The Pagan Eden

The Pagan Eden: Assyrian Origins of the Kabbalistic Tree of Lifeby Ian Freer

© Copyright 2006 IAN FREER. All rights reserved. (excerpt used by permission)

If the date palm is the main Tree of Life commonly shown on the Assyrian palace reliefs, this could neatly explain the lattice work pattern that is so evident.  The trunk of the commonly seen variety of palm tree is patterned in that way because it grows upwards with new leaves, which leave the lattice pattern (See Figure A, below) when they fall off.  Another possibility is that branches of trees were deliberately tied together at the nodes and fashioned into a lattice; or living branches were trained in those directions as an espalier.

Tree of Life

Note lattice pattern on the trunk (center) of this stylized tree.

“One theory of the genies that protect the tree is that they are not holding pine cones at all but rather they have the male flower of the date and are pollinating the tree, while holding a bucket of male flowers, so that it will continue to bear dates in the following year.  This is a very attractive theory because the date palm was a great source of food and the date palm is emblematic of the region.

Some of the abstract trees shown in Assyrian art are clearly
pomegranates, as the fruit is distinctive, but many others are
much more like date palms. Parpola notes that this artistic
form of the Tree is principally characterized by the “garland” of cones, pomegranates, or palmettes surrounding its crown and/or trunk.  I suggest that the pomegranates designate that species and the palmettes designate a palm tree.

For more information on Kabbalah and the Tree of Life,  go to

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