Lughnasadh celebrated in the Southern Hemisphere on 1st or 2nd February is also known as the first harvest due to the land’s plentiful bounty during this time. For me Lugh is a time to make offerings for what is profusely available, as well as pour a libation in honour of the gods of this season, who give of themselves to allow the land to prosper with fertility and abundance.
The first time I recall participating in a harvest festival, I was a young child visiting relatives in a small remote farming village on an island in Greece (Kontopouli, Lemos). The main staple is wheat and after the first harvest had been collected all the residents of the village would gather with bundles of chaffless wheat stalks at crossroads and in central meeting points around the village. There, they would create bonfires in a succession of three in a row where young and old would jump them in order to bring fertility, luck and prosperity into their lives for the rest of the year. After this, feasting and drinking would occur at the local taverns or in people’s homes which would always consist of what was amply available such as wine, bread, vegetables and fruit. The connection between the first harvest and food was set up for me from a very early age and continues to this day.
For me the first harvest is a time of much working due to my garden being abundant with life. I personally like to preserve olives, plums, apples, lemons but there is a plethora of fruits and vegetables just perfect for pickling, canning and preserving to enjoy during the dark months where the warming energies of the summer produce is appreciated. It’s also a time to gather certain herbs and flowers which richly grow and resonate with the vibrations of summer for use not only in cooking but in crafting items like charms. Whatever you decide to create, you use what it’s in season, ensuring you infuse the energies of Lugh consisting of, prosperity, protection, purification, positive transformation, pure generosity and productive success within your food.
Friends and family absolutely adore the magickal plum jam I make around this time which has the sweetness of strawberry jam and the tartness of marmalade combined and to me it really connects me with the season. The magickal qualities of plum are those of love and devotion as well as causing the body and mind to relax according to the Greeks and Ancient Egyptians. Plums are also a fruit which symbolise fertility and can be seen to have a protective element.
When I make my jam, considering this is quite a long process which can take several hours and involves constant stirring, I developed a simple chant I use whilst I continuously send affirmative thoughts into the boiling pot:
“Round and round the boiling pot,
I stir into it positive thought.
Protection, kindness, love and joy,
Made for friends and family to enjoy”
(C) T. Georgitsis 2012
Tina’s Magickal Plum Jam
- 2kg plums of choice (I use my home grown organic Victoria Plum variety)
- 1 litre water
- 125 ml lemon juice
- 1.5 kg sugar
- 1 pkt jam setter (if necessary to set but my suggestion is to add 25ml more lemon juice and keep boiling until it sets to keep it vegan)
- Put a small plate in fridge to test for setting point later.
- Cut plums in half, remove stones and any impurities on skin.
- In a large pot place plums with 1 litre of water and cover with a lid.
- Bring slowly to the boil on a medium heat, ensuring you stir every so often so the plums don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Once the mixture comes to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer with lid off for an hour or until the plums are soft and breaking apart.
- Add sugar and lemon and stir until sugar has dissolved.
- Bring to the boil on medium heat continuously stirring then reduce to a simmer.
- Remove any skum from the surface and continue to simmer until the jam falls through a tilted spoon in thick sheets without watery dripping.
- Once the above occurs, test for setting point by putting a little bit of jam on the cold plate in the fridge for a minute, the setting point has been reached when a skin forms on the surface and it wrinkles when pushed.
- When ready place into warm clean jars and seal.
- Label the jar with date and ingredients.
- Store in a cool dark place and refrigerate up to 8-12 weeks after opening
(C) All images, articles and recipes T. Georgitsis 2012 (First appeared in Issue 6 of Spirit & Spell magazine January 2013)