Soma is a flammable liquid, composed of clarified butter and various hallucinogenic plant juices. On a symbolic level, Soma is both a representation of the living God, the embodiment of the essence of the cosmos, and the sacrifice par excellence to the supreme God.
Vedic hymns, composed to accompany the sacrifice of the Soma, abound in metaphors, attributes and epithets of the divinity. Verbs such as to pour, to flow, to come, to abide, to embrace, to beget are used to describe the action of God.
Many hymns evoke, in a raw or subliminal way, the dizziness of (divine) love. Words such as lover, woman, womb, ardour, pleasure. But here again, they are metaphors, with hidden meanings, which must be carefully interpreted.
The sacrifice of the divine Soma can be summed up as follows: a mixture of oil, butter and milk flows in flames towards the « matrix » (the crucible where the fire blazes with all its strength), then rises in smoke and fragrance towards Heaven, where it participates in the generation of the divine.
The 9th Mandala of the Rig Veda, entirely dedicated to the sacrifice of the Soma, considered as a God, explains the profound meaning of what is at stake and its cosmic effects. Here are a few quotes, which, I believe, capture the essence of what’s at stake:
« The poured Soma flows for the Ardent, for the Wind, for that which envelops, for the Spirits, for the Active.»i
« This golden light, support, flows into that which ignites it; that which crackles flows into the matrix.”ii
« He who is here [the Soma] has come like an eagle to take up his abode, like the lover to the woman.”iii
« This gold that one drinks, and which flows rumbling towards the matrix, towards pleasure.”iv
« That which flows from desire, comes from that which moves away and from that which comes near, – the sweetness poured out for the Ardent.”v
« Those who go together shouted. They made the gold flow with the stone. Take up residence in the matrix where it flows.”vi
« The sound of the burning Ardent, like the sound of rain; lightning goes into the sky.”vii
« Bringing forth the lights of the sky, generating the sun in the waters, gold envelops milk and waters.”viii
« Coming from the original milk, He flows into the hearth, embracing it, and by crying He generates the Gods.”ix
« Soma, as He lights up, flows towards all the treasures, towards the Gods who grow through the oblation.”x
Other mystical traditions, the Jewish for example, share with the Vedic language comparable semantic elements, similar metaphors (oil, honey, milk, entrails, bosom, matrix, water, wine or liquor, pouring out, flowing into, ).
Particularly interesting in this respect is the Song of Songs, composed between six and eight centuries after the Rig Veda.
« Your name is an oil that pours out.”xi
« Your lips, O bride, distil the virgin honey. Honey and milk are under your tongue.”xii
« Myrrh and aloes, with the finest aromas. Source of the gardens, well of living water, runoff from Lebanon!”xiii
« I gather my myrrh and my balm, I eat my honey and my comb, I drink my wine and my milk.”xiv
« From my hands dripped myrrh, from my fingers virgin myrrh.”xv
« His head is of gold, pure gold. “xvi
« Her eyes are doves, at the edge of rivers, bathing in milk, resting on the edge of a basin.”xvii
« Your bosom, a rounded cut, let there be no lack of wine! »xviii
« I will make you drink a fragrant wine.”xix
We can see that the Rig Veda and the Song of Songs, centuries apart, share, despite their distance, a comparable atmosphere of loving fusion with the divine.
This should come as no surprise. There is no doubt that this is an indication of the existence of an extremely profound anthropological constant.
The traces left in the Palaeolithic by prehistoric religions, which show comparable metaphors, bear witness to this.
The Venus of Laussel is 25,000 years old. Naked, she brandishes a horn to drink it. This gesture, always young, reminds us that in the oldest ages of humanity, the divine was already perceived in the guise of love, – and (infinite) drunkenness, a spiritual one of course, but in a strange sort of way, associated to a more mundane one.
iRig Veda. Mandala 9. Hymn 34,.2. For reference, the translation of Ralph T.H. Griffith (1889) gives : « Poured forth to Indra, Varuṇa, to Vāyu and the Marut host, to Viṣṇu, flows the Soma juice. »
iiIbid. Hymn 37,2. For reference, the translation of Ralph T.H. Griffith (1889) gives : « Far-sighted, tawny-coloured, he flows to the sieve, intelligent, bellowing, to his place of rest. »
iiiIbid. Hymn 38,4. For reference, the translation of Ralph T.H. Griffith (1889) gives : « He like a falcon settles down amid the families of men. Speeding like lover to his love. »
ivIbid. Hymn 38,6. For reference, the translation of Ralph T.H. Griffith (1889) gives : « Poured for the draught, this tawny juice flows forth, intelligent, crying out, unto the well-beloved place. »
vIbid. Hymn 39,5. For reference, the translation of Ralph T.H. Griffith (1889) gives : « Inviting him from far away, and even from near at hand, the juice for Indra is poured forth as meath. »
viIbid. Hymne 39,6. Ralph T.H. Griffith (1889) translates: « In union they have sung the hymn ; with stones they urge the Tawny One. Sit in the place of sacrifice. »
viiIbid. Hymn 41,3. Ralph T.H. Griffith (1889) translates: « The mighty Pavamāna’s roar is heard as ‘twere the rush of rain. Lightnings are flashing to the sky. »
viiiIbid. Hymn 42,1. Ralph T.H. Griffith (1889) translates: « Engendering the Sun in floods, engendering heaven’s lights, green-hued, robed in the waters and the milk. »
ixIbid. Hymn 42,4. Ralph T.H. Griffith (1889) translates: « Shedding the ancient fluid He is poured into the cleansing sieve ; He, thundering, hath produces the Gods. »
xIbid. Hymn 42,5. Ralph T.H. Griffith (1889) translates: « Soma, while purifying, sends hither all things to be desired, He sends the Gods who strenghten Law. »
xi So 1,3
xii So 4,11
xiii So 4,14-15
xiv So 5,1
xv So 5,3
xvi So 5,11
xvii So 5,12
xviii So 7,3
xix So 8,2