Live Fermentation

The “Hymn to Ninkas” (below) is from ancient Sumer, where fermentation was first recognized as female.   The Slavs knew her as well .. calling her Raugutiene.

Fermentation is indeed a goddess, a potent and heady brew of intoxication.   Long before man walked upright, fruit has fallen from trees to lay upon the Mother’s lap.   There, wild yeasts would joyfully gather – like Fairy’s in a Shakespearean play – to transform decay into fermentation.   Animals eating this would become drunk in celebration, coming back time and again to enjoy the Bacchanalian feast.

I have a shrine to Fermentia in my kitchen, in the form of a whey starter.   Her frothy presence is seen in young coconut yogurt and kefir.    Honor her ! Cherish her ! She is the Mistress of Healthy Bacteria, the Simmering Agent of Seething, the Restless Woman of Agitation, and the Queen of Kimchi and Kraut !


Borne of the flowing water,
Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag.

Ninkasi, having founded your town by the sacred lake,
She finished its great walls for you.

Your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud,
Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake.

You are the one who handles the dough and with a big shovel,
Mixing in a pit, the bappir with sweet aromatics and date honey.

You are the one who bakes the bappir in the big oven,
Puts in order the piles of hulled grains.

You are the one who waters the malt set on the ground,
The noble dogs keep away even the potentates.

You are the one who soaks the malt in a jar,
The waves rise, the waves fall.

You are the one who spreads the cooked mash on large reed mats,
Coolness overcomes.

You are the one who holds with both hands the great sweet wort,
Brewing it with honey and wine.

Ninkasi, the filtering vat, which makes a pleasant sound,
You place appropriately on a large collector vat.

When you pour out the filtered beer of the collector vat,
It is like the onrush of two great Rivers.


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