Pomegranate os truly the food of the goddess, one small gem-like seed and the underworld has you, darkly delicious, sticky and sweet. Will you risk eating just one jewel?
The Pomegranate usually fruits from September-February in the Northern Hemisphere and March to May in the Southern Hemisphere. The thick skinned golden or red fruits are filled with tart juicy garnet coloured seeds. Typically growing to a height of 10 - 12 feet, pomegranate trees can have a dense, shrubby growth with narrow leaves about 2 inches long that turn golden in fall. Some varieties have thorns that eventually grow into full branches. Pomegranates do best when sun kissed and dry so tend to thrive in hotter, more arid climates. Some trees are very long lived ranging up to 200 years old.
Leaves and Flowers: The leaves are narrow and long with an oval or sword like shape. The flowers are frilly, lusciously pink to crimson petticoats with three to seven petals.
Harvest: Pomegranates are ripe about 6 months after flowering. They continue to ripen on the tree but not once picked so if in doubt let them go a little longer.
The name has an interesting, debated etymology Possibly stemming from Medieval Latin: pomum which means apple and granatum which means seeded. Or it could derive from old French pomme-grenade which pomme means apple and grenade roots from grenat which means of a dark red color. There is also an old English reference to apple of Grenada (the city in Spain whose name has an Arabic origin). In simple terms, the fruit itself is many things to many different cultures, much like its name.
plates from Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen in naturgetreuen Abbildungen mit kurz erläuterndem Texte : Atlas zur Pharmacopoea germanica, austriaca, belgica, danica, helvetica, hungarica, rossica, suecica, Neerlandica, British pharmacopoeia, zum Codex medicamentarius, sowie zur Pharmacopoeia of the United States of America / published 1887 now in public domain
A little video with Pommegranate:
The Forbidden Fruit: Darkly Delicious Pomegranates: The Myth, The Magic and The Folklore
Do you know the allure of the crimson gem-laden pomegranate? Have you heard her song in your blood memory? The plant has been cultivated for millennia, originating in the one of the human cradles of life, what we call modern day Iran and spreading through the middle east the far east and the Mediterranean regions, traveling companion to human growth. Now it even grows in California, where I am caretaker to an orchard of 13 trees. Try eating the glistening seeds, fingers stained red with the siren song of prosperity, the sanguine tinted fruit filled with seeds of fertile, sensual promise.
References to pomegranate are found dating back to Mesopotamian cuneiform, there is a word for them in Sanskrit and they were discovered dried in Egyptian tombs. They are found in one of the oldest medical texts, the Ebers Papyrus from Ancient Egypt where people used it for medicine and held it to be a symbol of prosperity and ambition and it was called jnhm or nhm. In the Middle East, pomegranate trees are often found standing proud in the center of family courtyards, especially in Iran. The fruit used in Zoroastrian religious ceremonies of consecration, marriage and initiation. This inclusion of pomegranate in ceremony crosses many borders and cultures. In both Asia and the Middle East pomegranates have been part of wedding ceremonies to mark fertility and prosperity, part of rituals to represent blood and part of the myths that make up the roots of human consciousness. One of my favorite stories from Egypt involves the Goddess Sekhmet. Sekhmet was a fierce and powerful sun goddess often represented as a woman with a lion's head. She was a warrior and protector but also a terrifying, relentless destructive force. Some legends say that she is the dark mother aspect of Hathor. Hathor called upon Sekhmet to punish humans who had fallen into corrupt ways and for failing to honor the values of Ma'at such as divine justice, truth, honor and order. Sekhmet became overwhelmed by battlelust and the slaughter of humans was beyond epic. Ra, the Sun God and Hathor/Sekhmet's father used the juice of pomegranates mixed with beer to stain the Nile red like the flowing blood. Sekhemt drank deeply and soon fell asleep, her blood lust sated by the brew. When she awoke, she was Mother Hathor once more. The pomegranate bush raises its voice - tiny, insistent, and shrill: My seeds shine like the teeth of my mistress, the shape of my fruit is round like her breasts. I’m her favorite, I know, sweetest tree in the orchard, looking my best through every season. - Papyrus of Turin 12th century BC, translation in J.L. Foster (1992, 83-84).
Long held as a symbol for fertility and abundance around the Mediterranean regions, pomegranate has a dark, juicier side too. Greeks thought Aphrodite, planted the first pomegranate tree. Pomegranates have been found in ancient temples belonging to Astarte, Demeter and Ishtar. The fruit was also sacred to Hera as in some ancient statues Hera is seen holding a pomegranate in one hand. Pomegranates are also culturally important in Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths. In Judaism, they are seen as symbolizing mystical experience in the kabbalah, and being one of the seven species of original fruits and grains from the land of Israel. In Christianity, the sacred fruit is linked with Mother Mary especially during the Renaissance by painters such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Botticelli. Some biblical scholars also theorize that pomegranates were the forbidden fruit on the tree of knowledge.
And this is what truly catches my imagination. Especially with the connection to Hera. Because Hera was originally a Mycenaean matriarchal goddess before she was married off to Zeus by the patriarchal Greeks. She holds the power of all forms of divine feminine energy, maiden, mother and crone- the cyclical liminal transformation. This power of transformation, the ability to shift between states of being, between worlds is the hidden message in the story of Persephone. Let us free the story of patriarchal rape and barren seasons and step into the knowing of the divine feminine.
Imagine if you will a wild a free spirited person, dancing in the summer breeze. She discovers that if she leaves the meadow and travels to the underworld, she has the chance to gain her sovereignty. She travels into the dark and dreaming time. She learns to converse with Spirits and sings the mourning songs for the dead. She heals the things people are afraid of; the things people don’t want to see or talk about. She takes a lover who is a sovereign in their own right. While her light is shining in the underworld, the world above rests and dreams with her. Her healing spreads, offering transformation through the gateway of death. She allows space for things to break down, to fertilize, and to have peace. When she is ready to return to the surface, she eats of the fruit of knowledge, the pomegranate. It gives her the power to cross thresholds and travel between this world and the lower world. She returns, renewed from her work in the darkness and she shares this abundant renewal with the entire world.
Persephone Laughs By Jessica Rose Booth Persephone laughs, Lips dripping blood- red juice, Staining chest and fingers with the promise Of lush fertility and ripe prosperity, Teasing the initiate Who comes naked and bare to Discover the paths between worlds and The secrets of sovereignty.
Recipies and Magic:
Magic in the fruit:
Pomegranate Seeds: Blood, The Underworld, Fertility, Rebirth, Wisdom, Prosperity Pomegranate is another plant that has both a divine masculine (the seeds represent semen) and divine feminine energy (the fruit and flower are both very feminine in nature). I find that the plant dances between Saturn and Venus planetary rule depending on its use and this is captured very much in the most famous story surrounding pomegranate the tale of Persephone.
It is very much used to fertility, love and abundance magic giving it a vey earthy quality. However it is equally important in death, transition, release and those deep prolonged journeys to knowledge and self discovery that are very much the realm of Saturn and those deep inner workings. I also feel a good case could be made for the Fire or Air elements depending on part and use.
Pomegranate thorns: The Underworld, Binding spells
In this practice we work with pomegranate to uncover some of our deep hidden knowing. I recommend drinking some pomegranate juice, eating some seeds or taking pomegranate essence before you begin. If you drum or use drumming in your journey work- I encourage you to do that too.
Make yourself comfortable and choose to be 100% present and in your body right now. Close your eyes and become aware of your breath. You see yourself in a beautiful meadow. There is a path winding through the tall grasses. You follow this path, through the meadow as it bends into the distance. You notice the meadow becoming thinner and the path begins to climb up a hill. At the top of the hill are ancient stone ruins and a courtyard. As you step into the courtyard you see at the center a bushy and vibrant pomegranate tree, laden with ruby-jewelled fruit. Enraptured you move closer and see that tree has a small bubbling spring at its base.
You dip your feet in the stream and lean against the tree taking in her scent and her presence. Ask the blessed pomegranate deva, this elder tree of knowledge if she will share with you some of her fruit. This is the fruit of memory and wise knowing. If you choose to eat this fruit you will begin to uncover your gifts and special abilities.
Like Eve, your will gain the truth of the world. Like Persephone you will be able to move between worlds, like Sekhmet you will be sated. Spend some time in your inner temple of wisdom and with gratitude, when you are ready, follow the path down the hillside, through the meadow and back home.
Over the next few weeks, pay close attention to dreams, meditations and journeywork to explore how this reclaimed knowing is revealing itself to you.
Hedgewalking with Pommegranate
Pomegranate is a powerful tree to hedgewalk with, and much like working with the Yew tree she deals with life, death and rebirth, so be mindful when working in this way with her. Pomegranates love seaweed and any kind of red ribbons or crystals such as garnets and adore having them tucked into their roots and branches. I also like to bring offerings of red roses and red berries. When working with the pomegranate questions around fertility are always good, as well as abundance of any kind, as they are adept at understanding how to proliferate their fruit. Issues with sexuality, desire and passion are also powerful things that the pomegranate is wise at supporting us with and not only sitting with the tree but also eating the fruit while walking the hedge can be extremely supportive to our questions. Pomegranate is also good for protection and magical workings so taking spells and charms and asking for added energy to your magical working is an affective thing to do with working with Pomme.
An act of nature I pop a pomegranate seed. It bleeds, Delicate fuchsia delight, Citrus scented, warm, bright, Full of nectar and promise (now wasted)
I pop another one, In a soft cove on my arm- A slight dip between two veins - And watch the blushing drop Edge closer to my elbow. Stop.
A third time, With the fury of fear Tiptoeing listlessly in my mind, Like raindrops on a rooftop. It is sweet, and ******, A waste of time but an act of god Nonetheless.
I crave the sound and texture of it, So a fourth time comes around. By now, the citrus is overpowering But I keep going, For the sake of purity, For the sake of the shock of vibrance On deathly pale skin.
When my arm is covered in juice, I give up. There's no sense in envying the wasted.
‘I Am Wise’ Pomegranate, Apple and Fig salad
(THE FRUITS OF KNOWLEDGE) SERVES 2 GENEROUSLY
2 cups peeled chopped apple or pear
1 cup cubed and cooked butternut squash
1 cup pomegranate seeds
4 figs, quartered
1/2 cup spinach
1 cup walnut halves
1 cup fresh goats cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons tamarind syrup
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1 tablespoon honey
Tablespoon fresh mint chopped
Cracked Pepper to taste
Method: 1. In a bowl, mix together the apples, pomegranates, figs, spinach. squash and walnuts. 2. Dollop small spoonfuls of the goat cheese on top. 3. In a separate bowl mix together the lemon juice, tamarind, oil and honey 4. Drizzle over salad and finish with fresh mint and cracked pepper.
Sekhmet's Cider My hubby, who is a dedicated home brewer, helped me come up with a fairly easy hard cider recipe featuring pomegranates and apples. He says to try adding fresh pomegranate juice to any secondary ferment of a favourite recipe. I can confirm the deliciousness of this with both a pomegranate saison and a pomegranate IPA. But home brewing can require special equipment and techniques which go beyond the scope of this class- although please feel free to email me (Jess Rose) if you want to get into beer recipes!
Cider Basics: Cider is a traditional ferment of usually apple juice and yeast. It is alcoholic and the finished ABV is dependent on the starting fermentable sugars of your fruit.
What You Need: 1/2 Gallon Raw unpasteurized apple juice or apple juice without added preservatives 1/2 Gallon either fresh pressed pomegranate juice or store bought without preservatives 2 Glass 1 Gallon size jugs or fermenting buckets 1 rubber stopper with a hole (for glass jar) 1 airlock if using jar Lalvin winemaker's yeast or champagne yeast (don't use bread yeast) StarSan or other food safe sanitizer If using fresh raw juice you also need Camden tablets Cheesecloth & String 4-5 ft. food grade plastic tubing
How to Brew If you are using raw unpasterised juice, the first thing you need to do is tame the wild yeasts by mixing the camden tablet with 1 TBSP hot water and then adding to you juice. Cover with the clean cheesecloth and tie in place with a string. Leave 24 hours. You can opt to skip this step and play with the wild yeasts- which is pretty fun- but could be a chance of e. coli or something lurking so I'll leave that up to you.
Pour your juice in a sterilized gallon glass jar or put in sterilized fermenting bucket. Now it is time to add 1 gram of your yeast by sprinkling over the juice. You don't need to stir the yeast in. If any is sticking to sides of jar/bucket just give a little soft swirl.
Now add your rubber stopper and airlock if using. Pour a bit of stars water into the reservoir and wait for the delightful bubbling to begin. It could take a few days for bubbling especially if you are in a colder climate. Once the yeast starts to feed, they will increase and you should have a few days worth of good bubbly action.
Once the bubbling has stopped it is time to move your cider into a fresh jar or fermenting bucket and leave the lees behind- all that sediment at the bottle of the jug/bucket which is the byproduct of old yeast and fruit.
The low tech way to do this is to siphon the cider off the top of your lees and transfer to the other sterilized jar/bucket using the food grade tubing. Once in the fresh container let it rest for another 30 days, the secondary ferment. This is the time you want to add any spices or extra flavourings to enhance flavour. After 30 days, give it a little taste. If you want it more mellow, rack again by transferring into a fresh sterilized container once again siphoning to avoid the sediment. This final rack is called a tertiary rack and can go anywhere from 3 to 6 months. Keep tasting it and don't be afraid to drink it when you get something delicious in your cup. Be sure to pour a little on the earth in offering to Sekhmet.