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Thoughts: Chess, a game. Movement of pieces. Black and white, good and bad. Two Knights.
The white picket fence is an old American dream from the 50s: to own, to have, home sweet home with a white picket fence.



Gifts from the gods: money raining down from heaven.





A line in this piece: It's raining pennies from heaven <g>.

Gifts from the gods: money raining down from heaven.








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Definitions are supplied to demystify symbolism (and the artwork in this studio).
Click here to return to the online symbolism dictionary.


One of my favorite interpretations involves more the forest as a symbol, than just the single tree: the forest as a symbol for our deep, wild, subconscious as an integral part of the natural world (vs. the manmade construct of civilization) -- the deep psyche. But this is about TREE, so we continue...

The tree of life, tree of knowledge, the world tree, the burning bush, mother nature, dryads, the family tree...all the way through to ladders, ships, homes, furniture, paper, etc. The tree covers so much ground (pun intended <g>) that I just wouldn't know where to start on this one. The TREE is a very potent and primal symbol with many aspects. I wish I could find Joseph Campbell's words to quote here (because he's always so succinct), but it's been a while and I have a LOT of (re)reading to catch up on before that's going to happen <lol>. Oh well, there's plenty, below, to get you started :)
Posted: December 15, 2003.


Shortcut links to the (expert) quotes below:
Biedermann: Dictionary of Symbolism
Estés: Women Who Run With the Wolves
Vollman: The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Dream Symbols


Dictionary of Symbolism, p. 350-352
Rooted in EARTH but with their branches pointing to the HEAVENS, trees are, like humans themselves, creatures of two worlds, intermediaries between ABOVE AND BELOW. Not only were specific trees or an entire GROVE revered in many ancient civilizations as the abodes of supernatural beings (divinities, elemental spirits), but also the tree was widely seen as the AXIS MUNDI around which the cosmos is organized--for example, the world-tree Yggdrasill in Norse mythology, or the sacred ceiba or yaxache tree of the Yucatan Mayas, which grows in the center of the world and supports the layers of the sky: in each of the four regions of the world one colored tree of this species serves as a corner-pillar for the heavens. The importance of forbidden trees in Eden is well known; for Buddhists the peepul or bo tree (Ficus religiosa) under which Guatama Buddha attained enlightenment, is the symbol of the "great awakening." Ancient Egypt venerated the sycamore, from out of which the goddess Hathor extended fortifying drink and nourishment to the souls (the mobile, winged ba) of the dead. The Sumerian god of vegetation, Dumuzi (Tamuz) was revered as the tree of life. For the ancient Chinese the PEAR and mulberry trees were sacred; for the Druids it was the OAK, which was also the sacred attribute of the Germanic god of THUNDER and the (Greek) king of the gods, Zeus. Sacred trees of this sort are found among virtually all ancient peoples, to some extent trees idealized into cosmic symbols.

In Christian iconography the trees symbolizes life lived in accordance with God's plan: its annual cycle refers to life, death, and resurrection: a barren or dead tree, to the sinner. The Tree of Knowledge is believed to have provided the wood for Christ's CROSS, thus making it from then on, for the believer, the Tree of Life. It was frequently depicted with branches and leaves or likened to the family tree of the "root of Jesse." Tree symbolism and reverence for trees carry some trace, finally, of the natural religion of old, in which trees were not merely a source of wood but the abode of nymphs, and entities to which humans related emotionally. Trees with saints' images on their trunks (called "forest devotions" in Austria) go back to this, as does the Christmas tree, today an almost universal symbol, consoling us in mid-winter with the prospect of greening and rebirth.

Above all, the Virgin Mary was seen as the "tree of life," blessed by the Holy Ghost, and giving the world its fruit, the Savior. Through this association, old village shrines, places of pilgrimage, seem to carry into the present the tradition of "sacred trees": Triple-Oaks of Our Lady, Mary's Green, the Mary Linden, and so forth; Bishop Ezzo of Bamberg celebrated the Cross as the tree of blessings: "Your bough did heaven's burden bear. Your fruit is sweet and good, sublime the blood upon you there." Throughout the Christian Occident we find legends of dead trees, branches, or sticks that turned green again as a sign of God's grace. Medieval sculptures of the Cross as a tree, with the beginnings of branches, are related to this symbolism of resurrection, an association suggested by the way the new growth of spring follows defoliation and winter's repose.

A Jewish legend recounts that the progenitor ABRAHAM planted trees everywhere he went, but that they did not thrive; only one, in the land of Canaan, shot up tall. Through it Abraham could tell whether someone believed in the true God or was an idolator. Over the believer the tree would spread its branches and offer its SHADE for protection, but not over the idolator, from whom the tree would turn aside, refusing shade, stretching its branches upward. Abraham, however, did not forsake the idolators but rather sought to convert them. "By eating from the Tree of Knowledge Adam brought death into the world. But when Abraham came, he healed the world by means of another tree." The legend of the tree that brings redemption may be a transposition, into the world of the Old Testament, of the Christian symbolic tradition of the tree of the Cross. The early Christian text Physiologus tells of the Indian tree Perdexion, on whose fruit DOVES feed eagerly but which the SNAKE cannot come near, fleeing even the shadow that... (pick up your copy of the book and turn to page 352 to finish reading the definition :)
Posted: December 15, 2003.

Women Who Run With the Wolves, p.415
...the fruit tree, which in ancient times was called the Tree of Life, Tree of Knowing, Tree of Life and Death, or Tree of Knowledge. Unlike trees with needles or leaves, the fruit tree is a tree of bountiful food--and not just food, for a tree stores water in its fruit. Water, the primal fluid of growth and continuance, is soaked up by the roots, which feed the tree by capillary action--a network of billions of cell plexuses too small to see--and water arrives in the fruit and plumps it out into a beauteous thing.

Because of this, the fruit is considered to be invested with soul, with a life force that develops from and contains some measure of water, air, earth, food, and seed, which on top of it all also tastes divine.
Posted: December 15, 2003.

Women Who Run With the Wolves, p.398
The flowering apple tree...symbolizes a beauteous aspect of women, the side of our nature that has its roots sunk into the world of the Wild Mother, where it is nurtured from below. The tree is the archetypal symbol of individuation; it is considered immortal, for its seeds will live on, its root system shelters and revivifies, it is home to an entire food chain of life. Like a woman, a tree also has its seasons and its stages of growth; it has its winter, it has its spring.
Posted: December 15, 2003.

The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Dream Symbols, p. 446-447
Protection; archetypal symbol for life (tree of life, tree of the world, family tree) and for being human, rooted in the earth. The crown of the tree, like the head of a human being, reaches for the sky. Part of two worlds--reality and obligation (earth) and spirit and freedom (heaven). Personal development and growth of the dreamer. Family situation across several generations. Connected to nature, as in FIELD, EAR (OF CORN), FARMER, FARM. Concern for the environment as well as personal growth.

Does the tree grow FRUIT? In what season did the image appear? What is the condition of the root system (base of the root as a symbol for the soul), the TRUNK, and the CROWN? Where is the tree and how does it stand--alone, in a small group, in the forest, in a park?

According to Freud, the tree trunk is a phallic symbol.

Other entries found in the encyclopedia: Tree (Blossoms on), Tree-of-life, and Tree Trunk.
Posted: January 17, 2004.

Want to know more? Go out and pick up a copy of the book(s) quoted and expand your mind :) These are MY teachers, the people who teach me about symbolism :) I hope the supplied definitions help you understand the art found on this site.

Flights of fancy found here :) North American artist online art studio.

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