There are some amazing legends and lore associated with the pomegranate from around the world, over centuries, and even influencing and influenced by nearly every major religious tradition. When you see the connection with some of these stories, the name, ‘Pomegranate’ really makes sense.
In addition, there are quite a number of impressive studies linking juice of the fruit with reducing blood pressure, inhibiting viral infections and reducing heart disease risk factors. It turns out many of the claims of Ayurvedic medicine are born out in recent nutritional research. (That’s why you suddenly see this fruit in lotions, creams, juices, candies, preserves, yogurt, candles, fragrance and more, all riding on the heels of these claims). Pom in French is ‘fruit’ and ‘granate’, seeds: ‘Fruit with seeds’. With most fruits, one cuts the seeds out and disposes of them (now that we’re beyond a mostly farming culture). In the pomegranate, the seeds are it’s gift.
The ancient Greek myth of Persephone was used to explain the seasons. In the story, Hades, (God of the Underworld) kidnapped her and took her to the place of darkness, to be his wife. (Abuse is a place of darkness). The earth and all living, growing things began to die, because her mother Demeter, Goddess of Harvest, was mourning. (Anyone who ate or drank in the underworld was doomed to spend eternity there, and in a sense- eating disorders are like that.) Yet, Hades had pulled a trick on Persephone by giving her 6 pomegranate seeds to eat. The head of the Greek gods, Zeus, alarmed that the vegetation of earth was dying (Fall and Winter), intervened and allowed her to spend 6 months of the year above ground in the light- thus, Spring and Summer. This seasonal story is symbolic of the ups and downs of an adolescent’s moods, but especially those with a mental illness- such as bi-polar disorder.
Pomegranates are still very prevalent in many Greek traditions from house-warming gifts to wedding and funeral foods, and even Christmas Day and New Year’s. In Orthodox Christianity it represents the fruitfulness of Virgin Mary. Look up ‘Pomegranate’ in Wikipedia and you will find stories from ancient Israel, Judaism, Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, Islam-the Qur’an, Hinduism, and from ancient China- and a long bibliography of additional sources. The Qur’an tells us these fruits are in the garden of paradise; Jewish tradition holds it might have been the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden story in the Hebrew bible.
If you look at this unusual fruit with its tough, leathery skin which comes from a lovely small tree which bears Hibiscus-like flowers, you would not expect it to contain translucent ruby-to-garnet colored seeds. The seeds are a surprise. The inside white rind is often bitter, like the challenges of mental illness, and the seeds appear to bleed if they’re crushed. Ancient and medieval Christians believed the broken fruit symbolized suffering and resurrection, the very essence of healing. In Hinduism, the Sanskrit word means rich with seeds of promise. This promise leads to fertility and prosperity. In Chinese the many seeds symbolize abundance and hope for a fine harvest in the very near future. It is only fitting to choose that what appears to be a tough, unremarkable living thing can have so much to offer, and is really not ‘just a thing, or mere object’.
Some companies use the symbol of the phoenix- that ancient bird rising from the ashes; others choose place names-‘Columbus’; descriptive names- pine trees; animals- fox; or natural features-canyon, or people names-‘Wexner’. Names can be like labels- used in a derogatory fashion, as representative of a particular trait (‘Red’ for red hair), or as something to live up to. It is a long tradition in the Native American culture to choose or be given one’s name in a spiritual revelation, such as ‘Crazy Horse’ or ‘Sitting Bull’. If you had to choose a symbolic name for yourself, what would it be?
[Photo credit: Bigstock_pomegranate_1223242.jpg]