Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Pomegranate - Symbol and Myth


The Pomegranate is a fruit that has a hard outer shell within which
there is a multitude of small tasty Seeds. The Pomegranate appears
often in Symbolism and Mythology. Because this fruit contains an
enormous amount of Seeds, it is regarded as a Symbol of fertility,
prosperity, Abundance and generosity.

In mythology, the Pomegranate is a featured symbol in the
Abduction of Persephone.

One day, when Persephone was wandering about the earth she was
noticed by Hades, Lord of the Underworld, who instantly fell in love
with her. Hades abducted Persephone and took her to his domain in
the underworld to live with him as his wife and queen.

Demeter, Persephone's mother, upon noticing that her daughter
had been abducted by Hades immediately caused all plants to
stop growing upon the face of the earth. Trees, flowers, fruits,
vegetables and grains all ceased to grow.

Demeter then filed a grievance with Zeus, regarding the abduction
of her daughter by Hades, in which she informed Zeus that she
would not allow any growth to occur on earth until Persephone
was returned to her.

Although Zeus was not interested in becoming involved with the
affairs of other gods and goddesses, he also realized that he could
not allow the earth to remain cold and barren for this would mean
the end of all life on the planet.

Zeus eventually mediated an agreement between Demeter and
Hades in which Persephone would spend half of the year on earth
and the other half of the year in the underworld. Demeter consented
to this agreement and for the half of the year in which Persephone
walked upon the earth Demeter allowed the plants to grow, blossom
and bear fruit. For the six months that Persephone spent in the
underworld Demeter caused all growth to go dormant.

This agreement between Demeter, Zeus and Hades enabled
Persephone to be the only other being, mortal or immortal, besides
Hermes (Mercury) and Hades himself, who was permitted to leave
the underworld after having entered its confines.

An interesting point to consider in this particular myth is the fact
that when Persephone is portrayed with her husband, Hades, in
the underworld she is not depicted as someone who has been
abducted and held prisoner against her will. Her countenance is
that of a contented woman who is both wife and queen to her
beloved husband.

We also notice that Persephone is often portrayed holding a
Pomegranate in her hand. Since the Pomegranate is the Symbol
of fertility and Abundance this reminds us that when Persephone
arrives upon the earth, in the springtime, she brings with her all
the Seeds of fertility, prosperity, and Abundance. This is the time
when the earth is in full bloom and life rejoices. In autumn, when
she returns to her husband and her Queendom in the underworld,
she takes the Pomegranate with her. During this time of the year
the earth goes dormant...it sleeps...it rests.

The tale of Persephone and the Pomegranate is a metaphor for the
continual cycle of growth, dormancy and re-growth which governs
all things in the physical realm.

This myth also reminds us that when Persephone returns to the
underworld, and the world goes dormant, the Seeds of growth,
fertility and Abundance do not vanish from the world forever. They
are kept eternally warm and protected deep within the womb of
Mother Earth and await the next annual earthly visit of Persephone
and the Cycle of Abundance, growth and prosperity which she, and
her fertile Pomegranate, brings to us.

Comments and Emails: I welcome comments and emails from
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Disclaimer: None of my articles should be considered to be
either advice or expertise. They are simply personal opinions
and no more. Everyone is encouraged to seek competent
advice from a licensed, registered, or certified professional
should such advice or service be required.

© copyright Joseph Panek 2009
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1 comment:

Lindy Allwell said...

Enjoyed this very much thank you. My focus today is The Pomegranate, and before browsing the web did not know its ancient history and symbolism in religious thought. Lindy