In the beginning, there was the forest and the trees. Later, we tried to understand things. As intelligent beings, we created these stories.
If you lived in Scandinavia, you understood that Embla emerged from the elm tree and was the first woman. Aska emerged from the ash tree and was the first man. The Celts knew that the first woman came from mountain ash and the first man from alder. Zoroasterian and Parsis books record that “the original human pair, Maschia and Maschiana sprang from a tree in Heden, a delightful spot where grew homa and haoma, the marvelous tree of life whose fruit imparted vigor and immortality.” From this terrain came the stories of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.
If you were Roman, you knew that the first humans were born from oak trees. Or, if you were Scottish then it was clear that the ash is the maternal ancestor of humanity. Similarly, in Greece, a race of men was formed from the ash tree by Zeus. The world over, in every history, is the emergence of humans from a sacred tree central to their life and typically also a world tree that is the center of the universe.
Shamanism, traced to about 30,000 years ago in Siberia and China, was the first known spiritual order. In “The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology” Joseph Campbell wrote:
"Up above there is a certain tree where the souls of the shamans are reared before they attain their powers. And on the boughs of this tree are nests in which the souls lie and are attended…The higher the nest in this tree, the stronger will the shaman be who is raised in it, the more he will know, and the farther he will see." (p. 256)
Tree roots were known to travel to the underworld or the world of unconscious mystery, death, and life beyond. The tree body expresses in the middle world where we also live our mundane human life circumstances and the branches reach to the upper world or the world of guidance, spiritual and intuitive messages, and transcendence. These are the three realities used by shamans and incorporated into our psychological understanding of consciousness and our hierarchy of existence.
(Meeting Trees, A Life-Changing Connection)