It was Imbolc of 2009, I think. My daughter was not quite one yet, but old enough that we felt she could join in with some kind of simple ritual. Being OBOD members, most of the ritual we did was not really something we could share with her, so we looked elsewhere.
If you are a pagan parent, you probably know about the Pooka Pages. If not, you really should take a look. They are a series of eight ‘online magazines’ every year with a Wiccan slant, but the main focus is accessible paganism for kids.
Well, this particular one suggested making butter for Bride. It looked so easy…
For those of you who don’t know, the basic idea of making butter is actually quite simple. My wife and I both grew up in Kent, I had farms around me for most of my time there, but neither of us had ever really had an interest in farming. As a result, we didn’t know about butter-making.
So, the principle is this; you take some cream and shake it until it separates into butter and butter-milk. What could go wrong?
Problem 1: The guide said to use a glass jar.
We had no glass jars. I am not sure if we had taken them all to a bottle-bank or whether we just didn’t eat much jam at the time, but there were no jars. The only container with a seal we could find was a vacuum-flask, the kind you use to keep coffee hot. Still, it would do the job…
Problem 2: The contents were not sloshing properly.
I think we overfilled it. It was hard to tell, since we couldn’t see in and the plug was taking up a fair amount of space. We eventually put a wine cork in just to create some movement.
Problem 3: How can you tell when it’s done?
This one was more of an issue that it should have been. A jam jar is transparent and the lid opens easily. A vacuum-flask is opaque and takes a while to get open. More than this, it’s dark inside the flask and you can’t really get any light to it. We ended up judging it by smell.
Problem 4: When to give up.
It was an hour after we started, an hour of jumping up and down to heavy metal and shaking the flask, before we decided that it was as buttery as it was going to get. Somehow, it was thick enough to scoop onto a plate rather than pouring, but only just. Out it went into the garden before sunset and we called it a job
well kind of done.
In the morning, the butter was gone (we suspect hedgehogs) and 3-4″ of snow that was not there before had taken its place. Winter would be over soon and our first (and last) attempt at making butter as an offering was at least good enough to be accepted.
Even if it was just by a hedgehog…