Much like the apple, the grape is one of those fruits that has a significant amount of magic associated with it. First and foremost, the grape harvest -- and the wine that it produces -- has been associated with fertility deities like Egypt's Hathor, the lusty Roman Bacchus and his Greek counterpart, Dionysus. By the time of Mabon, grape arbors are flourishing. Vines, leaves and fruit are all usable items -- the leaves are often used in Mediterranean cooking, the vines for craft projects, and the grapes themselves are extremely versatile.
Grapevines are believed to have originated around Mesopotamia, and were cultivated as long as six thousand years before the Romans got around to introducing the plant to the British Isles. The National Grape Cooperative says that grapes were probably one of the earliest cultivated fruits. Although the Greeks gave winemaking a shot, their success was mediocre at best. Historians say that Greek wine was thick and syrupy and the flavor was not exactly good. It wasn't until the Romans got into the act that winemaking became a truly refined art, thanks to specialized cultivation, and proper fermentation and storage.
In Jewish mysticism, there are references to grapes in the Torah. Some believe that it was actually a grape, not an apple, that Eve munched on in the Garden of Eden, leading to all kinds of trouble. Later, Moses sent a dozen spies into Canaan, and they came back holding a cluster of grapes so huge that it took two men to lift it. Because of this, grapes are once again associated with bounty and abundance.
When it came to winemaking, vineyards were commonly found on both noble estates and in monasteries during the Middle Ages. Many European medieval communities thrived because of their excellent winemaking skills. The Tacuinum Sanitatis, a medieval handbook on wellness, recommends grapes for their nutritional value, and suggests that wine is a good remedy for just about any illness.
Grapes have traditionally symbolized fertility. Those who had a healthy, hearty grape harvest were practically guaranteed to be prosperous. Today, many Wiccans and Pagans use the symbolism of the grape in ritual. Here are some simple ways you can incorporate the bounty of the grapevine into your fall harvest celebrations.
- Decorate your altar with grapes and vines.
- Make a Grapevine Pentacle to hang on your wall.
- Paint or stencil grapes on the walls of your kitchen or garden - according to traditional folklore, this will make your crops bountiful!
- Use grape leaves as an ingredient in a spell to bring abundance. For a simple talisman, fold a grape leaf around a silver coin, and tie with green string. Carry this in your pocket to bring you prosperity.
- Plant grapes in pots on either side of your front door. As the vines grow, train them up around the doorframe. This will help ensure that abundance enters your home.
- Use wine to asperge the ground before you cast a circle, or as an offering to the deity of your tradition, if appropriate.