(spondee in Greek
) is a ritual
pouring of a drink as an offering to a god
was common in the religions
, including Judaism
- "And Jacob set up a Pillar in the place where he had spoken
with him, a Pillar of Stone; and he poured out a drink offering on
it, and poured oil on it". (Genesis 35:14)
uses libation as a metaphor
when describing the end of the Suffering Servant
figure who: "poured out
his life unto death". (53:12) Christians see Jesus Christ
as fulfilling this
that was used in libations varied; most commonly it was wine or olive oil, and in
The vessels used
in the ritual, including the patera
had a significant form which differentiated them from secular
vessels. The liquid was poured onto something of religious
significance. The libation was very often poured on the ground
itself, as an offering to the Earth.
In Ancient Greece
the term "spondee"
(libation) is meant type of sacrifice. The term includes all offers
to the gods, with discharge on to an altar, various nutritious or
precious liquids, as perfumes, wine, honey, milk, oil, juices of
texts often mention
describes the dire
consequences of failure to include certain gods in libations in
, a theme common to many
Greek tragedies. The use of a libation composed of barley, wine,
honey and water to summon shades in Hades
also referred to in the Odyssey
In his Pneumatica
, Hero of Alexandria
described a mechanism
for automating the process by using altar fires to force oil from
the cups of two statues.
, the practice of libation and the
drink offered is called Miki
(神酒), lit. "Liquor of the
Gods". At a ceremony at a Shinto shrine, it is usually done with
, but at a household shrine, one may
substitute fresh water
which can be changed
every morning. It is served in a white porcelain or metal cup
without any decoration.
In the Quechua
cultures of the South American Andes
, it is common to pour a small amount of one's
beverage on the ground before drinking as an offering to the
, or Mother Earth. This
especially holds true when drinking Chicha
an alcoholic beverage unique to this part of the world. The
libation ritual is commonly called challa
and is performed
quite often, usually before meals and during celebrations.
In African culture, the ritual of pouring libation is an essential
ceremonial tradition and a way of giving homage to the ancestors.
In Africa, ancestors are not only respected, they are invited to
participate in all public functions (as are also the gods). A
prayer is offered in the form of libations, calling the ancestors
to attend. The ritual is generally performed by an elder. Although
water may be used, the drink is usually some traditional wine (e.g.
palm wine), and the libation ritual is accompanied by an invitation
(and invocation) to the ancestors and gods.
Libation is also commonly recognized as the break within the famous
performance of Agbekor
, a ritual dance
performed in some West African cultures.
Cuba a widespread custom is to spill a drop or two of
rum from one's glass while saying "para los
santos" (for the Saints).
In Russia and surrounding countries it is an old tradition to pour
vodka ontothe grave of the deceased.
shows great diversity, even if
we consider only shamanism among
. Among several peoples near the Altai Mountains, the new drum of a shaman must go through a special
This is regarded as “enlivening the drum”: the tree
and the deer who gave their wood and skin for the new drum narrate
their whole lives and promise to the shaman that they will serve
him. The ritual itself is a libation: beer is poured onto the skin
and wood of the drum, and these materials “come to life” and speak
with the voice of the shaman in the name of the tree and the deer.
Among the Tubalar
, moreover, the shaman imitates the voice of the
, and its behaviour as well.
The Celts (at least the Druids of Britain) used libations as
offerings to their gods as well.