The Tree of Life
A holy or sacred “Tree” is a symbol used in many spiritual or religious traditions in the world. For example, it was mention by the great Native American prophet, Black Elk, and by other prophets of the tribes of the Western Hemisphere, such as the Mayans.
That "Tree" is a powerful symbol for the spiritual Source. It is also the same “Tree of Life” mentioned in the books of Genesis, Proverbs and Wisdom in the Hebrew Tanakh (Old Testament), and in John's book of Revelation in the Christian Bible.
The Tree of Life is a redeeming source of "food for the soul," which is why Genesis 3:22 states that Man can “put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live for ever.” And that's why its "leaves are for the healing of nations," as John put it in Revelation 22:2.
In a spiritual sense, it is synonymous with the term “Zion,” because while Zion is the name of a mountain in Jerusalem, in a spiritual sense Zion is much like the Tree of Life because neither term refers to any thing material. They refer to the spiritual realm or state of being or consciousness, and the Source out of which everything flows.
Of course, in a physical sense, the name "Zion" designates a specific mountain near Jerusalem where a Jebusite fortress had stood, which was conquered by King David and was then named the City of David. And some say Zion is also the name of the Temple Mount where David’s son King Solomon's Temple was in Jerusalem.
However, in the spiritual and far more important sense, Zion is not a physical place but a symbol for that which is the divine, spiritual source or essence or "foundation" of God's creation, as well as the spiritual or heavenly “residence” of God. And, as you will see, it is also synonymous with the "Tree of Life."
Why It’s Not a Worldly Place or Thing, But a Spiritual Reality
There is a very good reason why Jesus of Nazareth said: "The kingdom of God comes not with observation [in this world]” ... “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” — Luke 17:20-21
When you understand what that means, you will understand why Isaiah 2:2 states that when prophecy is fulfilled, “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the top of the mountains.”
That refers to that “high and holy place where God inhabits eternity,” as is stated in Isaiah 57:15. It is not a worldly place, but a spiritual state of mind and being.
For the benefit of “he that believes,” Isaiah 28:16 states that the Lord God said: “I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a corner-stone of sure foundation, [so that] he that believes shall not make haste.”
“He that believes” is the servant of God who fulfills prophecy, the modern son of man and Messiah, who has learned to not make haste. For he knows why he is to remain “hidden” until the message he has delivered is finally accepted, and he knows the stress of 27 years of the work will lead to his premature death because of his broken heart, unless he goes slowly, and carefully.
Anyway, those references to a mountain or house or stone foundation are not literal.
The "stone" is an esoteric symbol for divine truth, and in a sense it is like the “stone [that] shall shatter the image of the King of Babylon [and] shall become as a great mountain that fills the earth,” just as Daniel wrote in Daniel 2:32-35. The “stone” is at once the spiritual foundation and also the universal truth in the written message of truth the world needs. And both “Zion” and “The Tree of Life” symbolize it.
The Tree of Life
"Wisdom is beneficent and kind. She is the aura of the power of God, the radiance of the eternal Divine Light, a spotless mirror of God. She renews all things, and passing into holy souls from age to age, She produces friends of God and prophets. She is firm, but Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all Her paths are peace. She is a Tree of Life to them that lay hold upon Her. And Wisdom is far better than weapons of war." –– The Book of Wisdom
The bool of Proverbs states: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge God, and God shall direct your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes ... My son, do not despise chastening of the Lord, nor be weary of being corrected. For whoever the Lord loves are corrected; even as a parent corrects the child in whom he delights. Happy is the man that finds Wisdom, and the man that gets understanding. ... For She is more precious than rubies: and all the things you can desire are not to be compared unto Her. Length of days is in Her right hand; and in Her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all Her paths are peace. She is a Tree of Life to them that lay hold upon Her: and happy is every one that retains Her. The Lord God by Wisdom has founded the earth; by understanding has God established the heavens.” — Proverbs 3:5-19
Many if not most religious Jews, Christians and Muslims have not understood that, because even though the terms are mentioned repeatedly in the Hebrew Bible, its meaning is esoteric, and can only be understood be those who actually see the inner Light of God.
That is why all the Jewish prophets, including Jesus of Nazareth, foresaw and foretold that it would be explained – as much as it can be explained in human terms – in due time when humanity was ready, at the end of the age (aeon)Jesus ushered in.
In the esoteric mystical tradition of Jewish Kabbalah and its Western offshoot Qabalah, Zion is in certain instances referred to with regard to the spiritual source from which material reality emanates into "The Tree of Life."
In Chapter 22, the last chapter in the book of Revelation, it mentions: “ ... the river of life, clear as crystal. On both sides of the river is the Tree of Life, which bears twelve manner of fruits and yields Her fruit for each and every month, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”
It also states that the “throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it,” referring to that “Tree of Life” — which speaks not of literal, material, corporeal things or beings, but of the spiritual, divine reality that shall exist in the spiritual realm, and manifested as much as possible on earth as well. That is why a “new world” shall be established, right here on this earth, which shall “last forever” as the books of Daniel and Revelation foresee and foretell.
Again, that Tree of Life is not a literal tree. In the traditions of Jewish Kabbalah, the Tree of Life is symbolized by a diagram of the ten Sepheroth or spheres of emanation, and, in the more esoteric Christian and Interfaith tradition of Qabalah, between and around those ten spheres are 22 connecting and related principles. And altogether they represent the 32 paths of Wisdom.
You see, the book of Revelation speaks of spiritual revelation and knowledge that can come only from within by and through revelation, and no amount of effort or logic or reasoning or study can attain it. It is a spiritual gift that comes when you least expect it.
The symbolism John used is not understood by many. For example, consider something else John wrote in the book of Revelation, having been carried away in spirit to the spiritual realm where he could “see” the future and finally understand scriptures:
“And [the angel] showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of it, and on either side of the river, there was the Tree of Life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” — Revelation 22:1-2
Now, some Christians think the “12 fruits” are the 12 apostles because in Revelation 21:12-14 John had written:
“[It had] had a great and high wall, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels and the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Jesus of Nazareth).” – Revelation 21:12-14
It is no wonder most Christians have misunderstood, because the symbolism John used can be understood only with some knowledge of Kabbalah (and Qabalah) and its symbolism. And that is true with other books in the Torah and Tanakh or Old Testament, especially the book of Daniel, which contains much astrological symbolism along with other esoteric symbolism.
Furthermore, the number 12 is of great importance in Kabbalah and Qabalah. For example, John also wrote:
“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.” Revelation 12:1-2
That can only be understood by those who understand the Kabbalistic and Qabbalistic symbolism, so we have to discuss something very relevant about that with reference to the woman.
In the Qabalistic tradition, the 22 connecting and related principles on the Tree of Life diagram, which are part of the 32 paths of Wisdom, came to be symbolized in a pictorial story book hidden in a "deck of cards" called Tarot (since a picture is worth a thousand words), and the 22 cards or keys in the Major Arcana of the Tarot are the sacred part.
Key 3 of the Sacred Tarot, titled The Empress, has a crown of 12 stars, which refer to the "twelve manner of fruits," the 12 apostles and signs of the Zodiac, etc. The woman is the symbol for creative intelligence, imagination, reproduction, fruitfulness, and growth. She is a pregnant matron, the great mother principle. She also symbolizes Venus, the Morning Star, which is why the ghost of Jesus of Nazareth told John that he (Jesus) was the bright and morning star.
The Sacred Tarot is part of the Qabalah, which is an expansion and evolution of Kabbalah and is part of a spiritual teaching system which mystic Jews and Christians consider the Secrets of the Torah. However, even though common and academic understanding is that the Tarot is just part of a "fortune telling deck," that deck was created just to disguise the jewels of the wise within it. But the knowledge and wisdom the 22 Keys of the Major Arcana contain or represent is ancient and ageless, and was well known even before the time of the building of Solomon's Temple.
So, in conclusion, the “Tree of Life” is in a sense synonymous with“Zion,” for both terms speak not of the material world, but of the spiritual realm or heaven.
May you seek and find it within.