Present in many cultures, this well-known tattoo symbol embraces Christian and Pagan traditions alike, making its way, myth by myth, up to the present day.

The Tree of Life is a magical symbol with its roots in the dawn of time. It is to be found in many cultures and diverse religions, appearing again and again under different names.

Tillinger Lilla, Le Salon Decadent, Budapest, Hungary
Tillinger Lilla, Le Salon Decadent, Budapest, Hungary

Examples can be found in ancient Nordic myth (the Norwegian Yggdrasil) as well as in Assyro-Babilonian culture, not to mention the Bible which associates the tree of life with that of knowledge in the Garden of Eden.

Roy, Roy's Tattoo, Berga, Spain
Roy, Roy’s Tattoo, Berga, Spain

At a crossroads between all these religions it stands as a symbol of connectedness with creation. Its roots are linked to Mother Earth while its leaves and branches stretch towards the sky (Father Sun and Mother Moon) and its energy is made manifest through its nourishment.

The tree of life means negation of solitude since getting it as a tattoo signifies our acceptance of the world as a vehicle by means of which we can achieve personal growth and inner riches.

Karolina Malecka, Gorilla Tattoo Studio, Lodz, Poland
Karolina Malecka, Gorilla Tattoo Studio, Lodz, Poland

At the same time we are dealing with an icon which has endured for millennia, which brings us back to the concept of family and bloodlines. Its tangle of branches – which all started out from the same seed – provides a visual illustration of our continuity across the generations (ancestors, grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren, reproduced in a never-ending cycle). And so this tree is also given the attributes of ‘immortality and strength.

Emilie Ricada, Karbone Studio, Marseille, France
Emilie Ricada, Karbone Studio, Marseille, France

Among so many, one particularly interesting example is the above-mentioned Yggdrasil because that tree in Norwegian folklore is the Pagan version of the tree of life. It encompasses all worlds and connects them as well as being eternal, with neither beginning nor end. It is said too that its fruit keeps the gods young, exactly the same as how it is described in the Bible and the writings of Native American culture.

Conio, Polifamous Tattoo Atelier, Milan, Italy
Conio, Polifamous Tattoo Atelier, Milan, Italy

The Tree of Life” also is a 2011 American experimental epic drama film written and directed by Terrence Malick (featuring a cast of Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Hunter McCracken, Laramie Eppler, Jessica Chastain, and Tye Sheridan in his debut feature film role). Don’t miss it!