Gold trail

On the trail of eternity

The world tree or tree of life - the whole existence 

Swan23 by Hilma af Klint for the World Tree

By on 15 August 2022

Swan23 by Hilma af Klint for the World Tree

Hilma af Klint 1914, Swan No. 23: the three planes of existence (spirit, life, matter; with line indicated by drawing for the world tree or tree of life).

The World Tree or Tree of Life for Wholeness

The world tree or tree of life symbolizes the wholeness of existence with the three realms in heaven, earth and underworld.

The Wisdom of Ancient Man (Introduction)

Holistic understanding beyond physical reality

The mythological world tree or tree of life plays an important role in traditions again and again, symbolizing the whole existence.

It may be that ancient man knew much less from a scientific point of view than today's man. Perhaps, however, for this very reason he linked what he perceived all the more with a higher spiritual reality, which he took for granted. This led then to the fact that he was closer to the wholeness in some respects than the modern man who is attached to a materialistic way of thinking.

Images for "spiritual laws of nature

Thus the pictures of the old traditions describe again and again spiritual principles and modes of action, which can be confirmed partly only today by the modern science (quantum physics). (For example the principle "spirit moves matter", so for example Ulrich Warnke[1]: "Everything comes into being through consciousness").

However, much remains a mystery, because the very big connections lie outside the human realm of experience with its five senses (see The Human Consciousness).

The basic principles of existence and salvation

As the oldest traditions already had the big, whole in view, they thematized the principles underlying existence in a pictorial way. Consequently, they were also able to point out problematic patterns that are still effective today. And finally, they even point beyond this to ways of overcoming negative laws in order to find wholeness and eternal life.

[S. Curse and Redemption in Traditions.]

Collective Redemption and the Tree of Life

In the Judeo-Christian teachings, the theme of collective redemption is also of central importance. Trees have played an important role in this since the beginning. Thus, the tree of knowledge (of good and evil) became a snare for people, which is why the tree of life fell out of reach and with it its fruit, eternal life.

The biblical way of salvation also includes the way back to the tree of life in five steps (which correspond to the hero's way).

[S. The Two Trees in Paradise and the Forbidden Fruit; The Dissolution of Negative Dynamics and The Way Back to the Tree of Life].

The archaic world tree as a symbol of whole existence 

World Tree or Tree of Life

The World Tree or Tree of Life in the Archaic Cultures

In archaic cultures, the world tree symbolizes the whole existence with its three realms: Spirit (crown), the unconscious (roots) and life (trunk) on earth as the connection of the two realms.

[S. The conscious and the unconscious.]

The life of spirit and matter, father and mother

Life originated from the synthesis of spirit and matter, symbolized by father and mother.

[S. Father and Mother, Spirit and Matter.]

Father and mother, ABBA and ANNA - in the oldest traditions.

The world tree represents life between heaven and earth, spirit and matter. These two realms were called AnZu and AbZu in the Sumerian tradition.

Sumerian AnZu and AbZu: the great above and the great below
  • AnZu is the name for the Great Above. It is the realm of the spirit also the realm of the father and therefore of the loving consciousness (symbolized by the crown). Sumerian AN means "divine".
  • AbZu, on the other hand, is the name for the Great Below, for the realm of the Great Mother, which represents the life force in matter. The underworld as the realm below the earth symbolizes the unconscious.


ABBA AND ANNA: the wholeness of the father and the mother
  • AnNa: The feminine begins as a virgin with pure love in the realm of the spirit - AN - and descends from above - NA - to the earth and down to the underworld. Anna means grace and beauty (loveliness), which are linked to the feminine. For the young woman as the goddess of love is beautiful. But in the encounter with the goddess of the underworld and fate deity and forces of nature need grace.

[S. Female wholeness - the goddess, white / red / black and The feminine way into matter.]

  • AbBa: On the other hand, the masculine begins in the realm of matter and the unconscious - AB - and ascends - BA, occupying the soul and the spirit.
    In Aramaic ABBA means "father". So it is also handed down from Jesus that he called his father in heaven Abba in prayer (e.g. Lk 22,41; Joh 17,1).

[S. Male Wholeness 3-in-1, Father - Son - Spirit and The way of the man and the masculine into the spirit. ]

[S. also Notes on the Sumerian language.]

Life as the unity of spirit and matter

Life itself is a mystery. It can be described as matter "animated" by the spirit, and it represents again in itself the unity of spirit and matter: namely as soul (spiritual, immaterial) and body (material).

The four of the family for the four cornerstones of existence

The soul, which is active in the immaterial realm of relationships, symbolizes the MOTHER, while the material body stands for the SON. These two together form the trunk of the tree. Thus, the World Tree or Tree of Life also contains the four archetypes of the family FATHER, MOTHER, MOTHER and SON, from which new living reality emerges.

[S. The FourElements and The Four of the Family and the Emergence of New Reality].

The three realms of the world tree as the tree of life

The three realms of the world tree as the tree of life

So these are the three realms represented by the world tree:

  1. The crown with its branches in heaven: the realm of spirit and consciousness (FATHER in heaven)
  2. The underworld beneath the earth: life in matter and the unconscious (MOTHER in the underworld)
  3. The trunk: life as a unity of body and soul (material and immaterial, SON and MOTHER).

The tree of life - its three areas in detail

Tree crown

1. the crown for the realm of the spirit ("FATHER")

The loving consciousness

The crown of the tree and its branches reach up to the sky, symbol of the realm of the spirit. This is an invisible, i.e. abstract level, also called "meta-level", where knowledge, wisdom, understanding, reflection and (self)-instruction happen. Anatomically, this is located in the human frontal cerebral cortex (see The Human Consciousness and The Consciousness and the Human Brain).

The Father, the Crown: Loving Consciousness

The FATHER as archetype represents the loving, superior consciousness and has by definition unconditional love. Through the relationship to his children, especially to his MOTHER(VIRGIN), he has integrated his feminine parts(ANIMA) and with them the pure love as the feminine side of the spirit (see "I am the Father", free text).

The fruit in the crown, the daughter and sexuality

The fruit that grows on the crown is the anima, the daughter ("virgin"). It also contains sexuality, which can be enjoyed and satiates.

[S. Knowledge, the fruit of love.]

The Roots of Matter ("MOTHER")

The realm of the unconscious

The roots of the tree are at least as extensive as the crown and reach far below the earth to the "underworld", which represents the realm of the body, matter as well as the unconscious. "The Great Below," as it is called in Sumerian mythology, is the domain of the Great Mother, the Mistress of the Underworld, who represents life in matter (see The Great Feminine in the Underworld). As such, she symbolizes the forces of nature and is considered the mistress of life and death, as well as the deity of fate.

The mind as programs in matter

The roots represent the anchoring of life in matter. This happens through genes and unconscious imprints in a body that functions automatically and is moved by drives.

[S. The Conscious and the Unconscious.]

Anatomically, the area of the unconscious is located in the limbic system and is anchored in the brain stem (both together called "brain stem"). The goal for man is that he also brings this part of his existence under the dominion of his consciousness. (This is symbolized in the traditions by the king and his kingdom, see Kingship in Life and The Third Eye and the King's Treasure).

The trunk for life in soul and body (MOTHER and SON)

Life - unity of spirit and matter

As the trunk of the tree stands between heaven and the underworld, so man on earth stands between spirit and matter. For his life has arisen from the unity of the two and he even unites them in himself. Thus, on the one hand he dwells in a material body, but on the other hand he also possesses an immaterial personality, his soul. (It consists of will, mind and feelings, which can only be perceived when they manifest themselves physically; see Man 3-in-1).

[p. BODY - SOUL - MIND: Man 3-in-1 and What is the soul and where in the body is it located?].

Thus, on the one hand, the tree stands for existence as a whole between spirit and matter, but on the other hand, man in his wholeness can also be seen as a tree.

This also comes up again and again in the old traditions, where the trees mostly represent the intact woman as a virgin. And this can be cut down ...

The young woman (virgin) as tree of life


Trees have always been felled for purposes of utilization. Thus, in a figurative sense, the cutting of trees in the traditions also stands for the "harnessing" of the woman's life force, which dwells in her womb (see The womb of the woman as a miracle-working vessel).

Cutting down trees as an encryption for rape

In the traditions, the cutting down of a tree often stands as a code for the rape of virgins whose love is still intact. The aim is to seize the miracle-working love and life force of the woman.

[S. Women as trees and their felling.]

Female seduction: gems instead of fruit on the tree

A tree bears fruit that is enjoyed, tastes sweet and also nourishes. Seductive women, on the other hand, who live power instead of love, are represented by trees on which precious stones grow instead of fruit. (Thus in the Gilgamesh epub Under the Mountain and also in Aladdin and the magic lamp, The Cave of Wonders.)

From the World Tree to the Tree of Life

Further development of the tree of life: the 10

The basic principle of tripartition, which determines the world tree or tree of life, has been refined and developed by later cultures and finally leads to the tree of life of the Jewish Kabbalah with its ten digits (Sephiroth).

3x3 the worlds tree of life
Figure left (3): The world tree with its three levels

The tree as a symbol of triple wholeness (body, soul, spirit) can be further dissected into individual components.

Center illustration: 12 trees of life in paradise

3 x 4: father, mother, daughter, son, each supported three times

Based on the fact that each of the four archetypes of the family is in turn threefold supported (and thus whole), the result is 4 x 3 = 12 factors. These represent twelve trees in a paradisiacal garden of wholeness with two trees in the center (anima and animus for the tree of knowledge and the tree of life).

[S. 12 Trees in Paradise: The Inner Family.]

The 13 in the middle
Between the tree of knowledge and the tree of life

In addition, the hexagram can be seen in the center, which represents life through the unity of two triangles (male and female). However, when the ego as the 13 takes the place in the middle, it corrupts the tree of life and the tree of knowledge with the desire for power (cf. The twelve and the thirteen at a glance and The Expulsion from Paradise).

Figure on the right: 10 digits (Sephiroth) for the redeemed creation

10: Removal of the Three Corrupt Factors and the Redemption of Creation

Thus, three corrupt factors must be removed from the system. How this happens is described in detail in the way of salvation of the Bible. In the process, the "trees" or factors of wholeness reform into the structure of the ten "digits" (Sephiroth). This forms the new tree of life of the Jewish Kabbalah and represents the redeemed creation.

[S. From 13 to 10; the way back to the tree of life.]

The Problem with 11: Cognition and Sexuality (Fig. right)

The 11 in the place of the anima would have the ability to bring about unity and wholeness through the gift of love . However, because sexuality has been abused as a means of power and a consumer good, it has been eliminated from the system as a path to salvation[2].

[S. The Two Trees in Paradise and the Forbidden Fruit; The Bible's Account of the Fall and the Mystery of the Serpent.]

The snake in the tree and its overcoming

The rotten tree: the 13, the ego

The ego that poisons existence with the desire for power is represented by the serpent in the tree or the 13th fairy. (See Sumerian lore, Inanna and the tree in the grip of power, The Fall of Man account of the Bible and Sleeping Beauty).

Overcoming the Dragon, the Ancient Serpent: 5 Trees of Life

Five trees of life

The overcoming of the ego is often represented in the lore by the slaying of the dragon or dragon serpent (see The Dragon, the Ancient Serpent and Their Overcoming and The Dragon Slayer George and the Maiden). This is done on the hero's path, which provides the basic structure for all the great traditions. It cancels all five factors of negative dynamics and is therefore also called the five trees of life [3].

[S. From 13 to 10; the way back to the tree of life.]

The way back to the tree of life

Tent of Meeting in the Desert (floor plan)

The Sanctuary and the Path to Divine Wholeness, 3-in-1

The sanctuary, which consists of 3 nested buildings symbolizing the realms of body, soul and spirit, figuratively shows the walkable path to God. He "dwells" in the innermost, in the realm of the spirit, which is the "holy of holies" (namely holy, sacred - or in other words: whole).

[S. God, Wholeness, 3-in-1, Male and Female, and The Sanctuary 3-in-1 and the Path to Wholeness].

The hero's path: inner dying and resurrection

The Trial by Fire: Overcoming and Dying to the Ego

Concretely, the way back to the tree of life presupposes the death of the ego. These connections are told figuratively in the Bible. After "man and woman" have been expelled from paradise with the consumption of the forbidden fruit (power), the tree of life has fallen out of reach for them (see The Expulsion from Paradise). The way back is blocked by the angel with the flame of the twitching sword. He symbolizes as one of the four cherubim fire (see The Four Elements). There is no way past it, only through it - represented by the trial by fire of the hero's way. Thereby the egoistic, fiery desire of man will burst into flames and the identity of power will die (see The Trial by Fire, 5th Phase of the Hero's Path).

Resurrection into the existence of love and wisdom: trees of life!

This is followed by the resurrection into the eternal existence of love.
The Bible tells us toward the end of Revelation that in the city of God there will be the tree or trees ("wood") of life with leaves that will heal the nations.[4]

A tree of life is wisdom for those who take hold of it, and he who holds fast to it is happy to be praised.(Prov 3:18 )

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the wise man wins men for himself.(Prov 11:30)

He who has an ear, hear what the Spirit says to the churches! Whoever overcomes, I will give him to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.(Rev 2:7 )


[1] S. Ulrich Warnke, "Quantum Philosophy and Spirituality" - The Key to the Secrets of Human Being, (2011, Scorpio Verlag), chapter 4 entitled: "Everything arises through consciousness", p. 82 ff.

[2] Gospel of Matthew, chapter 11:25, New Testament of the Bible, "At that time Jesus began and said: I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and have revealed them to babes."
And Paul in the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 1:25-27: "For the foolish things of God are wiser than men, and the weak things of God are stronger than men. [This ...] God has chosen, that he might put to shame the wise; and the weak things of the world God has chosen, that he might put to shame the things which are strong.

[3] "In Paradise there are five trees [of life] that do not change in summer or winter. Their leaves do not fall off. Whoever perceives them will not die."(Gospel of Thomas, Logion 19, 3.4)

[4] "In the midst of their street and river, on this side and on that side, the tree [wood] of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree [are] for the healing of the nations." (Revelation of John, chapter 22:2)

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