The Tree of life: its meaning
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.
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…
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.
All My Relations