Author Topic: The Tree  (Read 4412 times)


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The Tree
« on: March 16, 2007, 04:34:05 PM »
I have been sometime fascinated by the tree in dreams.  It seems to appear fairly frequently in many forms.  I suspect it of being a metaphor for some structural aspect of ego/psyche.  The following are some associations that I have gathered with respect to the tree and my own theory that archetypal images spring up from the creative function of intuition which produces by analogy images that reflect the structure of the mind/brain itself.

The tree is a living thing which transforms the energy of the sun and the earth and creates from that its own life. 

The tree bridges the worlds of heaven and earth.

The tree is rooted in the earth, it is grounded.  Yet it reaches up high to heaven.

The tree inhales what we exhale and exhales what we inhale.  That is, it complements our need for oxygen and need to get rid of carbon dioxide. 

The tree is the "king" of the plant kingdom.

The tree is analogous to the sensory nervous system.  The sensory nervous system has roots/sensory neurons which are in contact with the physical Earth/physical environment.  The spinal cord, like the trunk of a tree, carries all signals from sensory nerves (excepting those in our head, I believe) up in one consolidated column.  The pathways of sensory nerve signals retain their topological and sensory modal separation all the way up to the thalamus/mid-brain.  In the cerebral cortex, sensory information branches out but is still compartmentalized into cortical maps with columns of cortical cells defining a unit that often corresponds with a region of the skin or sensory nerve tissue.  So just as with trees whose roots and branches have a relationship, so too do the specific sensory nerves have a relationship with specific cortical nerves.  The cerebral cortex is like the crown of a tree.

As mentioned in The Dream-Ego thread, the tree as that part of the nervous system which gets shut off when one is sleeping might be a reference in a dream to the waking world ego structure.  The tree is the structure that gives the ego its waking world strength.  The ocean of nerve impulses invoked by our senses floods the brain-psyche until we rest.  The ego must adapt to and utilize this influx of libido caused by the "light" of the world.  In this sense the leaves are more like sensory nerves in that on the tree this is where the light comes in. 

I have encountered trees in my flying dreams and find myself encountering trees as obstacles to otherwise free movement.  They also seem to serve as reference points, ones which are lost if one soars up high into the atmosphere.  How is one to navigate in the open skies? 

Someone once mentioned that our ancestors came down from the trees and that there may be some ancient memory of the tree as a vital vertical space that one could climb (become elevated) in order to escape danger (conflict).  I have seen as a pattern in dreams that one goes to a second floor in order to engage in a coniunctio.

« Last Edit: March 19, 2007, 09:40:35 AM by Sealchan »

Matt Koeske

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Re: The Tree
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2007, 02:04:49 PM »
Hi Sealchan,

I posted the Grimm fairytale "The Princess in the Tree" here.  Do you think the tree in this story could relate to your experience of trees as dream symbols?

You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]


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Re: The Tree
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2007, 05:07:27 PM »
In this story, the tree seems to very much play the role of the bridge between the mundane world and the other world where the mythic and miraculous occurs.

I could map this to my theory and say that the protagonist moves up the "ladder" of the sensory system into the inner world of his brain where the psyche and all its strange mythic ways resides.  When we sleep the ladder is drawn up and we become trapped in the branches of this tree. 

I can't say I'm wholey confident in this analogy, but I will keep it in mind as I continue to examine dreams.