Every aspect of the Baobab offers some boon. The fruit is considered a superfood, noted for its high Vitamin C content. The oil contains vitamins A, D, E and F and Omega 3, 6 and 9, soothing conditions like eczema and psoriasis and making it highly sought after by the cosmetics industry for its anti-aging qualities.
Kruger lists some more of its many uses: “Fiber from the bark is used to make rope, baskets, cloth, musical instrument strings, and waterproof hats… Fresh baobab leaves provide an edible vegetable similar to spinach which is also used medicinally to treat kidney and bladder disease, asthma [and] insect bites… [P]ollen from the African and Australian baobabs is mixed with water to make glue.”
These are some of its products, but the Baobab is an entire ecosystem unto itself, allowing innumerable lifeforms to subsist on its structure. It is home to birds, baboons and bats, not to mention an infinitude of insects. “When [Baobabs] do die, they simply rot from the inside and suddenly collapse, leaving a heap of fibres…” which are summarily consumed by termites. Thus even in death, the Baobab sustains life.
Owing to its odd appearance and unusual characterstics, the Baobab is commonly known as “the upside-down tree.” There are many native legends explaining how this came to be, all of which feature some form of God tossing, smashing or otherwise planting the tree upside-down on Earth, usually due to hubris or stupidity on the part of the Baobab or its animal counterparts.
This is a creation story that mirrors many others. Where else do we see this image of an upside-down tree as metaphor for creation?
The Kabbalah Connection
Many people know the Tree of Life from Kabbalah, the esoteric tradition of Jewish mysticism. In this context, the Tree of Life takes the form of ten “numerical entities” known as sefirot. Perhaps their specific spatial representation will be familiar to you:
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According to Huston Smith, writing in The Essential Kabbalah, these numerical entities are “living beings embodying the numbers one through ten, ciphers, metaphysical potencies through which creation unfolds.”
Sefirot emanate from Ein Sof, which literally translates as “endless,” and implies the infinite, unspeakable Godhead. As a reference point, the word Brahman in Vedanta philosophy points to a similar “cause of causes” or “source of all that is.” Ein Sof is the One; sefirot are the Many.
According to Smith, “another depiction of the sefirot is that of a cosmic tree growing downward from its roots above… From above to below, the sefirot depict the drama of emanation, the transition from Ein Sof to creation… From below to above, the sefirot constitute a ladder of ascent back to the One…”
This dynamic balance between ascending and descending forces is reminiscent of another famous Judaic shape: the Star of David. These two interlocking triangles represent perfect harmony between the polarized opposites of masculine and feminine, positive and negative, active and passive, yang and yin. It is the geometrical expression of the philosophical phrase, “as above, so below.”
Depicted in its three-dimensional state, this shape is known as a star tetrahedron or merkabah. In an enlightening essay, Drunvalo Melchizedek explains how the word merkabah encodes meaning beyond the .
“In the Torah, there is reference to the Merkavah (as it is spelled in Hebrew) which has two different meanings: One meaning is ”chariot,” which is a vehicle; the other is the ”Throne of God”…
“In Ancient Egypt, this primal pattern was called the Mer-Ka-Ba. It was actually three words, not one. Mer meant a kind of light that rotated within itself. Ka meant spirit, in this case referring to the human spirit. And Ba meant the human body — though it also could mean the concept of Reality that spirit holds. And so the entire word in ancient Egypt referred to a rotating light that would take the spirit and the body from one world into another.”
The Star of David (merkavah) consists of two interpenetrating, equally balanced triangles (pyramids). Traditionally, the sefirot structure is composed of one upward-aiming triangle and two downward moving triangles.