Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Why an Apple?

"Cut an apple through and through, 
then contemplate what's twixt the two!"
                                                 - Old Saying

So why an apple? 
What's so special or sacred about apples? 
Why not an orange?
Or banana?

There are many reasons witches hold apples as sacred. 

When you cut an heirloom apple in two, you will see a pentacle. A pentacle is a pentagram enclosed in a circle. A Pentagram is a 5-pointed star.  What makes a pentagram so magical? Well, there's more than I can cover here. But for now, here are a few things for you to think about...

Penta = FIVE

Let's begin with the prefix, "Penta."  It means "five." And 5 is a very special number!

The numeral "5" contains within it all the other numbers, and thus contains within it Kether. Those studying Qabalah will understand this statement.  
To illustrate this, consider the following:

0 x 5 = 0               1 x 5 = 5

2 x 5 = 10 = 1       3 x 5 = 15 = 6
4 x 5 = 20 = 2       5 x 5 = 25 = 7
6 x 5 = 30 = 3       7 x 5 = 35 = 8
8 x 5 = 40 = 4       9 x 5 = 45 = 9
10 x 5 = 50 = 5      11 x 5 = 55 = 10

It's US and More!

The Pentagram represents man, as illustrated by Leonardo daVinci.  Enclosed in a circle, a human being can touch all the points of the circle with raised head and outstretched arms and legs. It is sometimes called the Star of the Microcosm. Ancient and modern occult philosophers have regarded man as a microcosm or little world in himself, containing the potential of all that is in the cosmos outside of him.
The five points of the star can represent many things, including the five mundane senses of the human -- sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste -- the gateways by which impressions of the outer world reach us. We have five fingers/toes on each limb extremity. There are five initiations in our lives -- birth, youth, maturity, old age, and death. To the Jews it represented the five books of the Pentateuch.

Early examples of the pentagram occur in the relics of Babylon and among many other ancient cultures. The earliest known use of the pentagram dates to about 3500 BC at Ur of the Chaldees. The symbol was found here on potsherds. In later periods of Mesopotamian art, the pentagram was used in royal inscriptions as a symbol of imperial power.

The followers of Pythagoras, the Greek mathematician and world traveler, called the pentagram the pentalpha, being geometrically composed of five letter A’s. The Pythagoreans considered it an emblem of perfection.

To the Gnostics, the pentagram was the Blazing Star and, like the crescent moon, was a symbol relating to the magic and mystery of the nighttime sky.

Before the Inquisition, there were no associations of evil to the pentagram. Instead, the pentagram implied Truth. The Emperor Constantine I used the pentagram in his seal and amulet.  To the Christians, it is the 5 wounds of Christ that makes it sacred, and I've seen this symbol in the windows of many churches in Europe.

In some traditions, tracing a path around the pentagram, the elements are placed in order of density -- Spirit, Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. With the single point upwards the spirit ruling over matter is signified. For this reason the pentagram is customarily drawn with one point up.  The element placement on the pentagram is not of importance to you now as a primary student. We will delve into it in your next year's studies. 

In some traditions, with two of its points upwards, the emphasis is on the carnal nature of humanity and this pentagram is frequently regarded as a negative symbol. Satanists have adopted the inverted pentagram as one of their symbols and as a result, it has unfortunately become associated and equated with Satanism by the general population. 

Some occultists regard the reversed pentagram as the face of the Goat of Mendes; the two upward points representing the goat’s horns. Actually, no known graphic illustration associating the pentagram with evil appears until the nineteenth century. Alphonse Louis Constant (aka Eliphaz Levi Zahed), a defrocked French Catholic priest, illustrates the upright pentagram of microcosmic man beside an inverted pentagram with the goat’s head of Baphomet inside. It was this illustration which led to the idea of different orientations of the pentagram being “good” and “evil.”

The circle around the pentacle contains and protects. The circle symbolizes eternity and infinity, the cycles of life and of nature. The pentacle implies spiritual containment of the magic circle and the personal, individual nature of the witch’s path.

There is much, much more to learn about the Pentagram, but that is a topic of great depth. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the pentacle and the sacred number 5.  I suggest you do your own research and brainstorm each.

What else can you see in the center of the Apple???
Note:  There are no wrong answers  :)

Here is something I see... do you know what this is?

So what else?
What else is there about an apple?
Well... an apple is...


The color red is an important clue. What does red symbolize to you?  Here are some ideas:

The color red is linked to the most primitive physical, emotional, and financial needs of survival and self-preservation.  It is the color of blood and fire.

Red is associated with love, passion, desire, heat, longing, lust, sexuality, sensitivity, romance, joy, strength, leadership, courage, vigor, willpower, rage, anger, danger, malice, wrath, stress, action, vibrance, radiance, and determination.

Red is assertive, daring, determined, energetic, powerful, enthusiastic, impulsive, exciting, and aggressive.  It represents power and courage, which is why it is often used in national flags, on shields, and in achievement patches.

Red represents physical energy, lust, passion, and desire. It symbolizes action, confidence, and courage.

Studies show that the color red can create physical effects such as elevated blood pressure, enhanced libido, increased respiratory rates, enhanced metabolism, increased enthusiasm, higher levels of energy, and increased confidence.

Red gemstones are believed to increase enthusiasm and interest, boost energy, create confidence, and offer protection from fears and anxieties.

An Apple is HEALTHY!

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away!"

The first printed mention of this saying can be found in the February 1866 issue of the publication "Notes and Queries." The publication printed the proverb like this: "Eat an apple on going to bed, and you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread." Nearly 150 years later, variations of this adage are still quoted. Here are some of the apple's components and their effect on our health:
  • Pectin -- Pectin is a form of soluble fiber that forms a jelly-like substance.  Pectin lowers both blood pressure and glucose levels. It can also lower the levels of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol in the body. Pectin, like other forms of fiber, helps maintain the health of the digestive system.   It forms a protective coating in the intestines and soothes inflamed tissues. Thus, apples can be used to treat both diarrhoea and constipation. 
  • Boron -- A nutrient found in abundance in apples, boron supports strong bones and a healthy brain.
  • Quercetin -- A flavonoid, this nutrient shows promise for reducing the risk of various cancers, including cancers in the lungs and breast. It may also reduce free radical damage. Free radicals develop when atoms in the body's cells have unpaired electrons, which can lead to damage to different parts of the cell, including DNA. Quercetin may neutralize free radical damage, which has been implicated in a variety of age-related health problems, including Alzheimer's disease.
  • Vitamin C -- Vitamin C boosts immunity, which helps maintain overall health.
  • Phytonutrients -- Apples are rich in a variety of phytonutrients, including vitamins A and E and beta carotene. These compounds fight damage from free radicals and can have a profound affect on health, including reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and asthma.
Apples also act as a toothbrush, cleaning teeth and killing bacteria in the mouth, which may reduce the risk of tooth decay. They're also low in calorie density. 

Apples are a healing food, easy for the body to digest and able to correct over-acidity of the stomach. They are also highly recommended for balancing blood sugar levels, as they prevent those dangerous spikes and lows. 

Apples are cooling and anti-inflammatory. They are wonderfully refreshing and thirst quenching during convalescence, especially when suffering from feverish conditions, coughs and colds. 

Apple tea increases uric acid elimination and is helpful as a supportive remedy in the treatment of arthritic and rheumatic conditions as well as rheumatoid kidney and liver disease. An apple diet is recommended for gout, constipation, bladder and kidney disease. An apple at bed time improves the quality of sleep and helps to control night sweats.

Bees love the nectar rich apple blossoms in spring. The petals can be infused as a tea to treat feverish conditions, especially those that affect the upper respiratory tract. Apple blossom tea also soothes and calms the nerves.

Apples cider vinegar is very rich in calcium and can help to improve calcium deficiency related problems such as loss of concentration and memory, weak muscle tone, poor circulation, badly healing wounds, general itchiness, aching joints and lack of appetite. Apple cider vinegar detoxifies by supporting the eliminative function of the kidneys. It is a helpful supportive aid for arthritis, gout, rheumatism and skin conditions. It is also beneficial for sinusitis, high blood pressure, migraine, chronic exhaustion and night sweats. To take, dilute one tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in 6-8 oz of water. This may be sweetened with honey.

Healthwise, the apple truly is magical!

An Apple is ROUND!

It's round, like the Circle of Life that encloses all beings.

Witches almost always work in a Circle or Sphere, built with 5 elements.

What are some other things you know about Circles?

Apples in MYTH and FOLKLORELong known affectionately as the Silver Bough, the apple tree holds a special place within myth and folklore as a tree of great worth and repute.

It is probably the most mythical of all trees!  Legends featuring the apple are a part of many different cultures, ranging from the ancient Greeks and Romans to the Norse and the Celts.The apple is often to be found as a symbol of the Otherworld, of fey wisdom and intuition, and is usually associated with love, beauty and the Goddess.

The apple is a fruit of Venus/Aphrodite. 
This is because the number 5 
is related to Taurus, 
which is ruled by Venus.

Apples are sacred in many pantheons. I'll let you do your own research on the apple in myth and folklore.  It's too large a topic to blog!

Then there are the SEEDS...
I'll let you work on that one! What is their color, number, shape, size?

The Apple as Crone.
A mature apple tree looks like a grandmother. 
 It is small in stature and has writhing limbs and grey, crinkly bark.

In the Craft, Grandmothers, or Crones, are highly respected for their experience, wisdom, and knowlege. Just one more reason the apple is held in high regard. What else do you know about Crones?

Photo by Mollie Kellogg
Just the Beginning...

This is just a beginning to show you how to brainstorm a symbol such as the apple.  To know more, expand each of these suggestions and see how far you can go with them.  You will find out things about apples that you never knew existed. And you will learn why they are the sacred fruit of the Witch.

Blessed Be!

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