The opened “heart-shell” opens the series of questions of section 25 & 26. Although it at first seems that these questions subvert the otherwise pedagogical tone of the book, it does seem that HD uses the questions for their pedagogical value. Well, let me know what you think…
What fruit is our store,
what savour do we possess,
what particular healing-of-the-nations
is our leaf? is it balsomodendron,
herb-basil, or is ours
the spear and leaf-spire
of the palm?
are we born from island or oasis
or do we stand
fruit-less on the field-edge,
shade to the wheat-gatherers
in the noon-heat?
on the “healing-of-the-nations” as a reference to REVELATION
1 He showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb,
2 in the middle of its street. On this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruits, yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations .
3 There will be no curse any more. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants serve him.
4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
5 There will be no night, and they need no lamp light; for the Lord God will illuminate them. They will reign forever and ever.
on “balsomodendron” (also spelled “balsamodendron”)
Balsomodendron is a species of myrrh. It is also known as the ‘Balm of Gilead’ the “Balm of the Bible’ or ‘Balm of Mecca’ and it was used extensively for its ‘miraculous properties’.
The resin extracted from the Balsomodendron myrrha is very often used in great religious traditions. According to the tradition, myrrh favors the awakening of feminine qualities and a greater sensitivity to the realities of the outer world.
Balsomodendron comes from small evergreen African and Asiatic tree of the terebinthine family. Its leaves yield, when bruised, a strong aromatic scent.It has a yellowish or greenish color, a warm, bitterish, aromatic taste, and a fragrant smell.
Basil has been used as a herb in alternative herbal treatments, to treat ailments and problems, such as fever, flu, colds, digestion, nausea, cramps and acne, stings, as well as skin infections. Restorative, warming, aromatic, mildly sedative herb that lowers fever, relaxes spasms, improves digestion and is effective against internal parasites and bacteria.
There is a story that Basil was found growing around Christ’s tomb after the ressurection. This is a kind of meeting of the herbs, for the women bearing myrrh and spices – to emtomb the fallen savior – find not a corpse to preserve but instead an empty tomb and fresh basil. This makes basil a symbol of the new life, the regenerated nature, and in that sense Ocimum sanctum grows in the garden of paradise regained and ushers in a return to Eden, neutralizing the forbidden fruit, just as the resurrection nullifies the fall. Hence, some Greek Orthodox churches use basil to prepare holy water, which becomes the Jordan for those that are cleansed of sin.
on the palm
The palm branch was a symbol of triumph and victory in pre-Christian times. Early Christians used the palm branch to symbolize the victory of the faithful over enemies of the soul, as in the Palm Sunday festival celebrating the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. In Christian art, martyrs were usually shown holding palms representing the victory of spirit over flesh, and it was widely believed that a picture of a palm on a tomb meant that a martyr was buried there. Palms also represented heaven, evidenced by ancient art often depicting Jesus in heaven among palms.
In Judaism, the palm represents peace and plenty, and is one of the Four Species of Sukkot; the palm may also symbolize the Tree of Life in Kabbalah. The sacred tree in Assyrian mythology is a palm that symbolizes Ishtar connecting heaven, the crown of the tree, and earth, the base of the trunk. Muhammad supposedly built his home out of palm, and the palm symbolizes rest and hospitality in many cultures of the Middle East. Palm stems represented long life to the Ancient Egyptians, and the god Huh was often shown holding a palm stem in one or both hands. The palm tree was a sacred sign of Apollo in Ancient Greece because he had been born under one in Delos. In ancient Mesopotamia, the Date Palm may have represented fertility in humans.
Human use of palms is almost as old as human civilization itself, starting with the cultivation of the Date Palm by Mesopotamians 5000 years ago. Palms are mentioned at least 30 times in the Bible.
on the “wheat-gatherers”
It was in the Garden of Aden that Adam discovered the wild wheat – an event which was, by definition, the start of our civilization, as men began to lead a settled life in agricultural communities. In keeping with ancient tradition, the historical Adam was honoured by naming him as the First Man (Adam ha-Rishon). Adam left the Garden to look for watered land suitable for growing the nourishing grain, which takes only a few weeks to grow.
“Therefore the Lord God sent him from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground… In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread…” (Gen. 3:23, 19).
The circumstances that led to the “expulsion” of mankind from the Garden, from a life of ease as gatherers of food to a life of toil as tillers of the ground, made of Adam a persona non grata and of our new condition as the “Fall” from God’s grace. This attitude is further confirmed by the story of Cain and Abel in which God looks favourably on Abel, the hunter and gatherer, and disapprovingly on Cain, the farmer. Cain’s murder of Abel represents the traumatic transition to a new life-style, and the triumph of agriculture over hunting.
“And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Aden”. (Gene, 4:16).
It is interesting to note here that one of the opinions in the Talmud mentions wheat as being the forbidden fruit that Adam ate in the Garden. The aphrodisiac quality of wild wheat promoted Adam’s eating of the Forbidden Fruit being associated with the dawn of sexual awareness.