Beltane & The Mysteries of Fermentation
It’s time for Beltane again! Beltane is a celebration of life, of sexuality and fertility! Beltane is a time when we pagans party and lower our inhibitions!
Many of us consume alcohol to lose our inhibitions, to relax and to celebrate important happenings in our lives. As pagans, we drink alcohol ritually, but we are by far not the only ones. The most consumed alcohols worldwide and throughout history are wine and beer, and many a religion has included its consumption in their rituals.
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 and sacred celebration, and Beltane is no exception. Thus, today’s Beltane topic is the symbolism and mysteries of fermentation! The fermentation process is it’s own mystery, it follows its own mythical cycle in the Rose and Thorn tradition:
The whole process of fermentation actually starts with the planting of the crop that is to be fermented. 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 that starts 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 fruit (or grain) that is a product of this union 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 to the Harvest Lord who contains within himself the essence of the Goddess (the seed).
The fermentation of the fruit (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. In doing so we are 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. Christians have a similar concept with their ritual of Communion.
So there you have it. Every-time you drink, you are symbolically taking in the essence of the God and Goddess and they become a part of you. The state of being intoxicated is an altered state of consciousness that can be harnessed for spiritual work. And like any other medicine, it will bite you (and hard) if you misuse or disrespect it. Taking a moment to meditate on the mysteries of fermentation and the fact that alcohol is a sacred medicine whenever you consume alcohol is a great way to recognize the sacred in the mundane.
Some Deities and Spirits you can work with for the Mysteries of Fermentation are:
Aegis, Bacchus/Dionysus, Bast (or any other of the Egyptian Distant Goddesses), Baron Samedi, Christ/Jesus, Kvasir, Liber, Maman Brigitte, Mbaba Mwana Waresa, Ninkasi, Ogoun, Radegast, Silenus, Soma, Sucellus, Tezcatzontecati, Yasigi, Yi-ti
For Beltane associations and ritual ideas check out the post: A Blessed Beltane to All
So here’s wishing everyone a blessed and safe Beltane! Cheers!