Trees have a rich symbolic history in many cultures, from the cherry trees and blossoms of Japan, to the trees that were at the center of the creation myths of the Celts and Norse in Europe. In a number of Asian and African cultures, their creation myths tell stories of men hanging from trees like fruit until they were plucked and came to life. Buddha found enlightenment in his long meditation under the branches of the Bodhi tree. Trees are powerful symbols of regeneration and rejuvenation, vivid reminders to us of the cycle of life, the hard, cold, barren months of Winter giving way to the new growth, buds, warmth, fertility and life of Spring.
In the Norse tradition, the Sacred Tree is Yggdrasil. This vast ash tree is literally the center of the Norse Universe, its branches hanging over the Nine Worlds and its roots leading up from the world of men to the world of the Gods. Odin hung himself from a branch of Yggdrasil for nine days, so that he might die and journey to the land of the dead, from which Odin returned with the Wisdom of the Dead and the Magic Runes. After Ragnarok, the end of the world of the Norse Gods, Yggdrasil will> survive and humans who take shelter in the branches will descend to start a new world.
In the Celtic creation tradition trees were the ancestors of mankind. The Celts believed that trees had spirits and were living beings. Trees were symbols of ancient wisdom who provided the alphabet, the calendar, and entrance to the realms of the Gods. Trees were also associated in the Shamanic beliefs of the Druids and other Celtic peoples with the supernatural world. Trees were a connection to the world of the spirits and the ancestors, living entities, and doorways into other worlds. Celtic art often represented the branches and roots of trees as intertwined, a potent symbol of the interconnectedness of all life and the conscious and unconscious worlds.