Planetary ruler: Sun
Associated deities: Amon-Ra, An, Anubis, Apollo, Artemis, Ashur, Clio, Demeter, Hathor, Helios, Herakles, Hermes, Inanna, Ishtar, Isis, Lat, Leto, Mullissu, Mylitta, Nepthys, Nike, Thoth
Magical virtues: aphrodisiac, potency, virility, love, fertility, abundance, good luck, wealth, victory, counter magic, immortality, peace
The species name, dactylifera, is based on the Greek words daktylos (digit) and fero (I bear), because dates resembled fingers as they grow. Cultivated for at least 5,000 years; there are many references to the date palm in the ancient world, as well as in the texts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In Mesopotamian art, the palm tree was used to symbolize Mylitta, the goddess of love and fertility. The Babylonian goddess Inanna was called ‘Our Lady of the Date Clusters’. It is also a symbol of immortality; the Egyptian goddess Nepthys was sometimes depicted as a palm tree with two arms, one hand presenting a tray of dates to the deceased soul, and the other hand presenting the waters of life. Excavations have uncovered mummies robed in date palm leaves.
Pieces of dried date can be added to incenses, herbal talismans and amulets used for fertility magic and abundance. Incense containing dried date, or dates may be used as offerings in rites of any of the above deities. Use dates in funeral and memorial rites to acknowledge the immortality of the soul.
CULINARY & HOUSEHOLD USES:
Dates are eaten fresh or dried and may be added to both sweet and savoury dishes. Fresh dates can be pressed to extract a sweet juice. Date mash ferments into an alcoholic drink called arak. The tree sap is used as a beverage, fresh or fermented, and a type of sugar can be extracted from it. The tender terminal buds may be eaten as a vegetable.
Used as a fruit mask, dates possess antibacterial, antifungal, and moisturising properties, which may also help rosacea. An oil extracted from date kernels reduces wrinkles.
Dates can be used to relieve constipation – soak a handful of dates in water overnight and consume both dates and liquid. The same remedy may relieve a hangover.
© Anna Franklin, 2022