As I sit at my desk writing, I am reminded of the many spring mornings I spent in my grandparents’ garden where the crisp scent of apple blossoms filled the air as I wandered among their trees, plucking the ripe fruits to enjoy.
Eating those freshly-picked apples was a delicious treat and a reminder of the constant cycle of growth, decay, and renewal in nature. Gardens also offer a sense of connection with our ancestors and past generations, who also relied on growing their fruits and vegetables for sustenance.
All of this said it’s not hard to picture these trees—both earthy and otherworldly—adorning the legendary Avalon, the sacred island of magic and power from Arthurian lore (popularly believed to be synonymous with Glastonbury in Scotland). The Isle of Apples was formerly known as the Isle of Avalon because this tree was such a prominent resident there.
The apple tree symbolism has been interpreted in different ways throughout history. From a symbol of sin in Christian cultures to a symbol of love and beauty in others, the apple tree has been used to represent a wide range of emotions and ideas.
The apple tree is a symbol of many things, such as health and healing, fertility and love, youth and winning, and happiness. It can also be used to provide food for honoring the dead or as protection on the astral plane during magickal or otherworld journeys.
In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the different ways that the apple tree has been interpreted throughout history.
Health, fertility, love, youth, immortality, winning, conquest, the ultimate prize and happiness
In Germany’s Lower Saxony in the 19th century, a newborn baby’s first bath water was poured over the roots of an apple tree to ensure that the kid had rosy cheeks and, if it was a girl, big breasts!
About Apple Trees
There are 25 different types of small trees in the Malus genus. They are all deciduous and come from the northern temperate zone. Apple leaves are softer and have more down on them than pear leaves. The flowers have five styles, which is more than the solitary styles in plum flowers.
The crab apple, M. sylvestris, is a wild apple tree that is found in northwestern Europe. Its leaves are ovate to broadly elliptic and have teeth on the edge. The flowers are white or pink-white and they are followed by greenish-yellow fruits that sometimes have a red flush to them.
These fruits are smaller than 2in (5cm) in diameter and they are crowned by the dried-up calyx. The crab apple is one of the many parents of the orchard apple, M. domestica.
There are many different types of apples. The first-century Romans counted 30 different kinds. Orchard apples don’t have thorns and they have bigger, sweeter fruits than the wild species.
Sometimes trees that escape from orchards and grow in the wild will start growing thorns again.
M. yunnanensis produces deep red apples found in western China, while M. kansuensis’ produce red and yellow fruits. In Japan, you can find bright red apples from M. zumi trees or the more colorful red and yellow ones from M. floribunda (Japanese crab) trees.
North Americans have also used various types of crab apples for food and healing – such as the Oregon crab apple (M. fusca), Prairie crab apple (M. ioensis), or sweet crab apple(M. coronaria).
Apples are a rich source of various minerals, including potassium and iron, as well as vitamins including E and A, which are more plentiful in the skin than in the flesh.
Apples are a great way to cleanse your body and improve bowel, liver, and brain function. They can also be used to treat headaches, gout, rheumatism, and high blood pressure. If you have heart problems, apples (especially with honey) have been known to help for centuries. In other words: an apple a day does keep the doctor away!
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, apples are categorized as cool, sweet and sour, and tone yin. They help produce fluids, lubricate the lungs, and enhance digestion and detoxification processes by aiding in increased blood sugar levels.
Apples are considered sweet and astringent in Ayurveda. They increase vata, lowering pitta; however, they are best consumed in moderate amounts for kapha individuals.
Sweet (not sour) apples should only be eaten by persons with a pitta constitution, while those with a vata temperament should eat the cooked fruit exclusively.
The flower essence of the crab apple has an emotionally purifying impact, as does the tree essence of the orchard apple.
Culture, Myth and Symbol of Apple Trees
The apple tree has long been revered for its benefits and is associated with health-giving and sustaining properties in many stories and legends.
Greek Mythology on Apple Trees
The apple is a symbol of fertility and has been connected to Demeter, the goddess of corn and sustenance, as well as Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
Legends and Myths Regarding Apple Trees
Heard of the famous King Arthur? In many tales, Avalon is the blessed Celtic land that he rests in after being mortally wounded. The origin of word “Avalon” comes from Welsh afallen meaning apple.
Many stories say that this place exists in Glastonbury, England near its Tor hill which seemingly has an endless number of fruit trees (in Latin: Avalonia).
The apple was once so important to people’s diets that many historical writers started referring to any type of red or golden fruit as an “apple”, no matter what kind it was. Because of this, the term “apple” became synonymous with just “fruit” in general.
For example, the red fruits mentioned in some ancient Celtic legends are now known to be from yew trees, and the supposed “golden apples” from Hesperides were probably quinces all along.
The goddess of spring, Iduna, supplies the gods with fruits that provide everlasting life, according to a Saxon legend that was first recorded in the Middle Ages.
This is an old idea linked to the Tree of Life, but we don’t know whether or not we can trust the scribe’s usage of the term “apple.” We may see this narrative as a medieval method of recognizing and praising apple’s health-promoting and life-extending qualities.
Apple Meanings in Different Countries
The apple’s connection to fertility and marriage customs has been around for centuries, becoming especially prevalent in Europe during the Middle Ages. In many European fairy tales, eating an apple guarantees offspring.
In France, during the Renaissance period, a young man would woo a girl by offering her an apple.
In Transylvania (Romania), there’s a tradition where a red apple is waved at the bride during her wedding.
A love charm from Germany in medieval times suggests writing certain letters on an apple and then giving it to the person you have affection for to eat.
An Italian story tells of how someone ate an apple by accident, which resulted in the animal being loyal to them thereafter.
The Symbolism of Apple Trees in Christianity
Furthermore, Cyprianus Gallus, a theologian in Gaul in 425 CE, invented the biblical “apple” (Latin malum), which Eve shared with Adam under the Tree of Knowledge.
As a result of this and also its folkloric sexual connotations, the apple was subsequently labeled as the “Tree of Temptation” by certain Christian congregations.
Because pomegranates develop in Palestine, some 19th- and 20th-century scholars have argued that the apple mentioned in Genesis is a pomegranate. The original Hebrew text simply states “a fruit” (peri).
Different Symbolisms of Apple Trees
While going through different cultural connotations of apple trees we can see that the fruit is a symbol of many different things.
Blessings and Abundance
The apple, one of the most important symbols of harvest and sacred to the earth and food goddess Demeter, represents a plentiful crop and pleasure from one’s work. From September through Thanksgiving, fruits represent abundance, nutrition, and nourishment in pictorial representations of plenty.
The Norse goddess Idun was not only responsible for apples, but also eternal youthfulness. The other Norse deities depended on her apples to maintain their immortality. This incredible power is reflected in real life: apples can support youthfulness by improving health.
A member of the rose family and considered sacred to the archetypal love goddess Aphrodite, the apple offers both a gorgeous, heart-opening blossom and a sweet, juicy, sensual treat.
As one of the original thirty-eight Bach Flower Remedies, crabapple flower essence can be extremely helpful for cultivating sincere self-acceptance.
When I was in my mid-twenties, crabapple flower essence helped me shift my inner dialogue from profound self-loathing to profound self-love.
The apple tree is a fascinating symbol that has taken on many different meanings throughout history.
Whether you see it as a symbol of sin or temptation, love and beauty, or strength and resilience, there’s no denying that the apple tree has had a significant impact on many cultures around the world.