There are a wide spectrum of images and ideas associated with the Tree of Life. On one level, literal trees with Sacred Geometry in Nature roots, flowers and fruits have earned the name Tree of Life through their functional diversity and profound healing qualities.
Meanwhile, many purely metaphorical understandings point to the benevolent evolution of natural creation. The way a seed becomes a tree and bears fruit, the One creator unfolds into the Many forms of manifest existence. Deeper still, the Tree of Life can indicate a geometrical structure at the heart of Kabbalastic mysticism, providing a precise map of the soul and its attributes.
In this essay, we will explore the validity of each meaning and attempt a harmonization, if not unification, of these varied ideas. Ultimately, Plato promises that study of geometry “will draw the soul toward truth and create the spirit of philosophy.” Lovers of truth, all seekers of knowledge — welcome.
The Real Live Tree of Life
Let’s begin with a biological organism that exhibits the qualities one might expect from something given the grandiose title Tree of Life. For this writer, the tree that comes mind is the Baobab (Adansonia digitata), native to southern Africa. According to the Kruger National Park website, the Baobab tree can live to be 3,000 years old, and can grow large enough to shelter 40 people inside its trunk. “Various Baobabs have been used as a shop, a prison, a house, a storage barn and a bus shelter.”