They say that myths and legends have their basis in truth. Who knows for sure? But the tales of many cultures around the world are fascinating, and even if they are truly just stories (and lets face it, most stories have at least *some* grain of truth somewhere), they are illustrative to one level or another of the culture from which they arise. In any case, there many tales that contain references to mead. I collect these, and will post them here as I find them. If you have a legend or historical tale about mead to share, email it to me, and we'll post it.
Popular Myths (no documentation is available to support these premises)
One of the persistent legends is this: It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month or what we know today as the honeymoon.
NOTE: I have not yet found supporting documentation for this popular belief. If you have documentation, please let us know so we can post it here.
It is said that mead has aphrodisiac qualities. So many believe this that even magazines are getting into the game. Stuff Magazine listed mead as its' 'Best Alcohol to Seduce Someone' with.
Also take a look at the Mead in Literature page. A lot of information is cross-referenced between here and there, and we've additional references on that page that might help you.
Tales and Legends in Various Cultures
- Goibniu – An Irish/Celtic smith god, son of the goddess Danu. He manufactures swords that always strike true, and he possesses the mead of eternal life. He makes the arms for the Tuatha Dé Danann together with Credne and Luchtainel.
- The Medieval Celtic Fringe
- At Gulval, near Penzance in Cornwall, England a ritual called the 'blessing of the mead' is held on St. Bartholomew's Day. St. Bartholomew was the patron saint of the honey crop in the Middle Ages, and for that reason associated with mead-making.
- The Picts, King James, and The Magic Heather Mead by Marilyn Cameron – The tales of the powers of the Heather Mead in Scotland reached as far as England and Wales, Old Ireland and even as far as France. Its mystery was its recipe, for only the Pictish people knew it and so the secret was theirs alone……
- The Kingdom of the Picts: Christianity, Paganism and the Making of Gaelic Scotland
- King Arthur and Drumchapel
- From the Rig-Veda, a collection of Hindu Sanskrit hymns, it is said: "In the wide-striding Vishnu's highest footsteps there is a Spring of Mead." It is believed that this spring had the power of fertility, and that mead could bring on sons.
- The Yajur Veda: KANDA IV, THE PILING OF THE FIRE ALTAR, PRAPATHAKA I
- Many Norse tales tell of an enterprising god or goddess using mead to lower the defences of the intended victim, so that they could have their way with them.
- Odin, after having quaffed mead given him by Gunnlod, remarked that mead gave him the gift of poetry and composition.
- Kvasir – In Norse mythology, Kvasir was the wisest of the Vanir, fashioned from the spittle of all the gods. Two brothers, the dwarves Fjalar and Galar, invited him to a feast in their dismal cavern and killed him. The dwarves mixed his blood with honey…
- Beyla – Servant of Freyr, wife of Byggvir. Her name is thought to be related to a word for 'cow', and she the protectress of dairy work; the alternate suggestion is that 'Beyla' is related to 'bee', so that Beyla and Byggvir might be the givers of mead…
- Bragi – The god of eloquence and poetry, and the patron of skalds (poets) in Norse mythology. He is regarded as a son of Odin and Frigg. Runes were carved on his tongue and he inspired poetry in humans by letting them drink from the mead of poetry…
- Andhrimnir – In Norse mythology, Andhrimnir is the cook of the Aesir and the Einherjar. Every evening he slaughters the cosmic boar Sahrimnir and cooks it in his magical cauldron Eldhrimnir. This boar is restored to life the same night…
- Odin – Leader of the Norse gods. The valkyries would serve mead which forever flowed from the udder of Odin's goat, Heidrun.
- THE STORY OF THE VOLSUNGS (VOLSUNGA SAGA) – INTRODUCTION
- THE STORY OF THE VOLSUNGS (VOLSUNGA SAGA),CHAPTER XXXVII – The Battle in the Burg of King Atli
- THE STORY OF THE VOLSUNGS (VOLSUNGA SAGA), CHAPTER XXV – Of the Dream of Gudrun, Giuki's daughter
- THE STORY OF THE VOLSUNGS (VOLSUNGA SAGA), CHAPTER XX – Of Sigurd's Meeting with Brynhild on the Mountain
- NIBELUNGENLIED, ADVENTURE XXIX – How Hagen Would Not Rise For Kriemhild
- THE STORY OF THE VOLSUNGS (VOLSUNGA SAGA), CHAPTER XXIX – Of Brynhild's great Grief and Mourning
- The Life and Death of Cormac the Skald ("Kormak's Saga")
- The Danish History, Books I-IX Book Six – concerning the death of Frode
- The Danish History, Books I-IX, Introduction Part II
- The Saga of Grettir the Strong (Grettir's Saga)– Sections XXXII – XLVIII
- Heimskringla or The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway – Saga of King Harald Grafeld and of Earl Hakon Son of Sigurd
- Heimskringla or The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway – Saga of Olaf Haraldson: Part III
- Heimskringla or The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway – Saga of Harald Hardrade: Part II
- Heimskringla or The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway – Harald Harfager's Saga
- Heimskringla or The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway – The Ynglinga Saga, or The Story of the Yngling Family from Odin to Halfdan the Black
- NIBELUNGENLIED ADVENTURE XVI – How Siegfried Was Slain.
- NIBELUNGENLIED ADVENTURE XX – How King Etzel Sent To Burgundy For Kriemhild.
- The Story of Burnt Njal (Njal's Saga) – Part 2: Sections 21 – 37
- It is a little known supposition that Bacchus, the well-known god of Wine, was the God of Mead long before he got into wine. Virgil and Homer both wrote of mead, and also of 'ambrosia', which, it is thought, might have been a mead liqueur of some kind. (Well we know how ambrosia-like mead can be! –Ed.)
- Legend has it that the Greeks held Dionysias, festivals at which much mead was served, and which often ended in wild orgies.
- Hippocleides, having gotten rather messed up on mead, reportedly got naked, and stood on his head and sang, thereby ticking off his father to the point of forbidding him to marry.
- Pollio Romanus, stationed in the British Isles during the time of Julius Caesar, wrote that he attributed part of his robust sexual prowess to imbibing in the local Welsh metheglin.
- The Moors reportedly would serve mead at weddings, and believed honey to be a 'love stimulant'.
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