This is my jam...

Lammas has just passed on the 1st August, the first of the harvest celebrations in the Pagan/Wiccan calendar. Derived from 'loaf-mass', Lammas is an ancient celebration of the first loaf made from the first harvested grains of the year.

The growth of wheat from seed to stalk to leaf to flower, culminating in a harvest that could support life still seems a feat of natural magick even now. The sacrifice of life, the cutting down of the wheat so that it can feed us has long been represented as the symbolic sacrifice of the archetypal Horned God, masculine energy reaching full power and fading for the good of others, to be reborn in the spring.

Regardless of belief or religion, I've always found autumn inspiring, a truly magical time. Much of what I write seems to take place during autumn and winter, and perhaps this is due to the growing darkness and shorter days. It's hard to imagine supernatural shenanighans occurring in the scorching brightness of midsummer (but admittedly not impossible). But those first signs of nature turning towards the shadows, the mists, falling leaves and first fruits; the ripening of the blackberries and elderberries in the woods, parks and wasteground always makes me feel like a weight is lifting from my shoulders - something magic this way comes.

The seasons change and the scent in the wind is of wood smoke and spice, creativity, inspiration and motivation, promising mystery and starlight. Magick feels only a stretch of the hand away like a dew bejeweled cobweb in the dark, the anticipation of a match held ready to strike.

And magick is at the heart of almost everything I write.

To celebrate Lammas and the first fruits of the season I love to go blackberrying and make blackberry and apple jam, a preserve that most supermarkets seem to think is beneath them and the only way I can source it affordably is by making it myself. And to be fair, the recipe is easy enough that were it not for the scaldingly lava-like jam, I would encourage children to make it.

Here's a link to the recipe I use

There is something akin to alchemy in making jam - you take fresh fruits, some of which you may have hand picked yourself that morning and through the transformative powers of heat and a vast amount of sugar you suddenly have a bubbling cauldron of burgundy heaven that you can jar and keep for six months, taking those flavours of autumn with you through the chill winter months.

And if you're squeamish stop reading here because I'm about to take things a little too far and make things creepy again. It wouldn't be my blog without a generous helping of both.

Normal home made jam is wonderful but I like to add an extra nuance to my blackberry and apple jam if I can. Blackberries will grow anywhere. They love wasteground and rubble and gloomy woodland near witches houses and in partnership with ivy they have taken over hundreds of graveyards across the country. And in these quiet wooded oasies of remembrance and dappled shade, the blackberries love to grow fat, juicy, purple-black and plump enough to melt as you pick them.

What better way to celebrate first fruits, the sacrifice of life for life, than with the fruits of the graveyard. I like to call it graveyard jam and some people will think this is terrible, weird and utterly gross and I think... more jam for me.

In some cultures it was considered respectful to eat of a dead loved one so that you might then carry part of their soul and their memories and they would live on within you.  In the overgrown graveyards beneath the trees, the fallen leaves, the stones obscured by ivy and brambles, all that remains of the dead are bones and memories. Perhaps by eating graveyard jam the dead will live again in our dreams, wild and vivid and strange.

When I die bury me in a wood and plant blackberries upon me. I will bring you such dreams.


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