Tonight's July's full moon meaning was once wrapped in hard work, celebrations, intuition and a few cocktails. This time of year was in preparation of gatherings and future celebrations. You may notice the busy bees or the busy farmers taking off their first cut and instinctively knowing that agriculture was at the center of this moon. July and beekeepers now, as it has been for decades, to prepare and collect their summer crop of honey and turn it into one of civilization's first cocktail: mead. It could be said that mead is the ancestor of most alcoholic drinks, from Vikings, soldiers, hard working farmers or royalty, a goblet full was in hand because of this homegrown farm field practice. Perhaps it's an intuitive ancestral desire to gather and celebrate with a cocktail in the July heat.
Photo: owners of https://greyowlmeadery.com/about-us/
At the height of summer, when the sun is high and the fields are in bloom with busy bees this particular time was marked in sixteenth-century England as time of Mead. This ancient drink has been described by scholars who study its history as an “ancient a beverage that the linguistic root for mead, medhu, is the same in all Indo-European languages where it encompasses an entire range of meanings, which include honey, sweet, intoxicating, drunk and drunkenness. For this reason it has been suggested that fermented honey may be the oldest for of alcohol known to man.” The first batch of mead was probably a chance discovery: Early foragers likely drank the contents of a rainwater-flooded beehive that had fermented naturally with the help of airborne yeast. Once knowledge of mead production was in place, it spread globally, and was popular with Vikings, Mayans, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans alike.
Most people know that beer is an age-old drink brewed from fermented grains, vodka at times diligently made with fermented potatoes and wine is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting grapes, but few know that mead is often referred to as “nectar of the gods,” made from fermented honey.
Mead’s popularity has waxed and waned and is once again on the rise in North America but here in Western Canada we are seeing a beautiful population of mead distilleries.
Gathering wild honey was practiced before organized agriculture and seems to be a wonderful indication about how humans and bees have been co-evolving on earth for centuries. Honey is bountiful this time of year and beekeepers offer it at specialty stores and farmer’s markets. With its health-sustaining properties, the result of the much needed little pollinators in our fields, playing a crucial role in our farming system; it is a timeless mythical symbol of hard work, the elixir of life, personal growth, and happiness. It is something to truly celebrate and value.
Celebrating July's Full Moon: Mead Moon Around the World for Centuries.
In Kenya the uki, a drink make of honey, was highly regulated and was often only drunk in rituals such as weddings and births. Fermented drinks have been a vital part of many indigenous and ancient cultures and were often only used as a sacrament or for ritual practices.
European culture has documents of drinking a form of mead in classical Greek and Roman history. The modern term ‘honeymoon’ may even suggest from an ancient European practice of newlyweds eating nothing but honey for one full lunar cycle after marriage in order to increase their fertility and the possibility of an immediate pregnancy. All that golden essence would supposedly ensure a fruitful union bearing plenty of children. This mead-based insurance policy was taken so seriously that a bride’s father would often include a month’s worth of mead in her dowry.
Similarly the word “medicine” is derived from the term for spiced mead — Metheglin. Today’s physicians are unlikely to write a prescription for mead, but certain kinds made with herbs or spices were used as medicine in early England. Infusing herbs into a sweet mead made them more palatable, and different varieties were thought to improve digestion, help with depression and alleviate good old-fashioned hypochondria. These types of spiced, herbal meads are called metheglin, derived from the Welsh word for medicine.
Mead is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages and can run from sweet to dry, from strong 20% proof to as low as 7% proof. With many of our local craft beer microbreweries blending and artistically adding seasonal flowers or local berries to the beer, the popularity of the origins of mead continues strong.
The more a person dives into the history of mead, the more interesting it is, as are most things. It could be asked if it is both a blessing or as something that can destroy civility.
It is both good and bad.
But it is to be approached with respect.
Some people drink to participate in a social situation.
Some sip it each Sunday at church with communion.
Some stay far away from it.
If it creates chaos in your life, please talk about it and find help.
This full moon is known as the ‘Mead Moon.’ Perhaps we can take a moment to wonder about the process of mead and the fermentation of alcohol, all of the history in it, all of the bees that continue to diligently work in our complicated world, and in the knowledge that in every culture we share the historical masterpiece of a drink to celebrate each other. This summer, find one of Central Alberta’s or British Columbia's local breweries and discover the ancient craft of beer’s precursor, Mead. Cheers my friends.
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Three places to find mead in British Columbia and Alberta:
Planet Bee Honey Farm
Where: 5011 Bella Vista Rd., Vernon
What you need to know: If it’s honey you want, come to Planet Bee. In addition to their finely crafted Honeymoon mead, Planet Bee also sells honey, beeswax and candles, body care products, pollen, royal jelly and more!
Pommier Ranch Meadery
Where: 3858 Wasa - Sheep Creek Rd, Skookumchuck, British Columbia
What you need to know: They are a family owned and operated Meadery located in the East Kootenay Columbia valley. Not only is their products sold in over 15 locations through out the Kootenays but their website offers recipes like a Kootenay Mule.
Grey Owl Meadery
Where: 452036 Hwy 22, Alder Flats, Alberta
What you need to know: Award winning mead and the meadery was built from the ground up on the family farm. Our goal was to create meads that paired well with food and competed with mainstream wine. The mead list is constantly changing and evolving, we have a range of different styles that may include Cysers, Melomels, Traditonals, Sparkling, and Fortified Meads. Visit and taste history!