More Research from ARAS: The World Tree

Introduction by Ami Ronnberg, Managing Editor and Curator - ARAS New York

As the year is coming to an end, we are sending you a newly written entry on The World Tree. In religious imagination the world over, the natural tree has become an image of the world, where the crown touching the sky and the roots reaching into the earth are connected through the trunk, suggesting the union of above and below, heaven and earth, temporal and eternal. At this time, the image of the tree in the form of the Menorah and Christmas tree is lighting up the darkness around us. The burning oil lamps and the candles bring the same promise - that the light will return. This is how another entry in the Archive describes it:

"The menorah combines two primordial images that are normally antagonistic to each other: a growing thing (tree or bush) and a burning thing (fire, sun, etc.). With the fusion of these two, a symbol expressive of the spiritual as coming both from above (heaven) and below (earth) is formed. Similar to the menorah is the traditional Christmas tree, which combines the two same elements: the living tree holding up burning candles. Associated since medieval times with the winter solstice, the menorah and the Christmas tree serve as reminders of the life and the light that have disappeared from the earth during the long dark days of deepest winter." (For the complete text, see ARAS record 6Rb.205).