Avocado (Persea americana)
Keywords: Self-love and self-worth, transforming inner beauty into external beauty, balancing male and female energies, balance between dualities, lust, love, connected to the totem Resplendent Quetzal, interdependence, being slowly accepted by others, needing specific conditions to thrive, connection to Mexico and Aztec and Mayan cultures, sacred to the Orisha Ellegua/Papa Legba
Avocado is a flowering tree that produces large pear shaped fruits which contain a large single seed and rich, soft flesh surrounded by a thick, wrinkly skin. Avocados are often sliced and enjoyed raw in sandwiches, toast, salads, and as a snack. Many vegetarians supplement their diet with avocado because of its high fat content. In Mexico and the United States avocados are mashed into a sauce or dip to make guacamole. In recent years Western nations including Australia, New Zealand, and the United States have begun to favor making types of sushi that include avocado. In some countries of South America, Africa, and Asia avocados are used to make sweet juices or blended with milk to create shakes.
The avocado tree is a subtropical plant which requires a very specific climate in order to create fruits that are edible for humans to eat. It needs a warm, humid, relatively windless environment for its flowers and fruit to reach maturity. In the wild it has a mutually dependent relationship with the resplendent quetzal. Wild avocados produce smaller fruits which are a favored food of the resplendent quetzal. The birds swallow the fruits whole and then spit out the seeds which helps distribute them away from their parent plant. Those working with the totem Avocado may wish to try to contact this bird’s totem as well due to the compatibility of these two totems. When being taught by Avocado, students will likely find themselves needing very specific conditions to work and live in. They may also discover a sense of dependance on a certain type of area, person, or situation. Although this may make some feel vulnerable and locked in, Avocado teaches us that having very specific needs and seeking them out can help us grow stronger and more focused in our lives. Now is the time to find what works best for you and aim to make that a reality in your life.
There are two competing theories about the origin of domesticated avocados. Some believe that the plant originated in South America but was cultivated in Mexico. Others postulate that the wild plant is native to Mexico, was cultivated in South America, and returned to Mexico in its domesticated form. Which ever is true, archeologists have discovered that the avocado was an important food source for the ancient Aztecs starting as early as 7000 B.C.
The word “avocado” is derived from a Nahuatl word, “ahuacatl” which means “testicle” and the plant did have a lusty, scandalous reputation among the Aztecs. During avocado harvests virgin daughters were not allowed to venture outside as it was thought that the plants inflamed the the lust of the farmers who picked the fruit. Indeed, it was thought that if one consumed avocado it would be difficult to not indulge one’s sexual desires.
Avocados were connected to lust and sex in other cultures as well. In the South American country of Guiana there is a tale of an avocado farmer whose wife was seduced by a tapir. Intent on running off with her new lover, the wife knocked the man down from an avocado tree causing one of his legs to be severed. To add insult to injury, she stole his basket of avocados, but this ended up being a fatal mistake. The man followed the trail of trees growing from avocados dropped from the basked and was able to chase his wife and the tapir down to the edge of the world. He attacked the tapir, taking out one of its eyes and the beast leaped off the edge, the wife following him. The man, wife, and tapir are now constellations in the sky enacting an eternal chase.
In Yoruba religion avocados are sacred to the orisha Ellegua (also known as Eshu and Papa Legba). Ellegua is a trickster deity of sex and intoxication which further ties this plant to lusty themes. The totem Avocado can have a fiesty trickster personality and, if this is the side of the totem you are working with, some care must be taken to not be lead into overindulgence. Avocado also teaches balance, however, so it may be that this is a time to reflect on balancing love and lust, or indulgence with responsibility.
The totem Avocado has a more gentle and nurturing side to it as well, further emphasizing its nature as a totem that encourages balance between seemingly opposite traits. Avocado has much to teach about the mysteries of beauty. Avocados can appear ugly and unappetizing to those who don’t know that inside is contained lovely green, rich flesh. The idea of not judging a book by its cover is very much embodied by this totem. Avocados are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and other nutrients which help skin and hair stay healthy. Avocados are also used to create facial masks and conditioners for hair, helping them stay healthy and beautiful. Using avocado these ways in a more mindful, ritual manner is an excellent way to contact this totem.
Avocado teaches us that true beauty comes from within and is then translated into beautiful actions without. Students of Avocado may be asked to examine what they are taking into themselves, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. Are we filling ourselves with nurturing, joyful experiences? Now is the time to seek out beautiful art and stories (through all forms of media). It is a time to visit beautiful places and encourage ourselves and others to perform acts of beauty, whether that is creating something or participating in kindness, love, and charity. Avocado teaches us that our true beauty is measured less by our physical appearance, but rather by the contents of our hearts, minds, and soul.
Avocado can seem like a paradoxical totem until one is able to grasp the balance between all aspects of its personality and lessons. It may come to you as an extroverted fun-loving trickster, or it may show up as a more introspective nurturer. It is possible that it will choose to teach you in a certain manner and then, when you are ready, it will show you its other aspects to help round out its lessons. As mentioned above, one of the best ways to contact and commune with Avocado, along with enjoying it as a food, is to pamper oneself with beauty products which contain avocado, preferably in a ritual manner. Avocado may seem like an unextraordinary totem at first glance but its students will quickly learn that this is far from the truth. Students will find that Avocado’s lessons are rich with complexity and can help lead to a greater sense of balance and health.
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