The Gods of Alcohol
In alphabetical order I present to you, drum roll please… the gods of alcohol.
Aegis, Nordic God of the Sea and host of the gods
Ægir is the divine personification of the sea in Norse mythology, and also the frequent host of the gods. In the Poetic Edda, Ægir has a wife, Rán, with whom he has Nine Daughters associated with the waves. Ægir is often portrayed in the eddic poems as the host of the gods. In Hymiskviða, Thor acquires a huge cauldron in which to brew beer as the gods expect to visit Ægir. In Lokasenna (Loki’s Flyting), Loki’s verbal duel with the gods occurs at a feast hosted by Ægir, and the poem is also called Ægisdrekka (Ægir’s Drinking Party) by paper manuscripts. During the party, Loki kills one of Ægir’s servants. In Grímnismál, Ægir’s prowess as a host is the final motif Odin reveals to the King Geirröd.
Dionysus, Romanised as Bacchus, was the god of grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. He was later considered a patron of the arts. Dionysus is the son of Zeus and Semele. He was one of the most important gods of everyday life and became associated with the idea that under the influence of wine one could feel possessed by a greater power. On one hand he brings together joy and ecstasy, on the other chaos and misery, reflecting both sides of wines nature. He was a god who stood for the untamed nature of life. He wandered the world actively encouraging his cult. Maenads, women who had been driven mad, flush with wine and known for their cries of ‘oi’, accompanied him. The maenads achieved a state of ‘ecstasis’, which is where our word ecstasy comes from, and were famously outrageous. Festivals called Dionysia were held in his honour in the spring, when leaves started to reappear on the vine, Greek theatre was institutionalised here.
Kvasir, Norse Mead of Poetry
In Norse mythology, Kvasir was a being born of the saliva of the Æsir and the Vanir, two groups of gods. Extremely wise, Kvasir traveled far and wide, teaching and spreading knowledge. This continued until the dwarfs Fjalar and Galar killed Kvasir and drained him of his blood. The two mixed his blood with honey, resulting in the Mead of Poetry, a mead which imbues the drinker with skaldship and wisdom, and the spread of which eventually resulted in the introduction of poetry to mankind.
Liber, Roman God
Liber (the free one), also known as Liber Pater (the free father) was a god of viticulture and wine, fertility and freedom. He was a patron deity of Rome’s plebians, his festival of Liberalia, (17th March) became associated with free speech and the rights attached to coming of age. Young men celebrated their coming of age by cutting off and dedicating their first beards to their household’s guardian deities, and if citizens, wore their first toga virilis, the “manly” toga. Liber also personified male procreative power, his temples held the image of the phallus. His cult and functions were increasingly associated with Bacchus and his Greek equivalent Dionysus, whose mythologies he came to share.
Mbaba Mwana Waresa, Zulu Goddess, South Africa
Mbaba Mwana Waresa is a fertility goddess of the Zulu religion. She is a goddess of the rainbow, agriculture, rain and beer. She is one of the most beloved Goddesses of Southern Africa, largely because she is credited with the invention of beer. she could not find a suitable husband in heaven, so she came to look on earth. She came across a herdsman named Thandiwe, whose song moved her so much that she chose him to be her companion.
Ninkasi is the Sumerian goddess of brewing and beer and head brewer to the gods themselves. Her name means “the lady who fills the mouth” and her birth was formed of sparkling-fresh water. The sumerian written language and the associated clay tablets are among the earliest human writings. Among these is a poem with the English title, “A hymn to Ninkasi”. The poem is, in effect, a recipe for the making of beer. Early brewers were primarily women, mostly because it was deemed a woman’s job.
Ogoun, Yorùbá religion
In the Yoruba religion, Ogoun is an orisha (deity) and loa (spirit) who presides over iron, hunting, politics and war. He is the patron of smiths, and is usually displayed with a number of attributes: a machete, rum and tobacco. Ogoun comes to mount people in various aspects of his character, and the people who venerate him are quite familiar with each of them. His possessions can sometimes be violent. Those mounted by him are known to wash their hands in flaming rum without suffering from it later. They dress up in green and black, wave a sabre or machete, chew a cigar and demand rum in an old phrase “Gren mwe fret” (my testicles are cold). Often, this rum is first poured on the ground, then lit and, finally, the fumes generated by this are then allowed to pervade the peristyle. The sword, or much more commonly the machete, is his weapon and he often does strange feats of poking himself with it, or even sticking the handle in the ground, then mounting the blade without piercing his skin.
Radegast, Slavic God
Radegast, is an old god of Slavic mythology, his name can be etymologised as meaning something like “Dear guest”. He was proclaimed as the Slavic god of hospitality and as such entered the hypothetical, reconstructed Slavic pantheon of modern days.
Raugutiene and Raugupatis, Baltic God and Goddess
Raugupatis is known as the God of fermentation. Raugutiene is Raugupatis partner and she is known as the Goddess of beer.
Silenus was a companion and tutor to the wine god Dionysus. He was the old rustic god of the dance of the wine-press, his name being derived from the words seiô, “to move to and fro,” andlênos, “the wine-trough.” He was also the god of drunkenness who rode in the train of Dionysus seated on the back of a donkey.
Soma, an ancient Hindu god, is many things; the afterworld, the moon, inspiration and the god of poets and a bull. Not only does he enjoy drugs, he is a particular drug: the soma plant, known more commonly as ephedra vulgaris. For millennia, Hindu warriors have drunk a concoction derived from the soma plant. This drink was said to give them a sense of euphoria and ecstasy and helped warriors get over the fear or anxiety of an upcoming battle. As a drug, the god Soma represented a link between the world of the gods and this world. Soma is the name of a fictional drug in Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel, Brave New World.
In ancient Celtic religion, Sucellus or Sucellos was the god of agriculture, forests and alcoholic drinks of the Gauls, also part of the Lusitanian mythology. He is usually portrayed as a middle-aged bearded man, with a long-handled hammer, or perhaps a beer barrel suspended from a pole.
In Aztec mythology, Tezcatzontecati is the god of pulque, of drunkenness and fertility.
This African goddess of beer was depicted as the ultimate party girl, a female deity depicted with ample breasts, a beer ladle and penchant for lustful dance.
This Chinese god is said to have created the first rice wine. Not much is known about Yi-ti but it is said that he brewed the concoction for an emperor and may of used grapes as well as rice.
If you know of anyone we’ve missed or there are any mistakes, please don’t breathe fire and brimstone upon us, just leave a comment below…