The Tree of Life is a powerful symbol that has been adopted by cultures all over the world. In each culture it reflects some of the key values of the society, and as such, has immense emotional and often spiritual significance.
Archaeologists have found Tree of Life symbols dating back thousands of years – from ancient Iran to China. In each society, beautifully crafted Tree of Life jewelry has evolved, which includes Tree of Life necklaces, earrings and rings.
What is the story behind the Tree of Life?
The universal theme of the Tree of Life is that it connects all forms of creation. No form of life exists in isolation. All are connected to each other. Tree of Life Jewelry often depicts the Tree of Life in a circle which represents the world, and within the circle, the Tree of Life symbolizes everything that is in the world. In addition, the circular shape, which has no beginning or end, further enforces the theme of connectedness.
In each culture the Tree of Life has additional interpretations. Here are a few examples:
- Buddhism: The Tree of Life is represented by the Bodhi tree. According to Buddhist tradition, Buddha attained enlightenment under the tree, and it therefore represents the path to enlightenment. Buddhists also maintain that the Bodhi tree holds magical powers which no other tree possess.
- Celtic tradition: The ancient Celts believed that the Tree of Life connects the upper and lower worlds. Its branches that reach upward connect to the upper world, and its roots penetrate deep into the underworld. The two worlds are connected through the trunk, which represents the earth we live in. The Celts also believed that humans came from trees and as such they possess magical powers
- Judaism: In the book of Genesis, the Garden of Eden is described. Within the garden two trees are described in depth- the Tree of life and the Tree of knowledge good and evil. The tree of life is described as the source of eternal life. A branch of Jewish spirituality called the Kabbalah explains that the Tree of Life represents the 10 spheres through which God manifests Himself in the world.
- Christianity: In addition to the description in Genesis, the Tree of Life is mentioned in the Book of Revelation as part of the new garden of paradise. Access to the garden is no longer forbidden and those who follow the commandments “have the right to the tree of life”.
- African culture: In many African cultures, the Tree of Life is represented by the Baobab tree. The Baobab is native to the African savannah in which the climate is extremely dry and arid. Within this harsh climate, where most flora can’t survive, the tree is able to store water and produce fruit. It is therefore a symbol of life and positivity.
- Chinese mythology: The Tree of Life represents immortality. It is depicted by a peach tree that has a dragon at its base and a phoenix at its top. Its branches ascend towards the heavens while its base is firmly connected to the earth. A famous Taoist story describes a Tree of Life that produces a single fruit every 3,000 years and the person that consumes the fruit becomes immortal.
- Egyptian mythology: In Egyptian mythology, Isis and Osiris, who are known as the ‘first couple’ emerged from the Tree of Life. The tree is known as the Acacia Tree of Iuaaset and represents the place where life and death are enclosed. The Eastern direction, from which the sun rises, represents life, and the Western direction, where the sun sets, represents death and the underworld.
Modern Interpretations of the Tree of Life Necklaces
In recent years, Tree of Life necklaces have become increasingly popular. By wearing the Tree of Life as a necklace, the wearer can keep the symbol close to their hearts and minds and continuously draw strength from it. As part of the revival of the symbol, many artists have given the Tree of Life a more contemporary interpretation.
At Moriah, we have created Tree of Life necklaces that uniquely combine 14K gold, diamonds and Moriah stone. Moriah stone is an ancient stone retrieved from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.