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Submitted on
December 13, 2010


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Trees have always been something more than just plants to the mankind. The worship of trees might be forgotten, but still the symbol of tree survives in our subconscious. Almost every nation has myths and legends about trees, placing the tree as the central axis of the world, or worshipping it as a dwelling place of gods or spirits, the giver of knowledge, connection between worlds or as ancestors of the tribe.   

In Norse mythology, a giant ash tree - Yggdrasil - represents "axis mundi", around which the 9 worlds (the world of people - Middle-earth, being one of them) are organized. A giant snake, Níðhöggr, gnaws at its roots, but they always grow anew.

Yggdrasil and the Nine Worlds by Elric888Odin by ElenaTurtle:thumb133463388:Yggdrasil by mikiokuYggdrasil by mernolanAshes of Yggdrasil by Phoenix-tails9World tree by AlexanderFaolchuWorld Tree by redheaded-step-childRatatoesk by daniellieskeUrd Verdandi Skuld by mrs-jessicatYggdrasil Seed by ArdiRaYggdrasil by Prasa

The biblical Tree of Knowledge has even some similarities to Yggdrasil. The snake is present, also, and although presented in a negative light, the tree is a giver of knowledge.... Just like in the myth about Yggdrasil when the god Odin sacrificed himself, hanging on the tree for nine days, to learn the secrets of knowledge.

Eve and the Tree of Knowledge by jasminetoadSlashTHREE - S by aiivenTree of Life - Awakening by Lakandiwa

After his sacrifice, Odin learned the runes, and brought them to the people. This is another important role of the tree as a giver of script. In Celtic tradition, the entire alphabet, ogham is based on trees, one tree representing one letter. It was used mostly for magical purposes, like divination.

Detailed Ogham Fews by LolairLUIS by paula2206:thumb98462434:

Dryads are tree spirits in Greek mythology. Technically speaking, dryads are the nymphs of oak trees, but the term has come to be used for all tree nymphs in general.

Treeshape by puimun:thumb185223802:wild treant by CReevesABuddOrbenn by SheeptanWedding Vows by CandraHeart of the Wood by puimunDryad Driada by zaradeiDryad- detail by asantellDryad by ZingaiaWoodland Nymph by yaamas

A Green Man is a sculpture, drawing, or other representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves. Found in many cultures around the world, the Green Man is often related to natural vegetative deities springing up in different cultures throughout the ages. Primarily it is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, or "renaissance," representing the cycle of growth each spring.

Greenman color by Lumi-karhu:thumb163511628:Oak king by Ironshodgreen man by subdommedia

In Eastern tradition, trees also play an important role, connected with the "giver of knowledge" myth. It was the Bodhi Tree, that Buddha was sitting under, when he achieved the enlightenment. It was a Fig tree, and its descendant still grows in the Mahabodhi Temple, now over 2.000 years old.

bodhi tree by philosophyamUnder the Bodhi Tree by ehrehrere

While redwoods are the biggest trees in the world, the first place in circumference belongs to another tree. It is the Tule tree (Taxodium mucronatum) in Santa Maria del Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico with the circumference of 54 m.

Tule tree by DaishiruNot all old by CossyTule Tree 01 by NiaoblisTule tree 02 by Niaoblis

The world's oldest living trees are the b>Bristlecone Pines</b> (Pinus longaeva). The oldest tree, named Methuselah, was discovered in the White Mountains in eastern California and is over 4.800 years old.

Ancient Tree by invisiblelifethe old giant by rocktigerlillyPeople In a Tree by inspiredcreativityThe Tree God by MarcAdamusReaching for the Stars by enunez

The possibility of trees to make clonal systems, however, can change our perception of their age. Pando (or The Trembling Giant) is a clonal colony of a single male Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) located in Utah, all determined to be part of a single living organism by identical genetic markers and one massive underground root system. The root system of Pando is claimed by some to be among the oldest known living organisms in existence at 80.000 years of age.

Quaking Aspen by LowBFlatTrembling aspen by kiipy

When facing these facts, it is not a wonder that trees have been worshipped. It's a pity that so many amazing trees have fallen, having no place in the "modern" age. The more we should value the ones that remain...

:thumb187659803:Morton Bay Fig Tree by mit192371000 year Cherry by koala2allKing of Trees by black-amber:thumb166593890:Old and Knarred by EarthmagicThe Tree by ArathrimLinden by MirachRavaiaThe Octopus Tree by 11thDimensionPhotoOld tree by edwardowechecking for shelter by maximilaInto the Light by daniellieske- Tree - by PeochDWARFED BY THE MIGHTY by TADBEER:thumb26595726:Older than Jesus by ArwensGraceBeech Tree by annarey-stock-artDark Cernunnos by Hluthvik

Some more amazing pictures of trees, showing that the symbol of a tree still remains in the human mind, and is mirrored in art

Entrance To The Sacred Tree by Industrial-ForestThe Old Tree II by nathieRunic Oak - COLOR by ValkAngielife tree by yonazEdgewood's Butterfly Tree by myceliaeThe Great Tree by JonasDeRoThe Tree of Life by Jose-Garel-AlvoeiroA Star without a Name by golden-quinceSad Tree by MedusaGirlWarm Mist by andreasrochaautumn, linden by ayjajaDeath Is The Road to Awe... by morgenlandThe White Tree of Gondor by aragoniaEnchanted Woods by jeshannonIntertwined Trees by SpitenmaliceLGHELFFinal by JadeRunyaCommunity by red-gold-sparksWillow man by gustavocomparimFall Scene on a leaf by ArteestiqueTreant by NikalelesLe Jardin Enchanteur by FerdinandLaderaHe was Here by FyreantThe old tree by cebaumThe Great Tree by CindarellaPopThe Iifa Tree by KajusXBig Big Tree by MCfrogAfternoon Tea by yaamasold tree by hillfreakThe First Tree by Siluan.ancient.tree. by noah-khAncestors by sphinxmuseThrough the Leaves by minikikiartMother Tree - Color by LaughingAstaraelI HAVE BEEN HERE LONGER THAN U by mbevButterflies tree by GrimDreamArtOld Beach Tree by method2madnessamong roots by yonazLe talus by chachahForest Floor 01 by FyreantArbres tordus by monts-et-foretsCelttree by TrollGirlSeasons by Ohno-momentGood Luck by DeliriumtTremensTree with good fruit by usartdudeA forgotten forest bedroom by ReonArgondian:thumb173272756:Early Days by LeliumojBig Tree 2 by Chrisleo92random stuff by TonyholmstenLothlorien by JonGibbons:thumb173183589:Unity by Madelei:thumb127589316::thumb150587013:Oldman of the Woods by greensapAfternoon Tea by yaamasBook Illustration 2 by bridge-trollTree 02 by minikikiarttree by SedeptraChessmates by puimun:thumb122482549:OLD GNARLY TREE by movinkindaslowThe Old Beech by bridge-trollTree of the Scarlet Spirit by gustafssonOld Man Willow by icy-maidenTarot - Ace - Water by ravynnephelanCircle Celtic Tree of Life by foxvoxTree of Labor by maxonIf you go down to the woods... by TimPrevett-the happy tree- by Wictorian-ArtHerfsttij der middeleeuwen by SedeptraOfferings 2 by puimunTree of wisdom by agiosTree of Light   SOLD by graemebWoodland Sanctuary by liigaPass of Enchantment by JonsamaDay and Night by jeshannonEnTree 001 SOLD by graemebF250407 by faboartsACEO Lonely Oak Tree by MandarinMoonLiving Tree by puimunMoonlit darkness... by Lirulin-yirthEnt lovers by delfeeWhitebark Pine by WonderDookieThe Tree by Carpet-CrawlerTree of Life by graemebTelperion by ProtoguyTree 2 by zzenAutumn Tree by Angela-Tmetamorphose by LailaPregizerThe Old Man by ArwensGrace

And also fractals, because a tree is a natural fractal in its structure, repating its form on many levels.
Telperion by lindelokse13th Secret Of Cathedral Woods by MANDELWERKInfernal Autumn by TimmetriusFractal fir tree by Lirulin-yirthFractal Willow by DanaAndersonTree by Aisling7Tree of Light by AmorinaAshtonCreazione di Telperion by SpamkillerMaybe it does grow on trees... by rockgemThe Manhattan Project by JeddakaYggdrasil by ClaireJones

I hope you enjoyed the article, found some great pictures, and learned something new. It is just a short compilation of the amazing topic of trees in mythology, and if you want to know more, I will gladly answer any questions.
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UmaNHamU Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2012   Traditional Artist
Great article, you informed me and reinforced what I've always known in my heart. Trees are way cool!!
MirachRavaia Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
montmartre96 Featured By Owner May 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Amazing compilation! I enjoyed reading this and watching these pics :-)
MirachRavaia Featured By Owner May 4, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!
ToToTomm Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2011  Hobbyist Artist
MirachRavaia Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!
Laylana Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
This is absolutely wonderful!!
How you managed to give such a brief overview through the history of tree perception, and to combine it with such a well-chosen collection of images... I'm stunned!!

When I made a presentation about the "Tree of Life" in my English-spoken course, I was using one sentence from your text (of course with reference)...
I really hope, this was ok...?
MirachRavaia Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much! I'm glad you like the article, and of course it was ok. I'm glad the informations helped you :)
Laylana Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much! :hug:
LarsVanDeGoor Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2011  Professional Photographer
Thank you :heart:
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