(7/9/02 2:03:09 pm)
| Red Queen, White Queen: Lilith vs Eve & All for an Apple|
"God cast her out of the Garden of Eden and transformed her into a demon who, ironically, often shows up in images of the Garden of Eden as a serpent with breasts." from "Dangerous Women," by Heinz Insu Fenkl
I was thinking earlier today about this quote from Heinz's article and it made me wonder- was Lilith the serpent that convinced Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree? I can't seem to find much to defend the existence of Lilith, that she was a Medieval mythical add-on. As a child I was taught the "fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden" was an apple, maybe it was, maybe it was just the easiest thing for teaching the scriptures. It is this that has me thinking today: Lilith encouraging Eve to eat the fruit that causes the downfall reminds me of the stepmother (mother, second wife) convincing Snow White to eat the poisoned apple that causes her to fall down, presumable dead. Anyone else like to comment on the parallels?
I have also noted that there is a strong connection between women and apples- in folklore, fairy tales, mythology, religious texts, etc. Are there other fruits that have as high a frequency? Does anyone know why the apple is so prominent in so many texts?
Edited by: Heidi Anne Heiner at: 7/9/02 8:25:16 pm
(7/10/02 2:14:03 am)
| comfort me with apples|
Kerrie--since "apple" is the translation, I am not certain that the original Biblical text meant the same fruit we mean when we say "apple." As I recall, there has been a great deal of controversy over that particular word.
(7/10/02 5:06:03 am)
Jane--someone told me once the "apples" were probably mangoes....mango trees are gorgeous--huge, hulking leafy things and a mango grove is really a primal looking sort of place....but it does make me smile to think of Eve trying to get through that leathery outer skin to the fruit...she must have had pretty good teeth!
(7/10/02 6:53:05 am)
| Which begs the question|
If "apple" is a translation, why an apple? Is it similar to the glass slipper translation folly in Cinderella - fur to glass based on similarities in sound, or is it because apples already held a mystical place in Europe? I am curious.
(7/10/02 7:25:11 am)
| Lilith, apples & the rose family|
I believe Lilith appears in the Apocrypha (books not accepted into the orthodox version of the Old Testament) as the first wife of Adam. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
"Apple" has a somewhat generic application -- may apples (mayhaws) and so on. I think it was Robert Graves who speculated that the golden apples of the Hesperides were oranges from Majorca.
I'd be curious what the original Hebrew says. The first evidence of consumption of apples in the eastern Mediterranean is about 6500 BC, but these are gathered, not cultivated, wild crab apples. Apples were cultivated by the Egyptians in the Nile Delta by the 13th century BC, but again these were seedling crabs, small and highly unpredictable as to quality. The modern apple resulted from Roman horticultural advances and it is thought to be a hybrid of Malus pumila, M. prunifolia and M. silvestris (the British wild crab apple). Even Roman apples were pretty small compared to modern ones.
Somehow the thought of Adam biting down on a bitter, mealy crab apple doesn't convey the same associations of sensuality.
But: apples, like pears and hawthorns and many other fruiting trees and bushes, are members of the rose family and, like wild roses, have five-petaled flowers. If you slice an apple in half horizontally you will see a five-pointed star pattern. I suspect there are all kinds of associations through that fact.
(7/10/02 7:25:35 am)
| On Lilith|
If you are curious about Lilith's origin, the intro to Howard Schwartz's _Lilith's Cave_ gives some info about what texts she's found in. _Lilith's Cave_ has been mentioned on this board before - it's a great collection of Jewish supernatural tales and Lilith tales figure prominently. Schwartz also has provided wonderful source notes, commentary, and bibliography.
(7/10/02 4:31:10 pm)
| All for a...Rose?|
"But: apples, like pears and hawthorns and many other fruiting trees and bushes, are members of the rose family and, like wild roses, have five-petaled flowers."
I'm glad you mentioned this, because in addition to noticing the connection with apples, I have noticed the prominence of the rose in fairy tales and folklore: Briar Rose/Sleeping Beuty, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Rose Red, The Rose, The Elf of the Rose, The Red Shoes, etc. Could there be a connection between the two that makes themso popular?
(7/10/02 8:31:16 pm)
If you slice an apple in half vertically, you see a certain part
of the female anatomy- or is that just me?
(7/11/02 7:11:19 am)
| A rose is a rose is a...|
There is a lot to be said about the symbolism of the rose, but I'm not sure of the sources of what's filed (er, dumped) in the recesses of my brain. Some of it is neopagan in origin, and I'm not sure what of that has authentic connection to the sort of European folk beliefs that might be reflected in fairy tales, and what comes via the rosicrucian (small-r) outlook and education of some of the founding figures of neopaganism.
I was told that the five-petaled flower and rose/apple star design (pentagram) is/was sacred to the goddess and represents the four elements plus spirit (quintessence, i.e., the fifth element), but that last sounds very alchemical, a secondary rationalization, as they say. In my favorite sourcebook for alchemical/rosicrucian [i.e., rose cross] symbolism, THE TRUE AND INVISIBLE ROSICRUCIAN ORDER, there is a lot of discussion of the alchemical romance, ROMAN DE LA ROSE. The rose is the flower of Venus, and represents sensual desire as well as spiritual love, and love is what purifies the spirit to be able to apprehend the divine. The rose on the cross represents the unification of the earthly microcosm with the divine. But sometimes there is also the earthly rose (Rosamundi) and the celestial rose (note the two Rose love-interests in John Crowley's AEGYPT books, which are heavy with rosicrucian & Grail symbolism.)
My guess would be that the association of the rose with Venus or other Indoeuropean female deities might be genuinely old. The apple is the symbol of Pomona, the Roman goddess of gardens. Hawthorn, too, has various folk associations, doesn't it? Another rose-family fruiting bush/tree. Does anyone know the etymology of Avalon? I had an idea that the stem had something to do with apples, but I may just be confusing it with the Hesperides.
Sometimes the roses of fairy tales are specified as briar roses. I'm not up on rose species, but I think briar roses are extremely long lived, can live in the deep forest, and climb 60 or more feet into trees.
(7/11/02 7:55:34 am)
| Re: A rose is a rose is a...|
"The rose is the flower of Venus, and represents sensual desire as well as spiritual love, and love is what purifies the spirit to be able to apprehend the divine."
Is the apple associated with Aphrodite, the Greek counterpart of Venus? If I remember correctly, Paris chose Aphrodite and love over Artemis (strength) and Athena (wisdom)(I just noticed they all start with A). I think Richard wrote a story, KALLISTI, if I remember correctly, that was published in Realms of Fantasy earlier this year based on this story.
I just found a couple sites that say it was Hera, not Artemis- I was remembering the TV show Hercules and assumed it was right:
They also call Strife *Eris* which seems awfully close to Eros, son of Aphrodite. Any thoughts?
I may be running in circles now, with this whole apple issue, but I love finding all sorts of connections away and then back again.
Edited by: Kerrie at: 7/11/02 1:53:20 pm
(7/11/02 8:32:53 am)
"Avalon" can be directly translated as "land of the apples," as the lord of the Celtic Otherworld, Avallach, can be understood to be the lord of the apples. It's interesting ... I've also seen speculation that hte biblical fruit in question may have been a pomegranate, which (in my classically oriented mind) makes a certain amount of sense when paralleled with the experience of Persephone. The sweet seeds equal the knowledge of death ...
(7/11/02 8:43:14 am)
| if you really want to stretch the connections...|
Helen> I was just about to post about the pomegranate ^_^
Pomegranate actually means 'apple of many seeds'. Lots of symbolism w/that fruit too... maybe Snow White and Persephone have something in common.
(7/11/02 11:04:24 am)
| pomus and pomme|
Pomus and pomum, according to my classical Latin dictionary, mean any fruit or fruit tree, and derivates refer to orchards and fruit gardens. There seems to have been a connotation of apple nevertheless. There is thought to be an unattested Vulgar Latin poma specifically meaning 'apple.' In medieval Latin and Old French, pomum/ pome can mean "apple," as in pomander, (from Old French pome d'embre from med. Lat. pomum de ambra "apple of amber.") Pomegranate, according to my American Heritage dictionary, comes through Old French from Latin roots, but even in modern French, pomme has a more general 'fruit' meaning as in pomme de pin, pine cone, and pomme de terre, potato. In botany, a "pome" is a fleshy fruit having seeds but no stone, such as apple, pear or quince.
So apple seems to be the unmarked Latin/French "fruit" category (as "he" and "man" were formerly said to be the unmarked gender, applying to both genders when not otherwise specified, or as "Coke" can mean any soft drink), leaving one to wonder when the specific apple is meant and when the more generic fruit is meant. Hebrew and Greek may be similar or may be another question altogether (note Persephone was Greek).
BTW, the three goddesses in the judgement of Paris were Athena (promising wisdom), Hera (promising worldly power) and Aphrodite (promising love).
(7/13/02 9:46:26 pm)
| apples galore & Lillith too|
Well! I haven't seen a thread this juicy in a while!
The apple was probably not the original fruit intended by the Biblical author(s). The original Hebrew offers a word translated by Jews today as roughly the Latin "pomus", pretty much any fruit. (See Judith Berman's post.) In newer translations of the Tanakh and excerpts for literary purposes, "quice" is more accurately suggested. It seems to me personnally, that the fruit is not supposed to be one that we would be currently familiar with. It always made sense that since there was only one tree of its kind in the Garden of Eden, that there would be none other of its kind elsewhere; therefore, when humanity was banished, the fruit was lost forever. I am most content with that thought.
In any event, the apple as a fruit does not figure prominently into Middle-Eastern or North African mythology or even agriculture. Though Judith already said all this, I would even venture the declaration that they did not exist as we know them today in those regions at the appointed times. In other words, the apple was not a common fruit to the authors of the original Bible. However, apple figures into the mythological frame for the European translators of the Bible.
First of all, remember when Karen mentioned the result of slicing an apple in half vertically? And let us not forget Judith's reminder that horizontally slicing it in half produces the five-pointed star typically associated with witchcraft (read "pre-Christian matriarchal religion"). Sexuality and fruit have many connexions in post-Christian Europe, however, the fruit in question is never cluster fruit like grapes or currants, and is usually the apple or the pear, two closely related fruits. (The Merchant's Tale of Canterbury Tales, anyone?)
Going farther, I remind all that Lucifer was one-half of the androgynous love-deity, the other half being Aphrodite. Note that in several places, they are both called the "Morning-Star", even as today's morning star is the planet Venus. It is concievable in light of Judith's comments that some villification occured of Lucifer-Venus in the Christian tradition. No wonder there are so many connexions with the rose (flower and thorn) in European myth.
One can read a bunch of random things into the apple reference, such as the color, which differs from apple to apple, even as Satan's guises differ from person to person; or maybe the red apples symbolize Satan's accursed color or maybe blood spilt; et c. The apple trail goes onward, but I won't.
Lillith, however, poses another fun subject. Lillith is the subject of many Jewish (and likewise many German) folk tales. Although she makes an appearance in the Apocrypha, she probably existed way before that. I will refer those interested to another thread at this site: "Possibly OT: The Virgin Mary and symbols". Midori offers some especially insightful comments on the serpent image and the Virgin Mary.
There is also a tradition coming from the Babylonian exile concerning the representation of YHWH as a summation of four gods and goddesses, symbolizing all people. Here, the Temple of Jerusalem is seen as the Matronit. I am sure that the Indo-European word shines through for most of us. When the Temples are destroyed, the sky-god, who is male, reigns supreme, and the Matronit, the "mother-goddess" is unleashed unconcentrated and weakened into the Earth. There is a lot of doomsday theology involved, but no need to get into it. But, it has been suggested that this Matronit is a Babylonian equivalent and later a replacement for Lillith. I cannot remember the source right now, but I will dig it up sometime.
More about the German Lillith: It seems that Lillith was largely transformed into many characters in German and even French fairytales. It is a fairly complicated task to draw the connexions between the Jewish Ashkenazi tales of Lillith and the particular German fairy-tales, and I do not know anyone who has tried. Even the suggestion of German-Jewish cultural diffusion is treated as ridiculous, though having co-existed together for more than a thousand years could hardly avoid leaving a mark. If anyone knows of any links or books containing preserved Lillith tales, please let me know. I am interested in pursuing this further.
Finally, I bring up "Avallon", land of apples. On my own I have found something of interest. There seems to be a dyad of Gods that permeates European and even Arabian myth. They are Bel and Ban, or Apollo and Apano, or Pell and Pan. The list goes on. Musically, the lyre was Apollo's instrument, the Belaura, while Ban's was the kithara ("guitar") or Bandura. Notice the Indian connexion.
This inquiry started with an investigation into the origins of the Hyperboreans, who worshipped Apollo year-round in their sun-filled land. Many suggest that this was Britain, but it seems more the stuff of myth. However, Britain itself, and the surrounding region, is filled with myths of these two deities, as brothers or opposing forces. Even the Norse believed that Good and Evil were balanced and opposite forces that would destroy each other at the end of all.
Apparently, the Celts were so enamoured of their form of the gods that they found it fit to sack Delphi some ages ago. It seemes almost incredible, but there was much more communication and connexion between the assorted cultures of pre-Christian Europe than we previously thought.
So (Tom suggested, comically), if Apollo's fruit is the apple, is Apano's fruit the banana? ;P
(7/27/02 12:17:42 am)
The Garden of Earthly Delights is a common middle eastern story to explain the origin of man. I think it originates from Persians.
Lilith is not part of Catholic acknoledgement but part of the Jewish oral tradition.
Lilith has been known to cause havoc to children, descendants of Eve and Adam. Many explanations say she was jealous. This is similar to Medea and Jason, a greecian myth in which Medea murders her own children when Jason casts her aside to remarry.
Some stories have (fictionalized?) that Cain was the son of Lilith, and inherited her course vengeful ways, whereas Able was the son of passive Eve.
(7/27/02 10:47:58 am)
| Paper ...|
Stumbled across a good paper on Lilith, feminist or demon, in the course of aimlessly searching the Web ... it can be found here:
Though that it might be of interest to some of you. Hope you're all enjoying the weekend!