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Monday, October 11, 2010

Bobbing for apples on All Hallow's Eve

A Magical Monday useful Halloween tip: Peeling an apple in front of a candlelit mirror on Samhain will reveal an image of one’s future spouse.

Apples were a major part of the Celtic/Druid harvest festival of All Hallow’s Eve. The present day custom of bobbing for apples came from one of their festivities. Magical fermented cider was commonly used in pagan rites. In England, a particularly strong cider is often referred to as witches’ brew.

English lore, apples signify enchantment, tied to the Arthurian legends. When Arthur was seriously wounded, he was taken by three fairy queens to Avalon, also known as the “Isle of Apples,” or “Appleland.” Also, Lancelot, Arthur’s knight, fell asleep under an apple tree and was carried off by four fairy queens. Later, he saved Queen Guinevere, accused of being a witch and condemned to burn at the stake – she gave an apple to St. Patrick, who died.

The apple has long held spiritual significance. Many goddesses upheld the apple as the fruit which supplied eternal life: Greek goddess Hera; Scandinavian goddess Idun; Norse Hel, of the Underworld. American Iroquois Indians place the apple as their focal tree of heaven. And, in Christianity, Eve’s apple, accepted from the serpent, is the fruit of life, but also associated with sin.

In witchcraft, the apple is said to be a common vehicle for spells. In the folktale, Snow White, the lovely maiden was put to death by a poisoned apple given her by the black witch-queen. In Voodoo magic as well as English, Danish, and German folklore, the apple is a love charm.

In a real life account in Somerset, England in 1657, a young girl gave a twelve-year-old boy an apple which, according to neighbors, caused him to become bewitched, flying over his garden wall. The girl was charged with witchcraft, sentenced, and hanged.

English folklore says it’s bad luck to pick all the apples in a harvest – some must be left for the fairies.

So, on this Samhain, be sure to leave some for the fairies, but light a few candles and peel one in front of your mirror.

Reference: An Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft & Wicca, Rosemary Ellen Guiley, 2008.
Art: Kim_Moo and Maskimxul


N. R. Williams said...

Interesting post. I remember bobbing for apples and getting soaked when I was a kid. The story of Johnny Appleseed comes to mind which I believed was a fairy tale until HGTV hosted a show and taped the last known apple tree that Johnny planted. Really cool.

I must make one correction though. The fruit Eve took from the Serpent was from the tree of Knowledge.

N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Marsha A. Moore said...

Thanks for stopping by and for the extra info, Nancy.

J.L. Stratton said...

Wow, great post. Very interesting. I remember the Johny Appleseed thing too. I'm originally from Washington State so Mr. Appleseed was a huge celebrity around harvest time.

Any hey, according to recent television commercials, the fruit Eve gave to Adam was a pomegranate. Of course, that's only if you believe the stuff you hear on commercials LOL.

Marsha A. Moore said...

Everything seems to be pomegranate lately. Wonder if that was a marketing scheme? LOL

Great to hear from you, J.L.! Happy Monday!

Anonymous said...

Hello Marsha,
This was a great magical article, bringing legend to light. Thanks for sharing - very enlightening.
Kay Dee

Marsha A. Moore said...

Glad you could stop by, Kay Dee! :)