Trees in Mythology and Symbolism

Trees in Mythology

Probably the most profound way in which trees are regarded is by their association with mythology. Trees bewitch us and offer a sense of mystery. In mythology, trees take on magical powers and become the centre of our fascination. In this context trees give us a sense of the unknown. To actually see and touch such trees is a powerful and profound experience, despite our inability to physically draw on that power. We are unable to grasp the complexity of these feelings, and for this reason we bow to the superiority of the tree over us.

World Tree/Cosmic Tree/Tree of Life

Many mythologies around the world have the concept of the World Tree, a magnificent tree growing at the centre of the universe providing a link between the cosmos, earth and the underworld: its stem pierces through the world of human affairs, its branches reach high up into the sky, supporting the cosmos, with its stars and planets, while its roots stretch deep into the darkness of the Underworld, forming a gateway to the realm of the dead. In European mythology the best known example is the tree Yggdrasil from Norse mythology.




Trees in Symbolism

Trees are the gladiator’s of Nature, fighting to keep a foothold in the most extreme conditions. This characteristic of strength is symbolised in three parts of the tree – roots, trunk and branches. Its roots lie deep in the ground drawing up nutrients and providing a solid base which symbolises the concept of ‘roots’ and our striving for a sense of belonging in a community daily interaction with our environment. The canopy contains the leaves that draw energy from their surroundings, symbolising our consuming desire to know our cultural heritage. The drive to find an historic link with our present lives is almost instinctive driving us to search for status and a reason for being. The trunk stands above ground providing material strength for the whole tree which could be considered symbolic of our need for inner strength.



It is believed groups such as Pagans, worshipped the actual trees, and that they still hold valid today some of the values associated with them. Trees are linked with longevity and fertility which may be a contributing factor to the sacred position some trees still hold.

The feeling of awe and wonder felt by the early pagans is echoed by John Evelyn, in his book ‘Sylva — A Discourse of Forest Trees’ in 1664;

“He that in Winter should behold some of our highest hills in Surrey clad in whole woods of these last two trees (Yew and Box), for divers miles in circuit, might without the least violence to his imagination easily fancy himself transported into some new or enchanted country.”



24 thoughts on “Trees in Mythology and Symbolism

  1. well trees help us breath sustaining health and life plants are a symbol of living and breathing oxygen is in demand and trees are an essential gift love the blog icey xxjen

  2. Excellent Blog Wolfie Girl.You have a pulled out all the stops on this one. Overall it made for fantastic reading, the graphics are impressive also.If you were a tree, I wonder what type of tree you would be?One things for sure If I was one, I’d be very wary of that Cherno and his intentions when sniffing around my roots. :o( ;o) :oD :oD xx

  3. LOvely post Wolfie, I do love trees, one of the saddest things n nature is to see a majestic mature tree felled by man, especially if it’s to satisfy his greed for space to build for profit, I’m sure the heavens weep at such wanton destruction.

  4. Natalia: The obvious thought was that I would be an "Old Oak Tree!" However!! I am not at all sure I would want Cherno sniffing around my roots…lol…with his "intentions!" ;)…and anyway… thought I was supposed to be BEHIND the Old Oak Tree WITH Cherno!!! lol…Oh well! Hey ho and a bottle of Jamaican Rum!! (And thank you for your visit!)

  5. Jenagoth: Thank you for your fine and well thought-out comment 🙂 It’s a very valid angle on the subject and one that would have been a good addition to the blog! "Trees are an essential gift"….lovely way of putting it, and so very true! :)Arlene: Thank you 🙂 The loss of any tree is deeply saddening, even when nature itself causes its destruction, reminding us of its untamed power…All the more reason to cherish and enjoy the beauty and the mystery of our trees 🙂

  6. Wolfy, thou are indeed a most naughty little canine madame. ;o) No you have mention the thought it won’t be a certain entity comes to claim his prize. Be warned though… His claws haven’t been clipped in a long time. :oD xx

  7. hmmm – I was thinking along similar anthropological/spirituous lines…. must do mine & post tomorrow. I’ve seen the film that ‘tree of life’ bottom LH side came from- darned if I can remember the title though.. Had Fab music too ?

  8. i love trees. grew up in the pacific northwest coastal region of the states, and have a passion for evergreens. but i love all trees. as jenagoth says, they give us clean air. they also feed us, house us, protect us, entertain us, and give us beauty. a recommened read for you … ‘the giving tree’ by shel silverman. one of my favorites.k☼

  9. Simon…the LionHeart! : Seems there are a few of us thinking along similar lines at the mo’, good to know we’re so in tune with each other 😉 Your blog was excellent, a really good read and a great tonic to a "delusional, deranged She-Wolf!"I didn’t know there’d been a film involving that "Tree of Life"…do let me know if you remember the title 🙂

  10. Kirstin…the Fearless…! : Thanks for stopping by…and I shall indeed look up "The Giving Tree"…it’s been a long time since I’ve had any good reading material 🙂 Interestingly evergreens appear to relate to the Tree of Life, as it’s most likely form. I look at trees in a whole new way now…and these comments have opened my mind further 🙂

  11. its a childs book, but i bet you like it. my giving tree as a child was a horse chestnut, in portland oregon. the people who bought the house when my grandma died cut it down ;(k☼

  12. I say EIW MWW..another excellent an’ interesting blog.The film Avatar has the theme of trees join all things together.There is one huge Oak tree in the local park ( Used to beHenry Bamfords deer Park yonks ago ) where I used to hide from ARDB, then whistle him..Has he used to spend alot of time chasing me around it, I planted some wild flower seeds around it’s base last autumn.Can’t seem to find your GB old stick.LABW LABW :)) xXx

  13. This is a very detailed, interesting and indeed highly informative addition to your scripts and as I can see from the comments there are many engrossed in this one. I will have to split this comment into two parts as I want to add a more informed comment, well maybe? Mythology has so many appealing studies including the theme you have chosen here of course you could venture even further

  14. and treat everyone to an in depth analysis of alternative Mythological topics such as The Mythology of Kings, Heroes & Villains of which there are many, however your chosen subject on Mythological Trees is definitely a worthy choice. Maybe your next outing will include Olympian Gods, Giants, Nymphs or Mythology of the Stars? Thank you for sharing this subject matter with us, it is a very attention-grabbing read. Androgoth XXx

  15. LABW LABW! Hello! Haven’t seen Avatar but I do know there’s magic in trees! And no doubt there is magic in the ARDB Oak Tree too 😉 GB is down since we cannot leave graphics in them anymore and can’t even format "notes" and not even a "smiley" on offer anymore. You’re not 1st person to mention it so maybe I reinstate it…see how it goes. MWW btw??!!!! AF EIW (MWW) xx ;)))

  16. Androgoth…Dark Prince of Goths:) How thoughtful of you to fly thru the Icy Realm on your travels with such an interesting comment. Mythology is such a far ranging subject as you show in your comment, it is difficult to know where to begin! I could indeed venture further tho I may become too absorbed myself to remember to post anything!! lol 😉

  17. Hmm…Olympian gods? Giants…and Nymphs…indeed a most interesting train of thought! I had not thought of these so I will certainly pursue the subject further my good friend. Thank you for visit! 😉

  18. Yes another blog on Mythology if you please? Hope those Zombies aren’t bothering you too much? lolBe Good Now Europa-Icewolf… Or Is That Angelica-Icewolf? Androgoth XXx

  19. A very beautiful blog WolfieI love the images and glad you are keeping us all in touch with nature!Love the photos in you albums too especially the horsesLove Suki x

  20. Hey Suki! HooOOOWWwwLLLLoooooo! Thank you for passing thru the "naturally"…strange…lol…world of Wolfie 😉 This exploration into nature’s mythological realms is leading into some very wierd and wonderful places…the trail becomes a labyrinth leading ever onward! 😉 Love Wolfie x

  21. Rosemary…how thoughtful of you to take time out to visit amidst your post-holiday email chaos and the WLS affliction you’re contending with! Thank you for kindness in doing so, it’s great to see you back…my blog pages need you!! 😉

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