The Tree of Life in worldwide folklore

Olive tree low resolution
Olive Tree – Annalisa Salis

Trees are life-giving organisms from a biological and ecological perspective, but have also long held much significance and intrigue in folklore and across many faiths and religions worldwide. Their prevalence in folklore often takes the form of the Tree of Life concept, which in itself varies exceedingly across the globe. In the Gaelic tradition the importance of trees is woven into the fundamentals of the language itself, with the letters of the alphabet each representing a tree – a for ailm (elm), b for beith (birch) and so on…what’s more, The Tree of Liberty, a poem dubiously accredited to Burns, is a prime example of the merging of ideas of freedom and liberty with the powerful imagery of an oak tree. Not to mention the countless other appearances of tree imagery in various traditional art forms across the globe.

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival in collaboration with ArtCOP Scotland is gathering stories, songs and dances featuring the Tree of Life in many cultures for the World Climate Change Conference in Paris (Mon 30 Nov – Fri 11 Dec), as well as featuring a number of events on the theme of trees. The Tree has roots, branches and leaves, and offers a habitat for birds, insects and animals. It symbolises the inter-relation of life and an ecology that unites humanity and nature. It is a sign of sustainability, through which we can re-green our planet through virtuous cycles of air, water and earth. We invite our friends around the world to share their Tree of Life stories and traditions so that Paris may receive the oldest ancestor wisdom in the world – the wisdom of life – and give our children their future.

Please send an email to morag@scottishstorytellingcentre.com if you would like to contribute to the Tree of Life blog.

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One thought on “The Tree of Life in worldwide folklore

  1. I don’t know if this counts, because it’s religion rather than folklore, but the Tree of Life reminds me of Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed.

    Matthew 13:31-32Good News Translation (GNT)

    The Parable of the Mustard Seed
    31 Jesus told them another parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man takes a mustard seed and sows it in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it grows up, it is the biggest of all plants. It becomes a tree, so that birds come and make their nests in its branches.”

    Liked by 1 person

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