It’s not traditional, but I make libations to the gods with grape juice. Some may feel this means I’m more following Methodism than Hellenismos, but it makes a tremendous amount of sense to me.
The reason at first was pedestrian: I don’t care for wine. I’ve always found it to have an unpleasant taste; in that, it’s much the way I discover any alcohol. Fermented beverages are not naturally among my favorites, either for quenching or intoxication. In the quarter-century I’ve been drinking, I’ve only found one wine and three beers that I actually enjoy, and no spirits. I’m simply not much of an alcohol drinker.
Grape juice, I remembered reading, largely has the benefits of wine for the heart, so it seems that the grape does not clutch those secrets so dearly that fermentation is needed to wrest them forth. The wisdom of wine in the ancient world came from its ability to be preserved, and its antiseptic properties, in addition to any advantages of intoxication.
|Modern grape juice|
One of my uncles, from the Greek side of my family, was a consumer of Welch’s Grape Juice in that classic form. I remember tasting it at my grandmother’s house when I visited. She would keep it on hand because he had lunch with her every day during the week. Grape juice brings this back to me, in effect giving me a cthnonic link to my ancestors.
I’ve also considered the practice of the mixing of water and wine. It’s not entirely clear why this was done, but most followers of Hellenismos continue to do so. Since I am also not clear of its origins, I’ve elected to allow that magic happen with the mixing of the grape juice concentrate with water. Thus, it’s accomplished before I begin.
I do not know Dionysos so well as to be certain his views of the unfermented grape, but I do not believe he looks upon it unkindly. So much of the god of wine is difficult to understand, for he is also the god whom madness struck. Is wine the way to follow him to those revelations, or is it the result of that time? I’m not ready to find out.