The meaning of life is not to be discovered only after death in some hidden, mysterious realm; On the contrary, it can be found by eating the succulent fruit of the Tree of Life.– Paul Kurtz
Some know the old magician with a magical staff as Merlin, some as Gandalf, and some as Odin. Odin, the wisest of the Norse gods, wasn’t always such a smart cookie. In fact, before his dark night of the soul, he was an ordinary god with two eyes and a few secrets up his cloak.
However, Odin had an intense hunger to learn all the secrets of the universe. And so, he set off to find the magical waters of wisdom at Mimir’s Well.
At the center of the universe, Mimir’s Well resides beneath the great ash tree, Yggdrasil. Yggdrasil is one special tree. With its immense roots, it is the link between the nine realms, sustaining all life on heaven, Earth and in the underworld.
So, Odin descended the roots of Yggdrasil to Mimir’s Well.
At the edge of the divine feminine waters, the guardian of the well awaited Odin. Naturally, a magical elixir isn’t cheap. The guardian of the well named her price—one of Odin’s eyes. Sounded like a fair bargain, one human eye for one third eye… So, Odin plucked out his eye from its socket in exchange for the elixir.
Gulp, gulp! He drank from the well and… crickets.
Joking! Yes, he received the wisdom he sought, but an eye wasn’t his only sacrifice for divine knowledge.
Immediately after drinking the elixir, Odin saw what he must do next. He reached into the world tree to break off a branch, and stabbed himself with it. He then hung himself upside down from the World Tree for nine bloody days.
Finally, on the ninth day, he spied the Rune stones with shimmering golden symbols etched into them. As he dangled upside down, he scooped up the magical stones, giving him the power to see the past, present and future. And so, Odin became the all powerful wisdom keeper.
The Tree of Life Around the World
The World Tree in Norse mythology, also known as the Tree of Life, is depicted in over 35 mythological traditions around the world, most of which are isolated.
From the Vedas, Mayas, Sumerians and even in the Bible, all stories of the Tree of Life describe a magical tree that overarches the heavens, earth and the underworld with its divine branches and powerful roots. And they all use a similar metaphor to describe it.
Imagine a flour mill. Yes, a flour mill. Sounds random, but hear me out. A giant rod goes through a hole at the center of the flour mill. The mill then spins on its axis to grind the grain and produce flour.
That’s how our ancestors described the Tree of Life. The central axis for grinding the grain is the central trunk of the tree. But instead of producing flour, it creates life. So, we all come from the same giant tree? Or perhaps the Tree of Life is a metaphor for something else? Let’s explore!
3 Interpretations of the Tree of Life
We are One
If we think of the Tree of Life as a metaphor, it illustrates the oneness of humanity. In other words, our ancestors believed that we all come from the same source, and that we have branched out to become many individuals.
The Secret to Creation
Many believe that the Tree of Life is the secret sauce to creation. Isn’t that the whole point of a flour mill? To create flour from grain.
We also often find 22 paths on the Tree of Life. Could these 22 paths refer to the 22 chromosomes that females and males share (the 23rd determines sex)?
We may never know! But across all cultures, the Tree of Life represents divine wisdom. And frankly, we all could use a little wisdom to turn our dreams into reality. After all, creation doesn’t have to be physical life. It could be a baby business or a work of art.
The Secret to Divine Wisdom
In Siberian shamanism, the shaman figuratively descends or ascends the Tree of Life to gain insight.
The roots and branches of the Tree of Life represent different levels of consciousness. In other words, when you explore higher and lower levels of consciousness, you gain profound wisdom. But what does that mean for the modern person? The Hermetic tradition may have the answer.
According to the Hermetic tradition, a non-Christian lineage of Gnosticism, which dates back to the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D., accessing divine wisdom is explained by their Principle of Correspondence:
This principle embodies the idea that there is always a connection between the various planes of existence—the heavens, Earth and lower realms.
In other words, there is always more than meets the eye! When you have a problem, don’t just examine it from the surface. Find the hidden solution by seeing the problem from multiple levels—a few layers above and a few layers below.
According to the Hermetics, we can understand the great mysteries of the Universe by exploring the higher and lower nature of things. And likewise, discover more about ourselves.
Still sounds woo woo, right? Let’s explore how we can apply this philosophy to our modern day lives.
How To Access Divine Wisdom
All of the wisdom you seek is already within. But you cannot hear it unless you carve out time each day to really listen.
You can access this divine wisdom by committing to a daily meditative practice. This could be in the form of meditation, journaling, chanting or intuitive dance. The key is to spend time out of your head and with your soul.
Ideally, commit to this daily devotional practice outdoors, maybe even near a tree! This will help you tap into the rhythm of nature and the cosmos.
The world is ripe with possibilities. May this divine wisdom help you birth new ideas into the world.
What do you think the Tree of Life means? And how do you access divine wisdom? Share in the comments!
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