Most of us know the golden boy Zeus, the king of the gods who was known for his strength, or Athena, who was said to be the goddess of wisdom. However, some Old Gods seemed to be more focused on the dark side than helping humanity. Here are ten ancient gods and goddesses that had to do with drink, debauchery, and the dark side of life.
Related: 10 legends, myths and stories that involve alcohol
Bacchus was an ancient Roman god who was in charge of wine, revelry, and fertility. In other words, he liked the more carnal pleasures of life. On top of that, this god was in charge of theater and the arts in general.
As you can probably imagine, Bacchus was associated with some pretty wild festivals. These festivals were known as Bacchanalia and involved excessive drinking and dancing. Many of these festivities took over the city, giving rise to an abundance of debauchery and wickedness throughout the town.
In fact, the festivities got so out of hand that in 186 B.C. C., the Roman Senate decided to put an end to them. The senate was concerned that moral corruption and a lack of oversight were making the festivals too wild.
Xōchipilli is an Aztec god who was the patron of a number of pleasures in life. Love, fertility, art, flowers, and homosexuality were all things this particular god was in charge of. In fact, the name Xōchipilli even translates as “flower prince!”
While Bacchus was associated with wine, archaeologists believe that Xōchipilli had more to do with hallucinogens. It is believed that when the faithful went to worship this particular god, they took hallucinogenic mushrooms. Some statues of this deity have even been found to be sitting amidst psilocybe mushrooms.
In addition to mushrooms, the ceremonies around this god used to include pulque, an alcoholic drink made from agave. Then, during the ceremonies, a lot of male prostitution would take place, as this particular god oversaw homosexuality.
Today, this god has largely disappeared from Mexican culture, except in museums. However, pulque is still a popular drink in Mexico, and now you can partake in that part of the ceremony without having to worry about any of the other debauchery that once went on.
Cybele was a goddess who originated from Phrygia, an ancient district in west-central Anatolia (present-day Turkey), and was considered the mother of the gods. Despite being a mother figure, Cybele was definitely a goddess who had a lot to do with debauchery.
This particular goddess had a series of rights associated with her, which were called Orgy. These rights involved a great deal of drinking and frenetic music, as well as wild dancing by the participants.
During these orgies, self-castration and other forms of mutilation were also common. Despite all this debauchery, the Greek and Roman governments finally had enough. As happened with the Bacchus festivities, the government finally decided to tone down these festivities to maintain public order and accommodate people’s sensitivities.
Xōchipilli wasn’t the only Aztec god who seemed to be up to no good. Another god who seemed to have enjoyed the party was Mayahuel. Mayahuel was known as the goddess of fertility, the goddess maguey (agave), and the ruler of the eighth day and the eighth thirteenth. She was thought to bring love to humanity and lift the spirits of people who, at times, seemed miserable.
She was a representation of the many products produced from a maguey plant, including mezcal and pulque, a frothy drink made from fermented maguey mead, which is sap or “honey water.” Pulque played an important role as it was the traditional drink that the Aztecs consumed during religious ceremonies and festivals, agricultural ceremonies, wedding celebrations, fertility rites, and more.
A myth surrounding Mayahuel says that the goddess was married and pregnant by Patecatl. He was known as the “lord of the pulque root” and was also referred to as the god of healing and the god of medicine. He was known to provide comfort when he was sick or ill through remedies such as peyote, magic mushrooms, and herbs in the form of datura, morning glory, and cannabis. These methods were used in healing, shamanism, divination, and public religious ceremonies. These items also helped to reassure the sacrificial victims and brought out the sacramental nature of the ritual.
His children were the 400 rabbits, also known as the “drunken gods” or the “Centzon Totochtin”. They represented an endless number of deities or gods drinking the juice of an agave plant or characters that a drunk person could exhibit.
The ancient Egyptian pantheon of gods is filled with unique characters, including Osiris, Isis, and Ra. However, one of their gods that was associated with some of life’s more earthly pleasures is Bastet.
Bastet was a feline goddess who oversaw women, pleasure, passion, and joy. Now, with a goddess ruling those sensual pleasures, you can probably imagine what the Festival of Bastet was like.
During this festival, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians would gather and drink large quantities of wine. From then on, the disciples danced and reveled, got drunk, and celebrated their beloved goddess.
In addition to the festival, some sources also claim that Bastet liked people to burn cannabis at her altar. Others may have consumed the stuff during rituals or worship sessions, showing just one more way this goddess was fond of contraband things in life.
Closely related to Bastet is the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet. This goddess was particularly fond of wine, as can be seen from her mythological story.
According to legend, Sekhmet was a goddess tasked by Ra with the destruction of mankind after learning of the humans’ plot to overthrow him. Sekhmet transformed into a lion and dedicated herself to destroying humans.
However, Ra changed his mind and felt sorry for the humans. In an effort to prevent Sekhmet from finishing the task he had assigned her, Ra flooded the fields with red ale. Sekhmet did not realize that the red liquid was beer and he drank so much that he fell asleep, saving humanity from destruction.
To celebrate the fact that Sekhmet got drunk and forgot to kill humans, the ancient Egyptians celebrated the Festival of Drunkenness once a year. The goal of this festival was to get you so drunk that you would end up falling asleep. Then, once the worshipers woke up, they would worship Sekhmet through sex and dance.
China is another country that has worshiped drunken gods at one point or another. In China, the god who once oversaw drinking and revelry was a god named Yi-ti. Yidi first appeared during the Xia Dynasty, which was the first dynasty in ancient China.
According to legend, the daughter of a great emperor wanted to give her father a very special gift. She talked to Yi-ti about this gift, and he began experimenting with fermenting rice.
After a while, Yi-ti discovered that he could make a uniquely strong and spicy drink from rice, and eventually made the great discovery of how to make wine, called jiu. Emperor Yu apparently liked the drink, but he instantly felt that it could be dangerous if drunk in excess. As a result, Yu forbade the making of jiu and distanced himself from Yi-ti.
However, as the story goes, after Yu’s death, the Chinese people began to prepare jiu again and offer it to their gods in large bronze vessels engraved with monsters. After making the offering, the worshipers drank the jiu themselves.
However, this practice did not last long, it seems. Later, during the Zhou Dynasty, a ban was imposed which removed the jiu and largely led people to forget about the ancient Chinese goddess. Over the years, jiu oscillated between being consumed in large quantities and prohibited. However, today there is a culture of healthy drinking in China.
Akan was a Mayan god of drink, death, and disease. Not much seems to be known about this particular god, except that he was in charge of preventing a year of death.
Akan was primarily associated with a drink called balché, which was an alcoholic drink made from honey and tree bark. According to some sources, Akan loved to get drunk and make a fool of himself.
Although little is known of the Mayan god Akan, it seems that he has certainly had an impact on Mexican culture. Today, there are still people who enjoy drinking a glass or two of Balché from time to time.
Perhaps one of the ancient gods most involved in debauchery and revelry, Tlazōlteōtl was the Aztec goddess of lust, sexual impurity, and steam baths. In fact, she was so devious in her ways that she was considered the patron goddess of adulterers.
Tlazōlteōtl was said to have four different forms: a young temptress, a middle-aged gambler, a slightly older sin purifier, and a witch who preys on the young. According to the Aztecs, this goddess tempted people to commit sins, but then she purified them for those very sins. The only problem is that worshipers can only be forgiven once in their lifetime.
While this goddess does not seem to have inspired any sinful rituals or festivals, she was certainly happy to carry out devious activities. Whether she pretended adultery or preyed on the young, Tlazōlteōtl was undoubtedly a goddess with a knack for deflection.
Dionysis is the Greek equivalent of the Roman god Bacchus. And, according to Greek mythology, Dionysus had a son who seems to have been even more absorbed in earthly pleasures than his father.
The son, whose name is Comus, was the god of revelry, nocturnal dalliances, and festivities. Comus was a representation of chaos and served his father as a cupbearer.
As with many other ancient deities, Comus had a festival held every year. However, despite the god’s association with excessive drinking, this god’s festival was characterized by men and women exchanging clothes.
Perhaps Comus would have preferred something a little wilder for his festivities, or perhaps for the ancient Greeks, swapping clothes was a crazy enough idea. It is up to you to decide why this custom may have arisen.
#Ancient #Gods #Goddesses #Debauchery