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Fairytale Friday: On Apples

November 30th, 2012

In celebration of our first anthology to be: Black Apples, we bring you some inspirational apple lore from myths and fairytales:

Lilith by Julia Skaluzob

~The most famous apple in western lore is the sinful Apple of Eden. This apple was most likely not an apple at all, but a fig or a pomegranate – or maybe perhaps a fairytale fruit from a fairytale land… Some people think that Lilith, Adam’s less obedient first wife was the snake responsible for tempting Eve with the forbidden fruit. When Adam and Eve digested the fruit they lost their innocence and discovered shame. The biblical story established the little fruit as a symbol of the thing you (really) want but cannot have (aka. temptation).

~The next most famous apple, at least in our time, is – no, not the one featured on the Twilight cover, but the poisoned apple in Snow White. As usual the story has been tweaked quite a bit over time, and in the earliest versions of the story the poisoned object was not an apple but corset laces. The apple in Snow White is interesting though, as it mirrors the queen’s digestion of Snow White’s heart. The pair of them are mirroring opposites all through the story: The queen is aging and growing weaker, while Snow White is growing in beauty and strength. Eating Snow White’s heart can be seen as an act of consuming her virtues – while Snow White consumes the aging mother’s hatred and (impending) death.

~ In a Jewish legend a young girl is bewitched by a daughter of Lilith residing in an enchanted mirror; the Snow White story and the Lilith myth apparently have more in common than the fruit…. Maybe we’ve finally figured out who that eerie mask in the mirror is…?

Snow White Ate the Apple But Doesn’t Want To Die 2
by Deviant artist Lilou1984

~ In the Arthurian legends the mysterious Morgan le Fay resides on the island of Avalon (“Land of the Apples”). The lord of the Celtic underworld was called Avallach – Lord of the Apples. Merlin himself used to train in an apple grove.

~The Celtic faeries are generally fond of apples and use them to create or break illusions: Thomas the Rhymer in Scottish lore was given an Apple of Truth on his voyage to the otherworld. A faerie silver bough of apple (with tinkling bells) was used to induce mortals with visions or sleep – it could also be an invitation to visit with the Sidhe.

~In the tale of the Sons of Tuireann, King Lugh demands of the brothers that they fetch him the three golden apples from the Garden of the Hesperides. He describes the apples as “big as a month old child, the color of burnished gold and taste like honey”. The apples had healing and life-prolonging powers.

~Golden apples are generally much used in European fairytales: Here is a Polish fairytale and here is one from Serbia.

~In Norse mythology, the goddess Idun is the keeper of the apples of youth. Whenever the gods are starting to feel old, they ask Idun for an apple and are restored to youth and health.

~In the Volsung Saga, a barren couple is blessed by the goddess Frigg, who sends them a giantess in the form of a crow with a golden apple in her beak. The couple eat the apple and the wife becomes pregnant. The pregnancy lasts for six years, and finally the (fully grown) child is cut from the mother’s womb. She dies, obviously, but her son survives and is given the name Volsung.

~The Greek goddess of strife; Eris caused the Trojan War with her “golden “apple of discord”. She was snubbed for a wedding invitation and as a revenge she threw a golden apple with the inscription “To the Fairest One” into the party. The goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite soon quarreled over the apple, and young Prince Paris was selected judge. The goddesses tried to bribe him to win, and Aphrodite’s offer of beautiful Helen of Troy sealed the deal. In the aftermath of the wedding, the Trojan War ensued.

~The Roman apple goddess is Pomona. She is taking care of the home and orchards.

~We especially like this Turkish fairytale about the prince who fell in love with weeping apple and laughing apple.

~In this Russian fairytale, a transparent apple and a silver plate serve as crystal ball and mirror (respectively) in the art of gazing.

~The pagans like apples because if cut horizontally, the core looks like a five pointed star (pentagram), and if cut vertically, it looks like a vital part of the female anatomy.

~Finally; in Poland the apple tree is associated with sleep and lucid dreaming:

What Happened in the Forest
by Deviant artist Lukreszja 

 

~For further inspiration, try this delicious recipe for Snow White’s Enchanted Apples:


 

~Or make your own apple doll:


 

Sources/links:

Sisters of the Silver Branch: Apples and Apple Trees in Western European Myths, Legends, and Folklore
Terri Windling: Snow, Glass, Apples: The Story of Snow White
The Fairytale Cupboard: Once Upon an Apple Day

Howard Schwartz: Lilith’s Cave: Jewish Tales of the Supernatural

 

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