“But let us not forget that the total combination, the lighted and decorated tree, is also found outside Christ’s nativity and in non Christian contexts. For instance, in alchemy, that well-known reservoir for the symbols of antiquity.
Now you know what the shining globes on the Christmas tree mean: they are nothing less than the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars. The Christmas tree is the world-tree. But, as the alchemical symbolism clearly shows, it is also a transformation symbol, a symbol of the process of realization.
According to certain alchemical sources, the adept climbs the tree – a very ancient shamanistic motif. The shaman, in an ecstasy, climbs the magical tree in order to reach the upper world where he will find his true self. By climbing the magical tree, which is at the same time a tree of
knowledge, he gains possession of his spiritual personality.
To the eye of the psychologist, the shamanistic and alchemical symbolism
is a projected representation of the process of individuation.
~ C.G. Jung, Speaking: Interviews and Encounters
[Art: Mayan/Mesoamerican Tree of Life]
I just wrote a poem about tobogganing down the Yggdrasil for Christmas with shamans. I did not know all this when I wrote it. Thank you, Charlie.