Wednesday 18 March 2015

Presentation of Self (2) | Tree of Life Ceremony Folder

The concept of the Tree of Life is used in various religions, in mythology, the physical sciences and philosophy. There are innumerable variations, including the one I use as part of the Arwenack Celebrants logo. Here are a few more.

The Tree of Life has been argued to represent: 

  • the interconnection of all life on the planet;
  • a sacred tree connecting heaven to the underworld;     
  • a cosmic tree;
  •  the tree of knowledge.
Charles Darwin drew a Tree of Life to demonstrate his theory that all species on Earth are related and evolved from a common ancestor. He said:   

From the first growth of the tree, many a limb and branch has decayed and dropped off, and these fallen branches of various sizes many represent those whole orders, families and genera which have now no living representatives, and which are known to us only in fossil state.
See the Natural History Museum website for more on this

More recently sociologists have written about the importance of tree planting both for community participation and to aid sustainable, economic growth in developing countries. Trees are common in literature and poetry too; sometimes representing goodness, sometimes malevolence, sometimes both. In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird an oak tree is a symbol, at different times, both for friendship and for closed-mindedness. Making a regular appearance in popular culture the Tree of Life is a centrepiece in Disney's Animal Kingdom and an increasingly  common tattoo choice.

The Tree of Life then crosses all cultures and is adopted by sub-cultural groups within many societies. Trees are symbolic of growth, change and uniqueness and provide both shelter and food to human and non-human animals. We use the tree metaphor to explore our ‘roots’ and the ‘branches’ of our family; we carve our name along with our sweetheart’s on a tree trunk and plant a sapling in memory of a loved one who has died or to celebrate a new life.

As noted in my last Blog entry my choice of UKSOC celebrant folder includes the image of The Tree of Life. I decided on this illustration because I, like many others, find sense and comfort in tree metaphors and see beauty in blossom, and bark and the changing colour of leaves. When officiating at a wedding, commitment or renewal of vows ceremony; at a naming, a funeral or a memorial ceremony what better than a Tree of Life to represent the relationships and interconnections between all those concerned. 
My UKSOC Celebrant Folder

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