Celtic Tree of Life (Crann Bethadh)

Tree of Life. Image copyright Ireland Calling

The Celtic tree of Life is often drawn showing the branches reaching skyward and the roots spreading out into the earth below symbolising the Druid belief in the link between heaven and earth.

Trees were an important aspect of Celtic Culture. They provided shelter and food, and warmth through fire wood. They also acted as a home for other animals, birds and insects.

The Druids would hold their classes and meetings under the trees and, when clearing a settlement, the ancient Celts would always leave a tree standing in the centre.

Connection to the other world

Tree of Life from the Kabbalah
Tree of Life from the Kabbalah

Spiritually, the Celts believed that trees were the ancestors of man and had a connection to the other world.

The most sacred of trees was the oak, or ‘daur’ in Celtic, which is where we get the modern word ‘door’. So the oak tree, literally would have been the door to the other world.

The Tree of Life exists in many cultures, religions and mythologies, including those of Ancient Egypt, China, the Kabbalah and the Mayans.

Carvings date back to 2000 BC

Neolithic carvings of trees have been found in the countryside of northern England dating back to 2000 BC.

The general meaning of the tree for all cultures is the same; the cycle of life and the interconnectedness of all creation.

Ogham Stone copyright Terry jaqian cc3  Image graphic Ireland Calling

Religions such as Christianity and Judaism see the Tree of Life as a symbol of purity and wisdom.

The Celts, along the same lines, based their Ogham alphabet on the Trees, naming each character after a special tree, so that, in a way, the trees would impart wisdom to those who read it.

The Celts attributed the qualities of wisdom, longevity and strength to the tree of life.

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More on Celtic trees folklore

Trees in Celtic Mythology





https://ireland-calling.com/celtic-mythology-alder-tree/



Apple – healing, youthfulness and rebirth




Ash – one Ireland’s sacred trees





Aspen – sacred Celtic whispering tree




Birch – the tree of birth





Blackthorn – sinister tree of the dark side




Elder – a tree sacred to the Celts




Gorse – symbol of love and fertility




Hawthorn – the fairy tree




Hazel – the tree at the world’s end





Heather – building block for Celts





Holly – guards against spirits and witchcraft





Ivy – symbol of strength and determination




Mistletoe – sacred plant of the sun god





Oak – king of the forest





Reed – introduction to Ogham





Rowan – the ‘lady of the mountains’





Scots Pine – the 'pioneer' plant'





Vine – the tree of joy



Willow – beauty and spiritual presence





Yew – longevity and resurrection




The Celtic Tree Calendar – following the lunar cycle

Ancient Irish language of ogham

Ogham – ancient Irish written language





New age beliefs about Ogham





Ogham alphabet named after Irish words for trees




Origins of Ogham – modern theories





Poems written in Ogham