Although walnuts are small, they are certainly mighty. These highly nutritious nuts have long been associated with spirituality, symbolism, and witchcraft promising everything from mental clarity to improved fertility.
Walnuts are believed to be one of the oldest tree foods, dating back to around 7000 BC. Their Latin name, Juglans regia, is derived from the name of the Roman god Jupiter and literally translates to ‘Nut of Jupiter’. The name walnut is a modern version of the Old English word wealhhnutu meaning ‘foreign nut’.
Although walnuts have been around for a long time, their status as a “food of the Gods” has been cemented by their use in traditional medicine. They are anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, and anti-aging. They have also been found to promote brain function, control blood pressure, and even improve male fertility.
But there is more to these nuts than just their health-giving properties. For centuries they have been associated with spirituality and magic. They are linked to Gods from ancient and modern religious traditions including Zeus, Jupiter, Vishnu, Thor, and Vashaan. They are tied to the Sun and the planet Jupiter. People who practice energy-based spirituality also associate walnuts with fire.
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Intelligence and Knowledge
With modern science, we now know that walnuts are packed full of brain-boosting nutrients including Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber plus plenty of antioxidants and vitamin E. But the idea that walnuts are good for the brain can be traced back over thousands of years.
How? Well, dating from the year 23 CE is a text called the ‘Doctrine of Signatures’. During the first century AD, a Greek Physician hypothesized that the gods shaped plants to resemble the part of the body they could heal. This concept became a collection of observations from physicians, natural historians, and traditional healers that became known as the Doctrine of Signatures.
Exactly like a brain – a walnut is wrinkled, exists in two hemispheres, and is encased in a protective hard shell. The Doctrine of Signatures therefore correctly deduced that walnuts are excellent brain food. Not just the physical health of the brain – but also its inner workings including intelligence and knowledge.
Spiritual Wisdom and Discernment
Walnuts have been used to symbolize the importance of wisdom and discernment in many religious traditions over the centuries. Christianity values discernment as the means to develop awareness and understanding prior to taking action. Therefore, to practice discernment – we must possess wisdom.
The 1894 text Georgian Folk Tales describes the tale of an old man who questioned why walnut trees produce such small fruit, despite them growing so tall. He fell asleep beneath a walnut tree and was awakened by a walnut dropping on his head. Although the walnut fell from a great height, it didn’t hurt him, therefore, demonstrating the walnut tree’s wisdom.
Some Native American tribes teach that walnut trees serve as a symbolic reminder that you must practice wisdom in the way you conduct your life. The brain shape of a walnut calls on us to use wisdom to inform our discerning abilities when making decisions in life or when faced with difficulty.
Fertility and Masculinity
The associations between walnuts and fertility can be traced back to Ancient Greece. The Greeks knew that nuts were the final product of a plant’s successful flowering cycle, promising new life in the next year. Although most nuts have this association, for the Ancient Greeks the sheer volume of walnuts produced by just one tree made them particularly symbolic of fertility.
In fact, during weddings walnuts would be thrown at the newly married couple in the same way we throw rice or confetti today. It was hoped that the walnuts would encourage a quick and healthy pregnancy for the bride and groom.
Walnuts are also referenced in Song of Songs 6:11 of the Hebrew Bible when a young lover describes entering a grove of nut trees. Although not specifically stated, it is commonly accepted that these nut trees are walnut trees. These large, graceful, trees would have formed a canopy other the vines and pomegranates that also grow in the grove.
The presence of pomegranates and walnuts ties in with the deeply religious symbolism of this passage, the beauty of love, and the sacred energy of fertility.
Walnut trees are a pioneer species, meaning that these strong trees are the first to grow before other plants following flooding or fire damage to an ecosystem.
Pioneer species are therefore deeply linked to spiritual endurance, the ability to weather hardships and overcome obstacles. Towering evergreen walnut trees are a symbolic reminder of the need to pursue growth in your life trajectory and to move forward with your plans.
Folklore dictates that when you see a walnut tree you must make the big change in your life, relationship, or career that you’ve been avoiding. Walnuts symbolize the need to take the steps necessary to grow into the person you are destined to be.
Further growth symbolism stems from the walnut shell. It reminds us those good things come from energy and determination. When a walnut shell is cracked, we are rewarded with the nutritious nut inside. During life’s challenges, our perseverance and pursuit of growth are also met with rewards.
As I’ve mentioned before, the Latin name for walnut is derived from the Roman god Jupiter. As walnuts were considered the food of the Gods, they have long been associated with abundance and prosperity.
However, here the symbolism of the walnut takes a cautionary tone. One of Jupiter’s responsibilities was to watch over your prosperity, so Jupiter was also responsible if you were led astray. Placing too much importance on your material wealth can have a detrimental effect on the rest of your life. The blessings from Jupiter are best realized when in balance with spirituality and selflessness.
Walnuts have an important spiritual message for us. That when we crave abundance, we run the risk of losing everything. In the Encyclopedia of Superstitions published in 1949, it is reported that walnut trees were traditionally beaten with long sticks once the harvest was completed. It was believed that beating the tree encouraged a larger harvest of nuts the following year. However, if these beatings are too forceful the walnut tree stops producing nuts and the people starve.
Practitioners of nature-based spirituality use this as a warning against greed. Walnuts have reminded us for thousands of years that obsession over wealth and the pursuit of abundance leads us to ruin.
Walnuts and Dreams
If you dream about walnuts, pay attention to the details. How many walnuts? How large are they? Are they still on the tree? Are they good or bad?
To dream of a mountain of walnuts is a warning to prepare for monumental changes in your life. Dreaming of huge walnuts is a promise of the large amounts of wealth you will soon gain. The spiritual meaning of walnuts still on their tree branch signifies that you will need both material and spiritual guidance due to the challenges you will soon face.
For some people, a sense of spirituality is achieved through religious observation. For others, it is found in dreams and requires interpretation. No matter the root of your spirituality, walnuts always serve as a powerful reminder that spiritual and personal growth does not require abundant wealth, but it certainly helps.
Walnuts certainly have a colorful history and have been held in high regard for thousands of years. They are closely tied with spirituality, the ability to overcome hardship, and the strength required for personal growth. Walnuts are featured in artifacts from Ancient Greek and Roman mythology. Including showing up in traditional healing practices written in text that is no longer spoken. Walnuts are mentioned in the New And Old Testaments. Both in the Torah and the Bible.
Walnuts are undoubtedly a powerful symbol in the spiritual world. They offer more than health benefits – they also promise us spiritual fortitude and the ability to change our fate.