XIX. Date Palm – Sun – Renewal
Genus: Phoenix – Family: Arecaceae
Date palm signals a time of renewal after the long dark night of the soul. Date reminds us that the Sun will always rise again, even after the darkest night. This is a time of joyous optimism and nobility.
Date palm, Phoenix dactylifera is one of 14 species in the Phoenix genus. Ancient Greeks like Pliny the Elder referred to date palms as phoinikos (phoenix). To ancient Egyptians the mythological Bennu bird was associated with both herons and palm trees as symbols of the self-resurrecting Sun. The city of Heliopolis, “City of the Sun” or “Pillar City of On” worshipped the Bennu as being self-created. The mound from which the sacred Bennu grew was called benben.
Tall stone obelisks were created circa 2500 BCE that represented date palms; the benben a four-sided pyramid-shaped stone was placed on top. The fronds of a date palm symbolize the red and gold plumage of the Bennu. In Egyptian mythology, the Bennu bird held the immortal soul or “ba” of Ra, the Sun god on his journey.
The species name for date palm, Phoenix dactylifera, is based on the Greek words daktylos, (finger/digit) and fero (I bear) because dates resembled fingers. Ancient Egyptians based their counting system on body parts; a palm was the width of a hand consisting of four digits or fingers. Their numbering system was based on ten, representing the ten fingers on both hands. The word “decade” comes from the Egyptian word “decan” which equated to ten days (dates/fingers). Their solar calendar was based on 36 decans or 360 days plus five extra “dates.” Stone obelisks were used as sundials to track the shadows cast by the sun to record time. Date palms inspired ancient Egyptians to master time by counting their fingers like a child would today.
Date palms can grow to heights of 75 feet and live 150 years. Fossil records date, date palms to at least 50 million years ago, they were cultivated as a food source since 7000 BCE. Dates are native to Northern Africa, the Middle East and the Indus Valley. It was a culturally significant tree to the emerging religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
In 2005, a 2000-year-old the seed of a male date palm sprouted in an Israeli lab after being excavated at the historic site of Masada.
Message: Date palms carry the mystery teachings of creation. When working with the spirit of date palm we find ourselves in the company of ancient alchemists who remind us that our greatest source of life is the seed within our immortal soul. This process of inner alchemy is based on mastering our ability to perceive our world in a new way. The spirit of the date palm helps us to remember that we can shift our reality by changing our perception. Light and love are the elixirs of life that renew our soul. Their source is not outside of us; it is within us. As we remember who we really are we step into a place of the immortal Sun.
Challenge: Being jaded or hardened by life and not able to be creative or open to trying something new.