Mead is one of the world’s oldest beverages. A fermented drink made from honey and water, mead has an expansive history beyond just viking mead. Countless ancient cultures fermented and imbibed their own version of honey wine as a drink of the gods. But despite its longevity, mead is not as commonly known as distilled spirits (like vodka) today. Luckily, with its modern resurgence by craft brewers, the magic of mead can be enjoyed in numerous enchanting flavors. Read on to uncover how mead is made, a brief history, and its potential in spiritual and magical practices. So grab a glass, and get ready to sip in the magic of mead!
A very special thanks to Moonlight Meadery for sponsoring this blog post. I reached out to them when I wanted to write this blog, and were kind enough not only to take the time to speak with me about mead, but also send some samples to share with you!
What is mead, what is it made from, and why is it special?
Simply put, mead is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting a mixture of honey and water. With honey being one of the oldest known sweeteners, it’s only natural that mead was among the first alcoholic beverages.
While you may assume mead is sweet because it’s made from honey, it can have a wide range of sweetness depending on the process and ingredients added. To create mead, water is added to honey and a yeast is introduced to convert the sugars into alcohol. Fruits, spices, or herbs may be incorporated to give the mead a unique taste profile and properties. These additions gives mead a diversity of flavors and makes it a perfect addition to celebrations and meals! After fermentation, the mead may then be aged. The resulting product is a crisp, lightly sweet beverage ranging anywhere from 5% to 20% or more alcohol.
Despite its long history, mead is not as well-known as beer or wine. However, there is a growing interest in mead among craft brewers. In fact, many places like Moonlight Meadery are on the rise today, to revive and revitalize the magic of mead.
A Brief History of Mead: Viking Mead and a Drink of the Gods
To many of our ancestors, honey was sacred and magical–an elixir of healing and gift of the gods. The fermentation of honey, spiced and infused with other ingredients, would be a natural inclination. It is of little surprise that many cultures developed their own form of mead or honey wine. Simply put, mead was (and still is) magic.
Remains of a honey wine dating to 7,000 BCE were found in the Henan Province of China, but the history of mead goes back further. According to “The Importance of Honey Consumption in Human Evolution,” there is rock art dating between 40,000-8,000 years old, depicting the use of honey throughout Southern Africa, Spain, and Australia. With new archaeological discoveries being made everyday, who knows how far back humans have been enjoying mead?
Viking mead is one of the most popular references to mead in modern culture. While many ancient cultures had their own variations and the vikings certainly enjoyed many other alcoholic beverages, there are factors that have lead to the popularity of viking mead. The vikings were adept beekeepers and had a vast trade network that connected them with spices, exotic fruits and herbs to flavor their mead. They used coiled straw domes and placed the honeycomb into a cloth bag, to drain every drop they could. This drained honey would be used to create a higher quality mead, while the remaining honeycomb was crushed in water for a lesser quality variation. Viking mead was an especially sacred drink saved for special occasions, as it was certainly not the easiest to create. You can learn more about Viking mead harvesting practices from Skjalden.
Mead Magic & Love
Honey wine or mead was often drunk at weddings cross-culturally to bless marriages with its magical properties and fertility. In fact, the term honeymoon comes from mead. In nod to this history, Moonlight Meadery has “Romance by the glass” stamped on each bottle, and with the history of mead and the magical associations of honey, I couldn’t think of a better use for mead than love. To understand more about mead magic, one only needs to look into the magical properties of its base ingredient: honey.
Magical Properties of Honey Mead and Mead Magic
Beyond its magical uses in ancient cultures, honey is still important in modern magic. From honey jars to honey cakes, honey has numerous uses in ritual and spells. So, let’s dive into the properties of honey in witchcraft to understand more about the magical uses of mead.
Magical Properties of Honey
The product of hardworking bees harvesting pollen from flowers, honey makes a great ingredient for abundance and blessings. A sweetening addition in kitchen witchery, it is often used to “sweeten” people up for love, calling in clients, or for attracting desires. Honey has also been associated with a plethora of goddesses, such as Aphrodite (Greek), Oshun (Yoruban), and Freya (Norse). With antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, honey has a magnitude of internal and external health benefits.
The Magical Potential of Mead
The fermented product of honey, mead carries forth many of its magical properties. But with many spices, fruits, and herbs being added to mead for flavor and medicinal properties, mead can have additional layers of magic. For example, let’s look at the offerings I tried from Moonlight Meadery. Their Wicked mead has the addition of empowering ginger and sensual, soothing vanilla. Coupled with the loving energy of honey, this makes for a seductive and empowering beverage. Their cranberry mead No Need to Argue, adds the protective and action-oriented magical properties of cranberry. The additional ingredients infused into mead can add more nuanced magic and enticing flavors. So, what are some ways you can make use of mead magic? Let’s dive in!
Mead Magic: Mead in Magic and Witchcraft
Enjoying mead is already magical. But intentionally enjoying it around the celebrations and themes of the year can make for impactful magic, and an overall magical experience. What we ingest is integrated into our body (alcohol especially so). Pairing mead with a magical meal and intention really makes for a magical and delicious potion.
Magical Properties of Mead
Just from the basis of how it is made, mead is wonderful for celebrating abundance. Think of those bees hard at work in fields and flowers to make honey! And with the sweetening energy of honey, mead makes a perfect beverage to enjoy for love magic, whether self-love or with a partner. In fact, associated with the bright and jovial sun, honey is often used for happiness. So, grab a glass of mead to mend bridges and reconcile, or uplift your spirit!
Also an ancient ingredient, mead is a great choice for connecting to ancestors and ancient wisdom. Of course, it makes for a grand offering (if you have any extra), whether for ancestors or gods and goddesses, for any magical purpose. Honey’s natural healing abilities coupled mead’s herbs and fermentation, makes mead great for use in healing spells.
You can enjoy mead magic as an empowered beverage before beginning ritual work, as a potion in itself, or enjoying it after conducting a spell as a sacred beverage to integrate the magical energy into your very own being.
Where to Buy Mead and Honest Moonlight Meadery Review
Mead isn’t commonly found at most grocery stores. Moonlight Meadery was kind enough to send me two types of mead to try, and they ship to a large number of states, which makes it easy to grab a bottle. I tried their Wicked and No Need to Argue meads, but they offer a plethora of other flavors. Here is my honest opinion and what I thought of them:
“Orange Blossom Mead with Jamaican Ginger and Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla”
With flavors like vanilla and ginger, Wicked, makes for a perfect sweetening and soothing compliment to the magical energies of honey.
Aroma – lightly spiced, floral, reminiscent of elderflower
Taste – sweet floral flavors, spiced ginger, elegant and smooth
With its ingredients and sweet, lightly spiced palate, Wicked would be a great choice to enjoy after a meal or sipping on a spring afternoon – perfect for love, abundance, and empowering mead magic.
“Tart Cranberry Mead”
A tart, cranberry-red mead, No Need to Argue is a great choice for those that prefer tart berry flavors over sweetness.
Aroma – dark berry, aromatizing honey
Taste – tart, refreshing cranberry
With its crisp, tart berry flavor, this was definitely my favorite of the two, and makes a wonderful choice for enjoying through the holidays (I am definitely sipping this one for Capricorn season!).
In my opinion, part of enjoying craft beverages is fresh and natural flavors. As someone who has worked deeply in the spirits industry for a distillery, I know how rare it is to find brands that are actually as “craft” and fresh as they claim to be. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Moonlight Meadery not only sources locally, but also doesn’t add things like sulfites or manufactured flavoring into their mead. This is really great for enjoying not only the authentic flavor of mead, but really sipping in that mead magic and the profile of the ingredients.
Since their mead has won over 53 international awards, you can’t go wrong with trying this one out!
Of course, I just had to try my hand at making a cocktail with their offerings! Check out this mead cocktail recipe I made use their No Need to Argue here:
So, have you tried mead before? I would love to know!
- Crittenden, Alyssa. (2011). The Importance of Honey Consumption in Human Evolution. Food and Foodways. 19. 257-273. 10.1080/07409710.2011.630618.
- Gately, Iain. Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol. Gotham Books, 2009.
- “Viking Mead: The Oldest Alcoholic Drink in the World.” Nordic Culture, Skjalden, 18 July 2022, https://skjalden.com/viking-mead/.