Date – Mastery – Wisdomkeeper of Fruit Trees – King of Cups
Genus: Phoenix – Family: Arecaceae
Date palm signals a time of maturity and mastery as we balance our emotions with our intellect. By listening to our compassionate heart and our diplomatic mind we are able to decisions based on wisdom.
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). The phoenix that “rises from the ashes” was originally the Bennu bird of Egyptian mythology dating to the city of Heliopolis (“City of the Sun” or “Pillar City of On”) circa 2500 BCE.
The Bennu (date palm) was worshipped as a symbol of self-creation and resurrection. The ground/mound from which the sacred Bennu grew was called benben. Eventually tall stone obelisks were created to represent the date palm. The “benben” was recreated as a four-sided pyramid-shaped stone that was placed on top of the obelisk.
The species name for date palm, Phoenix dactylifera, gets its name from the Greek words daktylos, meaning “date” (also finger) and fero, which means “I bear.” This could be interpreted as “I bear time/dates on my fingers.” Ancient Egyptians recorded time by counting on their ten fingers.
Their fingers represented “dates” as “timekeepers/digits.” The word “decade” comes from the Egyptian concept of “decan” which equates to ten days (dates/fingers). The Egyptian solar calendar was based on 36 decans (10 days) = 360 days plus five extra “dates.” In this way, date palms inspired the mastery of time.
Date palms can grow to heights of 75 feet and live to be 150 years. Fossil records show that date palms have been on earth at least 50 million years and have been cultivated since 7000 BCE. Dates have been a staple for people living in Northern Africa, the Middle East and the Indus Valley for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians ate them as a source of food and wine. Dates were also cultivated as a primary food source in ancient Israel, which made it a culturally significant tree to the emerging religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In 2005, a 2000-year-old date palm seed sprouted after being found where it was accidently stored. The date palm continues to inspire our ability to master time and create a new reality.
Message: The date palm carries the mystery teachings of creation found in ancient cultures. 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 begin to remember who we really are we step into the place of mastery.
Challenge: Being jaded or hardened by life and not able to be creative or open to trying something new.