or Tree of Life) is the tree from which the Staff of Law was produced. In C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, the Tree of Life plays a role, especially in the sixth published book (the first in the in-world chronology) The Magician's Nephew In Terry Brooks' Shannara series, the Ellcrys, an Elf-turned-tree, plays some sort of role in many of the novels In Robert Jordan' Wheel of Time the Tree of Life – "Avendesora" – as the last of its kind plays a pivotal role. This tree also linked to the Buddhist "Bodhi" tree, beneath which the Buddha attained Nirvana The Tree of Life appears in Larry Niven's Known Space novels
• • •
• The Hyperion Cantos series of novels contains several concepts and (indirect) references to
the Tree of Life
• In the Roger Zelazny's 1978 novel The Chronicles of Amber: The Courts of Chaos prince
Corwin encounters Ygg (a nick from Ydgrassil), a tree who speaks and is planted on the border between Order and Chaos, between Amber and Courts of Chaos In The Sea of Trolls written by Nancy Farmer, the Tree of Life (Ydgrassil) is a place holding magical powers. In Michael Chabon's 2002 novel Summerland, the four great limbs of the Lodgepole – also known as the "Tree of Worlds" and the "Ash o' Ashes" – hold up the four Worlds of the Summerlands, the Winterlands, the Middling, and the Gleaming.
• In the Mana series of video games, there is the Mana Tree which feeds the world its life force.
Players are often granted Mana power and the Sword of Mana by the tree, on top of a mission to remove a certain threat to the Mana Tree, and thus the world.
• Similarly, the sentient Great Deku Tree in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time grants eternal
youth and protection to the inhabitants of Kokiri Forest.
• The Norse Tree of Life, Yggdrasil, is either featured or referenced in many games, including
those of the Tales RPG-series, the 2002 video game Wild Arms 3 and the 2008 video gameToo Human. In the Atari 2600 game Swordquest: Fireworld, the map of the game world is patterned after the Kabbalah Tree of Life. In the 1997 video game Final Fantasy VII the main antagonist, Sephiroth, gets his name from the Kabbalah Tree of Life. In the 1999 video game The Legend Of Dragoon the Divine Tree represents a Tree of Life. after the distinctive shape that the space dust forms.
• • In the 1999 video game Homeworld, there is a map called the Tree of Life, probably named • In the 2000 video game Final Fantasy IX an ancient Tree of Life - known as the lifa tree - is
• In the 2002 video game Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, a Tree of Life is the central building of the
Night Elf race.
• In the 2004 MMORPG World of Warcraft, the Tree of Life is a shapeshifting form used by druids • • • In the 2008 video game Prince of Persia, a gigantic, ancient tree in the middle of the desert is
used to keep the evil deity Ahriman sealed in a temple at its trunk. This game's story heavily borrows from Zoroastrianism. In the 2009 video game Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, the Tree of Life grows within the city of Shambala, and the sap or fossilized resin from the tree is seen to be consumed by the inhabitants of the city. This in turn grants the user incredible regenerative abilities, strength, increased height and possible biological immortality. The sap from the tree represents theCintamani Stone of Buddhist mythology, a giant raw sapphire with supposed wish-fulfilling properties. for healing fellow party members. In the 2004 video game Warlords Battlecry III, the Wood Elves have a Tree of Life. In the 2007 video game Dragoneer's Aria, The Great Spirit guards a World Tree.
• Darren Aronofsky's film The Fountain (as well as the graphic novel based on the screenplay)
centers around immortality given by the Tree of Life • In Pokemon: Lucario and the mystery of Mew, a tree of life was also shown.
• In the anime movie Ghost in the Shell (Kokaku Kidotai), the auditorium in the old sunken part
of Newport City shows one of the walls of the building bearing one type of the Tree of Life being shot at from its base by a tank.
• In the 1997 anime movie The End of Evangelion, the Eva series summon the Tree of Life with
• In the anime Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water there is a giant tree beneath Antartica that is
identified as the Tree Of Life by Captain Nemo
• In the manga Fullmetal Alchemist, the Gate of Alchemy depicts a representation of the Tree of
• Life In the anime Genesis of Aquarion the Tree of Life is being fed to create a new Genesis.
• The solitary tree in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot is often thought to be a representation
of the Tree of Life
Physical "trees of life"
The Arborvitae gets its name from the Latin for "tree of life". found in Oaxaca, Mexico. There is a Tree of Life in the island country of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. Metaphor: The Tree of Utah is an 87-foot high sculpture in the Utah Bonneville Salt Flats that is also known as the Tree of Life. The ancient Zoroastrians and modern Rastafari consider cannabis to be the Tree of Life. In some parts of the Caribbean, coconut trees are given the title of "tree of life", as they can produce everything needed for short/medium term survival. Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park features an artificial tree dubbed "The Tree of Life", which has about 325 carvings of different species of animals. Inside the tree is the It's Tough to be a Bug! attraction. An acacia tree in Tsavo National Park, Kenya. It is a symbol of life in the vast expanses of thorny savanna, where wild animals come to take advantage of its leaves or its shade. Tsavo National Park in southeastern Kenya, crossed by the Nairobi-Mombasa road and railway axis, is the country's largest protected area (8,200 square miles, or 21,000 square kilometers) and was declared a national park in 1948.
• The Tule tree of Aztec mythology is also associated with a real tree. This Tule tree can be • • •
• The West African Moringa oleifera tree is regarded as a "tree of life" or "miracle tree" by some
because it is arguably the most nutritious source of plant-derived food discovered on the planet. Modern scientists and some missionary groups have considered the plant as a possible solution for the treatment of severe malnutrition and aid for those with HIV/AIDS.
• The grandfather of British studio pottery, Bernard Leach, famously used
a 'tree of life' on many of his works. Something which was continued by his SonDavid Leach, among others.
• A motif of the tree of life is featured on Turkish 5 Kuruş coins, to be
circulated in early 2009.
For other uses, see Tree of life (disambiguation).
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Axis mundi Five Trees Fleur de lys New Year Tree Phylogenetic tree Sephirot (Kabbalah) Sidrat al-Muntaha The Fountain (film) The Fountain (graphic novel) Tree of Knowledge Tree of Life (Judeo-Christian) Tree of Life (Kabbalah) Trees in mythology Maypole Palmette World tree
1. 2. 3.
^ world tree in the Encyclopædia Britannica ^  ^ References to "Tree of Life" in the Baha'i writings
^ Saint Isaac the Syrian says that "Paradise is the love of God, in which the bliss of all the beatitudes is contained," and that "the tree of life is the love of God" (Homily 72).
5. ^ Miller and Taube (1993), p.186. 6. ^ Finlay (2003) 7. ^ Miller and Taube, loc. cit. 8. ^ Ibid. 9. ^ Freidel, et al. (1993) 10.^ So could Ida be the true missing link? 11.^ Villarreal LP, Witzany G. (2009) Viruses are essential agents within the roots and stem of the tree of life.
Journal of Theoretical Biology. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2009.10.014
12.^ Darwin, C. (1872), pp. 170–171. On the Origin of Species. Sixth Edition. The Modern Library, New York. 13.^ Moringa 14.^ Moringa Oleifera : Malnutrition Fighter : NPR 15.^ The possible role of Moringa oleifera in HIV/AIDS supportive treatment • PALAMIDESSI, TOMMASO (2006). "Tree of life". Dizionario Enciclopedico di Archeosofia. Archeosofica. • MORMON (1830). "Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ". Church of Jesus Christ •
of Latter Day Saints. FINLEY, MICHAEL (2003). "Raising the sky: The Maya creation myth and the Milky Way". The Real Maya Prophecies: Astronomy in the Inscriptions and Codices. Maya Astronomy. Retrieved 2007-01-04. Shaman's Path. William Morrow & Co. ISBN 0-688-10081-3.
• FREIDEL, DAVID A.; LINDA SCHELE and JOY PARKER (1993). Maya Cosmos: Three Thousand Years on the • MILLER, MARY; and KARL TAUBE (1993). The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya.
London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-05068-6.
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