Archive for August 8th, 2011

Almond Tree – Prunus amygdalus

Sacred to: Attis (born of the Almond nut)


Myth 1: Birth of Attis. In Phrygia there was born an hermaphroditic deity named Agdistis. The gods were fearful and castrated it creating the goddess Kybele. The genitals were cast upon the earth where they sprouted and grew into an almond tree. Once when the nymph Nana was sitting beneath its branches a nut fell into her lap and impregnated her. The child conceived was Attis, who grew up to become the consort of the Kybele. (Source: Pausanias)


Myth 2: This beautiful tree is associated with Phyllis, the Greek daughter of King Sithon of Thrace. She was to be married to Demophoon, son of Theseus and Phaedra.
When Demophoon was late for the wedding, Phyllis was overwhelmed with grief, believed herself abandoned and committed suicide by hanging. The gods, being kindly, took pity upon the young lovers. Phyllis was transformed into an almond tree and Demophoon, properly remorseful, when shedding tears at the site, found the tree opening into bloom.


Myth 3: Another beautiful legend comes from Portugal. A Moorish prince from the deep south of Portugal (Algarve) married a Scandinavian princess, who pined away in that snowless land for lack of winter and the sight of snow. Her prince relieved her homesickness by planting almond trees so thickly along the entire coast that when they bloomed, their white blossoms covered the land each spring with a snowy-white blanket.


Other Notes: Almonds along with dates, grapes, and olives were among the earliest cultivated foods, probably before 3,000 BCE. Almonds and pistachios are the only nuts mentioned in the Bible.


In ancient Israel, the almond was a symbol of watchfulness and promise due to its early flowering, symbolizing God’s sudden and rapid punishment of His people; in Jeremiah 1:11-12, for instance. In the Bible the almond is mentioned ten times, beginning with Book of Genesis 43:11, where it is described as “among the best of fruits”. In Numbers 17 Levi  is chosen from the other tribes of Israel by Aaron’s rod, which brought forth almond flowers. According to tradition, the rod of Aaron bore sweet almonds on one side and bitter on the other; if the Israelites followed the Lord, the sweet almonds would be ripe and edible, but if they were to forsake the path of the Lord, the bitter almonds would predominate. The almond blossom supplied a model for the menorah which stood in the Holy Temple, “Three cups, shaped like almond blossoms, were on one branch, with a knob and a flower; and three cups, shaped like almond blossoms, were on the other…on the candlestick itself were four cups, shaped like almond blossoms, with its knobs and flowers” (Exodus 25:33-34; 37:19-20). Similarly, Christian symbolism often uses almond branches as a symbol of the Virgin Birth of Jesus; paintings often include almonds encircling the baby Jesus and as a symbol of Mary.

The Chinese consider it a symbol of enduring sadness and female beauty.