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Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Caffeina, Goddess of Untamed Energy
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Author: True Pagan Warrior
Posted: August 12th. 2007
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It is by Caffeina alone
that I set my mind in motion.
By the Beans of Java,
my thoughts acquire speed.
The hands acquire the shakes,
the shakes become a warning.
It is by Caffeina alone
that I set my mind in motion...
- Attributed to Isaac Bonewits
Caffeina, Goddess of Untamed Energy, comes to many of us through her sacred plant, coffee. This Dark Mother is bountiful, but must be honored regularly lest our faith waver. She springs forth, daughter of Earth and Sun, ready to deliver her father’s touch to any who are willing to accept it.
Very little has been written about Caffeina, arguably the most powerful goddess of the twenty-first century. It could be surmised that Her tradition is oral, because Her most devoted followers refuse to sit still long enough to write anything about her down. Thus my learning about Her ways has been entirely verbal, and I would not even be able to write this extremely brief article were it not for years of monastic training to quiet my mind.
The Dark Mother is a Goddess of mysterious ways. She can be elusive as aroma while as vibrant as boiling water. No entries on Her can be found on Wikipedia, WikiPagan or PaganWiki, and direct references to the goddess Caffeina in Google are lost in a cloud of steamy references to Italian web pages. However, it is possible, through careful inference and reconstruction, to uncover the truth about this vibrant Lady.
The history of coffee can be traced back as far as the ninth century CE in Ethiopia, where worship of Caffeina presumably began. Information from this time is sketchy, but legend holds that a goatherd named Kaldi or Khaldi found his wayward flock frolicking about after eating the berries of a shiny green-leafed shrub (another version provides that he was awoken by their dancing a dervish). His own consumption of the berries made him realize they had some serious mojo inside, and, if you believe the best-written versions, it took a distrustful monk throwing the beans in a fire to uncover their true potential. The experiments of these monks led to the earliest monastic order of Caffeina.
Coffee moved into Arabia, where according to Abd al-Qadir al-Jaziri in his book, "Umdat al safwa fi hill al-qahwa, " Sheikh Jamal-al-Din al-Dhabhani, mufti of Aden, was the first to adopt the use of coffee (circa 1454). Sufi mystics used it for sleep abatement and fundamentalist imams condemned it. Wise and vaporous, Caffeina expanded Her worship through the secret Dancing Goat Society, and slowly Her beverage and worship gained acceptance. Being a goddess of Earth, She sought to be grounded in the material world, and thus Her rituals became secular while not losing any of their power.
The worship of Caffeina in Her cup spread more quickly into Europe and the Americas. Coffee was cultivated in more and more areas, and both its praise and condemnation managed to make the Goddess of Untamed Energy a more widely-honored divinity. In the 1990s her hold over the secular world was secured by a marketing program rolled out by Starbucks Coffee Company: stores would be decorated in colors that denote one of the four essentials to good coffee, Grow (earth), Roast (fire), Brew (water), or Aroma (air). Quietly Caffeina, in Her guise as the Starbucks Siren, had lifted Her worship to new levels in the United States and worldwide.
Condemnation and praise by leaders of various religions helped to spur the worship of Caffeina. Although prohibitions on the drink were dropped from Islam in 1532, there even today faiths that forbid its consumption, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Forward-thinking Caffeinites and Javacrucians are optimistic that there will be a time when all faiths are welcome as valid points of view, and none are denied a seat at the metaphysical coffee table. To that end, only worshippers that are fully trained in functioning in the altered state Caffeina brings are permitted to engage in diplomatic relations with other religions, at least until after lunch.
Because of its inherently secular nature, it is difficult to track and categorize the styles of worship associated with Caffeina. Some prefer a solitary ritual that focuses on Her vibrancy entering the supplicant, while others almost exclusively praise her in groups, often centering on literature or social gatherings. Some tension exists between the solitary practitioners, who do not feel quite up to social interaction before they get to the all-important Caffeina rituals, and the social groups, who seem to function just fine before they partake of the sacred Cup. Perusing the rituals of the Javacrucianists suggests that they fall into the former group.
Still more complicated is the debate which rages over what forms of coffee are sacred to Caffeina. She is traditionally depicted as a woman rising from the vapors of a coffee cup, and fundamentalist followers argue that this is sufficient evidence that only hot coffee is acceptable. Similarly, a strong Caffeinite sect believes that milk, sugar, or other additions are sacrilege, and the only proper worship of the Dark Mother is in her true form of undoctored, black coffee.
Regardless of the tensions that spring quite naturally from such a stimulating religion, on one subject all adherents of Caffeina appear to agree: decaffeinated coffee serves no purpose. I was able to glean some hints of an ancient myth of a “Decaffeina” who was blamed for much of the emptiness and misery in the world today, and whose defeat will herald an age of great bounty and wakefulness, but I was unable to run down a primary source for the tale.
Like any Goddess or natural force, Caffeina must be treated with respect due Her station. One does not flippantly disregard Her power for long before one has a series of sleepless nights during which contemplation of such disrespect is likely. Sufferers of narcolepsy, clouded thoughts, and lethargy would do well to give Caffeina her due. Likewise, insomniacs, jittery people, and those who speak too quickly should not be so quick to condemn this Goddess, when understanding Her would more likely help them find the answers they seek.
Copyright: Copyright 2007 Terence P Ward.
True Pagan Warrior
Location: New Paltz, New York
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Bio: Dak is the awfully convenient and extremely short name that Terence P Ward uses for festivals and gatherings where nobody has any paper and there's no guarantee that the coffee is going to be good anyway.
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