To me, a Pomegranate has always seemed like a royal fruit, the vibrant red seeds almost like rubies. When the seeds fall out from the rind, they glimmer, appearing as crystals once placed in the mouth; they burst into sour and sweet flavors. They are a treat to the eyes and the taste buds.
Pomegranate is a paradox as the beliefs of people regarding the fruit are very hot and cold.
A Pomegranate has been considered an aphrodisiac and a contraceptive; I guess it depends on how you use it. It is deemed to be cooling and enflaming, making the Pomegranate fruit with various and opposite characteristics.
Importance of the Pomegranate
Pomegranates are among the most symbolic and therapeutic fruits on the planet. The fruit has a lot of importance in various religions such as Christianity and other religions, making the Pomegranate a symbol of life and death.
Pomegranate is used for medicinal purposes as well is one of the essential Eurasian medicinal plants. The Pomegranate is also a sign of eternity, immortality, and resurrection. These beliefs are carried out by the Babylonians, Chinese, and Christianized Europeans.
From the Rabbi to the Pope to the King and the Poet, the fruit symbolizes one, multiplication, unity, and being whole.
“The pomegranate symbolized cyclical, dualistic relationships between life and death, fertility and barrenness, childhood and motherhood,” states medical historian A.R. Ruis.
The Pomegranate has been a symbol of many dual qualities that clash yet still exist harmoniously.
A.R. Ruis elaborates further that “often mediated these dualities, serving to govern the transition from one part of the dyad to the other.”
Pomegranate’s paradox nature makes it not just have one specific specialty. Instead, the Pomegranate has performed a balancing act, balancing opposing states; it is both an aphrodisiac and a contraceptive.
As a poet myself, I can see how the Pomegranate could have had such importance. The fruit looks like a work of art, its seeds like rubies, and its taste sour yet refreshing.
The red blood-like color when pomegranate seeds are squashed to produce juice symbolizes life. The blood is a reminder of human life and how we keep going.
The depth of the fruit can only be seen by someone with the eyes, to look deep into the sparkle of every seed that falls out from the pomegranate rind.
The taste of the Pomegranate is also opposite and contrasting at the same time. When you taste a pomegranate, there is a contrast of sour, sweet, citric tastes and a bland seed.
When you eat a pomegranate seed that bursts in the mouth, every chew has a surprising flavor.
Pomegranate and the Greek goddesses
The oldest symbolic association of the Pomegranate was with reproduction and fertility. Whereas people from the Middle Eastern and the Mediterranean associate the fruit with goddesses.
The goddesses they associated the Pomegranate with are Inanna, Hera, Athena, Cybele, Tanit, Rhea, Astarte, and Aphrodite.
Aphrodite was the goddess of love, beauty, lust, and procreation. Since fertility is associated with a woman’s beauty and ability to give birth, why Pomegranate is associated with Aphrodite can be understood.
The Pomegranate is also an aphrodisiac, and the name aphrodisiac itself comes from the name of Aphrodite. So the qualities of the Pomegranate are closely associated with what Aphrodite is known for and what she can do.
The human attraction and ability to fall in love are all based on the need to procreate. It is how we choose a partner unknowingly; the Pomegranate is a symbol of fertility and reproduction.
The ancient Greek myth of Persephone claims that she is bound to the Underworld by eating some of the seeds that its lord gives her. Persephone must return every half a year.
Nightingale in the Pomegranate tree outside Juliet’s Window
After the story of Persephone, a nightingale sings in a pomegranate tree, Juliet looks outside her window and waits for her love Romeo. As she takes another peek outside, she can hear the nightingale singing in the pomegranate tree as she waits.
Since Romeo and Juliet is the most famous love story, a pomegranate tree symbolizes their longing and love for each other.
The pomegranate tree is called the “tree of life” in the Bible.
Throughout history, Greeks, Indians, Bedouin, Chinese, Persians, and Romans considered pomegranates to be a “common symbol of fertility in wedding rites.”
However, since Pomegranate has contradiction related to its image, it is also considered a symbol of barrenness and death.
The medicinal and contraceptive uses of a Pomegranate
The fruit is also used for medicinal purposes due to its many benefits.
Scientists, through modern research, have found chemicals in the Pomegranate that are “antiatherogenic, antibiotic, anticarcinogenic, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, astringent, estrogenic, neuroprotective, spermatogenic, and vermifuge properties.”
Ruis states that “the medicinal efficacy of a substance is based not on essential properties but on cultural and social understandings of its use in therapy or prevention.”
Women and men used the rind as a contraceptive, it is applied in the case of men or suppositories in the case of women.
In addition to “losing virginity,” the fruit could also “restore” it.
Ruis points to a Latin compendium of women’s medicine and cosmetics from the twelfth century that contains a recipe for a powder with pomegranate rind and red coloring that could be used to create the illusion of a hymen.
Though an illusion is an illusion, it doesn’t mean that it could, in reality, restore virginity but is there actually such a thing in the first place?
In premodern medicine, different parts of the Pomegranate were used. The pomegranate root, bark, blossom, rind, seed, and aril were all used for various medicinal reasons.
The uses were many but again very contradictory “both as an astringent and a laxative, an emmenagogue, and an anti-menorrhagic (though that may not be an actual word), an expectorant and an antiemetic, a pyrogen and a febrifuge, a restorative and a soporific.”
We have discovered so far that Pomegranate is the fruit of the goddesses and very much contradictory in nature. It has been used for various purposes as a contraceptive, medicine, cooling agent, virginity restorer, fertility increaser, etc.
Though the fruit has many benefits of its own, I believe the best way to use it is in a nice salad or to consume it on its own.
Pomegranate juice sounds refreshing as well, but I’m sure the next time you consume a pomegranate, you won’t look at it the same way as you once did.
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