The Allegorical Tree, 2015
Pen and ink
Gregory B. Stewart
This work was devised as the small frontispiece image and book cover for the work, The Apprentice,
Originally appearing barely larger than a postage stamp, the symbolism at work in this image resonates much more deeply when observed at a larger scale. In it, the tree represents a literal tree of life, emulating the movement and nuance of the imagined tree of the Kabbalistic tradition.
The tree of life is a symbolic representation of an inner journey through progressive steps of enlightenment. The present-day symbol has been adapted from Western Mysticism which has syncretic origins from Jewish mysticism through the adoption of the Kabbalah. In both these approaches, the symbol functions as a scaffold or schema where the initiate progresses up and down the structure through various learnings and meditations.
In this use, the tree of life is a direct representation through the degrees of blue lodge and Scottish Rite Freemasonry.
By taking that path, the literal and allegorical tree of life grows and branches up into the higher degrees. While this may not be part of the masonic cannon, it has found resonance in many of the esoteric aspects of the first three and higher degrees.