Meaning of the Tree of life

The Tree of life: its meaning

Hello all!green field

Some of you might have read my last post regarding a wonderful little book full of insight and wisdom: 365 days of Walking the Red Road. Well today I want to discuss a topic often mentioned and discussed within that book: the connection we have with Mother Earth. You are probably wondering what I mean. Well, if you remember the concept of the medicine wheel and the 7 directions, you remember that 2 of those directions are Mother Earth and Father Sky. Mother Earth is our connection to our past and to life. Let’s say how that is.

What is the Tree of life?

When one reads the book mentioned above, one can read lessons from the Red Road, to be considered inspirations on how to conduct oneself or live one’s life in a respectful way. The concept of the Tree of life is explained in this manner:

The Tree of life represents all that is life, encompassing all that exists upon the planet. When we walk the Red Road, our journey ends under the protection of this tree. It causes the rhythm of the world to continue year after year, and with each cycle, fruit nourishes those who stand under her boughs. The roots dig deep into history. Those dedicated to this energy know the value of all beings, tend to Mother Earth and live an honorable life in honor of the spirit of the ancient Tree.

tree of life

Tree of life by Azriel hell shoppe

What does that mean? I think it relates to the concept of “we are all related” or “Mitakuye Oyasin”. We all come from the land, we come from Mother Earth. If you think of Mother Earth and the Tree of life, the leaves, the fruits nourish the soil we walk on, nourishes us. Its roots are full of history, guided by the spirit of the previous trees. Like the medicine wheel, it represents the cycle of life. Where one leaf or fruit falls, another one begins its growth. Our ancestors used all the medicines provided by the trees and Mother Earth, to heal, get stronger. Everything was provided by Mother Earth.

But it’s more…tree of life

Mother Earth is where we come from and where we go back in the end. The Earth is our mother, is contains the ashes of our ancestors, it is full of wisdom from our ancestors. Chief Seattle, a Suquamish chief, was particularly vocal about Mother Earth and its importance.He famously said We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. Meaning that it is a gift to us all. We live as children of the Earth but the land does not belong to us, we belong to the land. Chief Joseph advocated the equal rights upon earth for all, as she is the mother of all. The respect of the land is a significant value for the Native people. You always respect all your relations, including those in nature. You respect what the land gives you and only take what you need. It is a lesson that was taught to children. As Chief Seattle said:

Teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our own kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children – that the Earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth… This we know, all things are connected like the blood which unites one family.

Therefore, mother Nature, mother Earth is not for us but rather part of us. Mother Earth is the healer, the one who feeds us. She is our mother. I now leave you with a quote from Chief Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux that summarizes things beautifully:

The white man is far too removed from America’s formative processes. The roots of the tree of life have not yet grasped the rock and the soil. But for the Indians, the spirit of the land is still vested. When the Indian has forgotten the music of his forefathers, when the sound of the tom-tom is no more, when the memory of his heroes is no longer told in story, he will be dead.

chief Luther Standing Bear

Chief Luther Standing Bear

All My Relations




18 thoughts on “Meaning of the Tree of life

  1. Claire

    Beautiful article, Emily. I love the concept that Mother Earth is where we start and end our journey. Sometimes the simplest of philosophies are the most powerful 🙂


  2. Nathan

    This is awesome. I found this very interesting. Being part Native American, I love this site because I’m never really taught about anything that my ancestors taught or did really. I’ve people asking about the meaning of the tree of life, but never really got into. I have my own faith, but I always enjoy learning! Thank you for this, and thank you for your posts!

  3. Robin

    I really enjoyed reading this and it brought an understanding for me of why the Native Americans believe what they do. For me the word picture drawn of the Tree of Life and Mother Earth and how it nourishes the earth and therefore us and that there is history in the roots of the tree is like I was looking at a real picture. Very nicely done. Robin

  4. Steve

    Beautiful article. The Maori people of my country (New Zealand), see the giant native trees here as gods and goddesses in physical form.

  5. Teresa

    What an interesting article. It’s always good to learn something new. I never really had deeper thoughts about the tree of life and its meaning. Thanks for sharing this info.

  6. Aikaterini Markakis

    This is an amazing post Emily! I haven’t yet purchased the book but I will soon! I didn’t even know all that about the tree of life! Your article humbles me and reminds me that this is a wonderful world.
    Thank you for sharing!

  7. Heather

    Beautiful post Emily.
    How true what you say…”Mother Earth is the healer, the one who feeds us. She is our mother.”
    My connection to Nature has taught me more about life than anything else. There is such a profound, benevolent wisdom that comes from the Earth.
    Oh, and by the way, my daughter, Sage, uses a nickname for herself…Tree Spirit. I’m going to show her your post. 🙂
    Many blessings, Heather

  8. Nnamdi

    Hi Emily,

    Each time I read your post, it is like a philosophical write-up, that is about way of life of certain race. And now, this ‘the tree of life’, it is amazing. Your posts are always unique and insightful. Thanks for bringing this ‘knowledge’ to us.


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