Quert is the choice of beauty. Because it provides nourishment, the Apple is the tree of the Great Mother in Northern Europe and all of the other places cold enough for apple trees to prosper. Apples are also persistent trees that easily outlive the society that planted them. As we walk through what seems to us to be uncultivated forest we come upon apple trees flourishing on the edges of the brush, feeding deer and rabbits with the same abundance that they once did people. In North America, we are blessed by having other examples of these mysteries: the Great Mother is represented by the maple tree, whose sap feeds us, and the persistence of life by the Lilac.
In Wicca, as in many other religions, there is a coda to religious action which states, «As above, so below.» This refers to the etheric link between the Spirit World and our mundane world. Just as the shadow of the farmyard persists around the apple that in the here-and-now is surrounded by woods so the shadow of the Spirit World persists around the idea of Quert like Avalon, the Apple Island, glimpsed through the mist off Cornwall. Another example of this concept of the hidden mystery inside the mundane appearance is the apple core. When we cut an apple in half, stem to bud end, there is nothing unusual to be seen. If we cut it across the middle, there is a pentagram revealed by the edges of the core. So we are reminded that there is Magic in everything if we look at it from the right angle.
The message of Quert is that there are choices to be made, and that the hidden will be revealed. In the Greek myth, Atlanta loses a race and agrees to marry because she stops to pick up the golden apples that her opponent and suitor has thrown in her path. This is always the case: when we make a choice we can no longer choose the other thing. Our life-path, our Wyrd, is the interaction between free will and fate. We perceive opportunities and act on one of them: fate offers us the choice between winning the race or having the apple. The card reversed tells us that a choice must be made, that life is never static.
The rune paired with Quert is Peorth. Some see this rune as the dice cup, where the hidden is revealed when the dice are thrown and direct action and fate come together. This is an acceptable explanation but, I think, not deep enough. The womb is the cup that reveals the greatest mystery to all of us when we make the journey from the Spirit World to be born. We go from fetus to baby, draw our first breath, and choose life. The moment of birth, like the moment of motherhood, is a pivotal one where all the layers of life tip over together for a heartbeat. The heartbeat of the baby, the heartbeat of the mother, and the heartbeat of the Great Mother who gave birth to and loves everything, all ring together.
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