Thursday, 13 October 2016

The Fruit of Wisdom

The apple carries a vast amount of symbolism and esoteric wisdom. It has been associated with immortality, truth and purity  since time immemorial and so has the greatest role in folklore of all fruits. 
When an apple is cut in half horizontally, the five seeds form a pentagram, the ancient and sacred symbol of power and wisdom, and this may explain its mythical significance. 

The apple is most famed as the  fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, although interestingly this is not  actually specified in the Book of Genesis, it is a later addition to the story. As it was an apple that ultimately led to Adam and Eve's eviction from Eden and the fall of man, it is often now considered the fruit of the devil by some Christian groups.

The British paradise of Avalon and the Irish paradise of  Emain Ablach both derive from the term 'land of apples,' and both places are filled with this divine tree. And the apple features much in Celtic myth, particularly in hero-quests. For example the early Welsh poem Yr Afallennau, (the apple tree) tells of the prophet Merlin's madness until he takes refuge in a magical apple tree.

In Norse myth the apple was the symbol of youth and immortality. In Greek myth, the Golden Apples of the Hesperides were given to Hera, Queen of the Gods, on her wedding day by Gaia, the Earth, and are representative of the wisdom of Mother Earth. They were stolen by Hercules as one of his twelve labours.

It was an apple which started the Trojan War:  Eris, Goddess of Discord, threw an apple into a wedding celebration marked 'for the fairest'. Three goddesses claimed the prize and the Trojan Prince named Paris was appointed judge. He chose Aphrodite, and she gave him the fabled Helen in reward. The only problem: Helen was already married. Her husband Menelaus  took exception to her abduction and so began this most famous war. 

In more recent myths, we have the unicorn, the animal of purity, who lives beneath an apple tree;  William Tell, shooting an apple from his son's head; Snow White, eating a poisoned apple and falling into an enchanted sleep; and the tree at the centre of Narnia, C.S. Lewis' philosophical creation, which was, you guessed it, an apple.

The final word has to go to the great Isaac Newton, said to be the first of the scientists and the last of the mystics. He  knew full well the esoteric significance of the apple. And it  is no accident that he discovered the nature of gravity, opening countless doors to scientific revolution, because of... an apple.

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