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Tree of Life - What it all means

The Tree of Life continues to be one of the most popular designs in our range, currently available to own as wall art, a notebook or a greeting card.

The point paper, in our archive, is a reproduction of an original point paper from East Germany thought to have been drawn up and first woven between 1926 and 1935. However, the Tree of Life has a much longer history dating way back in the mists of time

Sometimes referred to as the World Tree or the Tree of Knowledge, the Tree of Life appears in mythology and folklore of various cultures around the world including the Vikings, ancient Egyptians, Celts and Native Americans to name a few. It is also referred to in many religions such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism.

Its meaning varies slightly from culture to culture; however, a common theme is the idea that a mystical tree connects the physical and spiritual worlds and is foundational to supporting all life.

Celtic Tree of Life courtesy of Headingham Fair

In Celtic culture, it is called crann bethadh. Trees were highly revered by the Celts and they believed that they were wise and mystical living beings. They also believed their ancestors became trees after they died and as they saw trees undergo the seasonal cycles, the Celts trees symbolized the cycle of life and rebirth.

Celtic people honoured the Tree of Life by leaving one big tree in the middle of their fields when they cleared their land. Underneath the branches of this tree, they held gatherings and appointed their chieftains. Chopping down the tree was considered a serious crime and their biggest triumph over their enemy would be to chop down their Tree of Life.

Today, the Tree of Life is a popular design incorporated in all types of Celtic jewellery, decorative ornaments, interior products, clocks, clothes and body art.

In Nordic mythology, the Tree of Life is sometimes referred to as the Viking Tree of Life or the Yggdrasil Tree.

This tree was massive and grew out of the Well of Urd, which was an endless pool that held universal wisdom and other powerful cosmic forces.

The Yggdrasil Tree’s roots and branches held the Nine Worlds of the cosmos together. In fact, it was so important that the well-being of the entire world depended on the tree’s own vitality.

The Norse god Odin wanted to possess the knowledge contained in the Yggdrasil Tree and the Well of Urd. Thus, to demonstrate his fealty to this quest, after sacrificing his eye and throwing himself on his spear, he hanged himself from a branch of the Yggdrasil Tree for nine days, nearly dying in the process. However, in the end, he survived, gaining the knowledge of the Universe.

In the Bible, the Tree of Knowledge is similar to the World Tree and Tree of Life. In the Book of Genesis Adam and Eve were not supposed to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge as they were not deemed worthy at the start. However, in the Book of Revelations humans are shown how they can safely access the Tree of Knowledge, which is then referred to as the Tree of Life.

Similarly in the Quran, it is referred to as the Tree of Immortality, also growing in the Garden of Eden. Because they make the mistake of eating from the tree, Allah sends Adam and Even to Earth, where they must live and learn to repent from their mistakes making the tree a symbol of repenting and learning from one’s mistakes, as well as God’s mercy.

The Mayan Tree of Life was a massive Ceiba Pentandra tree and according to a Mayan creation story, the gods planted a ceiba tree in each of the four corners of the world to hold up the heavens. Then they planted a fifth tree in the centre, the roots of which connected to the underworld and its branches to the heavens.


Due to the popularity of the Tree of Life design at the Point Paper Art Company, we are currently experimenting with different colourways in which the design will be available. We are also working with a variety of UK based manufacturers so that we can offer an even wider range of accessories that will feature the Tree of Life, so keep your eye on our website for new products as they are added!

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