Something that a lot of pagans have always associated with fertility is the pomegranate. I’ve been to Beltane rituals that used pomegranate as a symbol of fertility; search “magic associations of pomegranate” and you’ll find several sites attesting to its good fertility magic. Even the New Age health nuts attest to its great fertility powers.
This is something I’d never really questioned, mainly because I hate pomegranate (I had to eat the seeds, once, and I nearly vomited) so it never mattered to me. However, I recently got curious about it — perhaps because of my post about Eve which led to me being linked to another post that explored the idea of her forbidden fruit being a pomegranate, instead of an apple — which makes decidedly more sense, considering the climate of “Eden”. (I would link to the post, but it has 404ed on me. The thought is not uncommon, however, and can be found in great abundance all over the internet.) Perhaps because of my recent re-involvement with the Hellenic deities, and specifically Persephone/Kore.
The pomegranate has historically been used as a contraceptive and abortifacient. Mythically it has even been said to cause Persephone to go sterile — making Her the Queen of the Dead and no longer a fertile maiden. The fruit has even been said to reduce sexual desire — so why it’s seen as a sex-increasing plant and used so extensively in Beltane rituals, I’m not sure.
Perhaps it is because of the association with Persephone — after all, it’s fairly common not to look at the deeper meanings of a myth. “Persephone? Pomegranate? Fertility goddess? Boom, correspondence chart done!”
So, knowing that the pomegranate was most likely a contraceptive and that it’s highly likely Eve’s “apple” was actually this other red fruit…what conclusions can be drawn?
It was never about general knowledge. It was about the knowledge of reproduction — and controlling that knowledge.
When Eve ate that ‘apple’ she took control of her own body — and we all know there’s nothing the Christian god hates more, right? (Actually, in all likelihood that god doesn’t give a shit. But we’re not really talking about what he wants; just what his followers think he wants.)
Perhaps this can be a new symbol in our fight for reproductive rights: Eve, eating the pomegranate. Symbolically, if you hate the taste as much as I do.