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libation of wine

Post  jovius on Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:59 pm

I don't know what to do. Should one use unmixed wine or wine mixed with water ? And if both are good when should we pour mixed wine and when should we use unmixed wine ?

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Re: libation of wine

Post  Erodius on Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:14 pm

jovius wrote:I don't know what to do. Should one use unmixed wine or wine mixed with water ? And if both are good when should we pour mixed wine and when should we use unmixed wine ?

The taboo of sorts against using unmixed wine in some cases is not so much an issue today, and no such custom is followed in Greece today among the extant lineages there. Classically, wine was often much longer fermented than ours is today, and was on the higher end, usually, of alcoholic content, lest it otherwise spoil. Wine was also difficult to stop fermenting, and often turned to vinegar, which would likewise be diluted and drunk. Another reason for diluting wine was to avoid drunkenness, which was a major public faux pas. Wine that was to be drunk was mixed, and most wine that would be poured on offering would also be drunk. Unmixed wine would occasionally feature in worship, but only, typically, in those cases when it was not also consumed by the attendees. 

I've never experienced any use of mixed wine in Orphic use today.

It's really not of grave importance.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
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Re: libation of wine

Post  Out of Phlegethon on Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:52 pm

I hope you're using very cheap wine in your libation, Jovius. I just spent a half hour looking through bottles of several hundred dollar Burgundies. Obscene!

Now that we're talking about wine. Erodius, do you abstain from wine? Or just from drunkenness? I think two or three glasses is adequate for the senses, and that a person really needs no more. Being unable to stop drinking is perhaps not unlike premature ejaculation, in my view. Thus we can see why the Romans so disapproved of the Gauls (though the Gauls now make some of the best wines!).
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Re: libation of wine

Post  Erodius on Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:17 pm

Out of Phlegethon wrote:
Now that we're talking about wine.  Erodius, do you abstain from wine?  Or just from drunkenness?  I think two or three glasses is adequate for the senses, and that a person really needs no more.  Being unable to stop drinking is perhaps not unlike premature ejaculation, in my view.  Thus we can see why the Romans so disapproved of the Gauls (though the Gauls now make some of the best wines!).

I use relatively inexpensive table wine in large bottles. Almost always moscato. For one, the moscato grape and wines made from it are one of the most ancient varieties still grown that are regularly available from non-specialty stores, for another, moscato is one of my favorite wines, and finally, it is a very light-tinted white wine that does not stain if it spills or splashes onto anything, like white linen, as used in Orphic liturgies.

I do not abstain from wine, Phlegethon. Although I do abstain from drunkenness in general, aside from an occasional night of fun with friends out on the town a few times per year. And I certainly don't sacralize it.

We teach that wine is an embodiment of Aether, the great divine substance, because, like Aether, it is divine, and is both water, and also fire; a liquid that burns, which is precisely how we describe Aether – the root of both water and fire, and finally, it has the power to transform the mind. We consider it like divine ambrosia, it can cure every ill, and bring salvation if used properly, but if mishandled, will instead burn and ruin its handler.


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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: libation of wine

Post  Out of Phlegethon on Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:33 pm

Erodius wrote:
We teach that wine is an embodiment of Aether, the great divine substance, because, like Aether, it is divine, and is both water, and also fire; a liquid that burns, which is precisely how we describe Aether – the root of both water and fire, and finally, it has the power to transform the mind.

"In vino veritas" is attributed to Plato; though to the extent it would be, I have always felt might mean something more like "If you want to truly know someone's quality of character, encounter them when they have had wine."  

It is said somewhere-- perhaps in the Pythagorean Way of Life by Iamblichus-- that Pythagoras lived exclusively on honey.  I have wondered if this was more of an enigmatic reference to the anecdote about Pythagoras and the bear (relating maybe to his previous animal incarnations), or if maybe it indicated that the early Pythagoreans drank mead...

Erodius wrote:
We consider it like divine ambrosia, it can cure every ill, and bring salvation if used properly, but if mishandled, will instead burn and ruin its handler.

Indeed; not unlike love-making, in this sense.  If taken under control by reason, in relations of friendship and trust, is harmless.  But if allowed to exist purely as a passion, viz. becomes destructive, takes a toll ethically, morally, socially, and tarnishes the soul.
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Re: libation of wine

Post  jovius on Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:05 am

I thoroughly agree with you. The alcohol content of ancient Greek wines were different.
But ancient Greeks and Romans watered their wine heavily so it tasted different. Three parts water to one part wine was the proportion recommended by Hesiod. According to Athenaeus most people recommended more water than wine. Usually they mixed 5 parts water to 2 parts wine. So wines are stronger now than mixed wines they used to libate.

Another point is that they sometimes started the ritual using mixed vine and then moved to using unmixed vine to indicate a progression. The use of unmixed wine leads to losing the symbol of water.

What do you think of that?

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Re: libation of wine

Post  Erodius on Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:24 am

Another point is that they sometimes started the ritual using mixed vine and then moved to using unmixed vine to indicate a progression. The use of unmixed wine leads to losing the symbol of water.

When unmixed wine was used, the association was typically with some sort of non-'standard' ceremony, like worship of certain daemones, ancestral spirits, and more 'terrestrial' aspects of certain deities — i.e. those less associated with ideas of civilization and refined culture, or those whose power and sway were considered less predictable.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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