Write a short essay on the spiritual importance of fermented beverages to you and your personal religious path. Include your personal experience with using homebrew vs. commercial products in ritual space. (300 – 500 Words)
I follow a Germanic/Norse path and for this culture, alcoholic beverages played a big role. One of the best examples of the use of alcoholic beverages is within the Germanic warbands. Here we find a simple but powerful cup ritual. The basic idea is that the man of most importance is served the beverage, usually mead, first. He then directs how the mead is shared to all the other people present. This is done for most any major event of the warrior’s life (Enright 89-90).
This also is a method of making a king. We can find an example in Beowulf where Wealhtheow declares kingship during the cup ceremony (Enright 169). In essence, the cup ritual lays down the current hierarchy in the group, and forms a contract between all of those present as a family. This by itself shows that intoxicating beverages were of high importance socially within my chosen hearth culture.
From my own experience though, I have also found that the use of fermented beverages have become an important part of my religious life. I have had experiences where I have offered water instead of beer or mead, and had my offer rejected (per my omen pull) by the deities I was honoring. Once I changed the sacrifices to beer, they were happier. Since then, I have learned that it is important for me to offer alcoholic beverages of some sort.
With regards to homebrew versus commercial products. I truly have not experienced any great difference between the two. The omens I have received, and the results of any kind of magical workings I have done seem to be similar no matter what the source of my beverage is. I personally find it more satisfying though to use something that I have created myself. If I have the choice between commercial and homebrew though, I try to go with the homebrew. It is really only personal preference, not because I have had different results compared to commercial products.
In the end, I have taken to designating specific brews, bottles, or kegs for ritual. This for me is important because it will mean that I will be sure to have something special available.
Enright, Michael J. Lady With a Mead Cup. Portland: Four Court Press, 1996.