Celtic Tree of Life (Crann Bethadh)

Tree of Life - Celtic symbol. Image copyright Ireland Calling
Tree of Life - Celtic symbol. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Tree of Life. Image copyright Ireland CallingThe 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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