To the Witches of Benevento, Italy, it was a giant Walnut tree in the center of the town for all to see. With the tree having magical properties, it is said that the Streghe gathered under it to worship the Goddess Diana.
Most historians point to Persia as the Walnut's origin, but archeologists have found the Walnut in many other areas of the world, including Italy. Iraq seems to be the oldest site where Walnuts have been unearthed.
The Walnut, also known as Juglans regia (Roman) means in Latin, the royal acorn of Jupiter - Jupiter being the highest on the hierarchy of Roman Gods. Also associated with Jupiter's wife Juno. Juno is the Goddess of marriage and protected women during childbirth. She was present at all marriage ceremonies, therefore instead of throwing rice at the newlyweds, it was said that walnuts were thrown instead. I'm so glad they switched to rice, aren't you? Can you imagine getting hit in the head with a walnut?
The Walnuts shell in itself looks like a human brain and it is interesting to note that in Afghanistan, the word for walnut is charmarghz (four brains).
Walnuts also represent longevity and abundance and a talisman for the home can be hanging some walnuts in the kitchen.
Celebrating the full moon under the Walnut tree held great significance to the Streghe as the moon was not only representative of the menstrual flow of the women, but also it represents longevity in the connection to the "blood". It also related to the pituitary and the pineal gland. Putting it all together, we have the walnut shaped like a brain (pineal/pituitary); menstrual blood in conjunction with longevity, childbirth and marriage, and a center point of worship.
The tree was also a place where the Streghe were able to reach the deepest mysteries of the mind and as with any gathering tree – those mysteries extended deep into the core of Mother Earth and its branches reached out to the spheres of the cosmos.
So we can see how important this walnut tree was to the Streghe. Plus, in Europe some of these trees grow as high as 60 to 85 feet tall with a circumference of the trunk being around 3 feet.
There is also a famous liquor called Strega, which is still made there, and the town is well known for it.
copyright 2007 Mary Santangelo, displayed here with permission
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