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Author Topic: Wine and Spirituality  (Read 227 times)

Offline AbbyRitter

  • Shemsu
  • Country: gb
Wine and Spirituality
« on: July 12, 2017, 07:45:27 am »
Em Hotep, everyone!

So I made a post previously where I made a comment on this question, but it rather got buried among all the other things I was asking.
I'm curious about the spiritual/symbolic role wine has in Kemetism. I've read a number of sources which say wine had a significant place in religious ceremonies and festivals, but few actually go into detail to explain what that role is. Some even suggested wine has divine properties, though again, did not elaborate on what these divine properties actually are.
Could anyone shed some light on this for me? What is the significance of wine in Kemetism? Does it have any kind of symbolic purpose, or is it purely for the joy of drinking?

Thanks in advance!
Daughter of Ra and Wepwawet-Yinepu. Beloved of Bast and Djehuty.

Offline Lelena

  • Remetj
  • Country: us
Re: Wine and Spirituality
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2017, 04:12:59 pm »
Em Hotep!

I love this question, and I'll be up front in saying I've only recently run across the topic in some detail in my own research of libations and offerings in Ancient Egypt so I might not be as knowledgeable as some.  The topic is discussed in more details in scholarly works, many of which require a bit of investment to read into ($30-$50 range for research that can be a bit more technical for most people).  But from what I've found so far wine and beer for that matter had a very significant place both in everyday life and in a Spiritual sense.  Though it's important to remember that faith is very much intertwined in daily life.  So even while people drank beer because it required boiling water (thus killing bacteria) and you were less likely to get sick, it had a great many other importances, but I'll try and stay on topic with wine.  Wine was not, from what I understand, as easily accessible, due to the production and importing grapes into Egypt, thus was more for a wealthy individual.  That doesn't mean however, that common people did not have access to it, they simply had access to lower qualities and likely used it more often in feast settings as well as for medicinal purposes.  Different herbs and saps were added to wine in order to help heal someone of an ailment. 

I believe they also used other fruits than grapes, but I can't find my source  on that. 

Red grapes/wine were seen as symbols of resurrection. I saw one of Wesir's epithets as ‘Lord of wine’ but since then I haven't been able to find any confirmation on that so I'm not sure if it's true, if so it seems an obscure one.  Anyways, wine also had a strong association with the Duat and the journey after death.  Red wine thus also has a tie to the West and Ra setting in the west.

White wine then is also tied to Ra rising.  And with swallowing, or taking in as part of a ritual, this could be used as an offering in that instance as well.  This then also leads associations to Nut -- taking in / eating the sun as it sets and then giving birth as it rises.

Red wine in sunset, white wine in sunrise?

Hathor is also noted with wine -- being that she can represent crops, fertility, music, dance, and...inebriation.  Sekhmet is also noted in regards to soothe her wrath and obtain her protection.  Getting drunk for festivals in their name seems to also have been likely.  I haven’t dug into this further.

I’ve also seen mention as Red Wine symbolising the ‘blood of the gods’.  This seems to come from Shezmu (Shesmu) who appears in the Old Kingdom and in the Pyramid Texts.  It was this red wine - or blood - that Shesmu offers the pharaoh in the Pyramid Texts and the deceased in their travels.
 
Another mention is Red Wine symbolising the red color of the Nile during flood, and thus fertility and life.  Blood and life though is also why red as a color is so important:  Red (in carnelian, garnet, and some jasper) connoted life-sustaining blood, power and vitality, and the sun. 

So, I think moral of the story thus far is...it has a great amount of significance, especially red wine (red colored/dyed beer also seems to hold a similar level).  It was less for enjoyment--though the upper class and royalty certainly seemed to take pleasure in it--and would have a great place in libation offerings, or festival times, especially associated with Ra, Wesir, Hathor, and Sekhmet.  I imagine even Set could be added to this because of his association with the color red.  I can also see applications in offerings to Ahku, but that's purely my own thought on the topic. 

I hope that helps!  I'll happily add more once I find more information. :)

Senebty,

Kate

Offline Sedjfaiemitui

  • Shemsu
  • Country: us
Re: Wine and Spirituality
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2017, 06:04:43 pm »
Em Hotep, everyone!

So I made a post previously where I made a comment on this question, but it rather got buried among all the other things I was asking.
I'm curious about the spiritual/symbolic role wine has in Kemetism. I've read a number of sources which say wine had a significant place in religious ceremonies and festivals, but few actually go into detail to explain what that role is. Some even suggested wine has divine properties, though again, did not elaborate on what these divine properties actually are.
Could anyone shed some light on this for me? What is the significance of wine in Kemetism? Does it have any kind of symbolic purpose, or is it purely for the joy of drinking?

Thanks in advance!


Em hotep nefer, Abby! :D

Sylvie Cauville's Offerings to the Gods in Egyptian Temples provides a wealth of information on, and illustrations of, a wide array of offerings and ritual performances given to the Netjeru from the Middle Kingdom Period all the way through the Roman Period and the very end of polytheistic Ancient Egyptian religious culture as we know it. I strongly recommend picking up a copy, if you can find it.

Pages 43 to 52 of Cauville's text contain all the information pertinent to your questions about wine, and my answers here are being paraphrased from there and supplemented by my own commentary.

Wine comes in a few different forms as offerings, under different headings: Irep (wine in its basic form); Iret-Heru Wadj ("The Green Eye of Heru"); Shedeh (mulled wine); Heru-A / Irer (which is a manner of grape-drink described as a distinctly "male elixir" and may not be wine per se, but I am including it in the list); and the all-important Menw-drink served in the Dedet-cup, which can include or be a wine-drink but is not necessarily such.

Irep - Irep, or wine in its basic form, is an exceptionally common libation presented to the Lords of a given temple, to deities which preside over a wine-producing region (i.e. Northeast Delta Set, Western Oases Set, and Hathor-Goddesses), and the Heliopolitan family of Netjeru. Set and Hathor overall (that is, accounting for Their diverse regionalized manifestations) are traditionally considered the Patrons of wine and wine-production, on account of Their associations with foreign lands (wine was also imported in large quantities from the Levant), "excess," sex, and inebriation, in addition to Their precincts being situated around a number of important vineyards in the North and in the oases further South. However, not only Set's and Hathor's cult centers / temple estates maintained vineyards and distilleries. Behdet / Edfu, arguably the most prominent Heru-God temple, and Pilak / Philae, one of Aset's most important cult centers, also boasted vineyards and distilleries. Wine in its basic form is most typically shown being presented in two unremarkable round jars, which a number of offerings like water and unguents can be offered-in. There are indeed specialized containers for special kinds of wine, which I will address below.

Iret Heru-Wadj - All offerings can be and are called an or the "Eye of Horus" on account of the good and restorative nature of the act and goods of offering, but the term "The Green Eye of Horus" denotes a "fresh" and "young / new" wine. This title alludes to versions of the Contendings of Heru and Set, wherein Set either rips-out one or both of the eyes of His Heru-God adversary, and subsequently hides the eye(s). Yinepu then discovers the eye(s), puts the eye(s) in a papyrus vessel, and buries the vessel in a patch of fertile soil. The eye(s) then flourish into a vineyard, which Aset in turn discovers. An alternate story is told at Edfu, one which largely if not completely ignores the Contendings in this respect, wherein Heru-Behdety is simply the first God to create a vineyard, and wine is "the produce of His Eyes" in a similar manner to honey being the "Tears/Emanation of Re," etc. 

Shedeh - Mulled wine only occurs in the temples of the Graeco-Roman Period, and is presented in wide-rimmed, "angular" vessels. It is never shown presented in the common, round pots mentioned above. Even more than Iret Heru-Wadj wine, Shedeh mulled wine embodies the ripped-out eye of Heru and its reclamation by its Divine owner.

Heru-A / Irer - Also served in a wide-rimmed, angular vessel, this "Elixer of Courage" is the exclusive offering-property of Heru-Gods. It only occurs at Philae, Edfu, and Dendera -- temples of later periods of Egyptian Antiquity. As described at Dendera, "this vase is filled with pits of grapes and pulp mixed with them; its juice is prepared to perfection." It may or may not have been a kind of alcoholic wine, but since it is the "produce of vineyards" and an important offering-item in the longer-lived cults of certain Heru-Gods, it is worth including here. It is to be presented to Heru "the Champion on the Battlefield, Who measures Himself in the arena with His enemies, Who destroys the one who commits evil, the wild animal in pursuit of its enemies." It has a color similar to "blood spilled into the water," and the grapes are alleged to come from the oases vineyards -- this makes the "enemy" described none other than Set, and the consumption of the potion by Heru is thus symbolic of His overcoming / consuming Set and restoring ma'at to the Universe.

Menw - This is the female counterpart of the Heru-A-Irer drink exclusive to Heru. It is presented only to Goddesses, namely Iaryt-Goddesses ("Eyes of Re"), during the festivals of Hathor. It was first created for Hathor "at the beginning of time," with other Goddesses being said to receive it later. It is presented to the Goddess(es) in what is called a dedet-cup, a wide, short urn-like vessel that is often shown surmounted by a papyrus-thicket with a female bovine in its midst. This is the drink associated with the pacification of the rampaging Eye of Re; it is not "just beer" or simply "red-dyed beer," although beer is included among the ingredients of the Menw-drink. Its basic required tools and ingredients are: a stone bowl and pestle; a grindstone; the beer (grain, water, yeast); spices; dates; honey; almonds; myrrh; laudanum (tincture of opium); and powdered ochre to give the illusion of blood. Some Menw-drink recipes apparently do involve wine also, but it is not a universal inclusion. The ritual purpose of the Menw-drink, apart from pacifying the Goddess(es) to prevent Her destruction of mankind by violence, is to drive away famine and thirst by pleasing the heart of every Netjer through pleasing Her.

I hope this helps! If there's anything you need specified from here, please do ask and I'll do my best to answer. :)

Senebty!
Sedjfai
"Endowed by Two Fathers"

Sat Set her Amun-Re-Banebdjedet
Meryt Wesir-Herishef, Heru-Wer, her Yinepu

Offline AbbyRitter

  • Shemsu
  • Country: gb
Re: Wine and Spirituality
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2017, 08:39:08 pm »
Thanks for the information :)

Daughter of Ra and Wepwawet-Yinepu. Beloved of Bast and Djehuty.

Offline Shezep_shuty

  • Country: us
Re: Wine and Spirituality
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2017, 10:45:55 pm »
Thanks! I had heard of the eyes growing into grapes before, and how Heru "put grapes in the water" representing the blood of his enemies turning the river red. It's great to see more context around those ideas.

Offline Zanders

  • Remetj
  • Country: us
Re: Wine and Spirituality
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2017, 05:26:09 pm »
En hotep,

I'm not home right now, but when I get back I have a book called (something like) 'Wine in ancient Egypt and Egyptian religion' which I will totally look through for you if you have any specific questions! I know it includes exact wordings for different types of wine offerings, which I remember finding really cool when I read it
« Last Edit: July 17, 2017, 05:28:50 pm by Zanders »

 


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