“I am not going to tell you my name, not yet at any rate. For one thing it would take a long while: my name is growing all the time, and I’ve lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story. Real names tell you the story of things they belong to in my language….”
– Treebeard from J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
There are significant trees in any number of religions and mythologies. In Christianity, knowledge of good and evil comes from a tree, as does immortality. Buddha finds enlightenment sitting under a tree, as does Isaac Newton, in his own way.
The World Tree, or Axis Mundi, has roots that reach deep into the lower world, branches that reach high into the upper world, and branches that spread out in all directions in the middle world. It’s the place where knowledge from all these directions comes together.
This month’s alchemy group explored the World Tree image. I felt a bit intimidated, at first, by the prospect of forming any representation of the tree that is the axis of the world. It would have to be spectacular and unusual. It would have to be the type of image a person could look at and think, yes, this tree is somehow special, different.
Ultimately, the tree I constructed was actually very ordinary looking. It had a thin trunk, a few branches, roots shooting out in all directions. It was not spectacular, and yet, it did look to me like it could well be the center of the world. It reminded me that any place can be the center, the place where the knowledges of upper and lower, north, south, east and west are all connected.