Trees for the ancient Celts, especially those tracing back to the Druids were not inanimate objects. They were instead living beings attributed with many powers. Apart from that they provided shelter, food and warmth and were integral to life.
The Celtic symbol tree of life has been carried Tree of Life down over the centuries and is today portrayed in several ways each one depicting and image similar to that of a tree.
The tree of life symbol shows a tree with roots and branches that are interwoven with each other. The roots which were considered the foundation symbolized the Otherworld. The trunk of the tree which joined both roots and branches they attributed to the mortal world and the branches signified their connection to the universe of mighty entities. In simpler terms the roots and branches were believed to connect to the worlds above and below while the trunk remained in the present world and acted as a connection for the Celts to both these worlds
Celtic tree of life meaning
It is a symbol that has become very popular today because it depicts nature and the worship of nature. In Gaelic it is called “crann bethadh”. The tree symbolizes life force, something that has the ability to support the life of another or others. Trees provide food, fuel and shelter. They house and sustain other life forces such as animals or insects and have for many years held great purpose for human beings. In ancient times the Celts only inhabited areas that were covered with trees.
The tree of life symbolized rebirth too. As trees went through seasonal changes the Celts tracked and acknowledged these changes. They attributed these changes to spiritual meanings and held them in much esteem. As these trees underwent what they considered birth, death and rebirth the Celts participated in rituals to mark these changes. .
In totality the Celtic tree of life symbolizes strength, longevity and wisdom. It depicted the connections between earth, the spirit world and the universe. The tree of life also symbolized the endurance of time.
Each tree for the Druids held different and special meaning. While some were believed to carry messages to the Otherworld where spirits lived, others could bestow blessings such as prosperity or love. It was believed that if one fell asleep next to a tree they had the ability to wake up in the fairly world.
The Celts being a nomadic tribe always left a large tree in the center of the clearing. This tree took the form of a sacred tree thereafter. The reason they did this was that they believed it embodied both their security and integrity. At the site of this tree the chieftain would perform ceremonies in the hope of connecting to the heaven above and the world below.
So powerful and sacred were trees that the Celts believed they would gain power over their enemies by simply cutting down their sacred tree.
The tree of life has long been associated with many cultures other than the Celts as they have long been recognized as being able to sustain and protect life.