Friday, January 4, 2013

Ninkasi - Goddess of Beer

I know it will come as a shocker but I am not the goddess of beer.  

However, there was once such a goddess.  Born of clean, fresh water, Ninkasi  . . . who's name means ‘the lady who fills the mouth’ . . . was worshiped as the goddess of beer and alcohol in ancient Sumaria some 6000 thousand years ago . . . give or take a few hundred years . . . to  "satisfy the desire" and "sate the heart."

She fulfilled prayers by brewing up a monster batch of beer every day.  That's a goddess who knows how to keep her worshipers happy and coming back for more.  Smart lady, that one!

Clay tablets with ancient Sumarian writings that sang the praises of this diety of ale were translated in the 1800's.  “A hymn to Ninkasi” was, in fact, not much more than a recipe for brewing up this nectar of the gods.  It waxes poetic about combining bappir  . . . twice-baked barley bread that was used in beer brewing as a source of yeast . . . with malted and soaked grains until the liquid is fermented and then filtered into a vessel. 

A hymn to Ninkasi - roughly translated

Given birth by the flowing water ......, tenderly cared for by Ninhursaja! 

Ninkasi, having founded your town upon wax, she completed its great walls for you.

Ninkasi, your father is Enki, the lord Nudimmud, and your mother is Ninti, the queen of the abzu.

Ninkasi, it is you who handle the ...... and dough with a big shovel, mixing, in a pit, the beerbread with sweet aromatics.

Ninkasi, it is you who bake the beerbread in the big oven, and put in order the piles of hulled grain.

Ninkasi, it is you who water the earth-covered malt; the noble dogs guard it even from the potentates (?).

Ninkasi, it is you who soak the malt in a jar; the waves rise, the waves fall.

Ninkasi, it is you who spread the cooked mash on large reed mats; coolness overcomes .......

Ninkasi, it is you who hold with both hands the great sweetwort, brewing it with honey and wine.

Ninkasi, you place the fermenting vat, which makes a pleasant sound, appropriately on top of a large collector vat.

Ninkasi, it is you who pour out the filtered beer of the collector vat; it is like the onrush of the Tigris and the Euphrates.

Ahh . . . Ninkasi . . . I worship you often and well.  I feel your blessings flow into my body and enchant me.  You fill me with a sense of deep satisfaction and bring me restful sleep.  I love you . . . oh my sweet goddess . . . how I adore you.  Praise Ninkasi!!!

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