Because it blossoms early, the peach-tree in flower is a symbol of Spring. The same line of thought - rebirth and fertility - makes it also a Chinese emblem of marriage. The Momo or festivals held in honour of peach-blossom in Japan seem to reinforce this with the twofold notion of purity and faithfulness - peach-blossom symbolizing virginity.
Its fruit, on the other hand, is connected with the myth of Izanagi who used it as a protection against thunder. It plays the part of a preservative against evil influences and has properties used in exorcism, as is clearly shown in Chinese practices, a peach-wood staff being employed for the purpose. This is perhaps because Yi the Archer was killed by such a staff, which was a royal weapon. At New Year, little figures carved from peach-wood were set over doorways to drive off evil influences.
Often both the tree and its fruit are symbols of immortality. The peach-tree belonging to the Siwang Mu, the Royal Mother of the West, every three thousand years bore fruit which conferred immortality. The Immortals fed upon peach- and plum-blossom or, like Koyeu, upon the peaches which grew on Mount Sui. Sap from peach trees, the Pao-p’u zu relates, makes the body luminous. Folk art assures us that the peach brings ‘a thousand Springs’.
In their legends, Chinese secret societies symbolically take up the historical theme of the ‘Peach-orchard Oath’. Some versions indeed turn it into a ‘Garden of Immortality’, a sort of Paradise of regeneration, identifying the peach-tree with the Tree of Life in the Earthly Paradise, in this context the goal of the journey undertaken by the initiate.
It may be added that the sight of peach-blossom brought enlightenment to the monk, Lin-yun, that is to say that it spontaneously caused his return to the centre and to a paradisal state.
According to a mythological treatise on geography written in the third century вс, the Book of Seas and Mountains, there was once a gigantic peach-tree with a trunk 3000 lis in diameter (about a mile), and among its branches was the Ghosts’ Gateway. Watchmen at the gate were charged with the task of arresting malignant ghosts and feeding them to the tigers, since tigers only eat persons of ill repute. The famous Emperor Huang Ti had the notion of simply hanging figures of the watchmen carved from peach-wood beside the gates instead of the watchmen themselves. Peach-wood was also used to make the the Ki-Pi, the brushes used in divination. They were a sort of red lacquered fork which wrote the ideograms which provided the oracular message.