The symbolic meaning of the leaf and leaves is as old as time.
We can find extensive symbolism from cultures all around the world for the plants they grow.
Leaf symbolism is abundant, as many natural symbolisms are.
Leaves are particularly symbolically widespread because they are almost universal and have played important roles throughout our various histories.
Growth and rebirth are universal symbolism associated with leaves.
Leaves are the primary way that most plants get their energy, soaking up the rays from the sun using a chemical called chlorophyll.
Life-giving chlorophyll is what gives the leaves their green colour, and part of what gives the colour green its own similar symbolic meanings.
Through this process, they demonstrate the relationship that all living things have with nature’s energy.
Using it, repurposing the vibrational energy, we can achieve growth and rebirth.
On the other hand, the leaves fall each autumn, and dead leaves most often symbolise death and sadness.
But there is a bittersweet taste to the fate of the leaves at that time of year.
While the leaves may fall, wither and die, in the process they produce new soil that is rich in nutrients.
In this way, the leaves become a part of a cycle where death is no longer the end but just another stage on a cyclical journey.
Many cultures have identified this as being symbolic of the journey of the soul.
Early cultural symbolism surrounding leaves involved modesty and shame.
The obvious example of this is in Christianity and the story of Adam and Eve, where the two newly shame-feeling people covered their modesty with fig leaves.
However, this kind of symbolism shows up across many cultures and may be related to the next symbolism.
You see, leaves have long symbolised keeping things hidden – for the longest time, they symbolised the hidden dangers of the untamed wilds.
Before we built cities and towns and tamed the wilderness, travelling between places was fraught with danger.
Anything could be hiding in dense woodland, and only the sound of rustling leaves would betray the threat.
So leaves came to symbolise hidden dangers, both of the natural and human variety.
Lastly, leaves often symbolise fertility and hope.
The fruits of many fruit-bearing trees grow around the leaves, showing clear symbolism around the idea of fertility.
For this reason, many traditional cultural medicines involve the use of individual leaves to help boost fertility.
This symbolism is a hopeful one on its own, but the leaf as a symbol also symbolises hope in and of itself.
The quintessential image of hope is a green shoot poking through the ashes of a forest touched by wildfires.
That little bit of green finding its way through the death and destruction fills us with hope and the knowledge that life will always find a way to survive and thrive.