Symbolism of the tree

The tree represents the manifestation of the life-force, of our ability to grow into greater maturity; when faced with an impossible life situation, one should not try to force anything, but ‘stay in one place and grow, like a tree.’ (Jung, Dream Seminars, 1929)

Growing is a slow process. Only swamp plants shoot up overnight. Inner growth may enable one to outgrow and rise above a difficult life situation, to attain a more objective perspective and discover alternative options that may have been there all along. A very large tree may grow from a very small seed.

The seed has to break open and grow towards the light, the higher values. Breaking open is painful, but necessary; without it there will be no growth. The tree roots us. Its roots stretch away into the darkness of the earth, into the shadow. Like the fountain, the tree may draw water from deep beneath the earth, from the well-springs of life, if the roots reach deep enough.

A tree goes through seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter. After the death-like feeling of winter, stripping away the old, new life returns, blossoming, ripening our fruit. Animals and birds may be fed and sheltered. When the time comes again, we shed our beautiful autumn colors so that it may become compost for new life. Our lives circle continuously through periods of spring, summer, autumn, winter and spring again.