Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wine in the West IV


It is in these scraps of record, as well as from archaeology and anthropology, that I search for answers. It's because I don't experience the eastern philosophy as my own that I seek to rediscover my ancestral philosophy.

As Guignebert wrote (roughly), the Western peoples have never really understood the Eastern religions, most notably, Christianity. I believe that's true of Americans in general, not just myself. We shout in victory at competitive events. Rather than experience humility, we take pride in our professional achievements. We strive for excellence in all things and reward the winners. We admire independence, courage and strength. Twist it as you like, Christianity is not the foundation of these American attitudes.

[15th century drinking horn from a Picasaweb album by Reese. The late date on this horn demonstrates just how long the drinking cult survived in Europe, hundred of years into the Christian ages, in fact. As I suggest, to this day.]

Not all my ancestors were of the warrior elite, maybe none of them. But whether they were farmers or bakers, they lived in a society which honored the ideals of that elite, just as we honor, significantly to my point, the soldiers who serve and protect our country. To be a warrior does not mean one enjoys bloodshed. It only requires a sense of duty and honor, the conviction that the strong must protect the weak. The noblest warrior is one who desires peace above all else.

What does this have to do with wine? Well, literature and archaeology agree that the culture of mead or wine was integral to lives of Western pagans, south or north. I don't believe we can understand these people unless we understand the role of their intoxicants, and I believe we gain greater spiritual and intellectual access to their thoughts and convictions when we participate in their customs. That does not mean we revert to a comparatively primitive lifestyle, but we do have the luxury to study the best of the age's values, compare them to our own, good and bad, and apply those which make us better people.

to be continued...

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