I frequently use a Tree of Life on my rosaries and prayer beads in place of a cross or crucifix. It’s a powerful symbol packed with meaning and significance for many people & cultures.
I made a rosary for a friend who is a semi-practicing Catholic and asked if she wanted a crucifix or something else as the anchor symbol. She hesitated not quite sure what to answer. Turns out she wanted a tree but felt guilty about it. We laughed because guilt is a BIG part of our religious up-bringing but as adults wreaks havoc on our lives – a big reason many people leave the church. I reminded her that the Tree is also a symbol of the risen Christ and that it wouldn’t mean hellfire if it also had deep significance with pagans and Buddhists as well. She got a tree of life on her rosary as a part of reclaiming the practice for herself and without guilt.
Symbolism of the Tree / Tree of Life
The Tree of Life is an ancient mystical symbol appearing in various cultures from the Mayans to the Celts, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism to Nordic mythology. While these cultural legends centered around the sacred Tree of Life may differ in their detail, their stories symbolize similar overarching concepts linked to religion, philosophy and spirituality.
The Tree of Life serves as a reminder of our universal connection to the Mother Earth, and our dependence on her to grow and flourish. It’s an invitation to awareness and connection, in other words, what we in Hawaii call aloha. Many also see the tree as a home of the Goddess. It is also the symbol of the risen Christ as well as the Torah.
Trees give, and they keep giving as a part of reciprocal system. They give life and beauty. They give shade and rest. They clean the air. They hold back erosion. They offer shelter, food, and protection. They move water (Life) to where it’s needed, and form relationships with other plants and trees by communicating in tiny pulses, through fungi and hormones along their root paths. They are the embodiment of the harmony of masculine and feminine energies.