Tree of Life: A Dream of Returning Light and Hope


What follows is copied from this morning’s dream journal. It seems a fitting post for the holiday season this year. May you find meaning and hope in it during this dark, chaotic time.

Dream #5,000: Tree of Life

I’m in a room in which someone has set up a small square table, like a card table, and covered it with a white cloth. Toward the back center of the table is a small live, potted tree. The front of the table is empty, as if this is a serving table for a Christmas feast and the platters and bowls of food will be placed there.The tree is around 2 feet high. It’s a bit wonky, like Charlie Brown’s little tree, with five skimpy branches sprouting from either side of a central trunk. But unlike Chuck’s tree, it’s not an evergreen with leaves and greenery. It’s a deciduous tree which has shed its old leaves for the winter. This makes sense, since it’s the dead of winter. The branches of this tree are dotted with unusually large, obviously ripening buds which make me think of ornaments on a Christmas tree. As I awaken I hear myself narrating a description of the tree saying, “The Tree of Life, laden with buds (I wrote bulbs) and the promise of new life.”

This dream is very meaningful to me for several reasons. First, because at my first Wise Women’s group meeting a few weeks ago, Jan told us about a group of women who sponsor a movement to plant new trees in the deforested belt around the planet. At the end of our meeting I suggested that we all try to incubate a tree dream to share at our next meeting after the holidays. I was hoping to find some guidance and meaning for our group about the danger of deforestation that is threatening our planet. That night I had dream #4990 with images of a few trees with a few green leaves, but it didn’t bowl me over and I’ve had no more dreams about trees since. Until last night.

Second, last night, knowing the next dream I recorded and worked on would be my 5,000th, I again asked Dream Mother to please bring me an extra special tree dream. Boy, did she deliver!

I awoke some time around 4:00 with the image of this dream and the realization that I was repeating its final words about the Tree of Life. After that I couldn’t go back to sleep. So I got up, wrote it down, went back to bed, and starting thinking about my associations with it. The first thing I thought of was my blog post from some years ago about the symbolic meaning of dreams. I guess that’s what gave me the idea to post this one today.

Next, I thought about what I’ve been writing about in my next book and realized that the Tree of Life represents the trinitarian third force which brings unity between opposites, not just as a metaphysical reality, but also as a physical one. Metaphysically, a tree is an image of the Philosopher’s Stone. Physically, it is a metaphor for the human body, with its central trunk, five appendages (head, arms, and legs), and a feminine and masculine side. This reminded me of the Kabbalah’s sephirot which, in Judaism, represents the divine in humanity and also has a feminine and masculine side.

Then I realized that the Jewish menorah is a Tree of Life too — with its central candle-holder trunk, and four candle holders on each side — and that this image is also like the sephirot. Plus, the lighting of the menorah candles celebrates the divine spark of light, wisdom and divine inspiration that we bring to fullness in ourselves with our spiritual work. The reference to light reminded me of the confusion I had when writing down the dream about the similarity between the words “buds” and “bulbs” — buds signaling new life, and Christmas tree bulbs representing the return of light, and with it, new life.

Another thought was that the Tree of Life, the sephirot, the menorah, and the Christmas tree are all images of the Great Mother, or Sacred Mother, who births new life and light via the buds that will blossom into leaves and flowers with the return of spring. So it’s also an image of the Sacred Feminine which has lain dormant for so long in the collective unconscious but is now showing signs of rebirth. This gives me hope. With women becoming more involved in positions of authority and taking on projects like planting new trees, perhaps they can also influence the world’s governments to take this and other ecological threats more seriously. If they succeed, just as the darkness and barrenness of winter is always followed by the light and new growth of spring, Mother Nature can restore the health of our planet with her natural cycles of life. May it be so.

Finally, the dream felt like a reward from my unconscious for all the work I’ve been doing on my dreams over the last 30 years. It seems to suggest that at my age I am still capable of sprouting with new life, and it made me feel known and loved by the Sacred. It felt like an affirmation and validation of what I’m writing about in my new book, and gave me hope that it might be well-received by the collective. So after lying awake thinking about my 5,000th recorded dream for the rest of the night, I arose at 7:30 and began making revisions to the last chapter based on what I learned from it.

Thank you to my readers for your many gifts of wisdom through the years. May your holiday season be filled with light, wisdom, new life, and divine inspiration.

Image credits:  Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree,, The Tree of Life Metal Menorah by Scott Nelles,

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

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14 Responses

  1. Hi Jean,
    This is a beautiful and inspiring post! Thank you for sharing this dream with us. I’ve been rereading Dream Theatres now that I have a year or so of dreams recorded and thought about. It’s so fun to see the layers that I missed first time through!
    Wishing you a peaceful holiday season!

    1. Oh, my dear! It’s such a pleasure to know that my book has been so meaningful that you’re reading it for the second time. That’s an amazing compliment. Thank you. I hope you’ll find my new book equally helpful. Yes, it seems like every time I read an older dream of mine I find new levels of meaning too. Dreams are such extraordinary, creative teachers! Thank you for writing. And may your dreams be enlightening and empowering. Have a blessed holiday season. Jeanie

  2. Dear Jeanie, yesterday when I was re-arranging the furniture in the sitting room down in Plettenberg Bay, I placed a white wooden tree about 2 feet high on top of the gas heater, which I covered with a beautifully black embroidered cloth. A paper star, white, was laying about so I fixed that to the tree. In front of the tree, I placed some shells in a little black clay pot I made a few years ago, and a fossilised pansy shell. So, again I am struck by a seeming synchronicity.
    Your 5000th recorded dream – Blessings on the Dream Mother for giving you such a dream! Yes the menorah and the sephirot and the tree of life will always remind me of The Great Mother and her beneficent aspects such as the arising of the Sacred Feminine and her manifesting in women doing the essential work. You are an example of this.
    Thank you for your beautiful post. How wonderful that you saw how to revise your last chapter!
    The Dream Mother gave me one of the most peculiar and puzzling dreams of my life last night …

    1. Dear Susan, Another delightful synchronicity between the two of us! Maybe we’ll meet in person one day and find out why these things keep happening. It feels like, somehow, we were meant to be in each others’ lives.
      And thank you for your affirming thoughts about my work. I find it so healing to know people like you who want to honor and respect the contributions that others are trying to make to collective awareness instead of focusing mostly on the negative. Certainly, to raise our consciousness we need to see the cruel realities of life, but we are also in desperate need of models of kindness, thoughtfulness, and friendship, especially in times like this. They are crucial — but sadly often overlooked — parts of reality too.
      Thank you, my sister seeker. I wish you joy and love in this holiday season.
      P.S. (I’d be fascinated to hear about your dream. Feel free to contact me via email if you want to discuss it!)

      1. Thanks Jeanie for your offer to send you my dream … I’ll be bothering over it for sure as time goes by. Hopefully the Dream Mother will send me another on that theme or something that clarifies it a little. I can barely bring myself to read it again. But I will. I have to.
        Have a great week and a joyous festive season 🙂

  3. Wonderful! So beautiful when our dreams send confirmation and hope. After incubating a dream a few weeks ago about a coming cochlear implant surgery, I had two positive dreams related to the surgery. The first made it clear I must love myself through this challenge and be patient. This dream chose Vic’s two most loving and now dead aunts as the crones bringing the love message to remind me I am surrounded by love. The second dream was a simple image of a crystal bowl with a clean break and no rough raw edges, no splintering or shattering –a clean cut or break through the glass/bone as we would like in surgery. Fortunately, I had a dream therapy appointment just a day after the dreams, so could work them while fresh. I don’t number my dreams. There have been many, all in notebooks on my shelf. I organize them by date beginning in 1967 and now transcribe them into a computer file so I can search for topics–like hearing. Blessed Solstice to you and your family.

  4. What beautiful dreams these were. How can we not feel known and loved when we receive gifts like these? I haven’t had a surgical procedure since the age of 5 when my tonsils and adenoids were removed (I don’t count giving birth to two children…that did require hospitalization but I don’t think it counts as surgical procedures), so I can only imagine what thoughts and emotions you must be having. We are so fortunate to understand the wisdom of the deep Self and know much help and comfort it gladly brings when we ask for it. I wish you the very best of luck with your surgery and hope it brings the most successful results possible.
    I only learned about the value of dreamwork in1989, 22 years after you. By then the books I read advised numbering and dating my dreams, so I assumed this was a must. I didn’t quite see the point of it then, but I saw its value when I wrote Dream Theatres of the Soul, and then again when I started this blog. So now it’s a habit. After all these years it feels like 5,000 is a significant milestone, but then, so would recording and working on my dreams for 51 years! Wow. What an accomplishment. And what a wealth of self-knowledge you’ve acquired from your practice and dream therapist.
    Many thanks for writing. Blessed Solstice to you and yours too.

  5. A wonderful dream with rich associations. Thanks. Laden with buds – reminded me of my little miniature Camellia, which I re-potted last month. In response it burst into 11 pink blossoms and served as my Christmas tree this year. I can’t post the image here, but it features somewhere on my twitter thread.

    1. Oh my. I love camellias. What a wonderful Christmas tree that must have made. I’m enjoying your blog, especially the recent post about the mystical wonders of the imagination. The lack of understanding of the value of these phenomena that seems to prevail in our time is so soul-killing. Your post at made a wonderful case for attending to them.
      Blessings in the new year,

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