Just as the life force of an animal is contained in its blood, so are fermented beverages infused with the life force of the plants from which they are made. Those plants that are more important to the survival of man, or which have stimulating psychological effects upon him are in tribal and early Western societies, thought to incorporate a particularly powerful force. Thus, throughout the ancient Mediterranean regions, alcoholic brews
“assumed a mythological and sacred character, being, as it were, the very life essence of the herb goddess. When the sprits of these plants are personified by a patron deity, the beverage then become the “blood” or “milk” of that goddess and magical virtues of the most sacred of substances.
It is said that in the long ago times. At the time of the first people, there was a sacred infant who was left unattended by him mother. I’itoi, Elder Brother, saw this and his tears fell to Earth and upon the child, where upon they both sank into the ground. The first people, when they found the child gone, began to search, but they could not find him until Crow began flying over their heads, calling out to them. Hearing this, they began to follow, and Crow landed on top of a 30- foot-tall saguaro cactus, a plant they had never seen before. Here, Crow ate some to the saguaro fruit and regurgitated it into a basket, saying to it, “you know what to do”. Whereupon the fruit began to ferment. When it was finished fermenting the wine began to sing the Rain Song.
The people all gathered there together and drank the fermented fruit wine. They were so intoxicated that they became afraid and decided to get rid of the saguaro. They called upon Badger, giving him all the seeds of the plant, which he was instructed to throw into the ocean. On the way he met Coyote, who tricked him into throwing the seeds up in the air, where the wind took them and spread them. Soon saguaro began coming up everywhere.
When the people saw this, they gathered at a saguaro to decide what to do. As they were standing there, the child for whom they had been searching rose out of the top of the saguaro. Patiently, the boy showed them how to make the sacred saguaro wine. The people were told. “Now you must do something in return for this gift.” One of he young men asked, “What must we do?” In response, the child began to sing the first of more than a hundred rain songs that the Papago must remember and sing each year.
The people were told that they must always remember the songs and ceremonies and do them each year, for if they stopped, there would be no more rain. I’itoi then came and gave the women the cactus poles for gathering the ripe fruits, agave-fiber head rings for balancing the collecting baskets on their heads, told them the injunctions that governed the use of the saguaro, and showed the people the ceremonies they were to follow in preparing the wine. I’itoi then told the people to drink the saguaro juice just as the earth drinks the rain, and that will help the rain come. And this they have done ever since.
• 8 quarts cleaned saguaro cactus fruit pulp. Prickly pear cactus fruit as a substitute
• 4 quarts water
• Wine yeast
Slowly cook the fruit pulp and water for one to two hours after it begins to boil.
Let cool until you can handle it
Strain and return the syrup to the stove for another hour, boiling slowly.
Remove from heat and cool to 70 degrees F
Pour into fermenter and add wine yeast.
Seal with air lock and allow to ferment 1 week
Bottle and store