The Pagan Rituals of Modern Winemaking

I had come back to AmByth to help hasten the vines’ resurrection by taking part in a ritual. I’d been invited the month before, while dining with Philip Hart and his wife, Mary. We’d talked for several hours that night, around their fireplace, wine glasses in hand. They asked me why I was so interested in biodynamic wine. I told them it was the relationship between wine and mysticism that really interested me. The conversation drifted to religion, and Mary told me she was a Christian, and considered herself born again. Philip didn’t come out and say what he believed, but it was clear he took Rudolf Steiner’s metaphysics quite seriously. A disagreement between them broke out at one point: Mary said, ‘as a Christian’, she was turned off by the pagan elements of biodynamics.

Philip mentioned they would be dispersing a preparation called ‘three kings’ shortly after the turning of the New Year. The ‘three kings’ preparation was devised decades after Steiner’s death, by Hugo Erbe, a disciple of his who also claimed to be in touch with nature’s ‘elemental beings’. Erbe said he’d seen these beings take flight from his farm after the atomic levelling of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In order to rescue them, and heal the Earth’s wounds, he developed a preparation made from the gifts given to the infant Christ by the three wise men: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The preparation is dispersed once a year, on 6 January, the date the wise men showed up in Bethlehem. ‘You’re welcome to join us, if you’re in town,’ Philip said to me.

Ross Andersen, in Aeon magazine, on the mystical roots of biodynamic wine.

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Photo: peterburge