Symbolic Wisdom from the Walnut Tree

Posted on : April 14th, 2020

walnuts in a bag

Today I came across a couple of interesting articles about the symbolism of walnuts and walnut trees. I have an ongoing fascination with what various plants have symbolized to human beings since ancient times. We’re a strange species, seeing meaning in all sorts of things. Sometimes, the symbolism is hard to figure out. You’d need to know a lot about ancient history to know the context of the correlations being made. But most of the time the symbolism comes from simple observation. For example, violets are small and, in the wild, tend to grow hidden away under other plants. So we use the term “shrinking violet” to describe human beings who act the same way. The same thing is, generally, true in regards to the symbolism of walnuts. It has a lot to do with them being large nuts that on the inside look like the human brain inside a skull.

I’ve written about that before. Ancient people even thought this was an indication that walnuts could be good for the health of your brain which as it turns out is somewhat true! But the symbolism goes beyond that.

The botanical name for walnut is Juglans regia. Juglans comes from Jovis glans which translates as the “nut of Jupiter.” Jupiter is the Roman sky god who was the chief deity of the Roman religion in ancient times. Regia means regal. So, basically put, walnuts were associated with the regal big nuts of the head honcho. . . and if you wanted to get pregnant and enjoy the abundant prosperity associated with fertility, you’d want to be certain to have some walnuts in your diet!

But there’s a sometimes less auspicious aspect to walnuts observed in ancient literature. The fallen leaves and husks of the walnut tree contain a toxic chemical known as juglone that acts as a natural herbicide. Symbolically, that was interpreted as a warning. The tree was associated with sorrow and misfortune for those who did not use discernment to determine what is of benefit and what is not. Focussing completely on gaining prosperity, one of Jupiter’s associations, can lead you astray if all you want is material riches. The best use of Jupiter’s blessings was found in balance with spiritual richness and an awareness of what is best for all concerned.

And that brings us back to the idea of the walnut looking like a brain, since discernment is one of the things we use our brains for. Walnuts are associated with intelligence, wisdom, knowledge, and inspiration. Some Native American tribes believed it symbolized clarity and focus. And more than one belief system associated with the health-promoting nut that grows protected inside a hard shell is that it represents (and actually assists) the ability to protect yourself while you gather the strength you need to develop properly and get ready to break with the past (by coming out of your shell), and begin something new in a successful fashion.

In times of adversity, this is particularly important because you might need to make important, perhaps life and death, decisions. In that case, you would need nuts as large as Jupiter’s to see you through! Luckily, walnuts are also associated with strength and the hidden riches to be found within—especially useful if you are going through a major change in your life. Meditating on the symbolic lessons of the walnut tree is said to bring the strength and clarity to figure out what to do.


Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine Products, Inc. was founded on strong beliefs and passion for offering unique, flavorful, top-quality, nut products. We strongly believe in earth-friendly practices that start on our family owned and operated orchards. We use Organic farming practices and continue in the process by using all-natural ingredients with no preservatives or GMOs. We believe in honest, friendly and helpful customer relations at all levels. We take pride in every task, every day, with every person.