The World Tree is represented as a colossal tree which connects the heavens, the terrestrial world and through its roots, the underworld. Connected to the motif of the tree of life, it is the source of wisdom of the ages.
the World Tree or The Tree of Life, sometimes referred to as the Tree of Knowledge, appears in the mythology and folklore of cultures around the world. Tree of Life meanings vary slightly from culture to culture. However, a common theme they all share is the idea that a mystical tree connects the physical and spiritual worlds.
Yggdrasill, Old Norse Mimameidr, in Norse mythology, the World Tree, was a giant ash supporting the universe. One of its roots extended into Niflheim, the underworld; another into Jötunheim, land of the giants; and the third into Asgard, home of the gods.
The ancient Celts also had a Tree of Life, which many historians believe was inspired by the Yggdrasil World Tree. Like the Aboriginal Australians and other ancient cultures, the Celts were animists. They believed the natural world was interconnected and that spirits inhabited everything, from trees to rivers, lakes, mountains, and animals.
The Celtic Tree of Life, like the World Tree, was connected to the underworld through its roots. Its trunk existed in the physical world and its high branches reached the heavens. So, the for the Celts, the Tree of Life symbolized the connection between the world of human beings with that of the gods and spirits. Thus, the Tree of Life also represented wisdom and protection.
Trees are linked with spirituality in many cultures. The World Tree is also a metaphor for Awareness, Enlightenment and Rites of Initiation which appear in world Mythologies.
In the Unnamed Path we use the symbol of the World Tree. The roots are embedded within the earth and reach deep and far into the Underworld.
The trunk of the World Tree is the axis mundi (world axis) which symbolizes the connection, or pathway, between the world of matter and the realm of spirit. It is this pathway by which beings can travel to the different worlds to seek enlightenment, or the Initiate, can use to access the Upperworld, Underworld or enter the Middle World, all realms of spiritual consciousness.
The branching canopy of the World Tree reaches into the Upperworld with all the celestial bodies, which rotate around the world axis, the axis mundi. The layers of branches represent the ascending realms of consciousness which exist within the infinite domain of the Upperworld.
The World Tree, symbolizing a direct and unbroken link between the world of matter and the realms of Spirit can also be symbolic of, or a metaphor for, our human bodies which are also linked to the above and below . For just as the roots of the World Tree are set firmly in the world of matter, so too are our feet firmly planted upon the same earth.
And just as the branches of the World Tree reach for the heavens, so too do our heads, and minds, reach for the higher realms of consciousness to allow the spirits which dwell within these realms to descend unto us in order to instruct us in divine wisdom.
And finally, in the same way in which the trunk of the World Tree serves as a bridge for the spirits to enter this world, so too does the trunk of our body function in the same way. For it is within the trunk of our body that our spinal column, our personal axis mundi, resides.