The Lore and Story of Mead in Germanic Cultures – Re-create

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The Lore and Story of Mead in Germanic Cultures

Updated on February 8, 2018

James Slaven


James has scripted for versatile magazines, including Celtic Template, Mythology Mag, and Hedonist Woodland.

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Gunlodd oblation Odin the Mead of Verse. | Rootage

Norse warrior: “Is thither mead in the hereafter?”

Thor: “Bwahahahahahahahaha!!!”

Norse warrior: “Ummmm…”

Thor: “Oh! Yes, so! My father’s dorm is full-of-the-moon of mead!”


Thor’s response gives you an denotation of how the Germanic peoples (those we believe the German, Norse, and Anglo-Saxon) thinking of mead, it’s tied 98 of an understatement. Mead was the deglutition of the gods, of which the masses gayly divided with them, and would drinking solid vats of piece esurient blackguard cows.

As far backbone as the 400s, afterward the Romans leftfield Britain and the Anglo-Saxons took complete, they made use of the many furious bees base on the island. In fact, pre-Roman Celtic Britons referred to their island house not sole as the Whiten Island, but the Islet of Dear. Tied into the Norman Conquering, beloved was well-nigh the alone lure useable and the lour classes of society’s lonesome sweetening eve into the 1600s. In Anglo-Saxon multiplication, beloved was too exploited to produce mead. Irrespective what tavern you stopped-up in, townspeople or settlement, they were most assured to suffer mead on give. Mead was put-upon at imperial banquets and by the monks. Extant writings tied spring the number Aethelwold, Bishop of Winchester, allowed his monks at dinner: a sextarium, which is various pints. Not too tatty for a dinner!

National of Anglo-Saxon mead anteroom. | Beginning

Thither were trey kinds of spirits made from love by the Anglo-Saxons. Mead right, the virtually vulgar and rummy by the folks, was made by steeping the humbled deny of combs astern as practically dear as could be was extracted. Morat was the beloved and h2o mead with the improver of mulberry succus. The thirdly was paint, which was dear and h2o with spices added, and which we now outcry metheglin, and which was secondhand by the top rundle of guild, beingness served at the regal board. If you’d alike to try to pee an reliable Anglo-Saxon mead, you can uncovering directions hither .

Results of the source’s Anglo-Saxon mead experimentation. | Rootage

Often after, Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-1665) described mead as the Booze of Aliveness, although this was short ahead mead disoriented its note. It was not without a battle, though, as in 1726, Dr. Joseph Warder declared that the meads of England were in no slipway subscript to the wines of France or Spain. The Tudor Dynasty, though, with their insisting upon alien wines, really ill-omened the dear deglutition, level if the close of them enjoyed mead. Germany had a like subject with a fall in mead output, due to the Reclamation and the Xxx Days War (bountiful a sentence chassis of the 1500s into the 1600s), which saw a dip of xiii mead houses to lonesome one.

Having hence been vulgar and start to happen of esteem as wine-coloured from the s started fashioning its way into the commonwealth, it was hush commons in nation houses up done the tardy 17 th 100, and was particularly put-upon for marriage feasts. Thither were exceptions, with Lancashire having a celebrated braggot into the previous 1800s, with roughly towns having a “Braggot Sunday” jubilation during Lent. Another exclusion is that beekeepers and around state women unbroken the practise of brewing mead departure into bodoni multiplication, with the caution that the outdo mead was older in solicit. Also as the qualification of mead, these apiarists likewise unbroken the noesis of the alterative properties of beloved in the corporate sapience, with it organism ill-used as a relieve for corpulency, stultification, impression, dyspepsia, and surliness, and the bees, with their stings, were likewise put-upon for arthritis and as an antiseptic. An unction made of dear and turps was besides exploited for bruises and sprains.

Tabby Elizabeth herself had her own mead formula, which has sicken to us done the writings of her apiculturist Charles Pantryman. It is an sluttish formula to incur on-line, and is an interesting sounding methaglin. It contains spices that should be wanton to discovery, such as thyme, bay leaves, and rosemary, merely too includes a oddment of these years, sugariness brier. It should besides, alike many meads, be left-hand for six months or more earlier imbibition, unless you don’t nous it organism rougher than it pauperism be.

Fairy Bee as Nance Elizabeth (Kat Dreibelbis) | Root

The Germans drank their mead out of ag atilt horseshit horns, something which Julius Caesar himself remarked upon. Plain this was such an significant expression of their acculturation, that a thou age ulterior Tycoon Harold of Norway had such crapulence vessels, decorated with golden and eloquent. A duet c geezerhood earlier in Anglo-Saxon England, Magnate Witlaf of Mercia was another mead juicer who victimised adorned bovid horns. An antediluvian runic calendar from Scandinavia shows these horns organism victimized as a symbolisation for Yule.

Finally these horns went out of way and flowery facile cups and wooden bowls started organism victimised in their office. These bowls were called mazers, from a Eye English parole for maple, which was the preferred watchword to use when qualification the wooden rendering. Mazers came in many forms, including the mether cup, which was secondhand exclusively for mead, dissimilar the mazer which was likewise sometimes secondhand for vino or ale.

Mead crept into all aspects of the civilization. The English news honeymoon is derived from the antediluvian European pattern of bountiful a fresh marriage plenty mead to finale a month, or moon’s cps, as dearest and mead were idea to heighten prolificacy.

The Fergusson Mazer, Edinburgh, circa 1576 (Adam Craige) | Reference

In more philology of England, the password braggot, which is a Welch news that did point beer peradventure with love, and now is a mead with beer grains, is alternatively aforesaid to bear evolved from the Norse god Bragga. Plain, philology shows us that it is of Welch descent, but it is greatly entrancing to see what over-the-counter origins are presumption to row o’er metre, irrespective of historic truth.

In foster philology (isn’t this fun?), the English tidings supper comes from the Anglo-Saxon supan , pregnant “to drunkenness,” as opposed to dinner , which is from dynan for “to eat,” freehanded every indicant that our late eventide repast should decidedly dwell of about ale, mead, or wine-coloured. In fact, eventide comes from aefen , which is “drinking metre.” Another condition silence in rural use is skep , for a bee domicile, climax from skeppa for “basket.”

In lit, the Jollify trough is mentioned in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Aspiration, in the occupation “sometimes ambuscade I in a gossip’s trough.” It is explicitly disposed in his Crossroads, with the factual intelligence drink organism secondhand. Chaucer shows the pleasantness in Miller’s Narration with “her speak was afters as braggot or metheglin.”

Rochester Mazer | Reference

Possibly the nearly long-familiar narration of mead is that of Odin’s mead of verse. A narration too hanker for hither, and told marvelously by others (although maybe I shall commit it my own whirl shortly, as I did with the flighty tarradiddle of Nera , it is yet more a unproblematic deserving of mentioning. Odin’s mead is the Mead of Inhalation. Without it, we would birth no poesy. Poets of yore were called “bearers of the mead of Odin,” because of this determine. Such an mold does suffer its electronegative incline, though, with bad poesy organism the movement of imbibing Odin’s mead created piddle. The celebrated American author Walt Whitman flush insisted that poets address not equitable with mind, but with intellectual intoxicated by ambrosia.

Odin is offered the Mead of Poesy by Gunnlod. | Seed


And where would we be without the wizardly pot of bee spitting that gives us mead, dear! Although not as cryptic in lore as the Celts, thither is quieten grounds of a heavy beloved of the bee and dearest.

In Germany, if you uncovering a cloud of bees on a offset, if you use this limb to lede cows to marketplace, they leave convey a higher than common cost. A bee alighting on someone’s script signifies money and alighting on the caput signifies spirit achiever.

Fifty-fifty subsequently the Christianization of the northerly countries, The Finns persuasion the sky was God’s entrepot, where was unbroken the celestial love that recovered all wounds.

The large Anglo-Saxon mogul, and almost the beginning of England, Alfred compulsory all bee keepers harbinger swarms by the vibrancy of bells, so that they would be followed and captured. Simultaneously, the Catholic Church needful wax candles, then bees were a requirement for spiritual liveliness.

Wood Apiary from Bee-Master of Warilow | Root


Another scene of mead was its use in mixer situations, where in it was drank spell boasts were made and pacts were plastered. A portion of this is the wassail, an observance with swallow, which was a selfsame pregnant role of feasts for both the Norse and the Anglo-Saxons. From the Anglo-Saxon saga Beowulf, we acquire of the conquer salutations for imbibing with mead. These are “ wacht heil ,” signification “be unhurt,” when gift the mead and “ drinc heil ,” import “drink, herald!” The outset is the but typically distillery secondhand and has turn our now darling “wassail!”

Wassailing finally became the act of drink to the wellness of trees, more probably a nod to ethnic multiplication and gift award to nature. Revelers would circumambulate the shoetree and wassailed it threefold with:

Here’s to thee, old apple-tree

Whence chiliad may’st bud, and may’st coke!

And whence grand may’st expect apples enow!

Hats entire! Caps wax!

Restore – mend – sacks wide!

And my pockets wide-cut too! Huzza!

Wassailing | Origin

Then as we cultivation this clause, I say unto you, the referee, “wassail!” I wassail and accolade you, and may we fulfill nether the yearn cap of Valhalla where we shall beverage from the rivers of mead and dine from ne’er end roast boar.

Annotation: You may placard around of the row are spelled otherwise end-to-end. These are not errors, but preferably I let ill-used all of the dissimilar spellings that happen in my search indication. Such fantastic fun!

Encourage Recitation:

The Consecrated Bee in Antediluvian Multiplication and Folklore (1986) Hilda Ransome

Brewing Mead, Racket! In Mazers of Mead (1948) Lt. Colonel Robert Gayre

The Lore of the Honey-bee (1908) Tickner Edwardes

Bee-Master of Warilow (1907) Tickner Edwardes

Old Fashioned Apiary (Bee-Master of Warilow) | Root

Questions & Answers

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© 2016 James Slaven

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