Anniversary and The Divine Cheese

February 23rd, 2008

Anniversary

This month has brought a couple of anniversaries for me. It was nine years ago during the February Dark Moon that I began my Pagan journey, after Graham Wyley’s Illustrated Guide to Witchcraft found me in a used bookstore. It was one year ago that I added Lady Hestia to my devoted pantheon. And it was one year ago that the Hawk’s Cry was first heard.

The journey of my first year with this blog was an exciting and sacred challenge. I have learned much, both in having to firm up ideas to write them down and through the thoughtful comments many faithful readers have left. I look forward to learning and sharing more in the coming year.

The Divine Cheese

I started a new hobby during the last year, cheesemaking. I really “started” it about three years ago, but that only consisted of buying a book and a kit. I began to make actual cheese about four or five months ago. I learned how it related to my devotion to the Gods as I worked and grew more familiar with it. Among other Gods and Goddesses, I work closely with Lord Dionysos and Lady Demeter, the Lord and Lady of Life.

Cheesemaking is a craft that works with living things, cultivating life to grow in a designed way to lead (hopefully) to a tasty result. Sometimes it works great, and sometimes the Gods decide to let other things grow instead of what I intended. Or the things I grow exceed my expectations in pungency or don’t grow as much as expected. Cheesemaking is definitely a craft, not a science, as each batch is up to the Gods and other spirits on how it ultimately turns out. I am simply the guide.

After making simple soft cheeses, I decided to make kefir, a thick dairy drink that is like a cross between milk and yogurt. My wife wished to use it to bake sourdough bread. I’m used to drinking Helios brand kefir and what I grew didn’t quite taste as good, though it was quite the adventure.

I made the kefir according to the kefir starter directions. Due to various circumstances, Lady Bella didn’t use it for her sourdough bread until after about 2 weeks and it had the consistency of thick yogurt and the smell of the fermented airag we drank in Mongolia. It definitely had an alcohol content. Nevertheless, it was still drinkable (or more like edible at this point). Bella used some in her bread and I thought I would use the leftover as a mother culture for another batch of kefir.

Demeter and Dionysos decided that kefir wasn’t going to be in the offing this time around, though. I cleaned the glass bottle I used to make the kefir and added fresh whole milk to the mother culture. I left it on the counter for 24 hours, covered completely with a towel. The next evening, I opened the uterine towel and the “baby” that was inside was definitely not kefir, but cheese.

Well, since They decided to give me a surprise cheese, who am I to question? I got my cheesecloth out, gathered the curds and hung them in a ball to drain out more whey. While I normally don’t care for such surprises, this one wasn’t too bad as the resulting cheese was quite mild, very creamy and rather tasty overall.

The point of this story is twofold. I think it’s important to honor and worship your Gods in your daily life, and having a hobby or occupation that works with Them is a good way to do it. If you don’t have any such connection with your Gods, then you should seriously consider how you can incorporate Them into your daily life. The Gods are not just these things that you pay homage to during certain days of the year, or when you’re feeling down. They are great for helping you through tough times, but They are also there during the good times and the average times. It’s a matter of whether you choose to develop a close relationship with Them during those times.

Secondly, sometimes the Gods have plans that differ from yours. It is not Their job to please you, but your job to learn from Them. When you’re making kefir and the Gods give you cheese, you shouldn’t disrespect Them with anger, but instead thank Them for the cheese and see if it’s any good. In this case, I found the cheese to taste better than the kefir I originally made.

Keeping your mind and heart open to what the Gods give you, while remembering your will and your principles, allows you to experience the unexpected joys the universe offers. It is these surprise gems that give you wisdom and strength to work through life’s hardships and grow to ever higher levels in Their divine light.


8 Responses to “Anniversary and The Divine Cheese”

  1. Cat Chapin-Bishop Says:

    Hi, Morninghawk! Congratulations on your double anniversaries, and thanks for this post!

    A few years back, another Pagan persuaded me to take up home brewing of beer, and for many years, the only libations I offered were home brewed. Though that hasn’t been possible for me recently, I still really value the ways I learned hands-on about connecting with the gods!

    I’ve gone ahead and posted this entry to MetaPagan, by the way, in the hopes that more people will read it and enjoy it. It may take a couple of hours before the blog widgets there, and those installed elsewhere, will pick up the feed, but hopefully, it will bring a little traffic to your site, in recognition for your hard work. 🙂

    (And if you’ve never yet read MetaPagan’s selected blog entries, you might enjoy visiting some of those, as well.)

    Blessed be.

  2. Morninghawk Says:

    I’ve always wanted to homebrew beer, as I love drinking good beers and I like to play with bacteria and fungi. 🙂

    What holds me back is that I have 3 small children who would not be able to leave the fermenting beer alone. When they get older (or we get a place to live that can have a child-free room), I definitely will get into it.

    For now, I only work with cheese, since at my skill level it’s easy to keep my “mess” down so the kids don’t get into it.

    Thanks for the comment and the crosspost to MetaPagan.

  3. Pitch313 Says:

    Nor for nothing do they talk about kitchen witchery!

    I like the magic involved in baking bread…and in making stews…

  4. Morninghawk Says:

    Sounds like you have a good amount of experience in that type of magic. I am new to kitchen witchery, with cheese, yogurt and kefir being my only creations to date.

    Thanks for the comment.

  5. phoenix Says:

    this was a great read! and the actual point of the story was very inspiring 🙂 !!

    thanks for sharing!

  6. Morninghawk Says:

    Thank you. I’m glad you liked it.

  7. R.E. Says:

    Many congratulations, my Friend. Loved your cheese story! Funny, that’s a craft I’ve thought about often — being the cheese lover I am. I very much enjoyed sharing your experience. 🙂

  8. Morninghawk Says:

    Thanks, I’m glad you like it.

    For those interested in how the cheese developed after sitting in the fridge a bit, here’s how it changed.

    It started out similar to a very creamy ricotta, but then developed into a much more crumbly cheese. It dried a bit and was rather difficult to spread, as the crumbs just rolled. It reminded me in texture to a dry-curd cottage cheese. It still tasted good, though.

    At least until we left it too long in the fridge and it re-fermented to become a slightly alcoholic cheese. Then I wasn’t so fond of it anymore.

    Thanks for the comment.

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