I like nuts, do you like nuts? well actually when I think about it i’m pretty nuts about nuts, love a good nut me…so why don’t we talk about nuts then?
Walnuts have an extremely rich history, both economically and medicinally. Walnuts are one of the oldest tree food known to man, trade of such dating back to 7000 BC. Excavations from the Neolithic period have unearthed petrified shells of nuts, as well as inscriptions left on clay tablets around 2000 BC by the Chaldeans (people of the Chaldea, which later assimilated into the Babylonians…don’t you know? no neither did I until I chose to write about this) revealing the existence of walnut groves within the hanging gardens of Babylon….anything to do with the hanging gardens of Babylon makes my tummy wobble. Early history indicates that English walnuts came from ancient Persia (again tummy wobble…my tummy wobbles when I can’t comprehend). Thus the Walnut is often known as the Persian Walnut, where it traveled thousands of miles via caravan along the Silk Road route between Asia and the Middle East, eventually finding its way to the great old isle of England. The name English Walnut is expected to be due to the supposed fact that English merchant mariners transported the humble nut to ports around the world…the English, the bearer of nuts…
The walnuts botanical family name originates from Roman mythology, according to ancient myth, Jupiter, who was also known as Jove, and lived on Walnuts when he lived here on earth…I mean why would you not want to live on a walnut? (I can possibly think of quite a number of reasons…but by Jove, Sundays aren’t the day for being negative) Juglans regia translating as ‘The Royal nut of Jupiter’ or also known as the glands of jupiter…hmmmm, I can think of one possible reason for that…however in some cultures walnuts were also seen as a sign of fertility, interestingly both men and women liken it to um…parts of themselves..
Medicinally Walnuts have also been used for centuries…in an alarming variety of ways, some slightly more questionably than others. I feel that this is the perfect time to introduce you all to the concept of the Doctrine of signatures, where it was believed that certain plants that represented parts of the body were a mark from god, who bestowed these human body resembling plants upon us to cure us of our ailments. Due to their uncanny resemblance to the brain (among other things) the nut resembling the brain was expected to treat head injuries, or even strangely bald babies…Dioscorides wrote in the materia medica that if walnut kernals were burned and ground, applied to the child’s head, the hair would then begin to grow abundantly…I think personally, I’d give it a few months before applying burning nuts to the scalp of a new born…Plutarch also reported that Walnut trees were soporific (NO, not like this post), “for they send forth a drowsy spirit which affects those heads who sleep beneath it” interestingly though Walnuts are very high in Melatonin which are known to help regulate the sleep/wake cycle, as well as being extremely rich in DHA an Omega 3 fatty acid which is known to greatly improve brain functioning and concentration…..cheers god!
Walnut trees have also been associated with witchcraft and ancient medicine women, known as the Janara. These women were usually expert medicine women revered as witches due to their worship of the Egyptian goddess Isis (Goddess of womanhood and magic) as well as Diana (goddess of the moon and the forest), possibly where their name Janara is derived from and the pagan rituals which they performed, involving illegibly dancing around a walnut tree as roots were thought to connect to ‘the other side’ and bring up the other worldly energies which were used to heal and for insight. However these knowledge keepers were essentially ‘witch hunted’ due to their opposition of Christian beliefs. With the encroaching practice of Christianity these women were demonized and no longer accepted. Saint Barbatus cut down the sacred tree and tore out its roots, and on that spot he had a church built, called Santa Maria in Voto.
Carry me to the walnut tree of Benevento,
Above the water and above the wind,
And above all other bad weather – song of the Witches of Benevento
Well I don’t know about you but whether it’s the glands of Jupiter i’m eating or a connection to the underworld or a big edible yummy brain, i’m totally a fan….