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  • Writer's pictureMichael Martin

I have been making a lot of cheese.

Over the past two weeks, I have made roughly fifteen pounds of farmer cheese, a mild variety that requires only vinegar for separating the curds from whey, about three pounds of ricotta (which is made by almost boiling the leftover whey), five pounds of queso blanco, and five pounds of manchego, my absolute favorite, though it won’t be aged enough for at least a month. I’ve also been making butter when I get a chance. It’s pretty easy to tell we have a cow, a Jersey named Fiona.

Fiona gives about three gallons of milk a day (we milk by hand, btw), which is far more than we can use, and that’s why we offer a milk share through our CSA. Even though we have eight shareholders, we still have far more milk than we can use. Which is okay with me. I hope to get enough cheese and butter stored by Thanksgiving to last us through the winter. But it takes time. Making soft cheeses is relatively quick—just a few hours including hanging and drying—but making aged cheeses is an all-day affair, and this is without considering the aging process, which can last anywhere from one to six months (even more in the case of Parmesan).

We also raise honeybees on our farm. Right now we’re down to two hives, but we’ve had up to six. Bees are hard. If I lost a quarter of my animals over the winter, I’d think I was an abject failure; but if a beekeeper loses a quarter of his or her bees, he or she will invariably say “I only lost a quarter!” Varroa mites, GMO crops and glyphosate (not on my farm, but I can’t keep the bees inside a fence), and the DNR spraying for mosquitoes (IN NOVEMBER!!!) provide incredible challenges to the beekeeper. Nevertheless, we usually manage to put up enough honey to last us through the year; and I’ll be pulling the last of the honey for our use next week, just before the goldenrod goes into full bloom and the honey starts to smell like damp socks (I’m not kidding). After the honey harvest comes in, I’ll try to put up another five gallons of mead that will probably be ready around Twelfth Night

All of this, of course, coincides with the way the agricultural year begins to wind down in the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year. I have to get out to the gardens and pull the field onions and potatoes (including sweet potatoes), and get ready to process our surplus animals, not to mention that I need to prepare for the coming hunt of the deer this November. Being part of Creation requires this of me. I’m a farmer.

It is almost impossible, at this time of year, for me to not think of Waterloo Township, the hilly Michigan countryside where I live, as a land flowing with milk and honey. Because, quite literally, it is.

On the other hand, so, at least potentially, is every other piece of land. We all know the biblical promise:

And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3:7-8)

The land the Israelites came to, however, was not as fertile as one might think: through the help of God, they made it so. As Ellen Davis writes in her wonderful Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible, the wager of the Israelites in their partnership with God is characterized by the requirement “to imagine their land as blessed precisely in the fragility that necessitates and therefore guarantees God’s answering attention.” [1] There is no reason to believe the same isn’t possible in any other geographical context.

Meanwhile, I have been haunted by something I bumped into while I was preparing Jesus the Imagination, Volume 3: Christ-Orpheus for publication. It was a reference to early Christian liturgies, before the codification that always accompanies State approval and morphs into a late-classical version of the “best practices” sloganeering that so infects academia and business today. Apparently, milk and honey were used sacramentally in liturgies just as much as bread and wine were. [2] I will definitely be following up on research in this direction when time allows, but I do know of people experimenting with the reintroduction of milk and honey as sacramental elements in modern liturgical settings, clandestine though they be. At first I didn’t like the idea, I must admit; but it’s grown on me.

Clearly, the image of milk and honey (both products of the female of their respective species) bears an appreciable amount of sophiological heft. And this is as it should be. It’s what’s missing. And for a culture essentially waging war on both the feminine and fertility, it has never been more needed. So much of this is described in the celebration of divine and human eros that is The Song of Songs:

Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat the fruit of his apple trees. I am come into my garden, O my sister, my spouse, I have gathered my myrrh, with my aromatical spices: I have eaten the honeycomb with my honey, I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends, and drink, and be inebriated, my dearly beloved.” (5:1)

Our own culture exhibits an incredible degree of insanity regarding farming. The assumption that agriculture can thrive without animals is one aspect of this nightmare only a bureaucrat could devise. And the promotion of insect protein and, yes, that acquired via cannibalism (but a softer, gentler cannibalism) to replace that from animals (including their milk) would be laughable were not the Archons pursuing it so aggressively.

So think of me, gentle friends, eating farmer cheese with basil, tomato, salt and pepper, sipping on a draft of fresh mead. Think of the feminine and fertility and how scarcity is the myth that tries to replace fecundity. For there is a richness to life the Archons will never comprehend.

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.” (Amos 9:13-15)

Michael’s latest book is Sophia in Exile. He can be reached at See also The Center for Sophiological Studies' available courses. Also check out the latest volume of Jesus the Imagination: The Divine Feminine. Twitter: @Sophiologist_

1. Ellen F. Davis, Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible (Cambridge, 2009), 27.

2. Everett Ferguson, Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy (Grand Rapids, 2009), 20.

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  • Writer's pictureMichael Martin

Stella Matutina Farm

As I go about my days of farming, I often pore over ideas, images, or lyrics from my experience as I execute my various tasks, whether I’m moving an electric fence, seeding daikon (as I did this week), weeding, or what have you. It’s more reverie than anything: not completely deliberate, and not completely random. Somewhere in between. Lately, besides the English ballad “Tam Lin” (which you can check out here in a rendition by the very talented Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer) and the Anglican hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful” (which hear in this jangly version by the delightful Rain for Roots), I’ve been ruminating on the scene in Blade Runner 2049 in which the replicant Detective K (played by Ryan Gosling) confronts and arrests the replicant Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista). Morton, a former military grade replicant, is at that point a “protein farmer,” that is, a farmer raising insects for their highly nutritious larvae. Yum.

There is no accident why this image has invaded my pastoral meditations. The Corporate-Governmental Archons have been in full publicity mode, enlisting celebrities from Nicole Kidman to Angelina Jolie to promote the wonderful possibilities of introducing insects into the Western diet as a replacement for those environment-destroying cattle, pigs, and chickens. The New York Times, ever at the vanguard of the bequests of the Archons, even ran a story recently arguing that the taboo against cannibalism may have been an overreaction. My God.

Apparently, this move is supposed to be “environmentally friendly.” Well, I call “bullshit.” Jettisoning husbandry in favor of an animal-free agriculture is the way of death. As any biodynamic farmer could tell you, animals belong on a farm and contribute to the fecundity of everything—the plants and soil as well as the wild creatures (including insects) in the meadows, woods, and waters, not to mention people. Certainly, factory farming is antithetical to this fecundity, but the agricultural project of Bill Gates, Klaus Schwab, and their minions (talk about a “basket of deplorables”!) is just as toxic and even more demonic. The Netherlands’ Mark Rutte and Cananda’s Justin Trudeau (and what the hell, pray tell, is really going on behind the Maple Curtain?) are all in on the globalist agro-scam, hiding behind a nitrogen emissions reduction fig leaf. Sustainable farming is not what they are promoting: they are promoting a continued power grab that went into high gear in early 2020 when the greatest wealth transfer in history began in earnest and corporations capitalized (the exact word) on societal anxieties and destroyed and plundered millions of small businesses with the help of their bureaucratic henchmen in governments around the world (but particularly in the West). Again, as any decent organic or biodynamic farmer knows, transitioning to these sustainable methods from conventional ways of working takes time, 7-10 years according to Vandana Shiva, so going cold turkey, as happened recently (and tragically) in Sri Lanka, can have very predictably disastrous results. Guess what: the Archons know this. Also guess what: it’s what they want. In theology we call such entities demons.

Besides vegetables, we raise a decent amount of protein on our farm. Though veggies are part of our CSA, we mostly raise meat for ourselves—including beef, lamb, pork, chicken, duck, and goose. To that we supplement our diet in winter with venison and rabbit. Humans, some might be surprised to learn, are also part of the circle of life. We do, however, offer eggs for sale and the possibility for a share in our dairy production. Our little Jersey cow, Fiona, gives about 3 gallons of milk a day on average (more when she freshens) and even when all nine kids were at home this would have been more than we could handle. Now with only four still at home... you get it. We make various cheeses (I made some queso blanco and ricotta this morning), butter, yogurt, ice cream, kefir and so forth, and milk proteins are a great staple of the diet. We also have insects on our farm, foremost among them our honeybees. But we don’t eat them.

Interesting that this all occurred to me the week of Lammas and the Transfiguration, two feasts that mark the beginning of the first fruits and harvest cycle. Today, for example, just before the blessing of fruits (in our case, grapes, cucumber, zucchini, peppers, onions, and tomatoes) in observance of Transfiguration during house church, we read these lines from “The blessing of the straun” found in the Carmina Gadelica:

Each meal beneath my roof,

They will all be mixed together,

In name of God the Son,

Who gave them growth.

Milk, and eggs, and butter,

The good produce of our own flock,

There shall be no dearth in our land,

Nor in our dwelling.

In name of Michael of my love,

Who bequeathed to us the power,

With the blessing of the Lamb,

And of His Mother.

Please don’t be fooled. Nature is not a realm of scarcity. Rather, nature is superabundant. There is an excess of life on a farm and on this planet. Those who say otherwise in the rhetoric of scarcity are trying to sell you something: a kind of slavery.

Protein farmer? How about protean farmer.

Michael’s latest book is Sophia in Exile. He can be reached at See also The Center for Sophiological Studies' available courses. Also check out the latest volume of Jesus the Imagination: The Divine Feminine. Twitter: @Sophiologist_

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  • Writer's pictureMichael Martin

Corn Doll

Lammas, or Loaf Mass, is a feast I would hope to see grow in popularity as more and more people look for a way to connect the Christian Year (or, we might say for our neopagan brothers and sisters, the Sacred Year) with the agrarian year, a synergy once assumed but now almost entirely neglected. Celebrated on August 1st, Lammas marks the midpoint between St. John’s Day (June 24th) and Michaelmas (September 29th), which, as you can easily see, hover near the Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox respectively. May Day (May 1st), All Saints/All Souls (November 1st/ 2nd) and Candlemas/St. Brigid’s Day (February 1st/ 2nd) complete the cycle of half-turnings. And they all should be observed.

Traditionally, Lammas was celebrated as a harvest festival to mark to first grinding of the new wheat, so it is no wonder that the ancients associated this event with Christ and the Eucharist. (You have to suspect that this was part of the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lembas bread” in his mythopoesis). It is also the beginning of fair season—a tradition which persists in most rural areas to this day, though shorn of its sacred dimension. According to historian Ronald Hutton, in England the observation of the harvest season starting with Lammas was marked by “the crowning of girls as harvest queens by sets of reapers, the bringing home of the last load of corn covered in garlands, with loud acclamations, and the weaving of images from grain stalks.” [1] This season ended just before All Soul’s Day, after the surplus livestock were slaughtered and the meat salted for winter storage. Again, usually sans salting, this remains the practice in rural communities—I’ll be doing so myself this Fall with the surplus livestock on my farm. But, tragically, this moment in the cycle of life and sustenance is also deprived of its sacred dimension in almost all cases. This is something we should remedy.

You may have noticed something in my description of these mostly-vanished folk customs: they are incredibly sane and health-giving. I’ll take a harvest queen over the celebrated drag queens of our culture any day. Likewise, I’ll take bread and lamb from my farm over the diets of crickets and maggots being pushed by celebrities and the WEF. Because I’m not a fool.

Even the simple practice of making a corn dolly is a way to begin to resacralize our relationship to God, the Cosmos, and our food. Here at Stella Matutina Farm, we observe these practices and host a big and merry harvest festival at Michaelmas. The English folk tradition is rife with the remnants of such observations and practices. The ballad “John Barleycorn Must Die” is one iteration of this mythic and sacramental motif, but so is the tale of the Gingerbread Man. Put simply: something must die, that we might live. A basic lesson of life.

Steve Winwood deserves a round of applause.

According to T.F. Thiselton-Dyer in his magisterial British Popular Customs Present and Past (1876), another folk custom on Lammas was the visitation of sacred wells. I don’t know of any such wells nearby (though I plan on digging a well on my land for a hand pump very soon) but I know if I lived near a sacred well or spring… I’d be there! (Side note: I visited Chalice Well in Glastonbury many years ago and my eldest child was baptized with water I smuggled out of there. So arrest me.)

The Eucharistic connotations of Lammas bread, of course, are the most important: the magical act by which we eat the god who then inheres in us. Sir James Frazer in his classic text The Golden Bough, includes a section subtitled “Eating the God,” which is about the ritual eating of the divinity in contexts other than Christian, and he also associates it with first-fruits customs. “In these examples,” he writes, “the corn-spirit is represented and eaten in human shape [like a gingerbread man]. In other cases, though the new corn is not baked in loaves of human shape, still solemn ceremonies with which it is eaten suffice to indicate that it is partaken of sacramentally, that is, as the body of the corn-spirit.” [2]

Part of Frazer’s project, of course, was to show that Christianity’s god-eating was old news. But he didn’t really get it. What existed as a mythic imagination (though nonetheless very real) prior to Christ became historical and metaphysical reality through Christ’s institution of the Eucharist with the words “This is my body. This is my blood.”

They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?

Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:30-35)

What I am describing as an ideal here may strike some as quaint, or even a complete fantasy. I don’t think so. In fact, I think we are heading for what some have called a “New Middle Ages.” Those of us who survive the current chaos anyway. Rudolf Steiner, though he didn’t use that language, in his reimagination of the Christian year and festival life, certainly spoke to this, as did the Russian sophiologists Nikolai Berdyaev and Pavel Florensky. Florensky, surely one of the great polymaths of the twentieth century, put it this way:

History has days and nights. Periods of night are dominated by the mystical element, noumenal will, susceptibility, femininity. Daytime periods of history are characterized by a more active, superficial interaction with the world, phenomenal will, masculinity. The Middle Ages were a period of night; the modern age is a daytime period. We are now at a threshold of a new Middle Ages. In its depths the Christian world-understanding is medieval. In the modern period the present world-understanding is useless. The present return to the Christian world-understanding shows us that we are at the threshold of a Middle Ages.” [3]

Actually, I think we are watching the desperation of the daytime period of the masculine in its death throes. The chaos in the Church, the machinations of the WEF & Co., the pathetic attempts by men to usurp the place of women and the feminine: these are symptoms of breakdown, not ascendancy. Their days are numbered.

And, as I often say, the way to realize the sophianic reality of the New Middle Ages is by embodying it. The things we do—the rituals we observe, the realities we celebrate, the communities we love, the foods we eat, the sacramentality of Things—make the Kingdom come to life.

So make the Kingdom come to life.

Alison Milbank on Lammas.

Michael’s latest book is Sophia in Exile. He can be reached at See also The Center for Sophiological Studies' available courses. Also check out the latest volume of Jesus the Imagination: The Divine Feminine. Twitter: @Sophiologist_

1. Ronald Hutton, The Rise and Fall of Merry England (Oxford, 1994), 44.

2. Sir James Frazer, The Golden Bough, abridged edition (New York, 1927), 480.

3. Pavel Florensky, At the Crossroads of Science & Mysticism, trans. Boris Jakim (Semantron Press, 2014), 7.

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