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The Tree of Life, World Tree, Tree of Evolution, Cosmic Tree, Soma Tree, Human Spinal Column.

Zarathustra Seminars

[Carl Jung on The Tree of Life, World Tree, Tree of Evolution, Cosmic Tree, Soma Tree, The Human Spinal Column.]

Prof. Jung:

Here is a very valuable contribution from Mrs. Baumann, a photograph of Nestor’s ring, that famous intaglio with the representation of the world-tree.

And here is a contribution from Mrs. Crowley about the tree in Egypt:

“In the early Pyramid texts, there is a passage in which the Pharaoh on his way to Re, comes upon a tree of Life on the Mysterious island, situated in the midst of the Field of Offerings. ‘This king Pepi went to the great isle in the midst of the Field of Offerings, over which the gods make the swallows fly. The swallows are the imperishable stars. They give to this king Pepi this tree of Life, whereof they live, and Ye-Pepi and the Morning Star may at the same time live thereof.’

This image belongs, prior to the Osiris faith, to the Solar religion of the old kingdom, about 3000 B.C.

This tree in the photograph is not exactly the world-tree, but has more the aspect of the tree of life, what they called in India the soma tree, the nyagrodha tree.

You know, the tree has many different aspects.

It appears first in ancient mythologies as the cosmic tree, the tree of development-of cosmic as well as human evolution, like the great tree of the Germanic sagas, Yggdrasil.

Another more specific aspect is the tree of life, the tree which gives life to human beings and animals and to the universe.

And this tree has also the aspect of the world axis: the branches up above are the kingdom of the heavens; the roots below form the kingdom of the earth, the nether world; and the trunk is the world axis round which the whole world revolves, and at the same time a life-giving center or the main artery of life throughout the world.

So the tree is more or less equivalent to the spinal column in a human body.

You know in the interior of the cerebellum, a certain part in the middle part branches in such a way that it has a treelike appearance and is called the arbor vitae, the tree of life.

Also this famous symbol of Osiris, the Tet, is a sort of tree form.

It is identified with the os sacrum, that part of the spinal column which is inserted in the middle of the pelvic basin, and it also refers to the whole length of the spinal column,
which maintains the straightness of the body and carries the arteries along the backbone.

These anatomical facts are the same in animals, so naturally they have been known forever, practically.

Moreover, they knew that the arteries carried the blood, which was supposed to be the seat of the soul, so blood is itself a symbol for the soul, as warmth and breath symbolize blood, the indispensable essence of life.

Then another aspect of the tree is the tree of knowledge.

It is the carrier of revelation: out of the tree come voices; in the whispering of the wind in the tree words can be discerned, or the birds that live in the tree talk to one.

We have endless material as evidence for those traditions.

The tree of paradise, for instance, is really one and the same tree but with a three-fold aspect: the tree which carries the evolution of the world, the tree which gives life to the universe, and the tree which gives understanding or consciousness.

inverted tree. And the nyagrodha is the sacred tree of Buddha at the monastery of the Holy Tooth at Bodh Gaya, that famous Buddhist place of pilgrimage and worship in Ceylon.

It is really a pi pal tree, and looks like a willow. The soma tree is also sacred in Hinduism.

According to its oldest definition, soma is a life-giving or intoxicating drink, but is also called a tree because it has the life-giving quality.

One sees no resemblance to a tree, yet because it is life-giving they are identical.

That is the primitive way of thinking: when two things function in the same way, even though they are utterly incommensurable, they are supposed to be one and the same thing.

For instance, things that give life in the way of nourishment are identical.

They say a sort of life power or mana circulates through these different things, uniting them, making them one.

Then the tree is a very central symbol in the Christian tradition, having even taken on the quality of death-just as Yggdrasil is not only the origin of life, but also the end of life.

As life originates in the tree, so everything ends in the tree of evolution; the last couple enters the tree again and disappears therein.

So the mummy of Osiris transforms into a tree. And Christ ends on the tree.

As I told you, the Christian cross was supposed to have been made from the wood of the tree of life, which had been cut down after the fall of the first parents and used later on for the two obelisks or pillars, Aachim and Boas, in front of Solomon’s temple.

Those are analogous to the Egyptian pillars or obelisks that flanked the way on which the sun-barque passed to and fro.

One is now in Rome and another is in Paris, but happily enough, there are still a number left at Karnak.

When Solomon’s temple was destroyed those two pillars were thrown into one of the ponds of the river valley and much later discovered again, and tradition says the cross was made from the wood of those ancient beams.

So Christ was crucified on the tree of life.

Therefore those medieval pictures where Christ is represented as hanging crucified on a tree with branches and leaves and fruits. ~Carl Jung, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Pages 1437-1438.