Vicki Noble Responds

When Professor Goodales told me what he had planned for the 31st I asked if I could contact Vicki Noble and get her response to the commentary and “news” stories that appear on this site. I can’t imagine a more perfect response…

In case anyone is wondering why I would even care about this, it’s actually right up my alley. For decades I have been researching women’s history and the roles women have played in human cultural evolution. Brewing medicinal ales is one of the earliest and most widespread functions of the shaman-priestesses from all around the world. You have to think about ale or beer in a completely different way, in order to understand the sacredness it has represented for indigenous people everywhere. It has to do with ritual and primordial religion, drawing down the wild yeasts into a sacred cauldron and allowing them to do their alchemical work. Sometimes the local fermented beverage provides the only real nutrition people get during certain seasons; it’s full of vitamin B and other nutritious substances, all of which is enhanced and amplified by the fermentation process. It was always women who brewed the magical beverages, from Egypt to Sumer, from the Greek Maenads to the India Yoginis, and finally right down to the “witches” of medieval Europe. It was the Catholic Inquisition and the Protestant Reformation that put an end to women’s centrality in the brewing of the magical medicinal beers. The abbeys took over the brewing and changed the contents of beer from psychotropic to narcoleptic; the powers-that-be decreed that hops would be the only herb allowed in the beverages (because they don’t activate a sexual charge, but instead put you to sleep). And now, in the last decade, breweries in the United States and other places are bringing back the ancient recipes and processes for “microbrews” and fancy nutritious ales. Lost Abbey is one of those breweries, and they take a particularly ironic approach to the presentation of their various ales. I think someone just stepped over the line with Witch’s Wit and didn’t even realize it.

If you want to read more about the wondrous history of sacred fermentation, read Stephen Harrod Buhner’s Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation. The chapter on bees and bee products is one of my favorites.

The Goddess is Alive and Magic is Afoot! This is, after all, her most riotous season as we approach All Hallows Eve and enter the dark (winter) time of the year. Salud!

-Vicki Noble

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