Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
View your shopping cart Shopping Cart | My Account | Help | Become a Fan on Facebook Become a Fan | Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us | Watch Us on YouTube Watch Us | Subscribe to our RSS Feeds Subscribe
Browse ProductsAuthorsArticlesBlogsEncyclopediaNewslettersAffiliate ProgramContact UsBooksellers
Advanced Search
ENCYCLOPEDIA
Glossary
What's New
Most Popular
List of Articles

Email Exclusives
Sign up to receive special offers and promotions from Llewellyn.

Get the Latest Issue of New Worlds

May/June 2015 Issue

New Worlds Catalog

Get the FREE app for your tablet and mobile device. Now available in the iTunes Store†and the Google Play Store

Also available as a PDF File.

Click for more information about New Worlds or to receive issues via mail.


The Llewellyn Encyclopedia
Print this Term Print this Article

The Golden Bough

This article was written on April 29, 2008 posted under Golden Bough

The Golden Bough is a reference to a mystical tree branch in Greco-Roman myth. In an ancient tale the hero Aeneas, on a quest, consults a prophetess who is one of the Sibyl at Cumae. The Sibyl instructs Aeneas to break a branch from a certain tree that is sacred to Juno Infernal (Proserpina). Aeneas is then take to the entrance to the Underworld, into which he descends. Aeneas approaches the Stygian lake but Charon refuses to ferry him across because he is not dead. A Sibyl accompanying Aeneas produces the Golden Bough, and he is then allowed entrance into the Underworld. This tale is similar to that of the Celtic hero Bran who is guided by a fairy woman, bearing the Silver Branch, through which he gains admittance into the Fairy Realm. The Golden Bough, like the Silver Branch, is a passport into another realm.

James Frazer wrote a book titled The Golden Bough, which dealt with the cult of Diana and Dianus at Lake Nemi, the sanctuary of the goddess Diana. In Frazerís version, the tale of Aeneas had many similarities to the lore of Lake Nemi and to the mysterious figure known as Rex Nemorensis, the King of the Woods. In particular, Frazer was struck by the fact that a branch had to be broken from the sacred tree at Nemi in order to enter the grove and challenge the guardian. To Frazer, this was not unlike Aeneas confronting Charon.

In mystical tree symbolism, the fork in a branch represents the division of good and evil, light and dark. In the initiatory rises of Proserpina the branch was held up to her as an offering. The offering symbolized that the bearer understood her polarity, and that to enter darkness was to return to light. Only with such an understanding would Proserpina embrace one who entered her realm. This is also symbolized by the spiral dance, which embraces the same theme.

My new book, Haunted Plantations of The South, has just hit the bookshelves. In the book, I share brief histories and ghost stories of nearly one hundred separate plantations throughout eight southern states. Some of the plantations are successful bed and breakfasts, while others have unfortunately been all but forgotten. However, with each story... read this article
Traditional Lughnasadh with a Modern Twist
5 Gemstones to Help You Balance the Masculine Within
The Moon in Midlife
5 Ways Dreams Can Help at the End of Life (And How You Can Help Your Dreams Now)
The Natural Psychic... It's Time

Most recent posts:
Respect Is a Necessity When Hunting Ghosts
Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Richard Southall, author of How to Be a Ghost Hunter, Haunted Route 66, and the new Haunted Plantations...

Llewellyn Titles Win 2015 COVR Awards
The annual COVR (Coalition of Visionary Retailers) awards were announced this weekend at INATS in Denver. Two Llewellyn titles won 2015 COVR...

Your Tarot Ethics
My friend Michael thought having me write about tarot ethics would be interesting. I think I might disappoint him because I donít have a set of tarot...




Llewellyn's 2016 Witches' Datebook Llewellyn's 2016 Witches' Datebook
By: Llewellyn
Price: $11.99 US,  $14.99 CAN
Llewellyn's 2016 Witches' Calendar Llewellyn's 2016 Witches' Calendar
By: Llewellyn
Price: $13.99 US,  $16.99 CAN
Llewellyn's 2016 Astrological Calendar Llewellyn's 2016 Astrological Calendar
83rd Edition of the World's Best Known, Most Trusted Astrology Calendar

By: Llewellyn
Price: $14.99 US,  $17.99 CAN
Llewellyn's 2016 Witches' Spell-A-Day Almanac Llewellyn's 2016 Witches' Spell-A-Day Almanac
Holidays & Lore, Spells, Rituals & Meditations

By: Llewellyn
Price: $11.99 US,  $14.99 CAN
Llewellyn's 2016 Magical Almanac Llewellyn's 2016 Magical Almanac
Practical Magic for Everyday Living

By: Llewellyn
Price: $11.99 US,  $14.99 CAN