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#1 Bestiary Symbols: The Peridexion
Dwell in the tree
The bestiary is a collection of medieval images and animals, explained with their symbolic meaning, related to the bible.
Most of the medieval people knew this symbolism, this was common knowledge. Now, most people are not even aware of the meaning of certain medieval images, because we have lost this biblical view.
Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” (Mark 4:30-32)
There are many variations, but this is a basic example. The image is as follows: there is a tree, which bears fruits. On the leaves are birds (sometimes doves). And at the bottom are one or two dragons which are looking for the birds. The origin of the tree would be in India.
The tree is a symbol for stability. In this case, it could symbolise the eternal truths of God. The doves, which represent the people ("Be simple as doves and clever as serpents" [Matt. 10:16]), have to stay connected to the tree.
If they remove themselves from the tree, the dragon might eat them.
There are some versions which include a shadow. The tree then represents the Father, the shade the son, and the fruits on it the Holy Spirit. The dragon (which represents the Devil) cannot approach the tree.
"Do not be afraid, Mary, the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" [Lk. 1: 30 and 35].
The dove, besides symbolising the people, is a symbol of purity. Purified people are connected to the stability of the tree of God.
On the symbolism of the tree
The symbolism of the tree represents something that is rooted, connected. It is not floating, but connects solidly all levels of reality. This symbolism could be further extended to the mustard seed, from Mark 4:30-32 (see beginning quote). From a small seed, could come the greatest plant, which connects all levels of reality.
The tree, connects a trunk to all its branches. It needs the branches to be in full glory, but the branches have to be connected to the essence of the tree. The fullness shows a kind of unity and harmony, especially when all doves have their own place in it.
"Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity" [Ps. 133:1]
"God makes the harmonious dwell in one house" [Ps. 68: 6]. ]