Religious and Cultural Meaning of Tree Tattoos

As a general rule, trees are thought of as long-lasting and resilient. They survive a long time (from 50 to 5000 years), weathering storms and elements, which makes them a sign of strength and adaptability to many societies. They offer safety to creatures who live in their branches, travelers who rest in their shade, and anyone building their home with lumber. Trees provide apples, pears, and stone fruit and provide medicine to many cultures. These nutritious and medicinal trees have accumulated additional layers of importance and meaning.

Tree worship (aka dendrolatry) is the age-old, multi-cultural practice of worshipping or otherwise mythologizing trees. Some people found certain trees to be sacred, such as the Celts and Greeks who revered oak trees. The Celts honored many trees that were thought to have special powers and also to serve as fairy houses. Druids (and other pagans) met in sacred groves, especially the oak, and the term “druid” may come from the Celtic word for oak. Germans felt that way about lime and linden, Scandinavians about ash, and Lebanese about cedar trees. Buddha reportedly saw Bodhi trees as the symbol of enlightenment; for Hindus, the peepal (or sacred fig or Bodhi tree) is also spiritually and holistically important and is used to treat asthma, jaundice, diabetes, epilepsy, gastric problems, inflammation, and infections. The Hindus also worship the banyan, Ashoka, and sandalwood trees. In the Bible’s story of Genesis, the tree of life in the Garden of Eden contained all knowledge of good and evil. In Judaism, in the Kabbalah, the tree of life represents a sacred geometry represented as a diagram of ten points.tree tattoo

Today, a form of tree-worship can bee seen in the Christmas tree, which many people (Christian and not) bring into their home during the holiday season and decorate with ornaments and lights.

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica,

The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil.