Coffee: Myth, Folklore, and Magical Properties

Unripe Coffee Beans

Coffee’s history starts in Ethiopia, where his progenitor, a variety akin to today’s Coffea robusta, grew wild in the low-lying hills.
Legend tells that around 600 C.E. a goat-herder named Kaldi noticed his goats became more lively and playful after having eaten the bright red berries of the coffee trees where they grazed. He tried a few himself. They turned out to be tasty and stimulating, helping to ease the melancholy that was his usual state of mind. Coffee became a part of his daily ritual. A monk took notice and soon Kali’s coffee practice spread.

According to another legend, the banished Dervish Omar was directed through a vision from God to the ripe coffee berries growing in the wild area around the city of Mocha. He followed the directions of the vision, roasting and soaking them to create a drink more akin to our modern version than that which Kaldi would have shared with his monk friend. After surviving in the harsh landscape, he returned to the city of Mocha with his new drink where he was accepted back into society.

Early on, people made use of coffee’s stimulating properties to improve their chances on the hunt and in battle. The fresh berries and leaves were lightly roasted then covered with fat to make a powerhouse trail mix for those about to head into the fray. Later and for centuries, Holy people began using coffee to stimulate their connection with the Divine. The Sufis who performed the Whirling Dervish Dances, for instance, claimed that coffee helped them enter a Divine state wherein they could whirl longer and better connect with God. From early shamans to modern monks and nuns of all faiths, coffee has held a powerful place in the Spiritual centers of our world.

It hasn’t been just the Holy people and seekers of our society who’ve made ample use of coffee in their practices. Coffee was prescribed for a variety of ailments in early Arabic society. By the time coffee made it’s way through the Byzantine empire in the 1400s to the European world of the 1600s, it was reputed to cure just about every condition known to man. Doctors in Europe used coffee to treat depression as well as over stimulation, insomnia and sleepiness, to stimulate weight loss and help with weight gain, to stimulate or calm the libido, to name a few.

Coffee has been attributed with magical properties that are grounding, stimulating, banishing negativity and negative thoughts, inducing peace of mind, and the ability to banish nightmares and dispel internal blockages. Ritual baths and coffee incense, for instance, were used to drive away negative spirits. Coffee was used for divination, too. The grounds were read much as tea leaves are still read today.

Coffee’s planetary affiliations are disputed. Some say Coffee is tied to Mercury or Uranus while others suggest Jupiter and Neptune. Likewise, Coffee has been sited as both masculine and feminine in magical terms. This mirrors coffee’s place amidst contention and at the heart of conflict through out history. Consider, for instance, the Boston Tea Party that started the American Revolution. It was planned at a coffee house. Shortly thereafter, drinking coffee rather than tea became a demonstration of patriotism throughout the colonies.

Coffee Magic

Coffee magic is powerful stuff. It stimulates on many levels like fire, offering the energy and movement needed to transform the static into dynamic. Well-directed, Coffee magic can change the world.

Coffee’s roots tend to grow in a relatively small, densely packed system covering an area one to two feet deep (30-60 cm) and 12 or 13 feet (4 m) in diameter. The tree can grow up to 33 feet (10 m) tall in the wild, although most cultivated coffee trees grow more as shrubs where their berries are easily picked by hand. Projects fueled by coffee’s magic are likely to draw from a seemingly small set of resources and may well become larger than is practical if left unchecked. Coffee magic is capable of making that which is seemingly small into something much larger than life.

As a tropical plant, coffee requires a specific set of conditions to bear fruit. Although the elevation range is rather wide, spanning from sea level to 6,500 feet (2000m) above sea level, the rest of the variables are much less flexible. An average temperature of 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) with no frost and high humidity and rain, in short Tropical Weather, are the requirements for coffee to fruit. Beyond that, pollination differs between the two largest cultivars of coffee. Coffea robusta, or robusta coffee like that which is mainly grown in Africa’s lower elevations, requires cross-pollination, indicating a need for the input of others. Coffea arabica, or the Arabicia coffee that comprises roughly 85 percent of the world’s cultivated coffee, is self-pollinating, indicating the potential for complete autonomy to produce results. If you’re drawing on coffee magic, pay careful attention to the conditions that best support the creative flow. This may mean controlling your personal working space and routine, or it may speak to the way you connect with others in regard to your work. Many great novels have been written in coffee shops, many world changing ideas hammered out over coffee, too. What do you need to bring your ideas to fruition?

The seeds of coffee travel far, reaching from their native Ethiopia through out the tropics and into the furthest longitudes. Are there any human settlements where coffee hasn’t taken root if not literally then figuratively as a beloved daily beverage? As they’ve traveled over the past 1400 years, those coffee berries have undergone radical change just as they’ve inspired radical change. Coffee magic is magic that moves. Really moves. More importantly, it’s magic that gets things moving.

At its source, coffee takes three to five years to bear his first berries and will continue to fruit for another 15 years or so. This is a relatively limited number of years in which coffee has to spread his seed. Projects to which coffee lends his energy may seem to take awhile to get off the ground, but once they do they’ll seem to burst with energy for a proportionate duration, maybe as much as five times as long as it took for those first fruits to develop. That energy, however, will begin to inspire transformation of its own, so coffee projects can easily continue to grow and inspire change long after the initial work has been tabled.

Coffee beans have been transported world-wide. Initially, coffee berries, which contain the beans, were eaten raw. Later, they were lightly roasted with the leaves and covered in fat. Later still, the beans were extracted and brewed. After that, they were roasted and brewed. It took many years for this evolution to take place. Likewise, coffee spent the past 1400 years spreading from his native Ethiopia across the globe to become the drink we know today. All of this speaks to the longevity of the work you’re doing now and the potential for that work to change and be changed once you send it into the world. Coffee inspires and stimulates growth that can change the world.

Coffee’s element is masculine and is ruled by Mercury, Uranus, Jupiter, or Neptune. His element is fire. In Ayurveda, coffee is considered rajasic and is pungent, bitter, and astringent.


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