There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

tree of souls, tree of life

TREES  are symbols of life in the most profound ways. After all, they are the oldest living things on Earth. I was struck by the importance that a single tree in the movie Avatar took — The Tree of Souls. The movie could have been pure poetry. Visually it was astounding, but the dialog was cringe-worthy more often than not. Ultimately, it's one of those movies that sets a precedent for many new things to come in the movie-making industry. I've never seen a more flat-out, unapologetic and ecologically reverent/ anti-war movie. The most basic concept of the movie is about the struggle of our physical selves with the divine. It's definitely a movie to see, but don't strain too hard to listen. The symbolism is quite profound if you let your mind wander with the visual aspects and broader concepts of the movie without listening to some of the inane chatter.

THE   TREE   OF   SOULS, which grows as the alien Na'vi's sacred space in the movie Avatar, represents the eternal, where The Home Tree (symbolizing the Tree of Life) represents the temporal. The temporal things that are usually seen, and the eternal things that are not seen are pushed out-of-the-box in this movie. The movie's sacred Tree of Souls with it's willow-like luminescent strands allow the Na'vi to "link" by actual physical connection with their ancestral souls through "mother nature" represented by the tree. The Home Tree is just that — a home for an entire clan. Pandora, where the movie takes place, is a lush, Earth-like, moon of the planet Polyphemus.

IT'S   OBVIOUS  that the name of the moon is taken from the name of an ancient Greek goddess — the first mortal woman, Pandora. She was given something by each of the gods in Greek mythology including the well-known box she was told not to open. Of course Pandora's curiosity got the best of her and she opened the box, releasing all the evil and mistrust of the world. When Pandora looked at the bottom of the box, all she saw left was hope. Maybe this movie signals a shift from patriarchy back to matriarchy by its focus on a tree. Mother nature and war surely don't benefit from each other. There's definite hope in that concept.

THE   TREE   OF   LIFE  is a widely-interpreted metaphor used in science, religion, mythology and philosophy that illustrates that all life on earth is related. To me, the souls of trees resonate throughout nature and give a sense of life to many things, providing food and shelter, both physically and metaphorically. No one can dispute how important they are to all of us. Our place as a part of nature depends on this reverence. 

TREE ORNAMENTS | (Above, right) A delicate iridescent-glittered tree on a large clear glass globe contrasts with an extremely rare German ornament, known as a "Julekugle" made previous to WWII. Julekugles were decorated with Teutonic runes or symbols. This particular Julekugle has two different sides.The side pictured above is an apple tree, the symbol of life. The other side (at right) is a shield with a sun in the center as a symbol of the universe (or Eye of God). After 1942, recommendations made by the Nazi party regarding tree decorations used these Julekugles because they were symbols of Germanic ideology. Of course, all references to God were deleted. This is a piece of history that is rarely spoken about.

AVATAR | (Above, left) In a still from the movie Avatar, the two main characters (from left) Jake Sully (in his Avatar body) played by Sam Worthington and Neytiri, a native inhabitant of Pandora, played by Zoë Saldana.

TREE OF LIFE | (Left) This painting is one of the most beautiful representations of the tree of life I've seen. It combines an organic tree along with the mystical geometry of the Tree of Life. Painted in 2008 by Richard Quinn in Berkely, California, a print of this painting can be purchased here. The artist's statement about this painting says it best:

The Tree of Life is a mystical diagram representing the process by which the universe was created from nothing and a path back to the creator. It comes from the Kabbalah of esoteric Judaism. The Kabbalist seeks to know the universe and himself as the expression of God. 

I have incorporated this spiritual symbol into a living tree. Ten Sephiroths, here represented as spheres, express aspects of the Divine, such as The Divine Crown, Wisdom, Mercy, Justice, Beauty, Glory and Eternity. Also present in the symbol are 22 Paths or Relationships linking the various Names of the Divine.

The initiation of the Creation is at the top and flows through the various Sephiroths down into the condensing of the physical universe. It is then thought that the Divine energy reverses course and begins the ascent up the Tree to the origin from whence it sprang. Each Sphere or Sephiroth is associated with a particular color representing its energy or quality.

I believe the “Tree of Life” is one among a number of inspired attempts to express the profound mysteries that are inherent in the quest to gain insight into the nature of the origins of the Universe and ourselves and perhaps the much more daunting task – the nature of the Creator that brought into being such a Creation.  

©2008 Richard Quinn

 Avatar movie still distributed by 20th-Century Fox 

ornament photos: collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland

No comments:

Post a Comment