An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Or so they say. Apples are one of those fruits, that if fruits were people, they would be the ruler of the fruit kingdom. One of its names is the “fruit of the gods”, for crying out loud. Why are apples just so freaking magical? And why are they such a universal symbol of the Autumn and Winter seasons? In this scrumptious post, we explore the apple orchard and define apple magical properties. As well as bite into apple folklore and traditions, PLUS provide you with ways to harness apple energy in your witchcraft practice.
Apples are the fruit of the apple tree, scientific name Malus domestica. They are grown worldwide today but have ancient origins in Central Asia. Although we do know they’ve been grown in Europe for thousands of years and were brought to North America with European immigrants over the past few centuries. The apple is an edible fruit (if you didn’t already know that) and one that’s well-loved worldwide. Interestingly, farmers claim growing apple trees from their own apple seeds tend to produce an entirely different tree and fruit than growing more apple trees from clonal graftings.
Today apples are eaten and used in culinary dishes including savory and sweet foods and beverages. They’re covered in caramel, nuts and candy at Halloween and put on a stick for children (or adults) to eat. And they’re even featured in Disney fairy tales (think the Evil Queen in Snow White who poisons an apple and feeds it to the unsuspecting princess). Apples are a true symbol of Autumn and Winter, and likely because they’re harvested in the Fall. And because they’ve been part of Fall and Winter festivals for thousands of years.
Apples are featured in SO many myths that it would likely take a book to present them all to you. Luckily, I’m compiling my favorite apple myths and bits of lore here, beginning with the apple in ancient mythology.
I can’t talk about the apple’s magical history without mentioning the biblical story of the first woman, Eve, and her fall from grace. Basically it involves Eve, a “serpent”, and a bite of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. According to Christian lore, Eve wasn’t supposed to ever eat the fruit from this ONE tree in paradise. God had asked her not to.
Well, the old trickster serpent in the garden tempted her into eating from the one forbidden tree. And so she did. In more recent centuries, that fruit has been depicted as an apple…pretty religiously (pun intended). But in all actuality, it likely wasn’t an apple if indeed this was an actual event. And if it’s just myth, it still more than likely wasn’t originally an apple. The point here is this: the apple is associated with WISDOM and an otherworldly place – the Garden of Eden. Take a mental note of that.
There seems to be a link between the biblical character Eve and the ancient Sumerian goddess Inanna. Some scholars believe the story of Eve descends from this goddess’ origins. In one story, the goddess Inanna “leans against an apple tree” and beholds her own vulva and believes it beautiful. I can’t help but see a parallel between Eve and eating the apple that gave her knowledge and Inanna beholding her own “apple blossom” and knowing of her own power.
The apple is an integral ingredient or magical item in of many Norse, Germanic and Celtic myths and folklore in later centuries. In the Prose Edda, the goddess Idunn is the guardian of an apple orchard that grows apples of eternal youth a.k.a. immortality for the gods. Loki is made to lure her out of the garden and she is then taken by a Jotunn for his own evil purposes. In Celtic myth, the beautiful fairy woman (who is also a goddess) Cliodhna offers apples of healing and immortality to journeying heroes in the Celtic Otherworld.
In the Old Norse tradition, the alfablot was a sacrifice to the elves/alfar, and one fruit in particular frequented the offerings – the apple. It was considered a food of the dead. Interestingly, that goes along nicely with the Celtic Samhain and it’s other name: Feast of Apples. In Celtic lore, a magical apple branch called the silver bough allowed the person who held it to pass into the Otherworld safely.
In a post-Christianized Germany, it was customary to bring an offering of apples and eggs to the cross on Easter morning. Author of Celtic Folklore Cooking, Joann Asala, claims this is likely an ancient pagan custom that was adapted and carried on in Medieval Times.
The golden apple is a recurring theme in many myths worldwide including in ancient Greek and Roman mythos. One ancient Greek tale tells of Zeus throwing a wedding party in which one particular goddess wasn’t invited, Eris the goddess of discord. So, as disgruntled deities of chaos do, she threw a golden apple into the mix that read “to the most beautiful goddess” and watched as three deities tried their damn-dest to claim it: Hera, Athena and Aphrodite.
To the Ancient Romans, fruits and in particular apples were so important that they had a goddess who guarded and presided over them – her name is Pomona. Sadly, we don’t have a ton of information on Pomona as a deity but know that she is a virginal nymph of the woods who married the personification of Autumn named Vertumnus. Because the two were a lusty match, they ensure a bountiful, fertile apple harvest on an annual basis. And at the Festival of Diana, apple boughs were carried around for luck and prosperity.
Depending on the tradition and the person, the apple magical properties will vary. But the overall consensus for apple magical properties as far as I gather include:
Now let’s get down to the apple pie. Let’s learn how to harness the apple magical properties by mixing this fruit into our witchcraft practices.
Bobbing for apples is a centuries-old tradition from the British Isles and Ireland. It likely has its origins in both ancient Celtic and Germanic festivals. You can carry on this pagan tradition by setting up a tub of water and floating apples inside. Then having your friends, family or coven-mates “duck for apples” this Samhain. Make it witchier by carving or drawing symbols on the apples themselves corresponding to a “message” for each player.
Nearly every witch enjoys a good candle spell from time to time. Some of us focus our entire spell work on candle magick. Add apples to the mix by encircling a candle with apple slices, dried apple slices, or apple blossoms. OR core an apple and place a taper or chime candle inside. You can load the apple with herbs and oils before placing the candle for extra effect.
Apple pie is an all-American dessert, or so some claim, that actually dates back to at least the thirteenth century. And was made in England first. But however you see its origins, one thing is for sure – this dessert is magical. Inscribe sigils and runes in the bottom of your pie crust and infuse your pie with your own witchy energy. Feed it to family and friends. OR to your coven-mates at Samhain for vitality, immortality, and love.
Poppets (dolls) are a form of magick dating back thousands of years. In recent years, there are those who say poppet magick is a “closed practice”. I disagree. Poppet magick originates literally all over the world in many different cultures. Ever heard of the Venus of Willendorf? This carved image of what is assumed to be a goddess is thousands of years old and was likely made as a form of honor or sympathetic magick. To the point, though. Make a poppet out of an apple this Samhain season. You can carve a face into the apple or even shrink the apples and make shrunken apple heads. Or poke sticks into the apple to make arms and legs, etc.
Slice up some apples horizontally and dry them out completely. Use these dried apple slices to make Samhain and Yule decorations including garland, centerpieces, tree decorations and wreaths. In the Winter, I enjoy weaving apple slices along a string with cinnamon sticks, dried orange slices, and more. These decorations are great to bring prosperity and joy into the household at Yuletide.
In England and Ireland, there’s a tradition called callenig. This is a gift made of apples that are studded with cloves or nutmeg and topped with mistletoe. They are then mounted on twigs. Then they are carried around on New Years for luck. You may have seen this done with oranges and lemons too.
There’s nothing more delicious than a caramel or candied apple in Autumn. Where I come from in Maryland (U.S.), it’s popular to make and eat candied or caramel apples on Halloween. Remember that urban legend of the razor blade in the apple? I’m pretty sure it arose from the idea that someone was putting razors into candied apples. That urban legend was simply a story. Not truth, mind you. Anyway, consider making your own this year (minus the razor blades) and imbue your own magick into each apple.
In Ozark folklore, a “bad woman can’t make applesauce, it’ll turn mushy every time,” according to folklorist Vance Randolph’s collection. I think this is hilarious. Go apple picking and make your very own batch of applesauce or apple butter. If it turns out “mushy”, maybe you’ve been a bad girl. Cinnamon and other spices can be added to your applesauce and apple butter in alignment with your intentions: love, abundance, offerings for the dead, etc.
Apple cider is a staple in the stores in Fall and for good reason. Obviously drinking it empowers you with any and all of the apple magical properties listed above. But also, you’re carrying on an ages-old tradition and literally drinking apple juice in its raw state. NOW amplify the magick of apple cider by making it hot and mulling it with spices and fruits.
And as far as apple cider vinegar magick goes, IT EXISTS. And it’s a potent spell ingredient. Use it as a purifier…it can be added to a ritual bath to remove negative energy and entities. And physically, if you take a swig of apple cider it’ll knock down a bad case of acid reflux within minutes. You can also use it as a base for the four thieves vinegar, an old folk magic concoction.
Along with bobbing for apples, no other apple tradition is as rich in history as wassailing. Put simply, wassailing is when blessings are bestowed upon people, orchards, fields, and oxen by way of singing. Caroling has taken over the wassailing tradition in modern times. According to writer Linda Raedisch in The Old Magic of Christmas, Wassailers would go from door to door singing blessings on the inhabitants. They were bid to go away with cakes, beer and money. This tradition stems from an older tradition of wassailing in the orchards.
Consider going wassailing this year either at your local orchard or in your neighborhood. If you’re wassailing in the neighborhood, carry an apple on a stick or at least wear the apple as a symbol as you go along. The apple itself bestows a long life and love.
We can’t talk about apple magical properties and uses without talking about apple blossom magick. Apple blossoms are a beautiful white or pink color and are linked to the goddess. They were specifically used in ancient times in beauty and love enchantments. Use them in your magick for beauty purposes and to attract good fortune.
If you practice Germanic or Norse paganism or witchcraft, consider making pork roast with apples this Yuletide season. Offer the first portion to the gods, namely Odin, Freyr, and Thor. I’m not kidding when I say apples and pork go together like milk and cookies. Here’s a recipe.
There’s a crisp hint of magic in the air. And a sense of warmth and …September 21, 2023