But enough about me. The apple in the fairy tale Snow White is one of the elements that clues us in on the alchemical bones of the story. The word "apple" originally just meant fruit of a tree, and thus was applied to the tempting morsel offered by the serpent in the Book of Genesis. The eating of the apple initiated a tremendous change in the consciousness of Adam and Eve; whereas before, they were in a sort of unity consciousness state (paradise), they "fell" into the reality that most of us occupy, a place where toil and suffering and shame and rejection and hard-heartedness lurk.
You may notice that in these, the "prince" doesn't emerge until the very end. That's because the story actually depicts the process of the unification of personal experiences of inner good and evil within the protagonist, thus the marriage or wedding is a depiction of successful inner unification. The consciousness "level" that experiences the world as good and evil, as dualistic, is what we're working on in alchemical development so that life is no longer experienced primarily through the lenses of suffering, toil, hard heartedness and rejection and more, all depicted in the story of Snow White.
Here's my all time favorite video ever on the matter of human growth and development, if you want a quick laugh...
So the whole Adam and Eve thing is no anomaly...and in fact one of these golden apples makes me think of Snow White's story. There was a wedding for Peleus, a hero, and Thetis, goddess of the sea, and Someone was not invited- that someone being Eris, goddess of discord and war. Which does sound like another tale, now I think of it (Sleeping Beauty). However, I'm not going to go there; I'm trying to get to the myth of Eris throwing one of these golden apples into the party inscribed ti kallisti, "for the most beautiful".
Three goddesses, Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena all wanted it; Paris was asked to judge who should get it and the whole thing ended up in the Trojan War. The featured theme in Snow White's world is also that of wishing to be the most beautiful. The story of the golden apple lets us know that this desire is part of the sacred plan, that we all naturally strive to return to the holy paradise we came from, sometimes through a desperate straining to own beauty. That we imagine something there is always something more beautiful outside of us is the challenge of duality, of the "me vs. the other" problem. The outer world distracts us from looking at ourselves, or from seeing the outside is just a reflection of the inside. My earlier posts on Narcissus address this matter.
Eris as the goddess of strife is the mother of many human ills, including Snow White's stepmom's issue of envy. Certainly the three Greek goddesses were embroiled in the same sort of discordant emotion as she. As is the case with lots of myths and even fairy tales, it's hard to be sure what the message is, in a moral sense of right and wrong. Isn't strife wrong, a sort of ungodly event that removes us from the paradisiacal unity? Yet this apple is a holy apple, an immortal apple. Is the message that there is something holy behind even discord and war, something that aids us in reunification if properly cooked? I fear that may be the message...
Does Eris help us to come to this conclusion through her strife? Certainly the human drama is always driven by interruptions of our plans. The glory of this fairy tale is actually the nastiness of the stepmother, as is the case in Sleeping Beauty (in that case it's the Disney Maleficent character). We are fascinated by the darkness, though most people don't know what use that might have aside from titillation, basically, or further cementing our identification as either the "good" on or sometimes the "bad". As I'm sure lots of feminist interpreters have noted, Snow White by herself is boring, a Goody Two Shoes, proving that beauty is as beauty does.
So that's a short look at the symbolic apple. I would like to point you in the direction of one of my favorite films, one that I reviewed in my book (here). It's Danish, titled Adam's Apples (the film, not the book). It's a bitingly ironic examination of good and evil, and the characters are moved beyond dualities into their next developmental stages, into healing and wholeness. In this film the apple tree and a tiny little apple pie that contains a bit of rot, much like the evil stepmother's half-poison apple, symbolically represent the healing. There is a bit of violence in the film, so not for the very sensitive in that regard.