Monday, January 12, 2009

Tree of Life

Something of the coldness of winter took me here, when on a walk in Penzance, I noticed this tree silhouetted against the screen of an evening sky. There are always trees around but this one stood out. The tree has no unified or universal symbolism. It can signify birth, death, regeneration, the maternal, the paternal - it is the Tree of Life. It dies and rises again in times without number says Mircia Eliade. In a series of drawings based on the flower of Life, Leonardo da Vinci emphasised the cyclical nature of trees, shedding their leaves in winter then regenerating in the Spring. So let's look forward to the Spring and leave the last words to Darwin. "As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever-branching and beautiful ramifications (Darwin, 1872). For a scientific demonstration visit the excellent Wolfram's Demonstration Project at http://demonstrations.wolfram.com/TheTreeOfLife/