Folklore: Apple wand as a symbol of authority

Discuss Druid Lore and Legends, Celtic mythology, comparative mythology...
Forum rules
If you find a topic of interest and want to continue the discussion then start a new topic under The Hearthfire with a similar name and add a link back to the topic you want to continue.
To copy a link just copy the url on the top left of your browser and then put in your post, highlight it and press the url button.
User avatar
Gwion
Posts: 138
Joined: 23 May 2012, 19:43
Gender: Male
Location: Devon
Contact:

Folklore: Apple wand as a symbol of authority

Postby Gwion » 23 May 2015, 12:05

I posted this question in a different Druid forum but had no responses. Does anyone here have any thoughts?

A question was asked on Mudcat (http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?thread ... essages=17)(a music website) about a reference in a 12th/13th Century Occitan romance about King Arthur
.
“Sir Kay (here known as Queu) enters the scene holding a baton or wand which, it is said, he has fashioned from an apple bough as a sign of his authority.
At the moment I'm drawing a complete blank as to (a) where this particular symbol might have come from and (b) where else it might turn up. I know that in Irish and Welsh mythology the apple bough (often with silver bells) can be used as a way to enter the Other World or a way to sleep. I know that apples occur fairly regularly in myths and legends. But an apple baton or wand as a sign of authority? Given the provenance of this story the influences might be Arabic, French, Spanish, Welsh, Breton or Latin ...but on the other hand I have an open mind.
If anyone can shed any light on this I'd be very grateful!”
The question is specifically about the apple wand as a symbol of authority – not linked to the bardic symbolism – Sir Kay was Seneschal not Bard.

One response on Mudcat suggested
“As a sign of authority, it may be that he's carrying it because it is one of the seven 'chieftan' trees (the felling of which carried the death penalty). It may be that it is associated with his name, Queu, as it stands for Q or Quert in the Ogham alphabet.”
which might be relevant but (a)whether the Brehon Laws were well known outside of Ireland and possibly Wales (e.g. similarities with Cyfraith Hywel) and (b)whether the Ogham connection really exists (or was constructed by Graves) and, if it does, whether Ogham was known outside Brythonic and Irish regions is another matter.

Still I thought it was an interesting puzzle – any ideas I can pass on?
"Had I lived I might have been clever" - from the traditional ballad "The Bonny Bunch of Roses"
Some songs https://soundcloud.com/gwionssongs https://soundcloud.com/sthomason-1
Some Pictures http://gwion01.deviantart.com/

User avatar
Michael C. Page
OBOD Druid
Posts: 4592
Joined: 02 Feb 2007, 21:10
Gender: Male
Location: In my dreams I'm Crooning at the Burgh Island Hotel
Contact:

Re: Folklore: Apple wand as a symbol of authority

Postby Michael C. Page » 23 May 2015, 19:37

Hello there Gwion, :D

I've never heard of the Apple tree or any (or any of her fruit or cuttings) to be associated with "authority" .

Now I've read the apple being associated with the following; Beauty, Avalon, Choices between one or more things, Judgement of choices made, revelation of things, protection during journeys, and protection from harmful enchantments.

I would double check the person's sources. He or she might be mistaken ....or I could be mistaken. - hey it happens |-)

Cheers,
Michael
Image

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.
Let him step to the music he hears,
however measured or far away."
- Thoreau

My harp was sacrificed to the Honorable Snarg.

User avatar
Gwion
Posts: 138
Joined: 23 May 2012, 19:43
Gender: Male
Location: Devon
Contact:

Re: Folklore: Apple wand as a symbol of authority

Postby Gwion » 23 May 2015, 21:31

Thanks for the reply Michael.

I don't think she's mistaken - she's quite a well known and respected singer/storyteller here in the UK and is researching this particular romance for a PhD thesis but she herself can find no explanation why an apple branch is used to signify authority in it.
"Had I lived I might have been clever" - from the traditional ballad "The Bonny Bunch of Roses"
Some songs https://soundcloud.com/gwionssongs https://soundcloud.com/sthomason-1
Some Pictures http://gwion01.deviantart.com/

User avatar
Sciethe
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 552
Joined: 03 Oct 2012, 22:34
Gender: Male
Location: Berkshire UK
Contact:

Re: Folklore: Apple wand as a symbol of authority

Postby Sciethe » 23 May 2015, 23:21

Perhaps the fact that it is apple is a red herring, and just a scansion thing, and the staff alone is the symbol of authority. Sometimes we do over analyse, hazard of being a druid maybe.
S
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him. For he is of the tribe of Tiger. Christopher Smart

User avatar
DJ Droood
OBOD Druid
Posts: 5558
Joined: 02 Feb 2003, 18:52
Gender: Male
Location: North Eastern North America
Contact:

Re: Folklore: Apple wand as a symbol of authority

Postby DJ Droood » 23 May 2015, 23:51

You might want to check out The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual by Alexei Kondratiev (https://books.google.ca/books/about/The ... pLgC&hl=en) I'm guessing, as per the title, that he has something to say on the topic...it has been ages since I read it, and I just checked the index and an answer wasn't readily apparent....but worth the read, one way or another....
Image
2010 LI
2011 LI
2013 BS
Image
12/10-Ancestors
"If organized religion is the opium of the masses, then disorganized religion is the marijuana of the lunatic fringe."
Kerry Thornley

User avatar
Green Raven
Posts: 179
Joined: 19 Dec 2014, 20:44
Gender: Male
Location: Badon Hill, Dorset
Contact:

Re: Folklore: Apple wand as a symbol of authority

Postby Green Raven » 24 May 2015, 11:33

Hmmm… context is king here. For any meaningful exegesis of this version of the legend, we would have to know about the journeys of the bard / troubadour, and who he constructed this version for – patronage etc. He would probably be familiar with the Arthur legends via France but an early Catalan would also be exposed to the Greco-Roman mythologies, and likely Maghrebi and even Sephardic oral traditions to draw on.

I’m not even sure if northern European traditions would even have any relevance to this. Yes, in those beliefs, the apple denotes long life, eternal youth, the ancestors, the magical crafts and the gods of the underworld. It’s true that after the Anglo-Saxons broke through Grim’s Dyke and took the South-West of Britain, part of the exodus fetched up in Galicia, establishing Britonia, as the Albiones tribe. Did their belief system survive their absorption into the general population?

Perhaps the key to this is - in authority over what? I.e. a mystical aspect rather than just those persons assembled. Is there a link to the Occitan legend - preferably with a reliable translation - so that the related incident and subsequent intentions can be placed in context?
“Listen, O little pig! are not the buds of thorns
Very green, the mountain beautiful, and beautiful the earth?”
- Myrddin Wyllt, Hoianau / Greetings (to a Pig)

User avatar
DaRC
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 4520
Joined: 06 Feb 2003, 17:13
Gender: Male
Location: Sussex
Contact:

Re: Folklore: Apple wand as a symbol of authority

Postby DaRC » 24 May 2015, 19:21

Have a read here
http://www.druidry.org/library/trees/tree-lore-apple
It says that Irish fili used an apple branch or...
Craobh Ciuil (Branch of Reason), as symbols of their office (Blamires, page 142).
Although this maybe a circular reference or there may be translation issues from the original Occitan language
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
http://gewessiman.blogspot.co.uk Image

User avatar
Gwion
Posts: 138
Joined: 23 May 2012, 19:43
Gender: Male
Location: Devon
Contact:

Re: Folklore: Apple wand as a symbol of authority

Postby Gwion » 25 May 2015, 12:00

Many thanks for your replies. I’ll pass on your suggestions.

In an elaboration of the original question the OP wrote
“I'm working on this romance for a PhD thesis, part of which will be to see what happens to an old story when told to a modern audience and part of which is attempting to come up with some answers to some of the problems found within it. I know that I will not get away with any fudging, which is why I'm looking for references and solid information rather than hunches …”
so I presume she’s looking for historical rather than pagan explanations. I wasn’t attempting to provide her with specific references but thought perhaps the learned folk here might come up with some starting points which she could follow up herself if she found them relevant. She does seem to have specifically ruled out the bardic symbolism though.
Perhaps the fact that it is apple is a red herring, and just a scansion thing, and the staff alone is the symbol of authority. Sometimes we do over analyse, hazard of being a druid maybe. S
She did address this possibility and apparently scansion wasn’t a problem in the context this came up.
Perhaps the key to this is - in authority over what? I.e. a mystical aspect rather than just those persons assembled. Is there a link to the Occitan legend - preferably with a reliable translation - so that the related incident and subsequent intentions can be placed in context?
I’m sure you’re right. I was just throwing the general question open here so I don’t know enough about it to answer your queries. I don’t know the lady myself and know far too little to be able to interpret all the ramifications of her research.
It says that Irish fili used an apple branch ...
As I mentioned
The question is specifically about the apple wand as a symbol of authority – not linked to the bardic symbolism – Sir Kay was Seneschal not Bard.
she seems to have ruled out the bardic authority angle.

I’ll pass on your thoughts. Thanks for the replies; even if they don’t all answer her question (which I only vaguely presented here) they’ve provided me with some interesting avenues to explore.
"Had I lived I might have been clever" - from the traditional ballad "The Bonny Bunch of Roses"
Some songs https://soundcloud.com/gwionssongs https://soundcloud.com/sthomason-1
Some Pictures http://gwion01.deviantart.com/

User avatar
DaRC
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 4520
Joined: 06 Feb 2003, 17:13
Gender: Male
Location: Sussex
Contact:

Re: Folklore: Apple wand as a symbol of authority

Postby DaRC » 25 May 2015, 18:13

DaRC
wrote:
It says that Irish fili used an apple branch ...
As I mentioned
Ahhh I think I have seen a possible key here. The Filidh and Ollamh of Ireland were members of a King's court and were employed not only as poets, historians but as advisors in the pre-feudal society. When these legends became feudal tales the role of seneschal took over the functions of the filidh and ollamh.

The early Welsh histories of Cai given him a number of supernatural links, including going to Anglesey to destroy the monstrous Palug's cat. This could suggest that the early stories of the non-feudal Cai could have him in a more complex Welsh Bardic role. It is only in the later chivalric romances that he becomes simplified into King Arthur's seneschal & foster brother.
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
http://gewessiman.blogspot.co.uk Image

User avatar
Gwion
Posts: 138
Joined: 23 May 2012, 19:43
Gender: Male
Location: Devon
Contact:

Re: Folklore: Apple wand as a symbol of authority

Postby Gwion » 26 May 2015, 10:14

That’s an intereting connection. Do you have any (academic) references that cite the pre-feudal role as advisors rather than poets/historians? (The OP has mentioned that she can only include information which is supported by reliable academic sources as this is a PhD thesis - and your suggestion seems to be a good, suuportable avenue to follow.) Also where can I find the tale ( :roll: ) of Cai and Palug’s cat?
"Had I lived I might have been clever" - from the traditional ballad "The Bonny Bunch of Roses"
Some songs https://soundcloud.com/gwionssongs https://soundcloud.com/sthomason-1
Some Pictures http://gwion01.deviantart.com/

User avatar
DaRC
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 4520
Joined: 06 Feb 2003, 17:13
Gender: Male
Location: Sussex
Contact:

Re: Folklore: Apple wand as a symbol of authority

Postby DaRC » 27 May 2015, 16:31

Ok firstly for academic references on Catch Palug, 5he Black book of Carmarthen..
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cath_Palug

Then for the role of Filidh/Ollamh in society the key source will be the Brehon Laws, an overview is here:
http://www.libraryireland.com/Brehon-Laws/Ollamhs.php
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
http://gewessiman.blogspot.co.uk Image

User avatar
Gwion
Posts: 138
Joined: 23 May 2012, 19:43
Gender: Male
Location: Devon
Contact:

Re: Folklore: Apple wand as a symbol of authority

Postby Gwion » 28 May 2015, 10:59

Thanks - I'll pass this on.
"Had I lived I might have been clever" - from the traditional ballad "The Bonny Bunch of Roses"
Some songs https://soundcloud.com/gwionssongs https://soundcloud.com/sthomason-1
Some Pictures http://gwion01.deviantart.com/


Return to “Mythology and Lore”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests