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Wheel of the Year Newsletter: Litha 2023


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A Journey Through Time: The History of Jam Making

In the summer months tend to bear an abundance of fruit. Of course, as many know, fruit is only good for so long once it is picked, but there are many ways that people have discovered over centuries to preserve these delicious fruits to last into the colder months. Jam making has become a common method of doing just that.


Jam is a delightful concoction of preserved fruits, which has delighted palates around the world for centuries. This sweet and tangy spread has a rich history that dates back to ancient civilizations. From the rudimentary methods of early cultures to the modern techniques employed today, the art of jam making has evolved and flourished. Let’s explore the fascinating history of jam making, and highlight some of the basic methods used to produce this beloved culinary delight.


Ancient Beginnings:

The origins of jam making can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, and Romans. These early societies discovered that cooking fruits with honey or other sweeteners preserved them for extended periods. However, it was the addition of sugar, introduced to Europe from the Middle East during the Crusades, that truly transformed the preservation process.


Medieval Europe:

During the Middle Ages, sugar became more accessible to Europeans, leading to the widespread use of sweetened preserves. In those times, fruits were typically cooked in large copper cauldrons, heated over an open fire. The process involved crushing the fruit, mixing it with sugar, and boiling the mixture until it thickened and achieved a spreadable consistency. While this method produced flavorful preserves, the lack of proper sealing techniques limited their shelf life.


Preservation Advances:

As the 17th century dawned, the concept of preserving fruits took a significant leap forward. Nicholas Appert, a French confectioner and chef, invented a method for sealing food in glass jars, thus pioneering the process of canning. This breakthrough enabled jams to be preserved for much longer periods, revolutionizing the industry. The basic canning process involved filling sterilized jars with the hot fruit and sugar mixture, sealing them tightly, and then submerging them in boiling water to create a vacuum seal.


Industrial Revolution and Mass Production:

The 19th century brought further advancements in jam making, thanks to the Industrial Revolution. Improved machinery allowed for more efficient production processes, making jam more accessible to a wider population. Steam-powered equipment facilitated the extraction of fruit pulp and the removal of seeds and skins. The mass production of jam resulted in the emergence of numerous commercial brands, paving the way for the widespread availability of this delectable treat.


Modern Techniques:

In the modern era, jam making has become a popular culinary hobby and an artisanal craft. The fundamental process of making jam remains largely unchanged, but the methods have been refined. The primary ingredients required for jam making are fruit, sugar, and sometimes pectin—a natural substance that aids in the gelling process. The fruit is typically washed, peeled, and pitted as necessary, and then cooked with sugar over medium heat until it reaches the desired consistency. Pectin, if needed, is added to ensure proper gel formation. The cooked jam is then poured into sterilized jars and sealed through various techniques such as heat sealing or water bath canning.


Jam making has traversed through time, witnessing innovations and improvements that have shaped its journey. From its humble beginnings in ancient civilizations to the modern-day practices, jam making has captivated taste buds and offered a sweet escape. The basic methods of crushing, cooking, and preserving fruit have endured, allowing us to relish the flavors of nature all year round. As we savor a spoonful of jam, we connect with the past and celebrate the enduring legacy of this timeless culinary tradition.



Enchanting Berry Potion Jam

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh berries (such as strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries)

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • A pinch of cinnamon (optional)

  • A sprinkle of fairy dust (edible glitter, for a whimsical touch)

Instructions:

  1. Begin by carefully selecting the freshest, most vibrant berries. These plump jewels of nature hold the essence of the earth's magic.

  2. Gently wash and dry the berries. Place them in a cauldron (a saucepan) and set the heat to medium.

  3. Stir in the granulated sugar, allowing it to mingle with the berries. The sugar represents the sweetness of your intentions and enhances the fruit's natural essence.

  4. Squeeze the lemon juice over the berries, releasing its bright and tangy essence. The lemon awakens the flavors and adds a touch of mystique.

  5. Grate the lemon zest, letting the tiny golden strands weave their citrusy enchantment into the potion. The zest will infuse the jam with a tantalizing aroma.

  6. For an extra dash of allure, add the vanilla extract. The essence of the vanilla bean whispers secrets of comfort and warmth.

  7. Optionally, sprinkle in a pinch of cinnamon, invoking the element of fire and adding a subtle warmth to your potion. Its mystical essence will dance on your tongue.

  8. With your cauldron gently bubbling, simmer the mixture for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Feel the transformative energy of the heat as it melds the ingredients together.

  9. While the jam simmers, prepare your magical jars. Cleanse them with pure water and a sprinkle of salt, releasing any lingering negativity and preparing them to hold the spellbinding potion.

  10. After the simmering time has passed, use a spoon to test the consistency of the jam. It should slowly slide from the spoon, resembling the thick and sticky remnants of a powerful enchantment.

  11. Remove the cauldron from the heat and allow the jam to cool slightly. As it cools, infuse it with your intentions, visualizing the sweet magic it will bring to those who partake.

  12. Carefully ladle the jam into your prepared jars, taking care not to spill any precious drops. Seal the jars tightly, locking in the bewitching flavors until they are ready to be shared.

  13. As a final touch, sprinkle a pinch of edible glitter, the fairy dust, on top of each jar. This shimmering essence adds a touch of enchantment and elevates your jam to a truly mystical creation.

  14. Store the jars in a cool, dark place, allowing the jam to further develop its magical properties over time. Share this potion with loved ones, spreading its enchantment with every spoonful.

May this witchy jam fill your days with sweetness and bring a touch of magic to all who taste it. Blessed be!



Litha Berry Color Activity

You all seem to be enjoying our color series and with all of this talk of berries, we thought you might appreciate a little berry color activity for this turn of the wheel. Download and print our berry color sheet below!

Litha - Berry
.pdf
Download PDF • 7.37MB

Shadow Work: Sun & Shadow

Litha, also known as Midsummer or the Summer Solstice, is a time of abundance, growth, and the peak of the sun's power. The Sun is a central symbol during this time, representing vitality, energy, and illumination. In shadow work, we explore both the light and dark aspects of ourselves. So this turn of the wheel, let's focuses on the Sun and its shadow aspects:


Reflect on the symbolism of the Sun during Litha. The Sun represents radiance, confidence, and personal power. It brings light and warmth to our lives, nurturing growth and vitality. Consider how these positive aspects of the Sun manifest in your life. How do you express your own radiance and personal power? In what areas of your life do you feel most confident and energized?


Now, delve into the shadow aspects of the Sun. The Sun's intense heat can be overwhelming and scorching, representing potential burnout or overexertion. Explore the following questions:


Do you often find yourself pushing too hard, neglecting self-care, or becoming overwhelmed by your own energy? How does this manifest in different areas of your life?


Are there areas where you struggle with balancing your personal power? Do you feel comfortable asserting yourself, or do you tend to hold back and suppress your own light?


Reflect on any feelings of self-doubt or insecurities that arise when considering your personal radiance. Are there aspects of yourself that you hide or feel uncomfortable sharing with others? How does this impact your relationships and self-expression?


Consider the relationship between light and shadow. The Sun casts shadows, and the interplay between light and darkness is essential for growth and balance. Explore the following:


Are there aspects of yourself that you tend to avoid or suppress? How do these hidden aspects impact your overall well-being?


Reflect on any patterns of avoiding or rejecting your own shadows. How can you embrace these shadow aspects and learn from them?


In what ways can you find harmony between your radiant light and your shadow? How can you integrate both aspects into a balanced and authentic expression of self?


Take time to journal, meditate, or engage in other introspective practices to explore these questions. Embrace the transformative potential of shadow work and use it as a tool for personal growth and self-acceptance. Remember to approach this process with compassion and gentleness, allowing yourself to explore and integrate the shadows with kindness and understanding.



Southern Hemisphere Shoutout: Yule

Blessed Yule to our pagan friends in the southern hemisphere, may the winter solstice bring many blessings as the darkest days of winter begin to fade and the brightness of the sun begins to return with more abundance. For more about Yule and some fun activities, check out the Yule Newsletter we put out when we last passed through Yule in the northern hemisphere.



Become a Contributor

We are still taking contributor submissions, which we hope to start publishing in our next newsletter. To have your art considered for our Lughnasadh 2023 newsletter, please submit your work no later than July 1, 2023 to ensure we have time to review it. You can submit your art for consideration through our online form, found by clicking here. There is a small monetary reward for artists whose work is chosen to be featured.



Summer Savings

We appreciate all of our wonderful newsletter readers and would like to offer you all a special discount for our Etsy shop. Please use the code LITHA23 for 10% OFF thorough July 31st.



CALENDAR

17 June New Moon (11:37 PM CST)

21 June Litha

Summer Solstice

03 July Full Buck Moon (10:41 PM CST)

17 July New Moon (1:31 PM CST)

01 August Full Sturgeon Moon (1:31 PM CST)

Lughnasadh



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