Grapes, Wine, and Ground

Wine is born in the point of the cycle where death touches new life, giving it a powerful magical potential for ritual.

Deb Apple
Jun 3, 2024
2 min read
Photo by ALEXANDRA TORRO on Unsplash

Sometimes looking backwards is how you see ahead. This is because we are always moving along the wheel, rotating, spiralling ahead. Witches live this ancient perspective when we want to make magic. Riding the circle is how we tap into the greatest sources of power.

A peek into this prehistoric perspective comes from examining the Georgian wine-making process. Georgians have been making wine in the same traditional way for at least 8,000 years.

Like in other places, grapevines grow from the soil and produce grapes. Like other places, when the grapes are ripe, they are harvested, crushed and put into containers to ferment. Unlike other places, in Georgia, the containers are large handmade terracotta underground vessels called qvevri.

Qvevri are still only made by hand and buried before first use and stay underground for their entire lifetime.

The crushed grape juice is fermented and aged underground over the winter, then removed and clarified for bottling. From a contemporary viewpoint, the use of underground wine tanks serves the purpose of keeping temperature regulated, which helps ensure wine quality. The widespread custom of storing wine in caves serves the same purpose. However, the first people to use qvevri would’ve had a different perspective on what they were doing, one related to the cycles of life and interactions of all things as beings with consciousness. In this perspective, all life comes from and returns to the earth in a never-ending cyclical process of continuous doing, undoing and remaking.

Photo by Rohit Tandon on Unsplash

The ancients understood the process to go like this:

Living soil births the grapevine, which births grapes. When those grapes are killed (harvested), they must go back into the earth (in a qvevri or in a cave) to be transformed and reborn as wine. The spring budding, summer ripening, fall harvesting, and winter transformation into new life of this year-long process all correlate to the same natural life cycles of all other plants in the region. The alignment of making wine with these natural cycles means that wine has a transformational quality and is good for ritual use, which cultures worldwide employ.

Wine is born in the point of the cycle where death touches new life, giving it a powerful magical potential for ritual. In Judaism, wine is used to sacralize a space, like the Shabbat table, or a time, like a holiday, a holdover of this ancient view. It can also be used as a blood substitute, for sacrifice or to purify a sacred altar, as was done in the Old Temple in Jerusalem.

We on earth, all of us, are now at the point in a very large cycle of death into rebirth where death is touching new life, and witches look in here to find magic. Which two things are you touching now, which of death, and which of life? What in this time are you transforming in the underground vessel of your being?

What is dying and what will be born?

-Excerpted from the upcoming book, “The Moon is Your Ancestor” by Deb Apple

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D’vorah K’lilah (Deb Apple) is an ordained psychic healer and Kohenet, initiated Shakta Tantrika, writer, liturgist, and lover of the moon who was parented by redwoods and rivers.

Insta: @bee_flower_moon

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