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Anytime a symbol figures prominently across diverse mythological, religious, and social constructs, it is likely to be a prominent dream symbol as well.
Trees certainly qualify as such as symbol as they appear cross-culturally throughout many world religions and mythologies.
How does archetypal tree symbolism translate in to dream world topiaries?
Read on to find out.
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World Tree Archetype
In many religions, trees symbolize the concept of the World Tree, a tree that not only has roots that grow deep within the earth, but with branches that support the heavens.
In Hinduism, for example, Ashvastha, a form of sacred fig tree, is revered as a World Tree, whereas in Norse mythology the World Tree is an ash variety called Yggdrasil.
The purpose of the World Tree is to symbolize sustenance, growth, and the linkage of all life, not the linkage of all life, symbolized in the World Tree's myriad roots growing deep within the earth, but also in its branches that reach to the sky, bridging heaven and earth.
For Christians, the cross is an example of a World Tree as Christ's sacrifice on the cross is what Christians view as the way in which heaven and earth were brought together after the Fall.
Since trees are so firmly rooted in so many mythologies, their mythological symbolism may spill over into their interpretation as dream symbols. Some of those mythologies and symbolism are covered below to help dreamers find meaning in their own dreams about trees.
Trees as Sustenance Symbols
Trees provide a variety of sustenance. They give off oxygen, some provide fruit, and some sap. Their wood can be used to make housing; they give shade that protects from the sun. They sustain themselves via their root system which reaches into the earth, ferreting out nourishment for themselves in hidden places deep in the earth.
When trees appear in dreams, they can therefore symbolize the need for nourishment or protection.
The nourishment needed can be physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. Looking to the waking life is the way in which to determine the area of malnutrition.
Once one ascertains the area in which support is needed, one may additionally consider looking toward untried avenues in which to give one's self that which is needed.
Remember, trees find nourishment for themselves in hidden places--and it may very well be that the places wherein one can find what one needs are in those places that are not readily obvious.
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The Symbolism of Tree Parts
There is no pat, one size fits all, meaning for any dream symbol. The message a dream symbol imparts is as unique as each individual dreamer.
Dreams must be interpreted within the framework of an individual's life, by analyzing and honestly examining how one feels and how one is reacting to various life circumstances.
Any guide, including this one, should be used as a starting point, as a place for investigation, not as an ending point.
A good place to start when attempting to interpret a dream about trees, or a dream wherein trees are a major dream symbol, is by identifying which part of the tree is most emphasized in the dream.
The reason this might be important is not only for the obvious reason that different parts of trees have different symbolism, but also because of the way that dreams communicate.
One of the methods dreams use to get their points across is via the employment of word play.
For example, if one is currently feeling stifled or limited in waking life and has a dream wherein tree limbs are the main symbol, the dream might be an expression of the dreamer's desire to "branch out" from the current waking life situation.
Or, conversely, if one is feeling frightened, alone, or if, in waking life the dreamer has entered into a precarious situation in waking life, dreaming of tree limbs might symbolize feelings of being "out on a limb"--feeling like one is barely hanging on with little support.
Tree roots are also symbols that dreams may use to utilize word play as a means of symbolizing converse feelings about waking life predicaments.
Being "rooted" might be a way of expressing contentment and stability or they might indicate helplessness and paralysis--that the dreamer feels unable to free herself from events in her waking life.
Uprooted trees in dreams are typically interpreted as meaning that the dreamer is experiencing extreme a time of deep instability and chaos.
Paradoxical Growth in Stasis
Growing During Rest
Bare branches in dreams do not necessarily indicate barrenness in life.
Instead, those barren branches can symbolize dormancy, a necessary time of rest before new life can begin.
Even nature needs recovery time; part of the growth cycle includes a season of rest. Rest and death are not synonymous.
Growth can and does occur during sleep. Inactivity simply means entering into a state of passive receptivity--the time wherein the intuitive mind receives the information that the active mind needs so it can get the information it needs in order to act in the first place.
While one may feel as though one is stuck or that projects or relationships have reached a standstill, the opposite may be true--events may simply be in a passively receptive period, a time when things are germinating in the winter's darkness, a time which is immediately followed by with new light and growth that suddenly burst forth in spring's budding blooms.
Dream Trees as Life Cycle Symbols
Few things in nature rival the tree's ability for providing visual cues to changing seasons.
Trees announce autumn's arrival in shades of burning red and orange and when that glowing foliage falls, one knows winter is on the way.
Spring comes calling when winter's formerly barren branch begin blooming and when one finds shade underneath the fully formed leaves of born of those baby blossoms, one knows that summer is in full swing.
Seasons have symbolism all their own and trees in dreams, trees whose appearance correspond to those seasons, can be indicators of all the symbolism attached to various seasons.
For example, budding trees in dreams can indicate feelings that are associated with the spring season. They can mean that one is feeling rejuvenated, coming out of a long fallow period, or beginning to feel reborn.
Budding tree dreams can also indicate that one is getting ready to undertake a new endeavour, or that a project is just beginning to bear fruit or just beginning to come to fruition.
Just as summertime is nature's season of fruition, dreaming of trees with branches full of summer's leafy green foliage can similarly symbolize a time of projects coming to fruition or a time of completion of goals, or a spiritual, emotional, or mental period of maturation.
Dream trees bearing leaves in colors of autumnal glow can mean a poignant time of leaving behind old ways of life, old patterns of behaviour, of the coming end of relationships.
Just as fall is a time that is at the same time beautiful, yet the harbinger of the cold of a fallow winter, so can dreams of autumn trees be symbolic of a time that is brings a fruition that will also mean the ending of that which one previously enjoyed.
Dream trees brightly decked in fall's beauty might symbolize a period of life wherein one has outgrown that which was once fulfilling, but which now must be put aside in order that new growth can occur and the life cycle can continue so that stagnation does not occur.
Trees as Symbols of Connectedness
Dream Trees and Connectedness
While a tree's branches spread out in all directions above the earth, each one reaching upward and outward, their roots are performing the same action beneath the earth's surface. The tree, the entire unit, is simultaneously touching heaven and earth making both connected to one another.
With their branches reaching up into the sky and their roots growing deep into the ground, trees are marvelous symbolic expressions of being both firmly grounded where one is while simultaneously attempting to reach out and touch the heavens.
If one is engaged in spiritual work, tree dreams can symbolize being in a space of grounded stability that allows for mature spiritual growth. One is not simply drifting or looking for escape. One is remaining completely aware of the physical world, while also incorporating the spiritual into the physical realm.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Madailein Aisling Ireland
Madailein Aisling Ireland (author) from Seattle, WA on December 10, 2020:
Can you give me just a bit more context and a few more details?
On the surface this is pretty positive symbolism.
I’m curious as to how you recognize the leaves as ones belonging to trees? Do they resemble leaves on the tree you know from waking life that has some sort of importance to you?
Do you see the sun clearly or is it simply sunlight? Can you tell what time of day it is from the sun’s light?
Is this a recurring dream, did you have the dream recently or can you tell me what prompted you to ask about this dream imagery in particular?
Thank you again. I appreciate the encouragement so very, very much!
Cindy MacAllister on October 19, 2020:
i dreamt of seeing a vast amount of intertwining above ground deeply rooted roots of , what i felt to be, very large trees. it was almost dark so the colors were dark blues and even black
David on November 23, 2019:
If u look out your house u did not see the tree it has been removed
Akshay Doultani from Daharki, District Ghotki, Sindh, Pakistan on October 16, 2019:
Excellent Hub, Thanks for Sharing
Leslie Williams on July 05, 2016:
Thanks for sharing!
I have a simple question about tree dreams.
What if you are standing under a tree, but you only seeing the green leaves and the sun shining thru them?
for sharing this knowledge!
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on July 01, 2015:
What a great hub about the meaning of trees in dreams. It's so interesting and useful to know, if you have it in the background. Voted up!
Madailein Aisling Ireland (author) from Seattle, WA on April 25, 2014:
Thanks to both of you. Been dealing with health issues, did mean to ignore comments! Thank you both again.
mrzic on June 16, 2013:
Different and very interesting but i like it.
Shyron E Shenko from Texas on February 20, 2013:
EsmeSanBona, beautiful and interesting.
Madailein Aisling Ireland (author) from Seattle, WA on January 08, 2013:
I do. I put on Enya whenever I feel the need to chill. Love her voice and her lyrics.
Thank you so much for your comment.
Derdriu on January 08, 2013:
EsmeSanBona, Do you know The Memory of Trees by Enya?
Respectfully, and with many thanks for sharing, Derdriu