Wine is relatively easy to make in today's world, but it hasn't always been so. Sometime in the far distant past, fermentation was a happy seasonal happenstance. The natural yeast on grapes brought about fermentation of the juice into wine and then into vinegar (if it wasn't drank first). This mysterious process, believed to be through divine intervention, was considered a gift from the Gods. Drinking this divinely intoxicating beverage allowed the drinker to take in divine energy. Thus, wine became an integral sacrament in religious rites, and still is today.
I like the story of the origins of wine told about a King of Persia. He really loved grapes and wanted to eat them all year. His servants carefully stored grapes in jars so the king could eat them any time. One jar had grapes that seeped juice and started to ferment. When opened the odor and appearance of the fermented contents caused the jar to be marked poison. One of the kings wives had chronic nervous headaches and decided to kill herself by drinking the poisoned juice. She fell asleep, but when she woke she felt refreshed and had no headache. She finished off the jar of wine! She evidently had such a good time that the king ordered more of the grape juice “poison” to be made. He declared it to be sacred medicine. As improbable as this story sounds ( I'd have had a hangover, lol), grapes preserved as raisins would make a nice sweet wine.
At some point in time the wild grape vines were domesticated and planted in vineyards; the grapes were fermented and stored in clay jars, and tree resins were added to prevent the must from turning to vinegar. Archaeologists believe this came about during the Neolithic period around 8500-4000 BC. They have found evidence that resinated wine (wine with wood resin), was being produced during this period (ca 5400-5000 BC) in fairly large amounts at Hajji Firuz Tepe, in the northern mountains of Iran. It was during this period that the growth of agriculture (particularly wheat and barley) and the invention of pottery made permanent settlements possible. These innovations were necessary for a sustainable year round food source and storage. They were also necessary for processing and storing wines. Egyptologists discovered 700 jars of resinated wine in the tomb of Scorpion I, one of the first Egyptian rulers (around 3150 BC). The development of narrow necked jars that could be sealed, were key to the storage and shipping of wine. By 3000 BC, the Nile Delta had transplanted vineyards and developed a thriving wine trade. The jars were inscribed with the year of the pharaoh’s reign, the vineyard location, the vintner’s name and the quality of the wine (good to very very good).
Autumn Equinox is a time to “Eat, drink, and be merry,” to share and give thanks for the bounty of the harvest. Giving offerings and libations to God and Goddess is a ritual at least as old as agriculture and brewing. Every culture has one or more deities to whom they pay homage for the gift of brewing. One of the oldest is Nin-Kasi of Sumer, She was the brewer for the gods, who taught humans the art of brewing beer as well. Osiris, Egyptian God of the Dead was originally a god of vegetation and fertility. He taught the Egyptian people how to grow wheat and barley and of course the cultivation of grapevines. The main drink of Egyptians and Sumerians was beer which was brewed from bread and malted grain. Tenemet ,the Egyptian Goddess, originally associated with bread making, became Goddess of Beer and aids Osiris in his brewing. More famous for drinking and frivolity is the Greek God, Dionysus.He brings joy and divine ecstasy, and is also a vegetation, and fertility God. He is also known as Bacchus, the Roman God of wine and festivals. So eat, drink, and be merry in honor of the God and Goddess. Share your harvest, bread and wine with them in thanks for their bounty!
Activities you might like to try:
By Lady Joyanna
for our September 2017 newsletter
Sources: The History of Wine in 100 Bottles: From Bacchus to Bordeaux and Beyond by Oz Clark
The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer
The Origins and Ancient History of Wine: Food and Nutrition in History by McGovern, Fleming, and Katz thedrinksbusiness.com
Did you know that the observance of the 'New Year' was once dictated by the outbreak of Spring which 'seemingly' happened to coincide with the moment the Sun crossed the celestial equator from south to north? For many cultures, the Spring Equinox is the start of a new year; a fresh start; a new beginning.
The advent of two new members joining our small congregation allowed us to experience the newness of a sabbat again. The nervousness, the ceaseless smiles, the frenzied excitation... it hearkened us back to our own first times with this new group. Sometimes the emotional tension is not displayed so readily, which is why we love being able to read the journal experiences our members are required to write after every sabbat.
The newness of the season, the new students, the sightings of new gorgeous growth and the abundance of fauna in our desert gladdened our many hearts. Our ring was set up quickly and deftly and the members were able to relax and commune before the ritual began. Many explored the sights, nooks, and crannies of our sabbat site. Some napped, some were swept up with family and friend fellowships, and others enjoyed the quietness of the escape from the Las Vegas urban landscape.
As the sun set, the announcement of the approach of our High Priestess Lady Joyanna and High Priest Lord Tanys rang through the air starting the ceremony. Lady Ravenfeather swept the ring and Lady Nashoba and Lord Tanys took their places as the leaders of the ritual. Everyone gave their blessings for the potted seeds and a new, fresh poem from Lady Sistterwolf debuted. After the magical ring was taken down, we crowned Lady Ravenfeather as the Spring Queen and were delighted with all the attending males giving her the five-fold kiss to honor her. We ate the decorated eggs and drank the wondrous mead in celebration. After ring festivities graced us with a haunting song, a fire dance, poetry, stories, and jokes lending to another exceptional sabbat celebrated.
A note about sacrifice...
The High Priestess for our sabbat spent a few weeks creating a wheel of the year for her sabbat altar. It was remarkable and everyone took their time in admiring it.
At sabbat's end, Lady Nashoba placed the piece into the holy fire and gave it to the Gods. There was a bit of shock from some of our younger (and older) members.
The concept of sacrifice is something we cover during our sabbat chapters for there are many. The Bridhe's Bed at Imbolg, the Maypole and flower crown at Bealtaine, the best (first) fruits at harvest, etc.
On a personal note, this kind of offering is my favorite: a hand wrought gift with the deities in mind as they are being made.
Autumn Equinox 2016
Despite several hiccups this ritual, the sabbat was beautiful. The energy conveyed by the High Priestess and High Priest sustained throughout despite two rounds of dancing and chanting in the thinness of the high mountain air.
Our group follows the strict rule that once a ring is erected, it should never be broken, or the High Priestess or High Priest must recast it to put us again, in that place that is not a place and in that time that is not a time. When it does happen, the energy of the group can skitter about the area and throw everyone off of their game, sometimes dissolving the ritual space into one of unfocused haphazard emotions. It takes a strong High Priestess and High Priest to steer the course. If the invocations of the Goddess and God were applied correctly, it is rare that this discombobulation occurs. The Goddess, channeled by Lady Sive, took strength and grace with her as she recast the ring and the frenzied energies were quickly dissipated. The God, as channeled through Lord Rand, lent all his strength to support to Her and the remainder of the ritual went off without a hitch.
Whether it was the two separate dances or the need to recast the ring, or perhaps both, it seemed to energize the Goddess thoroughly for it compelled the chopping of the harvest vegetables with much zeal and glee, which was shared by all. Delightful rings of laughter drifted to the trees.
After the ring, we played a round of the Candle Game... something I personally, hadn't done in a long, long time... Whee!! So, SO much fun. Thank you to our guests for participating, as well.
We gather with the Gods eight times a year at these celebrations and never know what to expect when they grace us with their company. One thing we know for sure is that they will bring out the very best in us and if that is not something beautiful to be grateful for, then I don't know what is.
Ostara Sabbat 2016
High Priestess: Lady Irydeean
High Priest: Lord Tanys
A wondrous celebration!
High Priestess Lady Irydeean leads her last sabbat with us.
Lady Sive is crowned the Spring Queen.
Summoner Lord Rand and Maiden Lady Ravenfeather receive the Gold and Scarlet egg, respectively.
In Las Vegas the EQUINOX is at September 22 Sat 6:54 PM PT
The EQUILUX occurs on Sep 26 - Wednesday ALL DAY with midday at 12:31 PM PT
In Las Vegas the EQUINOX is at Sep 22 7:21 AM PDT
The Equilux occurs on Sep 25 - ALL DAY with midday at 12:32 PM
The equinox is not really when the day and night are equal. We know that "equinox" derives from the Latin: aequinoctium - "aequi" or "equi" + noct (nox) or night or "equal night"... but No, not equal by a few minutes of the day
At the precise moment of the equinox there are three things happening:
1.) the sun is at zenith over the equator
2.) where the sun rises, it does so exactly in the east and where it sets it does so exactly in the west and
3.) both northern & southern hemispheres are EQUALLY illuminated on the side of the planet that the sun is shining on.
For us, here in Las Vegas, the EXACT moment of the equinox happened at 1:22 AM, earlier today. That's it. That one precise moment in time at 1:22 AM was the equinox.
Here in Las Vegas, dawn was at 6:29 AM and sunset was at 6:36 PM; giving us 12 hours and 6 minutes of daylight. Not equal. (But it's only six minutes... you can't forgive 6 minutes?!) No.
There are two reasons for this inequality: First, the sun is not a point in the sky. It is a disk. The apparent size of the sun (it's BIG & CLOSE) matters. Second, the atmospheric refraction of the sunlight in relation to the ltitude of your loction. The erth's atmosphere bends the light adding or subtracting how much actual daylight you have. Check this site for a more thorough explanationL Day and night exactly equal at equinoxes? By Bruce McClure)
Somewhere in the early 2000's, someone (probably my soul twin), usurped the word "Equilux" to mean 'equal day and night'... taken from a lighting term meaning 'equal illumination' or 'equal light'.
The equilux for Las Vegas will occur on September 26.... and guess what? It's the whole day!
But despite that most don't exactly know the astronomical details, the Autumnal Equinox is a time to give "Thanks" for the success of our harvests, whether literal or metaphorically, and to prepare and look to the future return of that bounty.
We pay respects to the coming forces of night and Winter and learn from them as we ourselves prepare for the dark season ahead. The night starts waxing and the day begins waning and we are reminded that nothing ever remains without change.
The Inner Circle Sanctuary celebrates all these aspects of the Autumn Equinox in it's ritual. We honor the Old Ones and pay respects to our ancestors by doing as they did in this season; by giving offerings from the harvest back to Mother Earth and to mark the season.
We hope your Autumnal Equinox was filled with love, laughter, family, and friendship... and a deep and loving connection with all that envelops us.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150922-equinox-autumn-seasons-sun-moon-space-science/ >> Great movie here 2:44 min
Why aren't there exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness on the fall equinox? http://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-fall-autumnal-equinox
Day and night exactly equal at equinoxes? By Bruce McClure http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/why-arent-day-and-night-equal-on-the-day-of-the-equinox
The Witches Bible by Janet and Stewart Farrar
ICS Sabbat packet
The Inner Circle Sanctuary is a school for traditional style Wicca and holds eight sabbat festivals every year.