The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge that led to the fall of Adam and Eve became, during the witch hysteria, one of the favoured ways for Demons and the Devil to enter a person and cause Possession. Eating almost any food might invite possession, especially if cursed by a witch or sorcerer, but apples were held to be especially dangerous. Demonologists, among them the ruthless Henri Boguet, preached warnings about them.
One famous apple possession is the “Vienna Possession” case, in which a 16-year-old girl claimed that her grandmother sent her Demons into an apple and gave it to her to eat. The girl was supposedly afflicted by more than 12,000 Demons.
Apples, cultivated in Britain as early as 3000 B.C.E., have had a long association with Magic and Witchcraft. In mythology, they are the fruit of heaven, longevity, and immortality. In folklore, they are love charms and have been used in divination and spells to reveal lovers and future spouses and to cause people to fall in love. In 1657, Richard Jones, a 12-year-old boy in Shepton Mallet in the county of Somerset in England, was said to be bewitched by Jane Brooks, who gave him an apple. Jones suffered fits, and neighbours said they saw him fly over his garden wall. Brooks was charged with witchcraft, convicted, and hanged on March 26, 1658.
The apple is associated with enchantment and Fairies. According to English folklore, it is bad luck to pick all the apples in a harvest, and some must be left for the fairies. In the Arthurian legends, Avalon, the magical fairy isle where time is suspended, is “Isle of the Apples.”
Further Reading :
- Lea, Henry Charles. Materials toward a History of Witchcraft. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1939.