Persimmon – Divination
Genus: Diospyros – Family: Ebenaceae
Persimmon reminds us that we have a choice to make. Guidance can come in all forms through our dreams, our experiences and through the use of divination. Divination is the practice of seeking “divine” knowledge by finding meaning or inspiration in daily life.
In 1775 Swedish botanist Carl Peter Thurnberg, a student of Carl Linnaeus, documented the plants of Japan. When he met the beloved persimmon tree known as “kaki” he noticed that they were often planted by temples and shrines. He is responsible for naming the genus Diospyros, meaning “divine food”, based on the Greek words dios (divine) and pyros (food).
The Diospyros genus belongs to the Ebenaceae (Ebony) family of flowering trees that bear fruit and a valuable wood known as ebony. Diospyros ebenum “black ebony” is valued for its dense black wood. Diospryros kaki “Japanese persimmon” produces wood known as “white ebony”, but is valued for its fruit.
The name persimmon comes from the Powhatan who called it pichamins meaning “dry fruit” in the Algonquian language. American persimmon, Diospyros virginiana is native to the eastern United States. In the Ozark Mountains, it was known for its ability to “divine” the weather. This was done by cutting a persimmon seed in half and observing the image inside. If it was spoon-shaped the winter would bring heavy wet snow. If fork-shaped the winter would be mild with light snow. A knife-shape indicated a winter with icy sharp winds. When cut horizontally an eight-pointed star is revealed which is symbolic of cosmic order. The art of “divination” is an ancient practice of “seeking knowledge of the unknown by supernatural means.”
Persimmon trees are one of the most varied and hardy trees in the world. Persimmon fruit may look like a cross between an apple and a tomato, but it is not related to either one. There are over 700 edible and non-edible species in the Diospyros genus.
Edible persimmons are defined as astringent or non-astringent. Most edible species grow in the wild, while a few have been cultivated into different varieties that grow in Japan, Asia, India, Europe and the Americas. The most widely cultivated species is the Asian or Japanese persimmon known as Kaki, Diospryros kaki.
In Asia, persimmons are dried as a snack known as Hoshigaki. In Korean folklore, dried persimmons scared away mischievous tigers because it had the power to quiet a crying child. In Buddhism the persimmon is symbolic of the eight-fold path of transformation.
Wood from persimmon trees is very beautiful and dense, which is not surprising considering that it belongs to the same genus as ebony. Persimmon wood has been used to make golf clubs known as “woods” as well as billiard cues, drumsticks and longbows.
Message: Persimmon is an important reminder to be conscious of the choices we make in our lives. Even our perceptions are a choice. This awareness of choice is both empowering and liberating. Not all choices provide immediate gratification; some require time before coming to fruition, especially those that come to us in our dreams or visions. This can seem frustrating but in the end the rewards will be worth it. When persimmon appears in our life we are being asked to make necessary choices to achieve our goals. This is a time of action in order to make our dreams a reality.
Challenge: Procrastination, indecisiveness, stubbornness or “allowing” everything to happen without effort or thought. This creates a self-fulfilling trap or loop that goes nowhere.
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