From beer to eternity

by Indra Sinha. See www;indrasinha.com/blog/

John Allegro, a fine scholar and a translator of the Dead Sea Scrolls, once thought he had found the source of truth behind all religions. God was, he declared, a mushroom. All the ancient deities, from Osiris to Pan, had been mushrooms. Jesus was a mushroom. His famous cri de coeur from the cross was a paean of praise to the god of the mushroom. All sacred names, formulae, rituals and incantations had their origins in a set of Sumerian syllables: “mash-balag-antaâ€� which translates roughly to “the bald-crowned semen-smearedâ€� – in other words, mushroom.

Being but lightly-schooled in Sumerian I have long doubted the validity of these ideas, retaining as I do, the suspicion that “mash balag antar� is the sort of expression one is far more likely to hear at throwing-out time in the Kilburn High Road. Now at last, comes a book that resolves this and all other religious controversies, and reveals the primal source of human spirituality. If you are as sick as I am of chakras, avatars, horned gods and astral planes, this is the knowledge for which you have been thirsting. In a few deft strokes of the pen, author Chris Street demolishes eight millenia of religious nonsense. Throw away the “Da Vinci Code�, there is no Holy Grail. The quest upon which we should all be embarked is for the Holy Ale, for truth, wisdom and ultimate reality can only be found in the depths of a pint.

“When drinking beer,� writes Street, “you taste eternity and become as a god among men.�

Street is the prophet of beer, and The Beer Guru’s Guide stands in the same relation to the human spirit as The Analects of Confucius, the Gospel of Thomas, Ecclesiastes and the Rig Veda, whose mantra, “Om shanti, shanti�, recalls the Beer Guru’s blessing, “Om shandy, shandy�.

The didacheTHE APOSTLES AND DIDACHE. “WHOSE ROUND IS IT, ANYWAY?�But The Beer Guru’s Guide is not just a sacred text, it is also a manual of life-practice for beer-worshippers. In this it may be compared to the Didache, a rule of life for early Christians. Both texts deal with the pitfalls of speaking “in the spirit� or, in the Beer Guru’s case, “while brewed up�

“You will not be able to speak to the Beer Guru in public.
No one else will be able to see him. People will think you
are talking to yourself. They will suspect schizophrenia
or drunken rambling rather than a conversation with a wise and
knowledgeable entity. ‘He’s not a guru . He’s a piss-artist.’â€�

(BGG V.iii-vii)

“Do not question any prophet who is speaking in the spirit,
‘for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be
forgiven.’ But not everyone who speaks in the spirit is a
prophet. No prophet who orders up a meal while in the spirit
shall eat of it, or he is a false prophet.�

(DD XI.vii-ix)

Note that ordering up a beer is not prohibited. The Sumerian word for beer being “dida�, it is likely that “The Didache� itself was based on an early beer-worshipper’s guide.

Order from brewery in Uruk, 3100 BCBEER MAKING INSTRUCTIONS, URUK, 3100 BCTraces of the primaeval beer sacrament can be found in almost every culture. In Babylon, beer could be brewed only by priestesses. The Code of Hammurabi, humanity’s earliest body of law, provides that those who pour short measures shall be drowned, while an Egyptian medical text written some three and a half thousand years ago lists 700 remedies of which 100 are based on beer.

The Finnish saga Kalewala, devotes 400 verses to beer and only 200 to the creation of the earth. The name “Kalewala� echoes the Finnish word for beer, “kalja�, which is cognate with Slavonic “kvas� and Sumerian “kas�. Sanskrit “akash�, the heavenly realm is clearly derived from Sumerian “é-kas�, or “pub�. Moving to modern English, once we recall that the Sumerian word for “beermug� was “ébir�, we can easily see how arose the Beer Guru’s cult practice of holding up a mug or pint glass and calling in a loud voice, “mine’s ébeer�.

The beer sacrament is the oldest, deepest affirmation of our humanity, and marks the transformation from the bestial to the human. “I drink therefore I am�, says “The Beer Guru�, an earlier amen to this truth comes from the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh:

Enkidu knew nothing about eating bread for food,
and of drinking beer he had not been taught.
The harlot spoke to Enkidu, saying:
“Eat the food, Enkidu, it is the way one lives.
Drink the beer, as is the custom of the land.�
Enkidu ate the food until he was sated,
he drank the beer-seven jugs! — and became expansive and sang with joy!
He was elated and his face glowed.
He splashed his shaggy body with water,
and rubbed himself with oil, and turned into a human.

The Beer Guru’s Guide is a book that will be valuable to students of religion, philologists, natural philosophers and anyone who fancies getting a few down them

To read Indra’s other blogs, please go to www.indrasinha.com/blog/