The full moon of July (which occurs tonight for 2011) was most commonly known as the Buck Moon in many Native American traditions. July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also called the Thunder Moon because of the frequency of thunderstorms during this hot, dry month.
To the New World settlers, full moons were often related to their farming and the July Moon was known as the Full Hay Moon because the brightness of the moon allows one to harvest hay in the cool of the night rather than the heat of the day.
For this post, I chose a 16th Century Medieval English name for this lunar month which was the Mead Moon. (Sometimes also known as the Honey Moon, though that also has associations with June.)
Mead is an ancient alcoholic beverage made from honey and since this is a month when hives are heavy with honey, it was a time to make mead. Mead, also called honey wine, is produced by fermenting a solution of honey and water.
Mead is known from many sources of ancient history throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia, although its origins are lost in prehistory.
The folks who make Honey Moon Mead & Cider, say on their site:
Mead has been around a long time. Lots of folks associate the drink with King Arthur’s round table or Beowulf’s mead-hall, but the history goes back even farther than that. Archaeologists in Northern China have found evidence of honey-based fermented beverages dating from about 9000 b.c. Some maintain that mead is as old as civilization itself. The great anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss suggested that the invention of mead marks a critical passage in human evolution, the transition “from nature to culture,” as he put it.
We know that Pharaohs drank mead. Its praises are sung in the Sanskrit hymns of the Rig-Veda. Aristotle extolled its virtues in Meterologica; the Aztecs and Incas both used it in their religious festivals. In the heavenly realm it was nectar and ambrosia — the very food and drink of the gods. Odin gained his power and wisdom from a draught of magic mead. Throughout the ages, across the globe, mead has been celebrated as a source of health and happiness, of strength and inspiration, the preferred drink of poets and scholars, warriors and kings.
The Mead of Poetry is a mead of Norse mythology crafted from the blood of the wise being Kvasir which turns the drinker into a poet or scholar. I don’t think anyone is brewing that one these days.