Introduction / Using ARAS: The Symbolism of the Cross

[aras-image:3Ta.019,a,18,241,486,Castle Valere Choir Stall]
  This tree is the Tree of Life and for Christianity is derived from the Old Testament and early middle eastern sources. A murla from the synagogue at Dura Europus shows a tree growing from the Torah niche
(3Ta.019,a). A midrash, later than the mural, describes the Tree of Life in Eden on which the righteous souls ascend and descend between Eden and Heaven, Gershom Sholem writes that the Tree of the Sefiroth represents God in his ten potencies for the trunk and branches of the theogonic and cosmogonic tree extend His energies to wider and wider spheres (Sholem 9, p.102). From the roots of the Tree of Life the four rivers of Eden flow in the four cardinal directions forming a horizontal cross.
The Kabbalistic myth of the banishment of the Shekinah from the Godhead represents the separation of the Tree of Life from the Tree of Knowledge (Ibid., p. 108). The Sefirothic Tree in its ternary form showed the Tree of Life in the centre with the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil on either side, sometimes with common roots. (This tradition survives in Christian art for Christ is on the tree of life between the two thieves.)