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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Mead for Mid-Summer




As the sun spirals its longest dance,
Cleanse us
As nature shows bounty and fertility
Bless us
Let all things live with loving intent
And to fulfill their truest destiny.
(A Wiccan Blessing for Mid-Summer)

The French Anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss, has written of mead marking the moment when we moved from being creatures of nature to being creatures of culture.

Mead at its simplest is a fermented mixture of water and honey.  But it is, oh, so much more than that.  Apart from anything else you can drink meads with all kinds of flavours from apple to wildflowers.  In fact wildflowers flavour the recipe for Midsummer Mead that you can find at this link. You will find many other recipes for mead at the same site.
We’ve been making mead for about 7,000 years and it has run through our beliefs and our mythology in Europe, Asia and in Africa as a sacred drink. In Morse mythology it is the Mead of Poetry which turns you into a poet and that is crafted from the blood of the wise and inspirational Kvasir.
The Spanish-Roman naturalist Columella gave a recipe for mead in about AD 60 and, around AD 550, the bard Taliesin wrote the Kanu y med or the "Song of Mead".   In Beowulf, the Danish warriors drank mead.
But there is yet another quality claimed for mead beyond the poetic.  The word honeymoon didn’t have anything to do with travel originally.  In early days, the honeymoon was a fertility ritual.
A newly married couple drank only mead for one entire cycle of the moon. So as mead is made of honey, and the period lasted a lunar cycle, we get the term honey-moon. Apparently the tradition was pretty wide spread but it is believed to be a predominantly Irish one. Our ancestors believed mead to be an aphrodisiac but I make no claims.
For me, mead is a drink to be enjoyed at mid-summer and drunk with due reverence for the bees and the green things that made it.