By Isabella @TheWandCarver
According to the most recent figures I have found, there are between 750 and 850 Fig tree species. One of the most popular Fig tree species is Ficus benjamina, or just “Ficus” which many of us grow inside our homes. But the one I’ll be writing about today is the Ficus carica, or “Common Fig” which produces the lovely Figs which songs have been written about.
There is evidence that figs, specifically the Common fig [Ficus carica] and Sycamore fig [Ficus sycomorus], were among the first – if not the very first – plant species that were deliberately bred for agriculture in the Middle East, starting more than 11, 000 years ago.
Ficus carica is an Asian species of flowering plant in the mulberry family, known as the Common Fig [or just “the fig”]. It is the source of the fruit also called the fig and as such is an important crop in those areas where it is grown commercially. Native to the Middle East and western Asia, it has been sought out and cultivated since ancient times and is now widely grown throughout the world, both for its fruit and as an ornamental plant. The species has become naturalised in scattered locations in Asia and North America.
Unlike other fig species, Ficus carica does not always require pollination by a wasp or from another tree, but can be pollinated by the fig wasp, Blastophaga psenes to produce seeds. Fig wasps are not present to pollinate in colder countries like the United Kingdom as they need warmer climates to live and breed. The Fig tree is androgynous, with the fruit representing the feminine and the triple lobed leaves representing the masculine.
The Fig is listed by the Druids [Druidry.org] as a “birth tree” for Jun 14-23 and Dec 12-20 which I have listed in an older blog, but to this day I have not had time to settle in and learn why they have a much different list of birth trees and dates than the one for the Celtic Birth Tree Calendar. I do plan on sorting this out eventually!
In Greek mythology it is believed that Demeter gave a Fig to Dionysus as a gift, hence the link to love and fertility. The Greeks revered Figs so much that they made it illegal to transport excellent quality Figs. The Romans held Figs sacred as well, and it was believed that the wolf who raised Romulus and Remus rested under a Fig tree. The Buddhists viewed the Fig tree as a symbol of enlightenment, as it is believed the Buddha reached his enlightenment under a Fig tree [the Pipal, Ficus religiosa]. Ashoka the Great bestowed kingship on the branch from the very tree and planted it in a thick-rimmed solid gold vase.
Figs are linked to male potency. Men can eat fresh Fig to increase their potency and virility, as it increases the motility of male sperm. As the copious amount of seeds within the fruit suggests, Figs can help with fertility magick. Women have carried Fig carved into phallic images to raise their chances of conceiving. When travelling, leave a fig tree outside of the door. This will ensure you return safe and happy. Grow Fig in the kitchen to make sure that your family never goes hungry. To get an answer to a question, you can write the question on a Fig leaf; if the leaf takes a long time to dry, the answer is yes, and if it dries quickly than the answer is no. Growing a Fig tree in the home can bring the household good luck. Fig trees grown in the bedroom can help with restful sleep.
The wood and bark from Ficus/Fig trees can be used in poppets and loose incenses for purposes of fertility, and good luck, as well. We once offered this in our shop.
“An ointment made of the juice and hog’s grease, is an excellent remedy for the biting of mad dogs, or other venomous beasts, as most are. A syrup made of the leaves, or green fruit, is excellent good for coughs, hoarseness, or shortness of breath, and all diseases of the breast and lungs; it is also excellently good for the dropsy and falling sickness. They say that the Fig Tree, as well as the Bay tree, is never hurt by lightning; as also if you tie a bull, be he ever so mad, to a Fig Tree, he will quickly become tame and gentle. As for such figs as come from beyond sea, I have little to say because I write not of exoticks” – Nicholas Culpeper, 17th century excerpt from The English Physician and Complete Herbal.
Plant parts and extracts of the Fig tree have traditionally been used for internal, as well as external, application. For example, poultices from fresh or dried Figs, Fig leaves, or Fig wines; lye from Fig tree bark; or latex from stems and leaves have been used to aid in many conditions. Latex has been used as expectorant, diuretic, and anthelmintic, or to ameliorate anaemia. Leaves are known for their antidiabetic and vermifuge effect. However, they also cause contact dermatitis in humans and phototoxicity in animals. Seeds are processed to edible oil or lubricants. Sporadic cases of fig allergy after ingestion of fig fruit have been reported, especially in patients whom are allergic to Ficus benjamina. Also, Phyto photodermatitis caused by contact with various parts of Ficus carica has been reported and linked to furanocoumarins in latex. If you have an allergy to latex I would suggest not using those parts of the Fig/Ficus in your healing practise.
Deities: Aphrodite, Demeter, Hathor, Juno
Powers: Divination, Prosperity, Fertility, Love, Luck
Folk Names: Common Fig, Fico, Mhawa, Chagareltin
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The English Physician and Complete Herbal, by Nicholas Culpeper
Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes