Pomegranate trees have been commonly linked with good fortune, wishes, and prosperity. In some cultures, they are also regarded as symbols of fertility and divination.
People believe that pomegranates can ward off evil spirits and cure blood-related problems. Some traditions see pomegranate trees as symbols of love and new beginnings because they connect us to the afterlife and our ancient history.
The pomegranate goes by many names including Carthage apple, grenadier, malicorio, pound garnet and is revered by Persephone, Ceres, Dionysus, Aphrodite Venus Hera and Astarte.
Pomegranate tree symbolism is thus rich and varied, offering us a glimpse into the ways that different cultures have viewed this intriguing fruit.
The fruit of life, good fortune, prosperity, fertility, divination, new beginnings, love
The small genus Punica consists of two species native to southeastern Europe and southern Asia. The one species under cultivation is the pomegranate (P. granatum), a large shrub or bushy tree that can reach approximately 20ft (6m) in height.
Its branches sometimes display spines, while its oblong to lanceolate leaves are entire, hairless, and glossy. They also grow up to 3in (7.5cm) long. Moreover, the spectacular funnel-shaped flowers, which appear solitary or clustered at the ends of branchlets during late summer or early autumn, can measure 1½in (3.75cm) across maximally.
This fruit can reach up to 5 inches in diameter and has a brownish-yellow or reddish exterior. Its thick skin protects numerous seeds, each of which is enclosed in the juicy, edible pulp.
Pomegranates have been grown since ancient civilizations for both their delicious fruit and beautiful aesthetics. The bark and rind of the pomegranate can also be used to create ink or add color to the leather.
The fruit juice has been reported as a soothing detoxifier for indigestion, while the rind has long since been used in India as a laxative to combat dysentery. The Pomegranate bark is another part of this plant with great medicinal history; it was commonly used to get rid of worms (in combination with other herbs). Although there are many benefits to using different parts of the pomegranate, some contain highly toxic alkaloids and shouldn’t be consumed without professional supervision.
Folklore, Myth and Symbol of the Pomegranate Tree
When Dionysus was born, his father Zeus and mother Semele, Hera became jealous and plotted for the Titans to abduct him. The Titans cut Dionysus into pieces and boiled him in a cauldron. However, from the blood of the baby, Dionysus grew the first pomegranate tree. Later on, his grandmother Rhea re-assembled his body parts and revived him back to life (just as Osiris was resurrected by Isis).
Therefore, Dionysus is named “twice-born”, and the similarities to shamanism demonstrate that an ancient initiation ritual has been expressed in this story. The worship of Dionysus is much older than the growth of grapevines, which is what he was mainly symbolized by in early Greece.
The pomegranate, a symbol of fertility, was sacred to the love goddess Aphrodite and the Near Eastern goddess Astarte. Female deities who also protected the fruit of life, like Athena and Hera at Argos, were pictured holding a pomegranate.
The Greek myth of Rhoeo tells that she was the nymph of the pomegranate and the daughter of Chrysothemis. She arrived in Greece as a seed inside a chest. Apollo later made her son a prophetic priest and king of Delos, which suggests there may have been an ancient pomegranate sanctuary on this island (as local myths often point to regional cult practices).
Associated with Persephone, the pomegranate represents the rebirth of nature in spring. However, Hades tricked her into eating seven pomegranate seeds before she could leave and became the goddess of the underworld. Consequently, Zeus reached a compromise that allowed her to return to Hades for part of each year.
The tribes of Israel believed that spring arrived when the pomegranate flowered. Therefore, when Moses sent scouts to explore Canaan and report back on its land and resources, they chose grapes and pomegranates as examples of the Promised Land’s abundance.
The fruit of the pomegranate was used to create beautiful and decorative golden bells, as well as carved capitals for the columns in the Temple of Solomon (c. 1100 BCE). Additionally, this fruit was embroidered onto priestly garments, as mentioned in Exodus.
The pomegranate is a uniquely magical fruit with a long history of symbolism and meaning. The tree itself is often described as “the fruit of life” and its various parts have been associated with good fortune, prosperity, fertility, divination, new beginnings, and love.
If you’re looking for a special gift that symbolizes all these things and more, look no further than the pomegranate tree!