On the Mariana Islands there’s a legend about a handsome stranger who asked the chief for his daughter’s hand in marriage. After performing every magical feat the chief requested and bringing much wealth to the village in the hopes of winning his desired wife, the stranger became angry and did not return, rightfully feeling that his generosity had finally become overtaxed. Realizing that the stranger (whom she loved) was actually the storm god Uchan, the daughter distanced herself from her greedy father, reached her arms and face up to the storming sky, and became the first banana tree (Musa).
Speaking of greed and banana trees, bananas have been the most popular fruit in the nation for some time. Unfortunately, the banana that most of us know and love—a variety called the Cavendish—is currently at risk of extinction. Because of the genetic uniformity of commercial crops, the fruit tree has become dangerously susceptible to a particular fungus. In response, while some banana growers are attempting to find alternative marketable varieties, others are resorting to genetic modification. Therefore, in the interest of supporting alternative solutions and boycotting GMOs (a practice I recommend wholeheartedly for the sake of all humans, animals, plants, and the planet), I suggest only purchasing organic and non-Cavendish varieties of bananas. You know, like little tiny ones, or red ones, or basically any of the other 300-odd banana species in existence. (Before the 1960s, we were all eating a different variety called the Big Mike, which, at that time, finally succumbed to a fungus and was replaced by the Cavendish.)
Please also note that banana’s cousins—plantain and ensete—are similar enough to be grouped together with the banana in this section.
If any tree is the arboreal quintessence of duality, it’s the banana. First of all, he possesses the somewhat rare trait of exhibiting both masculine and feminine flowers on the same tree. He is also a tree of life and death, as well as death and resurrection. The banana grows quickly and fruitfully, and then technically dies as soon as the fruit is picked, although new shoots immediately take the place of the original stem (indicating the fact that the banana is not technically a tree, but actually a giant herb). While we’re on the topic of death and resurrection, historically Christians in the Middle East were at one time opposed to cutting bananas. They only broke them with their hands, as it was believed that cut bananas represented and resembled the crucified savior. (It’s not clear exactly how.)
As if all that weren’t enough to convince us of banana’s association with duality, it has been postulated that the banana (and not the apple) was in fact the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which caused Adam and Eve to suddenly see the world in terms of light and dark, good and bad, and life and death. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the banana grows in locales characterized by exceptionally bright light: the kind of light that casts the darkest shadow.
Magically, the banana’s dual nature can help us balance out our own extremes. For example, if you find yourself fluctuating between mania and depression, or if you could benefit from tempering your extroverted activity with some calm receptivity (or vice versa), you might spend a bit of time quietly communing with a banana tree. Banana flower essence taken orally or added to bathwater would also be an excellent medicine for this purpose.
Fertility and Potency
Admittedly, magical properties can be subtle. But if you’ve ever spent time with a healthy banana tree—particularly one heavy with blossoms or fruit—you probably know what I mean when I say that he may as well be bellowing the words “fertility” and “potency.” Although human reproduction doesn’t exactly need a boost right now, if you’d like to bless a project, career, or business with fertility, or your personal energy with potency, banana is your man. You might also visit a fruit-filled banana tree, or incorporate bananas into rituals designed for this purpose, or as a much more magical (as well as healthier and less expensive) alternative to Viagra…Speaking of which, I think we’re overdue for a cookie ritual!
BANANA COOKIES FOR ROBUST AROUSAL
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Light a green candle. Place the following ingredients in a large bowl and mix them with a wooden spoon in a clockwise direction: ½ cup flour, ¼ cup maca root powder (an herbal aphrodisiac), ½ cup organic sugar, 2 cups rolled oats, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. As you mix, envision bright green light (the color of banana leaves) filling the mixture. Hold a barely ripe (not green but not freckled) mini banana in both hands and project this very bright green light into it as you chant three times:
Desire bright, desire true
Robust arousal shall carry us through.
Then place it in a food processor with 1/3 cup olive oil, ½ cup agave nectar, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Blend while imagining the potent, arousing magic of the banana being released. Combine the wet mixture with the dry mixture. Add a package of chocolate chips and stir, visualizing even more vibrant green light filling the dough. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and divide into twelve big cookies. Press lightly to flatten. Bake for eleven to fourteen minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Cool and enjoy, or share with a lover.
It’s been said that being married beneath a banana tree bestows a generous helping of luck. Truly, from an energetic perspective, all that vibrant growth and fruitfulness feels very lucky indeed. If your luck could need a boost, visit a banana tree. Relax in quiet contemplation and then request an infusion of the banana’s lucky energy. When you get the sense that the tree agrees, gently sandwich a leaf between your flat palms and allow yourself to absorb the bright green, luck-filled vibes. Feel the energy filling your body via your hands: first through your arms, to your heart, and then throughout the rest of your body.
In Southern India, food is sometimes served on a banana leaf. If you have your own banana tree or know someone who does, you might gather a leaf lovingly, empower it with your intention to infuse yourself with luck, wash it thoroughly, spread it on the table, and serve yourself an Indian meal on it. You could also share a banana leaf meal with others to enhance the luck of a group.
Representation of People and Divinities
As in the legend related at the opening of this section, as well as in the Christian tradition of seeing bananas as representing Jesus on the cross, in a number of cultures the banana has been in some way been synonymous with both humans and gods. In Micronesia, there’s a legend about a ghost giant named Kot forming servant women out of bananas, which he first orders to fall from a tree. Also indicating the banana’s penchant for symbolizing humans is the fact that banana bunches grow in groupings called “hands.”
The volcano goddess Pele was said to have gifted Hawaii with its first banana tree. Considering that banana stalks have been employed in Hawaii as a substitute for human sacrifices, and Pele was not one of the volcano deities to whom humans were sacrificed, one wonders if her gift of the banana tree was a way of offering a kinder alternative.
Gender: Feminine and masculine