One of my favorite food (and therefore, kitchen) goddesses is Pomona, and it seems sort of appropriate to honor her at this time of year. Pomona is a somewhat obscure but originally Roman goddess of orchards, fruiting trees, and abundance. Her name is from the Latin word for fruit, pomum. She is one of the Numina–the guardian spirits of the Romans. She had her own priest in Rome, the Flamen Pomonalis and a sacred orchard outside of the ancient port city of Ostia. Her festival, and that of her consort (Vertumnus), is on August 13*…which is Monday!
A Modern Pomona:
- Thalia Took, artist and creator of the Goddess Oracle, has an awesome story of Pomona and Vertumnus on her site.
- Patricia Telesco, author of 365 Goddesses**, suggests making a “Pomona oil” to wear when one wants to bring nature into their daily routine, by seeping the petals of any available (and non-toxic or dermatitis creating) flowers in warm oil, straining and adding some fruity essential oils.
- JK Rowling gave Professor Sprout, one of her characters from the Harry Potter novels the first name of Pomona
- The story of Pomona and Vertumnus from Bullfinch
- Numinism, a modern Roman-inspired duotheist religion, celebrates Pomona and Vertumnus as the female and male aspects of their godhead.
- Numinists (and some others) also (or instead) celebrate the modern festival of Pomona, Pomonalia, at November 1st.
*There is some suggestion that this day is actually the feast day of Vertumnus and Pomona just happened to be celebrated along with him as his consort, with her actual feast day falling on November 1.
**A favorite blogger of mine did a review of this book awhile back , which I found pretty accurate. But, as I say when reading books…even the worst books can have some good ideas while even the best books have some bad ones. I actually think the Pomona oil idea is decent in the context of modern worship.
Pomona, while associated with fruits and orchards in general, is often associated specifically with apples. In our family, she is normally honored at Mabon, which we had been celebrating as the Apple Harvest in the past few years. But, since she has her own feast day (and since we no longer live 5 minutes away from an apple orchard), I’ve made the executive decision to celebrate something else at Mabon and to have our own Pomonalia this week (probably on Thursday because I’m off work and get paid Wednesday, lol). The apple is a pome, which is a type of fruit whose name also derives from the Latin pomum. It was domesticated from a wild tree, Malus sieversii (the crabapple is a closely related species) which originated in the west of Asia and its cultivation spread into Europe and eventually the Americas. The apple is mentioned in Norse, Greek, and even Christian mythology, though the word was sometimes used in a general sense to describe any foreign fruits besides apples.
Things to Do with Apples:
Apple Votive Candles
Alton Brown’s 10 minute Applesauce
Williamsburg Apple Cream Cheese Torte
Apples in Entrees
Monticello Apple Cake
Shrunken Apple Heads (optional for Halloween: in cider)
Barefoot Contessa’s Apple Crisp
Apple Dumplings, easy recipe that’t not from scratch
Apple Print Stamper