Why was alcohol allowed into human evolution? What was its purpose then when we were descending into Matter and now, when we are starting to ascend into Spirit?
This is an excerpt from a lecture from great occultist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner. It explains pretty much the role and meaning of Alcohol. “There were ages in the history of man when wine was not known. In the days of the Vedas it was practically unknown. In the ages when there was no drinking of alcohol, the idea of previous existences and of many lives was universally held; nobody doubted its truth. As soon as man began to drink wine, however, the knowledge of re-incarnation rapidly faded away, ultimately to disappear entirely from the consciousness of man. It existed only among the Initiates who took no alcohol. Alcohol has a peculiarly potent effect on the human organism, especially on the etheric body which is the seat of memory. Alcohol obscures the intimate depths of memory. ‘Wine induces forgetfulness’ — so the saying goes. The forgetfulness is not only superficial or momentary, but deep and permanent and there is a deadening of the power of memory in the etheric body. That is why, little by little, men lost their instinctive knowledge of reincarnation when they began to drink wine. Belief in reincarnation and the law of Karma had a great influence not only upon the individual but upon his social sentiment. It helped him to bear with the inequalities of human life. When the unhappy Egyptian labourer was working at the Pyramids, or the lowest caste of Hindu building the gigantic Indian temples in the heart of the mountains, he said to himself that another existence would compensate him for labours patiently accomplished, that his master if he were good had already undergone similar tests or that he would have to undergo them in the future if he were unjust and cruel.
As the era of Christianity drew near, man was destined to enter upon an epoch of concentration upon earthly efforts; he was to work towards the amelioration of earthly existence, the development of intellect, of logical and scientific understanding of Nature. The knowledge of re-incarnation, therefore, was to be lost for two thousand years and wine was the means to this end. Such is the profound background of the cult of Bacchus, the God of wine and intoxication. (Bacchus is the popular expression of the God Dionysos of the Ancient Mysteries to whom quite a different significance must be attached.) Such, too, is the symbolic meaning of the Marriage at Cana. Water served the purpose of the ancient sacrifice; wine was to serve the purpose of the new. The words of Christ, “Happy are they who have not seen and yet have believed,” refer to the new epoch when man — wholly given up to his earthly tasks — was to live without remembrance of his incarnations and without immediate vision of the divine world.”
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