Monday, 2 January 2012

The Mysteries of Fermentation

The last post on hangover cures inspired me to talk about the mysteries of fermentation. Most of us adults drink alcohol  at some time or another. We drink to party and loose our inhibitions, to relax,  to celebrate important happenings in our lives, as pagans we drink it ritually. And the most consumed alcohols worldwide and throughout history are wine and beer.
Now, taking a moment to recognize the sacred nature of drinking when you do indulge is one great way to bring the sacred into daily life. Many Wiccans have cakes and ale as a part of ritual but I'm surprised to know most Wiccans who do don't really understand the symbolism and mysteries of the cakes and ale.

As fermentation is the topic of this post I will focus on the 'ale' part of cakes and ale. This is the mystery of fermentation as I understand it:

The whole process of fermentation actually starts with the planting of the crop. Planting the seed  is symbolic of death, burial and the goddess’ descent into the underworld.
When the seed is beneath the soil it germinates by feeding off and transforming decay, this is symbolic of the meeting and union of the Goddess and the Lord of the Underworld. The germination and sprouting of the plant from the seed beneath the soil is symbolic of the process of rebirth within the Underworld, conception and growth of fragile life within the womb, as well as the ascent of the goddess as she journeys back to the world of the living. The emergence of the new plant from the soil is indicative of birth and the goddess as she returns transformed and renewed.
As the plant grows as a result of being properly nurtured by sunshine, water and sustenance taken from the roots in the soil (the lessons she learned in the underworld) she grows and blooms (symbolic of the maiden goddess coming into her womanhood). Then she meets the wild, virile god of nature, unites with him and takes him into herself through fertilization (the process of being fertilized by bees and birds). This is part of the mysteries of Beltane. As the product of this union, the fruit, grows it is indicative of the goddess entering her mother stage.
As the fruit (or Grain) ripens and falls or is picked it can be seen as symbolic of the goddess giving birth giving birth to the Harvest Lord who contains within himself the essence of the goddess (the seed).
The fermentation of Grape (into wine) or grain (into beer) is the blood and body of the god undergoing transformation so that we may consume it and take into ourselves the blood, body and power of the god and taking on his nature that leads to the stripping of our civility and baring of our base selves though intoxication and initiation into his wild mysteries through loss of inhibitions and opening to his power and chaos.
The flip side of fermentation of the grain is the making of the grain into flour and making bread and cakes. This concept is the basis for the Wiccan tradition of cakes and wine.

So there you have it. Every-time you drink, you are symbolically taking in the essence of the god (and goddess) an they become a part of you. Taking a moment to meditate on that whenever you drink is a great way to recognize the sacred in the mundane.

1 comment:

  1. Hi ;)
    Very nice blog on witchcraft.
    Wish you the best.