The forbidden fruit

  • Peach of Longevity
  • Golden Apples
  • Ambrosia

Peach of Longevity

The Peach of Immortality, also known as the Peach of Longevity, is a significant element in Chinese mythology, particularly within Daoist traditions. This mythical fruit is said to grant immortality or eternal youth to those who consume it. Here’s a detailed exploration of the Peach of Immortality and its role in Chinese mythology:

The Peaches of Immortality are believed to grow in the orchard of the Queen Mother of the West, known as Xi Wangmu (西王母). Xi Wangmu is one of the most important deities in Chinese mythology, often depicted as a regal woman residing in a heavenly palace on Mount Kunlun. She oversees the garden where these magical peaches grow.

The Garden of Peaches

According to legend, the garden is situated in the Jade Palace on Mount Kunlun, an ethereal and divine realm. The peaches take thousands of years to ripen:

  • Regular Peaches: Ripen every 3,000 years and grant long life.
  • Middle Grade Peaches: Ripen every 6,000 years and bestow enhanced spiritual power and eternal youth.
  • Highest Grade Peaches: Ripen every 9,000 years and confer true immortality.

The Feast of Peaches

One of the most famous myths involving the Peaches of Immortality is the Feast of Peaches, or Pan Tao Hui (蟠桃会), which Xi Wangmu hosts. This grand banquet is attended by deities, immortals, and esteemed guests from all realms. Consuming these peaches at the feast ensures that the gods and immortals maintain their divine status and immortality.

Sun Wukong and the Peaches

A well-known story involving the Peaches of Immortality is found in the classic novel Journey to the West (西游记). Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, gains access to the heavenly peach orchard and, being mischievous, eats many of the peaches, thereby gaining immense power and longevity. His actions lead to significant chaos in the heavens, resulting in his eventual imprisonment under a mountain by the Buddha.

Emperor Wu of Han and the Peaches

Historical accounts also tell of Emperor Wu of Han (汉武帝), who sent expeditions in search of the Peaches of Immortality and the Isles of the Immortals, hoping to achieve eternal life. These expeditions were inspired by the Daoist belief in immortality and the pursuit of eternal youth.

Daoist Philosophy

In Daoist philosophy, the peach represents the ultimate goal of spiritual cultivation: to transcend the physical limitations of life and achieve a harmonious, eternal existence. The quest for these peaches mirrors the Daoist pursuit of alchemical transformation and inner cultivation.

The Golden Apples

These golden apples were said to grant immortality to whoever ate them. They were guarded by the Hesperides, nymphs of the evening and the golden light of sunsets, and a hundred-headed dragon named Ladon. Source: Greek mythology, particularly the story of the Golden Apples of the Hesperides. Heracles (Hercules) had to retrieve these apples as one of his Twelve Labors.

The Hesperides: The Hesperides were nymphs known as the “Daughters of the Evening” or “Nymphs of the West.” They were tasked with tending a beautiful garden located at the western edge of the world. This garden was home to the golden apples.

The garden was a paradisiacal orchard that produced the golden apples, which were said to grant immortality to those who consumed them. The exact location of the garden varied in different myths, but it was generally believed to be in a distant, mystical land.

These apples were a wedding gift from Gaia (Earth) to Hera, the queen of the gods, upon her marriage to Zeus. They were so precious that Hera placed them under the protection of the Hesperides and a fearsome, hundred-headed dragon named Ladon.

Idunn and Her Apples

Idunn is the goddess of youth and rejuvenation in Norse mythology. She is often depicted as a young, beautiful woman carrying a basket of golden apples.

The apples that Idunn guards are golden and are crucial to maintaining the youth and immortality of the Aesir, the pantheon of gods in Norse mythology.

Loki and the Abduction of Idunn:

One of the most famous stories involving Idunn’s apples is her abduction by the giant Thjazi. The trickster god Loki was coerced by Thjazi to lure Idunn out of Asgard (the realm of the gods) and into a forest, where Thjazi, in the form of an eagle, kidnapped her.

Without Idunn and her apples, the gods began to age and weaken.

The gods, realizing their dire situation, forced Loki to rescue Idunn. He borrowed Freyja’s falcon cloak, transformed into a falcon, found Idunn, and flew her back to Asgard, evading Thjazi who pursued them. Upon her return, the gods regained their youth and strength by eating the apples.

The gods must regularly consume these apples to preserve their eternal youth and strength.


Ambrosia is mentioned in various Greek myths and epic poems, including Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey.”

The exact origins of ambrosia are not always clear, but it is consistently depicted as a divine substance.

Ambrosia is often depicted as either a food or a drink that provides immortality and eternal youth. The Olympian gods and goddesses consumed ambrosia to maintain their immortality and eternal youth.

Ambrosia symbolizes divine sustenance, power, and immortality. Its consumption is exclusively reserved for the gods, setting them apart from mortals.

In some stories, mortals who consumed ambrosia or even had it applied to their bodies could also gain immortality or be healed from mortal wounds.

In some myths, it is described as a honey-like substance, while in others, it is more like nectar.

It was usually served by Hebe, the goddess of youth, or Ganymede, a mortal youth who was granted immortality and made a cupbearer by Zeus.

  1. Homer’s “Iliad”:
    • In the “Iliad,” ambrosia is used to anoint the body of the slain warrior Patroclus to prevent decay.
    • The gods also consume ambrosia to maintain their immortality.
  2. Homer’s “Odyssey”:
    • In the “Odyssey,” Calypso offers ambrosia to Odysseus, intending to make him immortal so he can stay with her forever on her island.
  3. Tantalus:
    • Tantalus, a mortal who was favored by the gods, stole ambrosia and nectar from the gods to share with mortals. As a punishment, he was condemned to eternal hunger and thirst in Tartarus.


Amrita, in Hindu mythology, is a divine nectar that grants immortality to those who consume it.

The most well-known story involving Amrita is the “Samudra Manthan” or the churning of the ocean of milk, which is detailed in various Hindu texts such as the Puranas.

The gods (Devas) and demons (Asuras) collaborated to churn the ocean to obtain Amrita, the elixir of immortality.

The Devas and Asuras used Mount Mandara as the churning rod and the serpent Vasuki as the rope.

The churning of the ocean produced various divine objects and beings, including Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth), the moon, and ultimately, the pot of Amrita.

The appearance of Amrita caused a fierce battle between the Devas and Asuras.

To prevent the Asuras from consuming Amrita, Vishnu disguised himself as the enchanting Mohini to distract the Asuras and distribute the nectar to the Devas.

Rahu, an Asura, disguised himself and managed to drink some Amrita before being exposed. Vishnu then decapitated him, but since he had consumed the nectar, his head (Rahu) and body (Ketu) became immortal and were placed in the sky as celestial bodies.

Amrita symbolizes the ultimate divine reward, granting immortality and eternal life.

It represents the victory of the Devas over the Asuras, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil.

The story of Samudra Manthan also illustrates the cooperation and struggles involved in achieving divine blessings and rewards.

Home > The forbidden fruit