The Pine Cone is one of the most frequent, and in the same time, most complex symbols we can find in the Traditional Roman Spirituality.
It is a very complex symbol because expressing forces and a symbolism extremely difficult and hermetic. In this post I will provide some biref details just to put the Cultor and the Cultrix in the condition to acknowledge its basic value and meaning. Everyone is free to study its deeper meaning if interested in this issue.
First of all it is extremely important to highlight that the Pine Cone is never - I repeat - never a decorative element: it is rather a tool to communicate about two Deities: Cybele and Dyonisus.
With regards to Cybele, the Pine Cone describes the idea of fecundity, maturation and "reproduction" (even in hermetic sense). It is the symbol that expresses in the most complete way the chthonic feminine energy, "The Feminine Power". The Pine Cone is often represented together with one or more snakes not only to evidence its chthonic aspect, but to underline how this feminine force unravels itself as a snake. We can find similar representations in other cultures: we may say that the Pine Cone is the Roman representation of the Shakti and the snake describes how the Shakti unravens itself like a snake.
Similarly, the Pine Cone is linked to Dyonisus in his representation as Dyonisus-Zagreus (who pulls to pieces). The Pine Cone, for its typicals structure, is the symbol of this potential "splitting" from which it is possible to obtain feed and fecundity (the pine nuts - edible seeds). Even in this case, we are dealing with a chthonic and female force which in the past involved an orgiastic cult. This manifestation of Dyonisus as Zagreus is linked to Cybele (deriving from the union between Cronus and Cybele/Rhea) and to the symbol of the snake. Just think about the Dyonisus axial symbol of the Thyrsus having a Pine Cone over the top around which a snake is clung
The Pine Cone therefore communicates the Feminine Power which can become an extremely powerful energy. About this, and just not to forget it, I would like to mention that the christian religion - in the past as today - is perfectly aware about the "pagan" symbolism of the Pine Cone. I mention, just as an example, the case of the Great Pine Cone of Cybele (not accidentaly accompanied by two peacocks) removed from its original place (the great sanctuary of Cybele near the Pantheon), put in the Vatican and extinguished there (being only a decoration). Above all it is important to remind the case of the pope tiara which has the Pine Cone's shape. Both cases are clear examples about the effort made by the christian religion to take the complete control over the feminine power-energy-force. Do not forget that s.peter in Rome has been built (not accidentally) over a Cybele Temple.
The Pine Cone is also named " The Zagreus' Heart": this definition open the way to an even more complex symbology. As in the case of the Egg, the Pine Cone represents the "Heart of the World":, the "Heart of the Universe", the Cave as both cosmic and chthonic representation: it is a symbol of the Centre. Not accidentally many omphalos and Goddesses are represented as cone shaped stones.
Having a typical structure and shape, the Pine Cone is the symbol of the Cosmos in its initial differentiation phase (with its constitutive elements) just after the Chaos. It describes the Centre's splitting, a shape where the directions in the space have not the same uniform function. Like an ellipse, the Pine Cone shows two focuses, two centres expressing the two fundamental polarities.
Further descriptions of the symbolic value of the Pine Cone involve hermetic and initiation implications: too difficult and too complex to be described here...