According to ancient tradition men came from trees or plants.
The tree is as it were an intermediate form of man, since on the one hand it springs from the Primordial Man and on the other hand it grows into a man.
Naturally the patristic conception of Christ as a tree or vine exerted a very great influence.
In Pandora, as we have said, the tree is represented in the form of a woman, in agreement with the pictures reproduced in the first part of this essay, which, unlike the alchemical pictures, were done mostly by women. ~Carl Jung, CW 13, Para 458
This raises the question of how the feminine tree-numen should be interpreted.
The results of our investigation of the historical material have shown that the tree can be interpreted as the Anthropos or Self.
This interpretation is particularly obvious in the symbolism of the “Scriptum Alberti” and is confirmed by the fantasy material expressed in our pictures.
The interpretation of the feminine tree-numen as the Self therefore holds good for women, but for the alchemists and humanists the feminine representation of the tree is an obvious projection of the anima figure.
The anima personifies the femininity of a man but not the Self. Correspondingly, the patients who drew Figures 29 and 30 depict the tree-numen as the animus.
In all these cases the contrasexual symbol has covered up the Self.
This is what regularly happens when the man’s femininity, the anima, or the woman’s masculinity, the animus, is not differentiated enough to be integrated with consciousness, so that the Self is only potentially present as an intuition but is not yet actualized. ~Carl Jung, CW 13, Para 458
In so far as the tree symbolizes the opus and the transformation process “tam ethice quam physice” (both morally and physically), it also signifies the life process in general. Its identity with Mercurius, the spiritus vegetativus, confirms this view.
Since the opus is a life, death, and rebirth mystery, the tree as well acquires this significance and in addition the quality of wisdom, as we have seen from the view of the Barbeliots reported in Irenaeus: “From man [= Anthropos] and gnosis is born the tree, which they also call gnosis.”
In the Gnosis of Justin, the angel Baruch, named the “wood of life,” is the angel of revelation, just as the sun-and-moon tree in the Romance of Alexander foretells the future. ~Carl Jung, CW-13. Para 459
However the cosmic associations of the tree as world-tree and world-axis take second place among the alchemists as well as in modern fantasies, because both are more concerned with the individuation process, which is no longer projected into the cosmos.
An exception to this rule may be found in the rare case, reported by Nelken, of a schizophrenic patient in whose cosmic system the Father-God had a tree of life growing out of his breast.
It bore red and white fruits, or spheres, which were worlds. Red and white are alchemical colours, red signifying the sun and white the moon.
On the top of the tree sat a dove and an eagle, recalling the stork on the sun-and-moon tree in the “Scriptum Alberti.”
Any knowledge of the alchemical parallels was quite out of the question in this case. ~Carl Jung, CW 13, Para 459