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Often taken for granted and even considered to be a nuisance in today's technological age, there is an aspect to trees that we might not have even considered. In the ancient Hebrew mystical system of the Qabalah (which is still practiced today), the Tree of Life was a key factor as it illustrates the underlying unity within the Universe.
Tree of Life with flying Birds TattooEgyptian  Tree of LifeIn ancient Egyptian paintings often depicted a sacred tree above and beside a spring, which contains the water of life. Because they lived in the forest, the early Vedic teachers of India attached great importance to trees such as the banyan and peepal, which symbolised patience and tolerance. ASSYRIAN TREE OF LIFE TABLET883 BCA classic cylinder seal design from the ancient Mesopotamian city of Sherif Khan,Syria, and dated to 883 BC. Tree of Life TattooThe annual cycle of deciduous trees provides a visible proof of the creative force within nature. The idea of religious tattoos may seem counterintuitive, for several reasons – not only is tattooing prohibited by some religions, such as Orthodox Judaism, but until recently, tattoos were associated with a vaguely disreputable counterculture that seems at odds with religion.
Nowadays, because tattooing has gone mainstream, religious tattoos are not just for gang members – not by a long shot.
Christian tattoos are the most popular form of religious tattoos, especially in North and South America.
You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.
The most popular Christian symbols are crosses, praying hands, Jesus Christ, angels and doves. The cross is a very universal symbol used in many cultures and religions, including the Celtic cross, the Egyptian ankh cross, and many others.
Sometimes lettering is added to the image – such as the chapter and verse number of a certain Psalm or Bible verse.
Although praying hands are not strictly a Christian symbol, it is almost solemnly used by adherers of the Christian faith. Besides the obvious religious meaning, Virgin Mary tattoos are also a symbol of strength and virtue. The Virgin Mary tattoo is also popular in the Latin world and used to be popular among seafarers, for whom they symbolized the longing for their wives on their long trips abroad.Mary is not only a Christian symbol, she is also honored in Islam.
Of course, not all religious tattoos are Christian at all, though symbols from the other major religions are rarer.
Orthodox Judaism forbids tattooing, though this is not an edict that everyone follows – occasionally, you might see a Star of David or a menorah tattoo, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Another factor is that tattooing is considered disrespectful to those who were tattooed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.
The Indian religions have their own traditional body art, but tattooing is fairly uncommon. Hinduism is the biggest religion of India and the 3rd largest religion in the world, after Christianity and Islam.
Hinduism is a monotheistic religion, meaning that a Hindu believes in one God, called Brahman.
The Hindu deities are very extravagant and colorful, what makes them ideal for a tattoo design. Om is written in the Devanagari script, the script that is used to write Sanskrit and Hindi. Sak Yant (aka yantra tattoos) is the art of sacred tattooing as done by Buddhist monks in Thailand and Cambodia. Buddha tattoos have a certain popularity in the West though and most of them depict Buddha sitting in a meditative position. Allen Iverson: NBA player with a praying hands tattoo on his chest accompanied by his mother's and grandmother's names. Cross Tattoos: Celebrities with a cross tattoo include Justin Timberlake, Robbie Williams, Lenny Kravitz and Britney Spears. Hebrew Tattoos: Celebrities with a Hebrew tattoo include David and Victoria Beckham, Madonna and Christina Aguilera. While rooted deep within the Earth and with branches reaching skyward, trees have long been considered as a link to the Universe. It acts as a model connecting the Universe with God (or divinity) and humankind, with the branches spreading throughout creation reconciling the individual leaves, representing the unified whole. Sometimes a woman is shown embodied in the tree and it is her task to provide food and water for the inhabitants of the Underworld. The Herero people of southern Africa believe that the first humans, as well as cattle, came from a tree called Omum-borombonga, which is found in the grasslands south of the Kuneno River. A stylistic representation of the terrestrial Tree-Of-LifeThere are a number of legends about the early life of Mohammed, founder of the religion of Islam.It is said that just before Mohammed’s birth his father, Abdulah, dreamt of his unborn son. In parts of the Middle East, it is not uncommon to come across a solitary tree by a spring, which is decorated by red handkerchiefs place there by barren women wishing to alter their fate.
The mythologies of diverse cultures feature trees, symbolizing sometimes life, and sometimes the universe. Besides identification, decoration and social ranking, early tattoos definitely had a spiritual purpose.


Mexican and other Latin gangs have been using Christian symbols in their tattoo art for generations, believing in the protection that these images can give. Other symbols worth mentioning are the virgin Mary, rosary beads, a crown of thorns and the crucifixion. The early Christians used it as a secret symbol to find out if a person was a Christian or not. The crusaders had a small cross tattoo on their hand or arm to ensure they got a Christian burial when they died in some foreign country.
In some tattoo designs Jesus is pictured on the cross, making the whole design considerably more complex. Orthodox Jews consider altering one's body ungodly – God made your body and is therefore perfect. It is written in the Devanagari script, a very elegant script that lends itself very well to tattoo designs. Although it is a cultural and liturgical language, like Latin, it is still one of the official languages of India.
One of the key points of buddhism is personal spiritual growth, no wonder it is gaining more and more adherents in the West.
Sak Yant tattoo designs came from India together with Buddhism and were tailored by the Khmer.
They all follow the teachings of Gautama Buddha who lived around the 6th century BCE in the north of India and Nepal. It is the symbol of Islam and in a more political meaning also the symbol of the Middle East.
The Hamsa, aka Hand of Fatima or Eye of Fatima (Fatima is the daughter of Muhammad), is a symbol that protects against the evil eye. A great example is the neo-pagan movement that has been gaining momentum in North America and Europe during the past couple of decades. Religious tattoos are, in short, far more common and versatile than you might think, and for many people they are a powerful, personal way of expressing their faith.
It's also very popular as a tattoo design in all kinds of languages like Farsi, Arabic, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. In numerous ancient cultures trees were considered to be symbols of power, wisdom, fertility, and even of life itself.
Even today, people are said to still leave offerings of small green twigs at the base of this tree as they pass by.
He saw growing from his child’s back a tree, which climbed upward, and reaching its full height emitted a light that spread around the world. As the tree grows toward the sky it acts as a reminder of the qualities of uprightness, maturity and responsibility.
Living so closely to nature as the Celts did, they were able to see their lives mirrored in the natural world around them. The Oak was the cycle of regeneration and growth (Winter and Spring) and the Holly represented life and death (Summer and Fall).
Wood from sacred trees had magickal properties, which was reflected in the Celtic Ogham alphabet, wherein each letter represents a particular sacred tree (modern Ogham divination is based on the uses and importance of these sacred trees to the Celtic people). The “canonical universal tree” topology is actually a composite of phylogenies based on single ribosomal RNA gene trees and duplicated, paralogous protein gene trees. And it doesn't stop there – people use religious tattoos to express a great variety of religious views. Other Jesus tattoos are a close up of his face with or without a crown of thorns or a halo. Other detailing might include a wood grain pattern on the cross, or the crown of thorns in the middle of the cross of hanging off one of the arms. A tattoo of Buddha might be a bit contradictious because Buddha discouraged the use of images. Besides verses from the Koran, a lot of people want their lover's name, their own name or favorite quote translated into Arabic script. Wiccans and other neo-pagans are great fans of tattoos, and many religious symbols can be found among their favored tattoo images. Even in our modern world, these symbols continue to reflect something innate within us, if only we take the time to notice.Probably the most famous of all trees in the Western world are those mentioned in the Biblical story of creation. In Indian tradition, God, which is the source of all life, is the root of the tree, while the trunk and the branches symbolise the earliest communities which grew up with a pure spirituality close to the creator. At the other end of the cycle, trees are also planted to commemorate person's life, creating an ongoing memorial to their spirit. One example that is still relevant today is that each tree aims to achieve the greatest height so that it may get more light.
Some trees provided food, some wood for making hunting weapons; others were sacred to the fairy-folk or to the Gods.
This story recounts the Christian God planting within the Garden of Eden beautiful trees laden with delicious fruit, two of which were the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life, which was symbolic of immortality.
It is often suggested to be an ash tree, an interpretation generally accepted in the modern Scandinavian mind.


The Tree was the most sacred symbol in human history because it represents the connection between Heaven and Earth. In Celtic creation stories, trees were the ancestors of mankind, elder beings of wisdom who provided the alphabet, the calendar, and entrance to the realms of the Gods. Recent studies based on new genome sequence data suggest that the universal tree has been “uprooted” by extensive horizontal gene transfer (HGT). An 1847 depiction of the Norse Yggdrasil as described in the Icelandic Prose Edda by Oluf Olufsen Bagge.In Norse mythology the great ash tree, known as the Yggdrasil, was considered to be the axis of the world, with its branches reaching out over both Heaven and Earth. The light is the wisdom of his teachings that have truly been globally disseminated.However we also know that the tree in Mohammed’s back could be the ‘tree of life’ and is a common symbol in Middle Eastern and Islamic culture.
A tree's growth depends on the strengthening of its trunk to support and the anchoring of its roots firmly in the soil.
Trees were also associated in the Shamanic beliefs of the Druids and other Celtic peoples with the supernatural world. However, the scope of HGT is still unclear and reports of extensive trans-Domain HGT based on sequence homology, without supporting phylogenetic analysis, need careful reconsideration.
The roots of the Yggdrasil held the lower world of the earth spirits together, its trunk maintained the middle world of man, while its branches were the home of the upper world of the Gods. Again, mirrored in our lives, this shows us that to be able to grow and progress (whatever path we decide to take), we require firm foundations just like the roots of a tree. Trees were a connection to the world of the spirits and the ancestors, living entities, and doorways into other worlds.
Phylogenetic analysis of combined conserved proteins suggests that there is still underlying support for the concept of the universal tree. The Yggdrasil is said to draw water from the springs and wells at its base, which was the source of hidden wisdom, and supports a host of supernatural beings within its branches. These foundations are then strengthened from experience, like the trunk, if our aspirations (the leaves) are to reach the light. Long after the Druids of old have vanished into the mists of time, the lore of trees continues as a vital part of Celtic myth and folklore. To the ancient Celts the yew was burnt for purification when the old year died and the new year came forth, which occurred at the ancient festival of Samhain that marked the Winter. The two sides represent the male and female aspects of nature that grow out of the same earth, which is the bowl. Yet all are woven together, signifying the connection between all things in the Heavens and the Earth. It was also from the branches of the Yggdrasil that Odin hung himself upside down for nine days and night for the purpose of gaining knowledge of the runes which led to his own rejuvenation. CLICK to DOWNLOAD  This custom Tree of Life Tattoo design by Captain Bret copyright 1982The Man in the Tree, or Derg Corra, is always accompanied by a Stag.
This dual nature also symbolizes Positive and Negative forces in nature as well as Day and Night. In Norway, the World Tree was a provider of nourishment and a source of healing; dews from it enriched the valleys of earth and drops from its leaves brought benefit to men. In Celtic legends of the Gods, trees guard sacred wells and provide healing, shelter, and wisdom. It was also the source of the world's rivers, for they flowed from the horns of the hart which fed upon its foliage, while from the horns of the goat which did likewise came the mead which supplied the warriors in the hall of Odin.Tree of Life TattooIn Germany and Scandinavia, it is customary to have a guardian or lucky tree beside a house. The green and budding twigs may represent existing species; and those produced during each former year may represent the long succession of extinct species . The limbs divided into great branches, and these into lesser and lesser branches, were themselves once, when the tree was small, budding twigs; and this connection of the former and present buds by ramifying branches may well represent the classification of all extinct and living species in groups subordinate to groups . The most sacred tree of all was the Oak tree, which represented the axis mundi, the center of the world. The Celtic name for oak, daur, is the origin of the word door- the root of the oak was literally the doorway to the Otherworld, the realm of Fairy. From the first growth of the tree, many a limb and branch has decayed and dropped off, and these lost branches of various sizes may represent those whole orders, families, and genera which have now no living representatives, and which are known to us only from having been found in a fossil state .
The recurring features of this design are the emergence of a mistletoe-like plant which emerges from a central pot or beaker.
The plant branches from the main stem to form interlacings which culminate in cornucopiae from which other interlaced branches with leaves and fruit emerge. As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications" (Darwin, 1859). The Celtic rendering of the Tree of Life, which  emerges from a pot or beaker, is the only figurative illustration of plant life which appears in the Book of Kells, where it can be found ten times. Two of these are particularly exquisite examples, and depict beautiful tropical-type birds.The Tree of life is an ancient symbol found in all cultures.



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