Blog Post

What Does the "Tree of Life" Symbol Mean?

CM asks: “Wondered if you could tell me about the Tree of Life bracelets are they Christian and okay to wear?”

Whether it’s a bracelet or a pendant, the Tree of Life symbol is okay to wear because this is a universal symbol with a variety of meanings in different religions - including Christianity.

The Christian meaning revolves around the mention of the Tree of Life in the book of Genesis and symbolizes God’s provision of life. The Fathers of the Church taught that the tree of life conferred bodily immortality, incorruption and perfect health on our first parents. It is also seen as a symbol of the Holy Eucharist.

In the Book of Revelation, the Tree of Life appears once again, this time in Paradise. “To the victor I will give the right to eat from the tree of life that is in the garden of God” (Rev. 2:7).

Other faiths have their own interpretation of the Tree of Life, such as Buddhists who believe the Bodhi tree – their version of the Tree of Life – is the tree under which the Buddha was sitting when he attained enlightenment.

In Nordic cultures, the tree of life represents an enormous mythical tree that connected the Nine Worlds of Norse cosmology and served as a magical fountain of knowledge.

The “Celtic tree of life” or “Crann Bethadh,” features the tree within a circle. This symbolizes an ancient Celtic custom of planting a tree in the center of every new community, which they referred to as the tree of life. They would conduct all of their official business beneath this tree and believed that the root system of the tree was a like a physical doorway that penetrated into the spiritual world. If the tree was cut down, residents believed their enemies would be able to conquer them.

In the Book Mormon, the Tree of Life refers to a special tree that was shown in a dream to the prophet Lehi and his son Nephi. The tree supposedly bore fruit of great beauty which represented the love God has for His children.

Of course, New Agers have attached a variety of fanciful beliefs to the Tree of Life symbol, such as how it represents positive earth energy, vitality and rebirth, as well as serving as a “totem” symbolizing the four elements.

It is fine for a Christian to wear jewelry such as bracelets and pendants that sport this symbol, just be careful where you buy it. As this blog explains, many New Age jewelers put “blessings” on their creations. For example, Alex and Ani, an organization with a history of New Age practices such as this, sells a Tree of Life bracelet which it describes as representing “unlimited growth and sacred knowledge. Like the tree's powerful branches, we are all connected parts of the universe's mystery…”

For the Christian, there's nothing wrong with wearing this beautiful symbol of God's providence!

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