Isn’t it amazing that the land we walk upon is the same land that frames the sky with majestic mountains and leads sandy beaches to the shore? The limitations of earth are few and her mysteries are great. In fact, the simple symbolism representative of earth, downplay her complexity. Her far-reaching nature cannot be drawn in a picture, nor can it be limited to words – earth is far too awesome for that. Pictures and photographs however can come close to conveying her majesty and energy though.
Our inability to capture a cohesive understanding of earth makes her subjective, allowing each individual to develop their own relationship with the mother of nature. However, one unifying quality is that she hosts all life. She gives both humans and nature stability, a network to belong to, and a place to call home.
In fact, she hosts the three basic elements we’ve discussed in the previous post and breathes life into all living creatures. It is invaluable to our bodies and souls to receive oxygen from the all-encompassing element of earth. By taking in the breath of life we are also able to expel our own greatness into the world.
A great symbol that allows humans to call on the power of oxygen, drawing it from the earth to ourselves, and also expelling it into the world again, is the tree. The supreme natural symbol of dynamic growth, seasonal death and regeneration.
Many trees are held to be sacred or magic in different cultures. Reverence for the power of trees goes back to primitive beliefs that gods and spirits inhabited them. As mythologies developed, the idea of a mighty tree that formed a central axis for the flow of divine energy linking the supernatural and natural worlds took symbolic shape in the Tree of Life (Arbor Vitae) or cosmic tree, rooted in the waters of the underworld and passing through earth to heaven.
There are many ways to embrace the symbolism represented by a tree and reap its benefits daily. As you go for walks in nature, drive down a street lined with trees, or observe a photograph of trees and woods. In most every setting, the powerful presence of a tree is undeniable. And in their multiplicity, they are mesmerizing, life giving, magnificent and very energizing organisms.
Studying the different components of a tree allows one to understand the fullness of it in nature. The roots grow deep into the earth; the sturdy trunk weathers all storms; the branches extend high into the sky. There are many physical aspects of a tree that one can draw power and inspiration from (i.e. seeds, roots, trunk, wood, bark, branches, leaves, canopy etc.). Here is the symbolism associated with specific trees:
- Oak is associated with strength
- Ash with peace and protection
- Birch with healing
- Cedar with courage
- Cypress with comfort and the ability to cope with loss
- Elder with acceptance and change
- Maple with longevity
- Pear with clarity
- Willow with overcoming depression
However, the bigger draw of a tree lies in its rich symbolism. Like earth, the essence of a tree is impossible to capture with words, but it can be seen in photographs if you are open to reflecting upon these 4 entities.
- Trees are grounding and expansive.
- Trees allow humans to ride on waves of energy that underscore existence as we know it. They fuel life in many ways.
- They have the ability to connect us with our true identity. Native American Indians refer to trees as “The Standing People”.
- From them, we may gain the potential to heightened sensory perception.
How we long to achieve the growth the tree fosters in itself, the reach and rootage, the sturdiness and balance between high and low, the way it meets each season, holding its ground, spare or blooming. The tree shows us how, from a tiny, bare seed, of potential, the self can come into existence, centered and contained, around which occur incessant processes of metabolism, multiplying, perishing and self-renewal.
When we open our eyes to see, our minds to understand, and our hearts to accept the power that is available to us through the visual image such as a photograph, of a tree, we are able to collect all that it bears, like picking of its fruit.
Upon taking in the sweetness of these fruits, we become connected with the most precious understanding of life. For many that may be represented by the cycle of growth and death. It puts us at one with the core of infinite wisdom and fuels our perceptions to be insightful, fresh and divine.
A fountain of spiritual nourishment may gush from the tree’s roots. A snake coiled at its base can represent spiraling energy drawn from the earth; birds nest in the upper branches, emblems of celestial messengers or souls. Through the Tree of Life, humanity ascends from its lower nature toward spiritual illumination, salvation or release from the cycle of being. By its very form, the tree is a symbol of evolution, its branches suggesting diversity spreading out from the trunk. Alternatively, the cosmic tree is reversed to show its roots drawing spiritual strength from the sky and spreading it outward and downward – a favorite in Cabbalism and other forms of mysticism and magic.
As we allow these understandings to infiltrate our thoughts and actions, we are then able to expel a grand presence into the universe, increasing our reverberations and casting out positive energies that stir the world around us. This further stimulates positivity in all that we do and think, and encourages those around us to do the same.
While the tree remains to be a powerful source of wisdom and understanding offered to us by the earth, there are other aspects of earth that offer positive stimulation like this. As we continue to discuss the healing power of natural elements and surroundings, notice objects of the earth, trees especially, in a new light.
Take notice of how the energy from these photographs affects you, your mood, your attitude, your desires, and so on. Then let’s continue to uncover all the goodness earth has to offer.
“The Earth has a scaffold of trees and stones. A person is formed in the same way. Flesh is the earth. Bones are trees and stones.” – Hildegard von Bingen
Marian Kraus Photography is a Chicago area based professional architectural photographer, multi media artist and purveyor of fine art photography who has been consistently delivering compelling architectural photography to clients ranging from architects, advertising agencies, construction companies, home builders, corporations, real estate companies and the like since 1999. Additionally, Marian Kraus Photography’ s nature and architecture fine art photographs can be found in a growing number of corporate and private art collections.