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Taliesin and the Mystery of Brewing Beer

I never made a batch quite this big.x

I’m taking a break now from talking about mistakes. They are as common as dust. But mystery litters the world in even greater abundance.

I was reminded recently of an experience I had when brewing beer. It happened after I’d been brewing for a while but hadn’t yet gotten over the profound sense of connection with history (never did get over that). Brewing beer is something our ancestors once did for themselves regularly. Beer was food. Housewives made it. There was also a time when brewing had a sense of sacredness about it.

I began to brew beer as an adjunct to my herbalism studies because many herbs were once used in the brewing of beer. Hops are almost the only ones used now, but dandelions, nettles and other herbs were once brewed into beer and wine for medicinal purposes. Healing Wise (Wise Woman Herbal Series) by Susun Weed (http://amzn.to/24GE8eh) had a couple of recipes in it, so I gave it a try.

I sterilized and boiled and cooled. I added the yeast. And all of those mundane tasks felt sacred. I didn’t expect that. The yeast consumed the sugar. It produced its alcoholic waste. Those things I expected. The beer turned out nice, light and refreshing. But it was the work of making it that nabbed me.

Every time I put in the effort to make another vat of beer I felt the sacredness — like a priestess performing a rite. I also felt profound connection with, not just history, but with all of the souls down through time who made beer for their families or their ceremonies.

One day, in the spring, I was brewing. I was in that altered state that made the labor a rite, and the back door flew open. I looked up, and, for an instant, I could see a man at the door in a cloak with long, flowing hair. Was that a star upon his brow? “Taliesin.” Then logic rushed in and wiped his image from existence. But the name lingered in my mind.

Taliesin. Primal poet and shaman (druid). Why should he attend the brewing of my beer? Why should he send that fresh breath of air through my door?

For a long moment I was stunned into a larger awareness of that instant in time. I was profoundly aware of my position in space and the exact relationship between each bit of my body and the table and stove, kettle and open door. Beyond that, I could feel the way the air in my lungs flowed out to mingle and play with the air newly entered into the room. It swirled lightly around me and the mingled airs flowed out into the larger world unable to separate themselves from the greater body of air that blankets the world.

I became aware, if only for that moment, of the impossibility of separating my being from that great movement that swirls around the world. That swirls around each thing in the world, each being . . .

Did Taliesin visit me? I felt visited.

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