31 DoM: Mead-makingFor today’s program from 31 Days of Magic, I was supposed to focus on a specific color.  Instead I chose to do Day 10, “Make a Potion.”

And what a potion it is.  Fifteen pounds of honey dissolved in about five gallons of water, capped and caged in with some proofed yeast.  In a year, this might actually be drinkable mead: honey-wine of some substantial level of alcohol content.

I got the recipe, and the process, from Caveman Chemistry several years back. Since then I’ve tried it a couple more times, and now I figured it was time to make a large batch, since the previous three have essentially been successful.  I hope this will work again, but it’s not an exact science for me, yet.  At the rate I drink alcohol, even at sacred days, it will take me about five or six years to drink through this.  No bad time to be starting this work; maybe it will even work.

Assuming that it doesn’t turn to vinegar.  When you intend to make vinegar, of course, you let air get at the yeast and the sugar matrix, and you pronounce yourself thrilled with the acetic acid.  When you intended to make alcohol and you get vinegar, you should several angry words, and then pronounce that vinegar was your goal all along to your friends, even while you bemoan the garbage you have created.

There’s a lot of honey in here: fifteen pounds.  The going rate for honey around here, good honey, is 7-8 dollars a pound.  That’s around $115 of core ingredient in this potion.  You had better believe I said my prayers and made my devotions over and around this carboy.  You’d better believe that there’s a sigil on the floor, and a special wash to keep ants and other critters off the bottle.  This is a serious working.

And from a magical perspective, so much of the success of this operation is dependent upon the operation of the unseen.  Without the millions of yeast microbes, without the labor of tens of thousands of honeybees, the potion-making I’m attempting here would be impossible.  There isn’t much I can do besides be patient, be watchful, be prayerful, and hope that it all works out.  The peculiar work of alchemy here is that I am dependent on the interactions between microbial life, oxygen, alcohol, and carbon dioxide for the success of my operation.

The beginning of the making is begun.  Now there’s is little else to do but hope, and wait, for the magic of the unseen ones, to do its work.  My success is utterly in the handless existence of hundreds of millions of others, as they eat and drink and be merry.  And when they are done, I will drink their waste — the alcohol — and celebrate.

Or I’ll have a lot of really good vinegar to give away as presents in ten months or so.  Let this fate be averted.  Instead, may the powers look favorably upon my work, and adorn my labors this day with mead in a year.

There’s something to be said for long-term magics.