Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Magical and Medicinal Properties of Pomegranate

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Gender: Masculine
Planet: Mercury
Element: Fire
Powers: Abundance, Barrenness, Death, Fertility, Love, Luck, Mortality, Wealth, Wishes
Magical Uses and History: The pomegranate is the perfect example of a dualistic fruit, whose meaning and representation have changed throughout history as seen in the "Powers" listed above. The fruit's oldest association, however, was fertility, sexuality, and abundance. These associations are likely a result of the fruit's vigorous nature, an abundance of seeds, and deep, luscious red interior and juices reminiscent of female anatomy. When planted, the pomegranate tree is able to sprout multiple suckers from one root or crown and is able to start producing fruit in as little as two years. For comparison, apple trees tend to take four to five years, and pears upward of seven years to produce fruit. Furthermore, most pomegranates are self-pollinating, meaning they can reproduce on their own. When the fruits mature, they contain between 165 and 1,370 seeds, a clear symbol of abundance and fertility. According to rabbinic tradition, however, it is believed the pomegranate or rimon contains 613 seeds, one for each mitzvah. This idea arose from the gemara in Berachot which says that dreaming of pomegranates protends abundance as the pomegranate is the many "seeded" fruit. In the Middle East and throughout the Mediterranean, the pomegranate was associated with a number of fertility goddesses such as Cybele, Tanit, and Aphrodite and was commonly given as a wedding gift and smashed in the bridal chambers to bless the couple with many children. In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the nightingale sings in a pomegranate tree outside Juliet's window while she awaits Romea, a symbol of love and sacrifice foretelling the fate of the two young lovers. In a women's medicine and cosmetic compendium from the twelfth century, powdered pomegranate rind, which is red in color, was used to create the illusion of a hymen, thus restoring the "loss of virginity" to the user. In ancient Rome, pomegranate blossoms and fruits were fashioned into crowns and worn during spring festivals to celebrate fertility and abundance. The most famous story regarding the pomegranate, however, is the story of Hades and Persephone.

Numerous retellings of this story exist all over the world, but what they all have in common is Persephone eating pomegranate seeds which bound her to Hades and the Underworld. Whether by force or by choice, Persephone is whisked away by Hades to the Underworld, much to the dismay of her mother, Demeter, the goddess of the harvest and fertility. With Persephone missing, Demeter wreaks havoc on the mortal world, causing the earth to plunge into death and decay as the earth ceases to blossom. Intent to rescue Persephone from Hades, Demeter enlisted the help of other gods and goddesses to intervene, not only to save Persephone but also the mortals who leave the gods offerings, and eventually Persephone is returned to the living world. However, right before her rescue, Persephone ingests several pomegranate seeds, some say 1 or 2 or 3 or 6, which binds her to Hades in marriage and therefore the Underworld. As a compromise, Persephone spends 6 months of the year with her mother and 6 months with her husband. During her time with her mother, the earth blossoms and grows, but upon her return to the Underworld, the earth darkens and dies, thrusting us into a wintery pause. Whether Hades stole Persephone away or she went willingly to the Underworld, the pomegranate is a clear symbol of sexual awakening and the dual nature of sexual energies, losing something but gaining something in return. The pomegranate, like Persephone, is a representation of the cyclical duality of the seasons, from the loving consort of Hades holding dominion over death to the blossoming flowers of fertility and abundance. Thus the pomegranate represents not only fertility but also a pause in it. The rind of the pomegranate was used as a contraceptive, applied topically to men, or used as a suppository in women. In Ancient Greece, Dioscorides recommended both the seeds and rind as birth control. In the 1970s and 1980s, the contraceptive effects of the fruit (not the seeds) and rind were found true, with rats experiencing a 72% decrease and guinea pigs a 100% decrease in fertility! 

However, it isn't just the story of Persephone that the pomegranate appears. Many historians argue that the fruit Eve ate in the Garden of Eden was, in fact, a pomegranate and not an apple. This would connect the fruit further with female sexual awakening, independence, knowledge, and rebirth, but also death.

Needless to say, this dualistic nature of the pomegranate can be used for multiple magical purposes. Use pomegranate in rituals to increase fertility, promote love, increase abundance, increase sexual desire, or inspire a sexual awakening, especially in women. Due to its 'bloody' nature, the juice can be used as a blood substitute in spells and rituals, especially those related to women, fertility, pregnancy, birth, and life. In Greek traditions, the pomegranate is often given as a gift around November 21 to honor the Virgin Mary, then smashed on New Year's Day to bring good luck, fortune, and abundance to the home. In Jewish traditions, the seeds are eaten on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, to bring luck and grant wishes. It can also be used in spells and rituals to stifle sexual energies, slow things down, or pause future endeavors. It can be given to an enemy to curse them with barrenness, or even used to bind someone to you.

Apart from its association with fertility, abundance, and sexuality, the pomegranate is also associated with death and communication with the dead. According to the Ancient Sumerians, souls that ate pomegranate seeds would become immortal, allowing them to "live" forever. The pomegranate is what ultimately ties Persephone to the Underworld, and therefore acts as a link between the living and the dead. As such, the pomegranate is often used in ceremonies and celebrations of those who have died and can be used to communicate with those who have passed on by connecting the imbiber to the Underworld.

Finally, the pomegranate is associated with wealth. This magical correspondence is likely tied to late Europeans' desire for everything exotic. During the 17th century, Europeans became obsessed with new and exotic things, ranging from foods and spices to cultural artifacts and traditions. Among these obsessions was the desire to grow and serve pomegranates. The orangery, a greenhouse dedicated to growing and protecting fruit trees during the winter, became increasingly popular. Among the trees kept in these organeries were pomegranates. However, only the very wealthy could maintain such greenhouses and therefore serve such delectable fruits to their guests. As such, the pomegranate became a symbol of wealth and can be used in spells and rituals for this purpose.

Pomegranate can be used in a number of spells including:
    Fertility Spells
    Love Spells
    Death Magic
    Ancestral Communication
    Prosperity Rituals
    Binding Magic
    Luck Spells
    Abundance Rituals

I've personally used pomegranate in my ritual to communicate with my ancestors and the dead, as seen in Fruit of the Underworld Ritual: A Ritual to Connect with Your Ancestors.

Medicinal Uses: Pomegranate is a potent antioxidant rich in flavonoids and anthocyanins. It has been used to treat high blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, decrease inflammation, and even reduce free radicals to prevent cancer. Pomegranate juice has been found to prevent cell growth and induce apoptosis (programmed cell death), leading to an anticarcinogenic effect.

Preparation and Dosage: Pomegranate can be eaten or drank as a juice to promote healthy bowel movements, reduce inflammation, and lower blood pressure. The peel and husk can be taken as a tincture for the same purposes. Avoid pomegranate if you are or wish to become pregnant.

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  1. Hi for the next post can you do magnolia or Damiana thanks

    1. I magnolia is already on my list, but has a couple of requests in front of it. I'll add damiana. Please check back often for updates and thank you for reading!


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