You really can't think about the Autumn months without the scents of apple pie, pork roast and apple, meat pies, lovely apple and cinnamon candles coming to mind. It instantly evokes a feeling of nostalgia, warm blankets, crackling fires, County fairs, and Mom's warm apple cider. Just the sight of a fresh ripe apple in the farmer's market makes my heart skip a beat! This is without a doubt the start of the holiday season. For Pagans it is the last of three Harvest seasons (Lughnasadh, Mabon, Samhain), each representing a different aspect of both physical and spiritual harvests. These three celebrate the bounty of hard work, of things coming to fruition, and our energies winding down with the cycles of Mother Earth to rest until the next planting season.
But most importantly they celebrate the bonds of family from birth to death and rebirth. Lughnasadh, Mabon, and Samhain all celebrate the people in our lives that have passed on into the Summerlands. While the Harvest begins at Lughnasadh in gathering early Summer fruits but also begins the second planting season for Autumn. The celebration of these days are marked with fruits, vegetables, family gatherings, and remembering family waiting on the other side. In fact, Samhain was often called the Feast of Apples.
The apple, next to the pumpkin and turnip, is the most recognizable as a symbol of the season. It is also sacred to many deities across the world, especially those dealing with love, sex, marriage, and death. Apples belong to the element of Water and many of the deities associated are gods of passion, emotion, and the ebb and flow of life.
It's said that Zeus gave his wife Hera a tree that grew golden apples for a wedding gift. Hera, being the goddess of marriage, gave these apples as gifts to the gods and sometimes mortals as blessings on their unions. The Atalanta is said to have been distracted by three golden apples thrown down in a race with her suitor, who received the apples from Hera. The Trojan War is said to have been indirectly started by a golden apple of discord presented to Paris by the goddess Aphrodite. Hercules retrieved the golden apples of immortality in a quest for the Golden Fleece.
In Scandinavia the apples of perpetual youth were protected by Indunn in Asgard. These apples were said to keep whomever ate one young forever. Gna, the messenger of Frigga, gave an apple to King Rerir who shared it with his wife who then bore him a child. Frey sent 11 golden apples to Gerda as a marriage gift. The goddess Freya is said to have an orchard of apples with magickal powers. At Yule she brings bags of apples to children.
Apples are also associated with the Blue Hag of Winter, the Cailleach Bhera, Cerridwen, Babd, the MorRhiaghan, Morgan Le Fey, Vivienne, Diana, Eve, Lilith, Athena, Flora, Pomona, Venus, Apollo, Aillin, Zeus, Dionysis, Olwen, and Chango. The goddess Pomona, a wood nymph of whom pommes (the name for flowering fruits) is derived. In fact the Feast of Pomona is held between November 01 and November 03.
Apples are used as offerings, wards, divination tools, blessings, in dream magick, for prophesy, in the crafting of tools, statuary, runes, charms, and as spell components. Fertility and love spells incorporate the apple and peeling an apple in one strip is said to have the initial of the first name of your future spouse. Slicing an apple in half reveals a pentagram that may be used as a ward or to bless tools. Apple branches make excellent wands and runes. Apples sliced in half or in thin slices and strung as a garland protect against negative energies and baneful spirits and invite love, prosperity, and health into the home. Potions made with apple bring love and health. Poppets made with apples may be used to draw love into your life.
In divination apple blossoms signify temptation, better things to come, a new chance. Runes carved into apple branches to make the Ogham tie strongly with relationship readings, may be used for love charms and protection and health charms for the family and home. Quert, also spelled Ciert, signifies the necessity of choice on the physical plane. On a mental level it shows many doors open for greater knowledge and self discipline. Spiritually this stave shows a need to choose a path and complete it before moving into another part of your journey. Peeling an apple in one strip is said to reveal the first initial of your future spouse while dreaming of apples signifies. Dreaming of apples signifies prosperity, health, and impending love. If you are already married it could signify temptation or a renewal of your current love. Bobbing for apples or twirling a rope with apples were both ways to predict impending marital status and bliss.
Apple blossoms may be used in fertility, prosperity, temptation, and divination spells or as an incense for love or divination during readings. Fruit may be used as offerings, incorporated into the Mute Dinner, and as parts of charms. Apples are also known as the food for the dead and many tales of the Underworld and Summerland. Pomegranates (a kissing cousin of apples), is associated with the goddess Persephone/Proserpina. The fruit is said to soothe their souls and keep them in the Underworld while they await their loved ones. In Celtic lore, Fae were said to offer apples to humans so they would remain in the Otherworld. The greatest of all realms, the Isle of Avalon where magick is said to originate and the Druids were said to train Priestesses and Priests of the Goddess and Her Consort, is also referred to as the Isle of Apples. The root for Avalon is Afallon, which has its root in the Welsh word for apple.
Apples are not only used for magick and divination but also have many positive health benefits as well. Green apples are known to relieve migraines and red apples eaten grated is known to relieve diarrhea. Eaten whole, tangier apples can ease constipation, and apple wine has many mystical as well as healing properties. Apple cider vinegar is a well known for its anti-bacterial properties and during the Plague walls and floors were often washed down with it to prevent other outbreaks. From a magickal perspective, washing the doors, windows, porches, walls and floors are said to keep evil spirits and baneful magicks from entering the home. Apples are very good for detoxing the body, liver, brain, and joint health as well as for treating gout, rheumatism, high blood pressure, and migraine headaches. Some say even the scent of a green apple begins to soothe their pounding head. Apples with honey was used to treat heart ailments in the old days and warmed apples soothe a sore throat and increase the appetite in people who are ill. An application of apples sliced and chilled directly to the skin is said to heal skin inflammations and inflammations of the throat.
Crab apples are a member of the apple family but unlike larger species, they can be extremely tart. They represent the Maiden at Beltane and the Crone at Samhain. Crab apples grow in clusters and are about the size of a quarter to a half dollar. These wee apples are usually grown for the honey that can be cultivated from the blossoms, but they are also stewed for a garnish (much the way cranberries are) and made into jellies and jams. Making a ring of crab apples with your intended love's name carved into them is said to draw the person to you. The apples are then buried after the fact.