mouse over for slide show controls. Slides may be played full screen!
The Inverted Tree: an Urthonic Crisis
We have spoken of the ‘World Tree’ and its ‘axial’ symbolism on a number of occasions; without returning to what has already been said, we will add here a few remarks bearing on certain more specific points in this symbolism, notably those cases where the tree appears as inverted, that is, with the roots above and the branches below, a question to which A.K. Coomaraswamy has devoted a special study, ‘The Inverted Tree’. It is easy to understand that if such is the case, the inversion is above all owing to the root being taken as representing the Principle, while the branches represent the unfolding of manifestation. But this general explanation calls for certain considerations of a more complex character, resting always on the application of the ‘inverse sense’ of analogy, to which this inverted position of the tree manifestly refers. […] The two corresponding positions of the tree [upright and inverse] must refer to two different and complimentary points of view, according to whether it is looked at upward from below or downward from above, that is, in sum, according to whether the point of view is that of manifestation or that of the Principle.
In support of this, Coomaraswamy cites the two inverted trees described by Dante [Purgatory 22-25] as being near the summit of the ‘mountain’, thus immediately beneath the plane of the Terrestrial Paradise, whereas, when this latter is reached, the trees are seen to be restored to their normal position; and thus these trees, which seem in reality to be only different aspects of the one and only ‘Tree’ are inverted only below that point at which the rectification and regeneration of man takes place.
Rene Guenon Symbols of Sacred Science Chap. 51 “The World Tree”