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If you’re just starting out in Wicca, you may be wondering, “Can Wiccans drink alcohol?”. Is drinking encouraged (or even allowed)? Or maybe you’re looking for a coven, but don’t know whether or not they drink ritually. Fear not! Let’s navigate the world of alcohol as a Wiccan together.
Did Wiccans Ever Drink Alcohol?
Looking back to the past, we’ve seen the ritual use of liquids over and over again. Libation is the ritual practice of drinking a sacred liquid. Sacred liquids are very often alcohol. It has intoxicating effects, and before modern sanitation, it was the only beverage safe to consume.
However non-alcoholic liquids were also used throughout history. Practices with rare liquids like blood, honey, milk, and oil have also been done. These practices are found all over the world and in practically every religion. Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and modern-day Christianity and Judaism all use or have used them. It’s even common in native and aboriginal tribes to.
Using alcohol in Pagan rituals is nothing new and dates back several thousand years. Alcohol for ritualistic purposes in Wicca today connects us with the ancient traditions of the past. Some feel that alcoholic drinks celebrate our ancestors and remind us of the origination of that drink.
Alcohol and fruit and vegetable juices are a great way to connect with the harvest. Wine, beer, cider, and juices are made from harvested crops. It’s a way to honour the harvest cycle of life and death and the deities which make it possible.
Many Wiccans enjoy the creational complexity of alcoholic beverages, since they have been made by the process of fermentation. Alcohol is made by the activity of yeast consuming sugars, which converts the sugars into alcohol. The creation process is dynamic and alive in a sense, and some like incorporating the complexity into their magickal environment.
Finally, alcohol can be used to honour specific deities in particular such as Dionysus/Bacchus, Maeve, Mbaba Mwana Waresa (African goddess), and Ninkasi (Sumerian goddess). These deities represent myths in which drinking or brewing is a component. As a result, alcohol can be a way to connect with the deity within a ritual.
Cakes and Ale
Alcohol has traditionally been a part of the “Cakes and Ale” ritual. The name is an idiom which dates back hundreds of years and it means pleasures that life has to offer. It is a way to ground after a ceremony and to show gratitudes to the deities. In your own Cakes and Ale ceremony, the “Ale” can be anything you like. It can be an alcoholic beverage such as ale, beer, wine, or cider. It can also be a non-alcoholic drink like juice, tea, or water.
The chalice altar tool is used for Cakes and Ale, but can also be way to offer libations to the deities. It can be a way to specifically honour alcohol as a sacred gift from the goddesses and gods.
Libation is not always, but often, a ritualistic pouring of a treasured fluid into the ground. It returns the liquid back to the Earth and gives respect for her generosity. It can also be offered to a deity. The pouring represents a donation of nature’s bounty back to the Earth and her energies. Alcoholic beverages are commonly used, but just like Cakes and Ale, non-alcoholic drinks can also be used.
Some Wiccans incorporate alcohol into their practice for its intoxicating powers. While this might seem strange, spiritual seekers have been doing this for thousands of years. Historically they strived for an altered state of consciousness. They used many means like hallucinogenic substances, herbs, deprivation, and self-punishment.
Wiccans don’t necessarily condone these methods, but alcohol is still sometimes used today. It’s believed to quiet the mind enough to invite inspiration. It can free us temporarily from over thinking and let the spirit world sway us. It can open us up to new experiences.
Can Wiccans Drink Alcohol?
Do What You Will
For the most part, Wiccans are laissez-faire about drinking alcohol. Each person is an individual, and so long as you take personal responsibility for your behaviour, you’re free to make your own personal choices. That includes alcohol use. It’s basically a liberal “live and let live” philosophy. And even though covens may have their own rules about what goes on in the circle, what you do in your time outside is your own prerogative.
Drinking in Excess Not Recommended
Most Wiccans can probably agree that drinking in excess is not desirable. Aside from health implications, it puts you into a state of mental confusion and disorder. It creates a mental fog and doesn’t allow you to feel centred or connected with the divine.
Even when alcohol is a component of rituals, it not usually consumed to the point of drunkenness. Alcohol should not be abused and drunken foolishness is a no-no. Alcohol should never be abused. Here are some things to watch out for:
- Arriving drunk at your coven.
- Putting others at risk through drunk driving or risky behaviour.
- Losing your self-control.
- Slurred speech and inability to communicate well with other coven members.
- Frequently waking up drunk or hungover.
- Becoming physically ill and vomiting from drinking too much.
- Engaging in illegal behaviours or activities.
Drinking in Moderation
One approach to alcohol use for Wiccans is to just drink in moderation. Some only drink on social occasions. Others limit themselves to one or two drinks, or a glass of wine with dinner. Some drink no more than once a week, or once a month. They avoid drunkenness and hangovers the next day. This allows Wiccans to enjoy social and relaxing elements of imbibing.
Drinking in Ritual
Alcohol consumption can be reduced to just ritual use as well. This is great if you don’t desire drinking outside of rituals, but still would like to connect with the ancient roots of libations. It’s also great if you like the formality of sharing a drink with your fellow Wiccans. You can enjoy a glass during ritual baths, before the beginning of a ritual, to honour a deity, or to celebrate the end of a ritual.
Drinking alcohol is a very personal choice, and you may choose to abstain completely. You are not alone! A large number of Wiccans abstain totally from alcohol, and many from other substances as well like drugs, smoking, and caffeine. Alcohol can be a lovely component to Wiccan ritual, but it doesn’t have to be.
Some feel that the “harm none” principle applies to themselves, and that alcohol constitutes a harmful substance which they choose not to put in their bodies. Others feel that drinking, as a hallucinative substance, isn’t in line with their faith. They prefer to keep their mind and wits sharp. Still others are just non-drinkers in general, which has nothing to do with Wicca.
In the spirit of the Rede, some Wiccans forego alcohol. That sentiment can include things like animal products too. Wiccans may feel that removing alcohol lets them to live life truthfully. It does not require compartmentalizing alcohol consumption into a morally separate area from the Wiccan Rede principles.
Teetotaling Wiccans argue that staying sober allows them to feel centred and connected to their higher powers. It gives them a bright mind and open consciousness. It makes intention clear.
You should never ever feel forced or manipulated into drinking it. If you feel peer pressure from other coven members to drink or use any other substance with which you feel uncomfortable, this is a big warning sign. Trust your gut.
Just like everybody else, some Wiccans struggle with issues of addition. If you feel that you have a problem with alcohol (or any other substance or drug), there are resources available to help. Check out my article on recovery for Wiccans and Pagans. Never let yourself to be forced to drink under any circumstances, even by coven members or any other Wiccans. Your health and safety are number one.