In Western culture, perhaps the most famous tree is arguably the one in Eden from which Adam and Eve ate thereby causing the fall of humanity. The Tree of the Knowledge often overshadows the other tree in the Edenic garden, the Tree of Life.
However, in other cultures, the mythological motif of the World Tree (another form of the Tree of Life) is the one that gets the most press. Two examples of World Trees are the Hindu Ashvastha, a sacred fig tree, and the Norse ash tree known as Yggdrasil. The World Tree appears throughout cultures in various different forms, yet its function is basically the same: to sustain and link life, not only human life, but to link all of life to each other, to bridge heaven and earth. Trees in dreams may have symbolism similar to the symbolism found in world mythologies and that symbolism is covered below.
Trees as Sustenance Symbols
The symbolism of trees as life sustaining entities is easy to see. Trees provide food and oxygen; their roots have the capacity to find nourishment that is hidden deep in the earth and far from sight. Trees provide shelter and shade. Trees, therefore, may appear in dreams as symbols of a desire for sustenance, or they may indicate that one is feeling capable of providing sustenance to others. Trees in dreams may also symbolize a desire for protection, or a need for stability.
Trees as Growth Symbols
Most everyone remembers being a child and learning about the growth rings on trees. Comparing one's life span to the rings of a giant tree like a Sequoia, can be a humbling reminder of one's place in the grand scheme of the universe. But seeing a tree in a dream can remind one of the amazing capacity for growth that a tree has. A tree in a dream can symbolize spiritual growth, a reaching for the heavens, or it may represent a growth in maturity, or it may even be symbolic of growth in grounding one's self firmly in one's life.
Seeing trees as symbolic of spiritual connectivity is not difficult. Their limbs branch out in all directions, they reach up to the sky while their roots grow deep in the ground providing stability while simultaneously finding nutrients in order to grow. Heaven in connected to earth; the earth is connected to heaven. Dreams of trees can, therefore, be symbolic of feelings of spiritual growth and connectedness to the universe.
The various parts of trees may carry various meanings, some of which are predicated on word play. For example, tree limbs may be symbols of a desire to "branch out" from one's current place in life or they may be symbolic of feeling as if one is "out on a limb," hanging in a precarious position with little support.
Tree roots can be symbolic either of feeling "rooted" in one spot, stagnant and unable to move, or the roots may "run deep" indicating a sense of home, stability, and ability to find nutrition (physical, mental, spiritual) in hidden places. Conversely, seeing trees that are uprooted can symbolize feelings of chaos, disarray, despair, or instability.
Trees can be symbolic of the various cycles of life and the year and as such may give one an idea of one's progress in one's endeavours. Are your trees budding? You may feel as if life is beginning anew, or feel hopefully about a new project or relationship. If trees are shedding leaves, you may feel that a cycle is ending or a project is coming to completion. Bare trees may indicate a fallow time, but remember that after the rest comes renewal!
*~Aisling Ireland~* is an ordained Interfaith Minister, available for weddings and commitment ceremonies and a Spiritual Counselor providing dream interpretation and Tarot readings. To make an appointment check out her website at: Sang-Realta Spiritual Counseling
"Man and His Symbols" is probably the most accessible and informative book you can find on C.G Jung's ideas on dream interpretation - perfect for both beginners and experienced dream workers.