Previously we have clarified that the concept of “Tree of Life” (as well as any other type of axis mundi) is a metaphoric image that refers to the placenta. Starting from this premise is easy to understand how the “beverage of immortality” that, in various mythologies, is obtained from the aforementioned tree is nothing but the liquid nourishment (a real “liquid of life”) that from the placenta reaches the fetus by means of the umbilical cord: let’s see some examples.
In the Vedas and in the Upanishads the soma/amṛta is a juice that drips from the Tree of Life that is believed to grow in certain mountains (the “sacred” and/or “cosmic” mountain, placed in the “center of the earth” and/or “center of the world” and described as “navel of the earth” and/or “navel of the world” [some examples: the Olympus of the Greeks, the Himinbjörg – “heavenly mountain” or “hidden mountain” – of the Nordics, the Meru of the Indians, the Golgotha – “skull”, the place where the head of Adam was buried – of the Jews] is always the place of conjunction between sky [the masculine principle] and earth [the feminine principle], coincidentia oppositorum that results in the “creation” [the concept of creation is always equivalent to that of rebirth] of the divine child, event to which refer all the myths that describe the sudden separation between sky and earth: generally speaking the maternal womb and the burial mound are the matrices that refer, respectively, to the physical rebirth and the initiatic rebirth), juice capable of conferring immortality to those who drink it: the etymology of the name is related to that of the word “ambrosia” and means “not death, immortality”; in the Persian mythology we find the haoma, another beverage that bestows immortality, obtained in this case too by a Tree of Life that grows in the mountains; similarly to the soma/amṛta and the haoma, the melikraton, a libation composed of milk and honey described in the Odyssey, had the power to reanimate the dead and was compared to the very essence of life.
Note: when we talk about immortality, we are not referring to the indefinite extension in time of an individual biological existence, without the occurrence of changes in the state of being. We refer instead to the possibility that, through a strong emotional shock in the context of an initiatory ritual of rebirth and through an induced awakening of the memory of the blood, the achievement of a transcendent state could bring out into the consciousness of a child the memory and awareness of his previous existences.
In the Greek mythology the ambrosia and the nectar are both foods that enable the gods to be immortals and perennially young: many have suggested that these mythical foods may be identified with honey or mead (i.e. fermented honey), since the ancient sources define honey as the first and primordial nourishment of the gods, while mead was known in antiquity as the beverage of the gods. In my opinion this connection makes sense, even more so when we know that the child who went inside the burial mound (thus becoming a fetus inside the womb of the earth), in order to accomplish the rebirth/reincarnation ritual, carried with him some honey to appease the sorceress/priestess (primordially the she-bear) inside the grave, and he himself had to eat some of that honey: the (symbolical) nourishment of the fetus inside the womb…
To reinforce what I have just affirmed we can refer to the Norse mythology, where the dew that covers the leaves of the yew Yggdrasill (yes, some ancient sources use the term barr [“needle-shaped leaf”] in relation to its leaves, furthermore the yew is the tree that more than any other can symbolize the placenta, because in it grow red berries that recall the placenta’s red bubbles full of nutritious blood), in poetic language called “mead tree”, has the taste of honey and is compared to mead. Bees feed themselves with Yggdrasill’s leaves and, as suggested in a previous article, the child who faced the initiatory ritual was symbolically seen as a bee.
The leaves and berries of the yew:
In the Völsunga Saga is told that in the hall of Völsung’s house there was a big apple tree (the apples hide the same symbolism described above in relation to the red berries of the yew, they are the source of the “beverage of immortality”), whose branches protruded from the roof: this tree was called Barnstokkr (“children’s trunk”, i.e. the placenta).
Barnstokkr and an apple tree:
The Indo-Iranian god Mitra is born from a rock (“petra genitrix“, originally the burial mound and during classical antiquity the underground temple/cave called “mithraeum”: both symbols of the womb) surrounded by a serpent (i.e. the umbilical cord), near a sacred spring (i.e. the amniotic fluid and/or the liquid nourishment of the placenta) and under a sacred tree (i.e. the placenta).
Now, why not throw into the fray the symbolism of the horn, that in specific cases represents the umbilical cord (i.e. the bond that unites and makes interact the ancestors with the descendants)? First, the cornucopia (“horn of plenty”), a very explicit symbol in relation to the nourishment (of the fetus in the womb); in the Mabinogion the inexhaustible “blessed horn” restores the youth and strength of heroes each time they drink its content; in this context it is relevant to remember the Hindu myth in which the devas and the asuras grab the opposite ends of Vāsuki, the cosmic serpent wrapped around Mount Meru, and twist it to obtain the soma/amṛta.
Then the Sigrdrífumál (a section of the Poetc Edda), where Sigrdrífa after being awakened offers to Sigurðr the minnisveig, the “beverage of memory” (i.e. the memory of previous lives), a horn (i.e. the umbilical cord) full of mead (whose symbolism, in this context, we have already examined earlier). Lastly, the figure of Mímir (“memory” [of the previous lives]), the possessor of Mímisbrunnr (“well of memory”, located beneath one of the three roots of Yggdrasill): every morning, using the horn Gjallarhorn, he drinks the precious and sacred liquid (mead, according to the Völuspá) contained in the well of wisdom (wisdom is equivalent to memory); also Odin managed to get the chance to drink a sip of that liquid.
I conclude my dissertation with the Grail (or Holy Grail if you prefer), traditionally known as a cup/chalice whose content has vivifying and healing virtues: are you thinking what I am thinking? The cup/chalice and the tree have a very similar shape and, taking into consideration the virtues of the Grail, we can assume that this important object of the Arthurian cycle symbolizes the placenta and its life-giving liquid nourishment.
It should also be noted that in certain late medieval sources the Grail is called Sangréal: in Old French, san graal and san gréal mean “holy grail” and sang réal means “royal blood”; indeed the blood full of nutrients contained in the placenta is “royal” and “divine” blood, not an ordinary one. In this context it will be good to remember that for our ancestors wine was a symbol of blood (in Valdôtain the word “gradale” means “cup for wine”), specifically in reference to what I have just explained in relation to the function of the blood contained in the placenta: that’s the reason why Odin, the symbolic fetus, only needs wine to feed himself.
Now you will be able to see with different eyes the Christian rite of the Eucharist, during which a mass of crazy fanatics drinks Christ’s blood from a chalice full of wine…
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