By now, a few weeks into our project, we at WINEGRUNT.COM feel the need to answer the question “Why Wednesday?” as the day of choice to blog. To begin, we openly admit our soft spot for alliteration. These will shamelessly appear in subsequent posts, too. Also, as the mid-week ‘hump day,’ the day of maximum hope that you may actually make it through the week, wine seems like an appropriate accompaniment.
The origins of Wednesday are shrouded in mystery, myth, and magic so, in our opinion, it lends itself to wine … .
Wednesday is the day of Woden in the Germanic tradition (Wodensdæg) that is derived from the Latin dies Mercurii whence we get the French mercredi and all the other Romance variants that contain bits of its Latin etymology. Other traditions (modern German, most Slavic, Finnish, Icelandic) point to its being the ‘mid-week day’, or the fourth day as in Portuguese, Greek, Arabic, Persian, etc. As Japanese ‘Water day’ the association with that element of fluid, flowing, and formless things implies transition, adaptability, and change. From all angles, then, this is more than a mere ‘hump day.’ Wednesday is a significant day. It is one to celebrate!
The Roman god Mercury, though inherited through Etruscan influence, is identified with the Hellenic Hermes. This is a polyvalent deity whose speed and cunning allow him to shift easily between the terrestrial, celestial, and infernal realms as the god of transitions and boundaries, and psychopomp – the guide to the underworld. He is the god of music, literature, athletics, invention, trade, sexual intercourse, and good luck. He invented musical instruments like the lyre and, most importantly, fire. He is the patron of travelers, herdsmen, merchants, thieves, and men of wit and letters like orators, poets, and translators. He champions the clever manipulation of language and the challenging of a restrictive hierarchy. He is the trickster.
It is not by chance that Italo Calvino called his greatest trickster character Ermes Marana in If on a winter’s night a traveler… . This agent of mystification and Cagliostro of counterfeits “dreamed of a literature made entirely of apocrypha, of false attributions, of imitations and counterfeits and pastiches.” He disseminated a copious amount of fakes and forgeries throughout the world in numerous languages (real and fictive) in order to prove that “the world exists only as artifice, pretense, misunderstanding, falsehood.” This postmodern trickster embodies the virtually endless possibilities of authority and eloquence.
The associations of this deity converge in his universal symbol, the hermai. These were originally wayside markers of stone along the sides of highways that, over time, became more stylized until, ultimately, turning into phallic boundary markers.
Hermes Trismegistus, or Thrice-Great Hermes, the source of all occult, arcane, and hermetical knowledge, springs from the same source though combined with the Egyptian god Thoth to provide the Hermetica, an invaluable source for alchemical knowledge. For Carl Gustav Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, Hermes and Thoth are counterparts to the role of guide between the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind. In Alchemical Studies, he unequivocally declares that “Hermes, originally a winged god, and his counterpart the Egyptian Thoth, who ‘makes the souls to breathe,’ are the forerunners of the alchemical Mercurius […] .”
As Arnaldo of Villanova (1240-1312) tells us in his alchemical Tractatus de vinis, first published in Paris in the year 1500, improves and intensifies the positive human traits and characteristics. He writes, “Et vino quidem inest ex se proprietas magna in natura umana.”
As much today as in the Middle Ages or Antiquity, Wednesdays lend themselves to myth, mystery, and magic and there is no better means of channeling the possibilities of our earthly existence than the transcendent elixir we know as wine. For these reasons, Wednesday is the best day to discuss wine. Cheers to Wine Wednesday!