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The Egyptian Wine Gods

Written by Jennifer Jordan
Filed Under: Wine History

Mythology holds within it tales of gods who once governed the heavens above and the world below. Many people are familiar with mythology, particularly Greek Mythology (Hi, Zeus) or Norse Mythology (What's up, Thor), but Egyptian Mythology also contains significant importance, particularly when it comes to wine. Never mind walking like an Egyptian, it's time to drink like an Egyptian, at least an Egyptian God.   

The Egyptians of yore were very into wine; on the ground Egyptians used their pyramids as makeshift wine cellars, placing a great importance on every batch. In the skies, Egyptians held a belief in a variety of wine and wine-related gods.  The following is just a taste of the beings who governed the grape and valued the vine.

Geshtinana: Geshtinana, known as "Lady of the Vine," was a goddess of wine. In mythology, she was the sister of Dumuzi, a shepherd married to the goddess Inanna. When Inanna went missing, Dumuzi didn't seem to care: he was found enjoying life. Inanna returned to find her husband's indifference and allowed the underworld to take him. When Dumuzi tried to escape capture, he went to Geshtinana's house where he proceeded to turn into a gazelle (if I had a dollar for every time that's happened). He was eventually captured and taken to the underworld. Dumuzi spent half a year imprisoned in the underworld until Geshtinana took over and spent the other half. During this time, I suspect that this "Lady of the Vine" was forced to revert to making wine in the toilet.

Ninkasi: The goddess of alcohol, also known as the matron goddess of beer, Ninkasi was legend to have been born of "sparking fresh water." Her duties as goddess of alcohol included satisfying desire, and calming the heart. Ninkasi was the daughter of Ninti, the Queen of Abzu, and Enki, the lord of Nudimmud.  I'm not really sure what her parents' clout means in present day, but I think it's kind of like being a Hilton.

Asar: As the Egyptian God of agriculture, Asar (spelled Osiris in the Greek language) was responsible for both wine and beer. He was also known as the Egyptian God of life, death and fertility (seeing how he was one of the oldest gods, he had a lot of time to build up his resume).  Appearing in pyramid texts as far back as 2400 B.C., Asar was a granter of life, and a grower of vegetation. But, he was also a benevolent judge in the afterlife; it was believed that those who passed on became associated with him. A leader of the divine, Asar was a virtual god among gods.

Renenutet: As a goddess of the harvest, Renenutet was a deity particularly important to grape growers. This made her a goddess of wine and led to many people sacrificing to her during times of harvest, hoping that their sacrifices would lead to fertility and growth. She was sometimes viewed as the wife of Sobek, who was often credited with annually flooding the Nile and allowing harvesting to take place. Coincidentally, this allowed him to also be viewed as a wine god, leaving me to believe that Renenutet and Sobek's wedding must have been open bar.

Wine gods are likely exist in all kinds of mythology: the Egyptians are just a tasting.  Whichever mythology a wine god is rooted, chances are each one will agree that the greatness of wine is as far away from a myth as possible.