In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. ~ Carl Sagan
There's something about this time of year that really brings out the urge to make homemade foods for me - to get very close to primary source... few ingredients, as directly connected to the Earth as is possible.
I went rather mad for Farmer's Market apples this year - the market in our area (northern WV) is pretty small compared to those I've gone to in other parts of the country, but still... it's ours and I try to get out every week and no matter how sparse the pickings are, there are always plenty of wonderful, tart crisp apples to be had.
One small problem with the apples though - I love them. They taste and smell and look like Autumn to me. They are the fruit sacred to my patron goddess, Juno (for all manner of reasons I might explain some day).
But, even before my older daughter and her family moved out at the end of summer, I was the only one who actually likes apples. So for the most part, there isn't a lot of use in making large quantity treats like apple pie - I'm just not going to get through it all.
That doesn't mean I haven't been enjoying some wonderful baked apples (easy to do with a single apple), some homemade applesauce which freezes nicely in small portions for later use, sliced thin to eat on a peanut butter sandwich... and finally, when I've eaten and cooked as many of them as I can, using them as decoration.
I enjoy making dried apple slices by slicing them horizonally to reveal the star inside - those are wonderful dried slowly in the oven and stringing along with cinnamon sticks for garland. That whole process makes the house smell like heaven, too.
Still no camera or I'd show you this year's garland - I just took down last years from its hanging spot over the window behind the kitchen sink and replaced it with a new one. If you do this, it's a really good idea to punch a hole in the apple slices before you start drying them (I just spread them on a cookie sheet and leave them for many hours in the oven set at about 200F), and it's nice to sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon on them too - go easy or they'll be dark brown instead of a pretty golden beige when they're dried.
Simple and if you don't want to create a garland you can use the dried slices for individual ornaments, tying them off with a bundle of cinnamon sticks or a small string of cranberries, wrapped around a small broom or in the arms of a corn dolly - something natural and as simple as the apples.
I am told that it is a Cornwall tradition to eat an apple on Samhain for luck - and that seems like a good tradition and couldn't we all use some luck? As I said, I associate apples with Juno/Hera - the Mother aspects of the Goddess, as that is her role once you move away from stories that only regard her in relationship to her husband..she protected marriage, and women, and young girls and in some aspects oversaw safe childbirth. Apples, with their star at the center seem to me - and this is only my personal association - with divinity that hides within a simple, everyday exterior - the sacred within the domestic.
Apples - they're wholesome, not exotic food. What's the phrase we have here in the US? "As American as apple pie" - because you don't have to be wealthy or special to get ahold of an apple. Johnny Appleseed worked his way west, planting apples.. bringing 'normalcy' and civilized life with him as he went. An older phrase would speak of apple-cheeked girls - and those weren't the exotic seductive women... they were the girl next door, flushed and cheerful and healthy and simple.
So, it's no big deal to be an apple, right? Pretty much no matter where you are, local produce will include apples. But examine that apple just the right way - cut it horizontally instead of vertically, and the seeds reveal a star ringed by the edges of the core .. a pentacle. Now maybe that's meaningful to you and maybe not - to me it speaks of the sacred hiding in the mundane. And because I almost always see through the filter of Tarot, it speaks of the earthy quality of pentacles...and the hopeful, faithful wisdom of the Star.
For me, apples are a powerful symbol of the connectedness of the daily world with the divine. It's something I like to remember when I'm feeling too small to matter or too puffed up with self importance... that we're all one, that hidden inside everyone is that spark of the sacred, no matter how ordinary things look on the outside. I'm no more special than anyone else... but I'm no less special, either.
I keep my garland reminder hanging over the kitchen window, where I do my dishes every time I turn around, it seems.. remembering that even doing dishes is a sacred act when you remember the spark hiding down inside as you work, the act of cleaning one of making the world a brighter place... if that's not sacred, generative work, I don't know what is.
Just a bit of late night musing... started out with just the intention to share that chunky applesauce recipe. Ah well... another time!
(image: Apple slices from iFood)