The world tree is a recurring image in mythological traditions from around the world.
“Scholarship states that many Eurasian mythologies share the motif of the “world tree”, “cosmic tree”, or “Eagle and Serpent Tree”. More specifically, it shows up in “Haitian, Finnish, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Siberian and northern Asian Shamanic folklore”.
The World Tree is often identified with the Tree of Life, and also fulfills the role of an axis mundi, that is, a center or axis of the world. It is also located at the center of the world and represents the order and harmony of the cosmos.
Its branches are said to reach the skies and its roots to connect the human or earthly world with an underworld or subterranean realm. Because of this, the tree was worshipped as a mediator between Heavens and Earth.
Each part of the tree corresponds to one of the three spheres of the world (treetops – heavens; trunk – middle world or earth; roots – underworld) and is also associated with a classical element (top part – fire; middle part – earth, soil, ground; bottom part – water).
On the treetops are located the stars and heavenly bodies, along with an eagle’s nest; several species of birds perch among its branches; humans and animals of every kind live under its branches, and near the root is the dwelling place of snakes and every sort of reptiles.
A bird perches atop its foliage. The eagle seems to be the bird mosty frequently seen in folklore, fulfilling the role of a creator or weather deity. Its opposite is a snake or serpentine creature that crawls between the tree roots, being a “symbol of the underworld”.
The imagery of the World Tree is sometimes associated with conferring immortality, either by a fruit that grows on it or by a spring located nearby. In some descriptions, this “water of life” may also flow from the roots of the tree.“
For our journey this week, I propose we undertake a pilgrimage to the world tree. A pilgrimage is a sacred journey to a place of power for healing or wisdom.
What might you seek from encountering the venerable world tree recognized across time and various cultures?
I hope you can join us for a very special journey this week.
If you hope to attend this circle, email anna “at” gaiashamanism “dot” com for this free online journey circle on Wednesday, July 21 from 4-6 pm PDT. All skill levels welcome.