Planetary ruler: Venus
Associated deities: Aphrodite, Apollo, Arthur, Athene, Bel, Ceridwen, Demeter, Diana, Dionysus, Dumuzi, Eve, Flora, Grannos, Hera, Herakles, Hermes, Hesperides, Iduna, Inanna, Juno, Mabon, Manannan, Maponus, Mêliae, Modron, Morgana, Nehallenia, Nemesis, Olwen, Olwen, Pomona, Solar Heroes, Sun Gods, Tellus Mater, Titaea, Venus, Vertumnus, Vishnu, Zeus
Magical virtues: love, fertility, abundance, otherworld travel, divination
The apple (Malus spp.) was one of the most sacred trees of the ancient Europeans; under Celtic law, to fell one was punishable by death. For many centuries artists used the apple as an allegory for erotic love. Paris, Prince of Troy, to make the choice. Hera offered him wealth and power while Athene offered him fame and wisdom, but Aphrodite won by promising him the most beautiful woman alive, Helen, an act which led to the Trojan War. The connection with love, marriage and fertility was preserved in folklore In England apples were often used in love divination. Juno Pomona ruled the month of November, the season of apples and fruit. A banquet was laid out before images of Jupiter, Juno, Minerva and Feronia in November. In Wales at Halloween, apples were roasted in the chimney corner, suspended on twine, and were added to ale and brandy in the wassail bowl with raisins, spices and sugar.
As part of Yule festivities apple trees were wassailed to encourage them to crop heavily in the coming year. The trees were visited, and cakes or bread soaked in cider were placed in the branches, and cider poured over the roots. When an apple is cut in half across the middle, it reveals a clear pentacle.
Apples or apple wands are used in spells, incense and charm bags for love magic. Dried apple bark, blossoms, peel and pips may be used in incenses for the planet Venus and the element of water, and to invoke associated gods. The blossom can be used in temple decorations or chaplets, apples can be added to the cakes at Samhain, and cider used to replace the ritual wine. Wassailing should be part of the Yule festivities.
CULINARY & HOUSEHOLD USES:
The culinary uses of apples are well known, and there is not enough space to go into them all! They are rich in pectin, and apple can be added to set jams and jellies made from pectin poor fruits like strawberries. Cider vinegar is one of the best natural cleaning agents there is; its antimicrobial properties destroy a variety of harmful organisms.
Bathe fingernails in apple cider vinegar to strengthen them. Apple cider vinegar can be added to a final hair rinse to treat dandruff. Diluted apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball makes a simple facial toner to help prevent breakouts and fade bruises. Apple cider vinegar helps kill odour-causing bacteria, so dab a bit under your arms for a natural deodorant. Apple juice combined with malt vinegar imparts a golden colour to fair hair when used as a final rinse.
Apples help neutralise the acid products of gout and indigestion. They contain pectin, which helps bulk up the stool to treat diarrhoea and constipation. The cultivated apple makes a good herb tea for fevers, arthritic and rheumatic conditions; wash, peel and boil gently until soft, strain and add some honey or brown sugar. Apples can be used to neutralise toxins in the blood, benefit the gums and reduce cavities in the teeth by clearing away plaque deposits.
Raw cider vinegar has many uses. It can be added to footbaths for athlete’s foot and to reduce the odour of sweaty feet. It has antibacterial properties, making it useful for infections. Gargle with a mixture of apple cider vinegar mixed with warm water for sore throats. You can apply it directly to the irritated skin or add a cup to your bath. Apple cider vinegar detoxifies and is helpful for arthritis, gout, rheumatism and skin conditions.
© Anna Franklin, 2022 ( draft extract from the forthcoming Hearth Witch’s Concise Herbal, Llewellyn, 2023)