I can think of no other fruit as rich in symbolism as the apple.  The apple tree is the oldest cultivated tree in Europe.  In Celtic mythology, the Otherworld, Avalon, is the Isle of Apples.  It is the land of the Sidhe, but also, the Land of the Dead.  So apples are a symbol of the afterlife, of youth and rebirth.  So important was the apple that cutting down an apple tree was a crime punishable by death in ancient Irish law.

The Samhain game of apple bobbing reflects this symbolism…  The player is to plunge her/his head into water -the water symbolizes the voyage over the waves to the Otherworld, also, the waters of the womb.  The player attempts to grab an apple using only her/his teeth.  Of course, the reward is the apple itself, fruit of immortality.

Many of the tales say that the Isle of Apples was ruled by women.  If you cut an apple in half horizontally, you will see that the seeds form a five pointed star – a pentagram, which many believe was a goddess symbol in ancient times.  In the ancient lore of the Otherworld, the Silver Bough is cut from a magical apple tree, where silver apple shaped bells played beautiful music, which could lull people into a trance state.  It was believed that druids could make contact with the Otherworld under the trance of this silver apple bough.  Norse mythology shares much of the same meaning for the apple as the Celtic tales.  The Norse deities were fed an apple every evening by Idunna, the goddess of spring and youth who nurtures an apple orchard in Asgard.

The apple is an essential sacred food of Samhain, used both as offering to the ancestors, and eaten to honor, commemorate and commune with them.


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