Trees provide healing medicines, shelter from their branches, a place for burrows for the small animals and provide materials to build homes. A Tree symbolizes permanence, longevity and its firm base symbolises the concept of ‘roots’ and an ongoing relationship with natural surroundings. Such positive characteristics and attributes of trees lend themselves to being revered.
Tree Symbols - Prayer and Talking Sticks
The people of many Native American tribes believe that the qualities of each type of tree brings specific medicine and carries a sacred spark of the Great Spirit. The wood from trees was used to create many sacred items including Talking Sticks and Prayer Sticks. The choice of tree and the wood used to make these sacred objects was highly symbolic and had meaning and relevance to the craftsman. Each type of stick was prepared with due respect and ceremony. The wood was carefully chosen for its strength and spirituality and taken from a tree that had special meaning to the person. Permission was sought from the tree spirit to make the talking stick and the prayer stick.
Native American Tree Symbols Chart
The following chart provides details of each tree together with its meanings and symbolism.
- Ash: The ash symbolizes peace of mind, sacrifice, sensitivity and higher awareness
- Aspen: The Aspen symbolizes clarity of purpose, determination and overcoming fears and doubts
- Arbutus: The sacred Arbutus symbolizes knowledge
- Beech: The Beech symbolizes tolerance, past knowledge and softening criticism
- Birch: The Birch symbolizes truth, new beginnings and cleansing of the past
- Cedar: The Cedar symbolizes cleansing, protection, prosperity & healing
- Cherry: The Cherry tree symbolizes strong expression, rebirth, new awakenings and compassion
- Elm: The Elm symbolizes wisdom, strength of will and intuition
- Maple: The Maple symbolizes the tree of offering, generosity, balance, promise and practicality
- Oak: The oak symbolizes strength of character and courage
- Pine: The pine tree symbolizes creativity, peace and harmony
- Sycamore: Sycamore symbolizes ambition
- Willow: The willow symbolizes inner wisdom, an open mind with the stability and strength of age and experience.
- Walnut: The Walnut symbolizes clarity and focus, gathering of energy and beginning new projects
- White Pine: The White Pine symbolizes serenity
Tree Symbols - The Cedar Tree
The ancient Mississippian Mound Builders believed that the universe consisted of three parts with good and bad spiritual forces. These three worlds were linked together and their connection was usually portrayed as a cedar tree.
Tree Symbols - The Tree of Peace
The Iroquois had two great leaders Dekanawida, the Great Peacemaker and Hiawatha who united the 5 nations to create the Iroquois Confederacy. The Great Peacemaker used a white pine, called the Tree of Peace, to symbolize the peace and friendship that had been established by creating the confederacy. The branches of the Tree of Peace represented protection. A far seeing eagle sat upon the top of the tree to symbolizing a warning system between the tribes and beneath the roots of the Tree of Peace a weapon was buried. This symbolic act meant that there would be no fighting between the Iroquois tribes.