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Yes, that is an apple tree in my blog header! Intentionally chosen by myself & artistically captured by my sister @bedky_art at the inception of my blog back in 2015.
Recently, whilst body-melding with the couch, I stumbled across a King Arthur Legends, documentary on Prime Video. Docos on mythology are, of course, some of my fave things to veg to, & growing up in the West Country of the UK, the Arthurian legends have always stirred some whispers within my bones.
Besides the fact that this kind of entertainment is liberally peppered with the most delightfully eccentric of characters… I also greatly enjoy that in the case of Arthurian legends, the desperation to make them true goes a little something like this:
“We know for a fact that King Arthur is a fabricated figure.. a fantasy of the Saxon clergy to manipulate the Britons” … But also.. “He was a War General of a Briton army, circa 100AD.”
“Merlin, however, never existed.. there is just no proof that any druids were still around after the Romans, let alone they be hanging out with Kings” … “We have discovered Merlin was a druid that turned bloodsick after many battles against the Saxons, & ran into the woods to live out the remainder of their time as a wondering hermit/magick person”.
As for Camelot.. “It certainly never was, we have no archeological proof whatsoever… but we know it’s buried somewhere under Galstonbury.”
*cue archeologist scratching their head as they smile nervously.. or is it apologetically?*
Anyway, I digress..
A few days after I watched this, it came to my attention that Netflix had released Cursed, an origin story for The lady of the Lake; a mash up of the Arthur legends & it’s characters. (I’ve watched a few episodes, but aside from the fact that Floki of the show Vikings, is playing Merlin, I’m not exsessively hooked at this point).
It occured to me during all this current Arthurian-saturation, that I have never actually shared the story behind why I chose The Holistic Branch, to be my blog name, or why I choseth the apple tree as my mascot.
We witches love a good dose of symbolism to be infused with pretty much all we do, create, wear, watch, read, write etc. It’s a big deal to us. Symbolism gives power to things, stories & people. It’s the reason for ritual & the backbone of spellcraft.
The Isle of Avalon, translates to The Isle of Apples. Or, in Welsh, Ynys Afallach, literally meaning The Isle of Apple Trees. We now know this place as Glastonbury Tor, which apparantly used to be surrounded by water.
In many different branches of mythology, the apple & the apple tree have made an appearance. They collectively & individually signified wisdom, healing, knowledge, magick, love, beauty, death, rebirth, immortality & transmutation.
In the Arthurian legends, Morgana, or Morgan La Fay, who are sometimes thought to be interchangeable, was said to be the Queen or High Priestess ((why not both, I say?!) from the 12th century she also became Arthurs sister), that resided in Avalon. There, she had her own priesthood of healers, & depending which legends you read, played the archetypal role of wild woman, magick maker & sometimes trickster .. all profound characters to ancient mythological story telling, which were watered down & demonised by the clergy over time…
..And after all, the Arthurian tales were taken from Celtic mythology, retold & morphed again & again, by people, clergy & King’s.
Queen Morgana & her priestesses ferried the dying Arthur to Avalon, to heal him &/or lay him to rest after he was wounded in battle. Some interpretations say he lies there in wait for when England needs him most, to be reborn again & restore peace. *I wonder if he’s been keeping an eye on the news lately*.
In Norse mythology, the Goddess Hel, planted an orchard in her realm, for the dead to be fed with.
The people of the West Country counties to this day, honour their orchards with ancient rituals to the tree gods, because.. well.. cider.
It is no coincidence that this is the forbidden fruit the Bible tells us Eve eats, thus committing Original Sin. Apple & it’s tree had become one of the powerful emblems of the pagan world the church was trying so brutally to crush. The story of Eve & the apple also served the church to create the basis for it’s subjugation of women & medicine people.. i.e witches.
My decision to use the apple tree as a representation of The Holistic Branch, was not just because its a beautiful tree, but also as a symbolic reclamation for the healing, magickal & cultural importance it has. As well as a way to honour the millions of people before me, presently & surely after I’m gone, who were/are denounced, exiled & most often killed, for doing the kind of work I currently have the freedom to practice.
I loved the idea of a tree representing holistic medicine; it draws from all elements, air, earth, water, fire, as does Nature Cure. It then knows how to alchemise the elements to grow, self-nourish & rebirth. Each branch can represent a modality of healing or practice that I draw from to serve my clients & community.
The roots speak of the infinite well of wisdom we all have within to tap into. They also represent how necessary it is to have a strong system of support underneath us as we heal & transform.. as individuals, as a community & as a larger world.
As you’ve probably gathered by now, I could harp on about the marriage of myth, symbolism & history for quite a bit. Including how I relate it to my own life, practice & work!
I hope that reading this has given some insight, or interest, or inspiration to you.. & if you’re wondering, my favourite modern Arthurian retelling is by far Guy Ritchie’s, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Most else I’ve seen has been a bit lacking or far too cringe-y for me.
If you would like a tour around Glastonbury Abby, featuring some more Arthurian tales, I love this vlog by one of my favourite witches on the internet, Laura Daligan.
Thank you so much for reading, please feel free to share anything with me that this blog may have captured for you..
All my love, Sami Lou x0x0x0x0 ❤ ❤