Herbs ~ Almond
This month when I was thinking of a herbe for Axis Mundi, I ended up delving into my kitchen cupboard for a change. This just so happens to be one of my favourite foods; I go nutty about it actually!
Latin Name: Prunus dulcis
Planet: Mercury; Saturn (almond tree)
Colour: White; Clear with a hint of yellow
Western Element: Air, Fire (flowering almond)
Chinese Element: Wood, Slightly Yang
Ayurvedic Doshas: for almond seed V- KP+ Pitta increases; Kapha increases; Vata decreases
Kabalistic Correspondence: First Sephira "Kether" (flower)
Deity: Artemis, Attis, Chandra, Cybele, Hecate, Hermes, Mercury, Phyllis, Ptah, Rhea, Thoth and Zeus
Magickal: Herbe of Consecration, Herbe of Immortality, Herbe of Love, Religious Herbe
Folk Names: Sweet Almond, Bitter Almond, Greek Nuts
Parts Used: Wood, Nuts, Extracted Oil
The almond is a medium sized tree of the rose family, and it is closely related to the Peach. It is an ancient plant and recently carbonized almond remains were found from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. There are two basic types of almonds: sweet and bitter almonds. The sweet is used for eating purposes while the bitter is used for its oil, both as flavouring (for liqueurs and such) and in cosmetics.
The nuts may be eaten alone or in food, the wood may be made into tools or incense. Sweet almond oil makes a good carrier oil for essential oils or base for massage oil and is readily available in grocery and health food stores.
During the Middle Ages, Almonds became an important article of commerce in Central Europe. Their consumption in medieval cookery was enormous. An inventory, made in 1372, of the effects of Jeanne d'Evreux, Queen of France, enumerates only 20 lb. of sugar, but 500 lb. of Almonds.
The early English name seems to have been Almande: it thus appears in the Romaunt of the Rose. Both this old name and its more modern form came through the French amande, derived from the late Latin amandela, in turn a form of the Greek amygdalus, the meaning of which is obscure.
Grieve provides considerable lore for this graceful, flowering tree. When this tree is in bloom it signifies "the wakening up of Creation."
This 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. Grieve, in A Modern Herbal gives almond the attribute of an "emblem of true love inextinguishable by death."
Attis is the Phrygian equivalent of Adonis. According to Graves, his mother Nana conceived him, as a virgin, by swallowing an almond. (In some versions this is a pomegranate seed.)
In the Phrygian myth, as cited by Sir James G Frazer in The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, the almond tree is seen as the "father of all things."
Plutarch, Greek philosopher of the 1st century, chronicles the attribute of almond as a preventative against drunkenness. According to Grieve, this lore was also mentioned by Gerard.
The almond is highly revered in many cultures. In northern Indian state, Jammu and Kashmir, it is designated as the state tree of Kashmir. In India, consumption of almonds is believed to be good for the brain, while the Chinese consider it a symbol of enduring sadness and female beauty. The tree grows in Lebanon, Syria and Israel.
Throughout history, almonds have maintained religious, ethnic and social significance. The Bible's "Book of Numbers" tells the story of Aaron's rod that blossomed and bore almonds, giving the almond the symbolism of divine approval. 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 word "Luz", which appears in Genesis 30:37, is sometimes translated as "hazel", may actually be derived from the Aramaic name for almond (Luz), and is translated as such in some Bible versions such as the NIV.
The sudden blossoming of an almond wand also occurs in the Germanic story of the knight Tannhauser. He won the love of Lisaura, but when she heard that he had set out to Venusburg to kiss the queen of love and beauty, she killed herself. Tannhauser stayed for some time in the cave palace, but after a time he sought permission to visit the upper world where he confessed his guilt to Pope Urban IV and asked for absolution. The pope was horrified at the enormity of his sin and refused, saying: "Such guilt can never be forgiven. It is more likely that this dead staff in my hand will bloom, than that God should forgive you." On hearing this, Tannhauser sadly left, but, three days later, the pope suddenly discovered his staff to have budded and flowered. Messengers were sent out after Tannhauser, but he was never seen again. This appears to be a reworking of a much older story in which the vegetation god spends time in the underworld during the winter and his regeneration and redemption is marked by the flowering of the trees in early spring.
Almond has long been used to invoke the energy of deities. It may be worn as a perfume, anointing yourself with the extracted oil. Incenses may be made by including the powdered bark or by adding the oil to any loose mixture. Almond bark or twigs may be placed into the fire as an offering or the flowers gathered to adorn the temple or sacred space.
Oil of almond may be used to anoint a magickal wand (also staffs) and the herbe itself may be used as a wash or incense in a ritual of consecration for empowering this tool. If you have access to a live almond tree, the wood would make an excellent wand (don't forget to get permission first). Such a magickal wand would be an ideal ritual tool to be used by ritual partners who share their love and magick in this life and, hopefully, in their lives to come. You may also work with the property of almond to consecrate ritual candlesticks.
Almond is an excellent herbe to incorporate in Handfastings and rituals of union, it adds a special magick to the bonding of the couple, working its lore to keep love alive and strong. This would be the ideal situation to employ a wand of almond.
Almond has many holistic and metaphysical associations with attracting money, prosperity, and wisdom on various spiritual levels (such as with Thoth and other deities). Placing almonds in your pocket will help lead you to treasures.
You might also use almond to provide magickal help for someone working to overcome alcohol dependency. Almond is also associated with divination, clairvoyance and wisdom.
The sweet almonds pounded in water form "almond milk" which may be taken as a ritual drink, when seeking wisdom and guidance from the gods.
Although not typically part of a witch's larder, almond and its extracts were occasionally used. One flying ointment called for aconite, poppy juice, cinquefoil, poplar leaves, and foxglove in a base of lanoline, beeswax, and almond oil (Guiley 1989 255).
Sweet Almond Oil is an extremely popular oil sought after for its rich concentration of oleic and linoleic essential fatty acids. Almond oil is used in the cosmetic industry for its penetrating, moisturizing and restructuring properties, and is found in many skin care products including soaps, cosmetics and creams. It is also used as a massage oil and is valued as a carrier oil when used with essential oil for aromatherapy. Rub onto dry, chipped and damaged nails every night and you will have smooth, strong nails within a week.
Almonds flavour many dishes. Almonds must be chewed well and slowly. The whole raw almond had been described as a cancer preventative. Arabs crossing vast deserts live on only almonds, dates and water. 30g of almonds can be soaked overnight in 120mls of water and blended in the morning to make a milk substitute. Peeled almonds can relieve heartburn. Almonds have very little starch, and the butter and flour of the nuts is recommended for diabetics.
Almonds can aid in reducing "bad" Cholesterol. The Cancer Research & World Cancer Research Fund states nuts can protect against some cancers based on the bioactive, health-promoting compounds contained in nuts including photochemicals, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Almond Oil is used in a wide variety of ways medicinally, it is great for earaches.
Caution: Almonds contain hydrocyanic acid and can be toxic if eaten in large amounts (over 50 kernels for an adult, ten for a child).
Modern Magick: Eleven Lessons in the High Magickal Art by Donald Michael Kraig
Wiccan Magick: Inner Teachings of the Craft by Raven Grimassi
a compendium of Herbal Magick by Paul Beyerl
1 cup almonds, finely ground
1 1/4 cup flour
3 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. cloves, ground
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1. If necessary, grind the almonds in a blender or food processor until finely reduced.
2. Combine almonds, flour, sugar, almond extract, and ground cloves. Work in butter and egg yolks with the hands until well blended. As you work, visualize glowing golden pentagrams entering the dough.
3. Chill the dough for 20 to 30 minutes or until cold, yet pliable. While the dough is chilling, grease 2 cookie sheets.
4. Cut dough with cookie cutter and with a toothpick or a small knife; lightly carve a pentagram on the cookie. Strongly visualize as you draw. Repeat the entire process until the dough is used up. For even cooking, ensure that all cookies are approximately the same thickness.
5. Bake at 325 F/165 C. for about 10 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on racks.
Eat with power.
Oshun Honey Bath
1 cup sweet almond oil (light olive or sesame oil may be substituted)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup liquid soap (plain or floral)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pour oil into a medium bowl, then carefully stir in remaining ingredients until mixture is fully blended. Pour into a clean plastic bottle with a tight-fitting stopper or lid. Shake gently before using. Pour 1/4 into warm bath.