Jewels in a Jar

A loving offering from Jackie Greer
Clan of the Triple Horses, Medford, Oregon

Early Saturday morning, my Boxer Mosely and I walk the hard dirt path. As the Sun rises golden, the dense blackberry bushes absorb the brilliant rays. But the Sun’s radiance is there, hidden in tiny red and black globules sweeter than honey.

Mose strains at his leash, wanting no restraints on this morning of joy, wanting to be free to explore and chase adventure. My soul yearns for its own adventure.

But for this glorious morning, picking berries is enough adventure. I pause, close my eyes and thank the tangled vines and the Earth Mother for sharing their sweetness. I pop berries into my mouth, and Sunshine enters my body, energizing my limbs and renewing my soul.

My basket, my stomach and my spirit filled, I carry my globes of light into my kitchen. I sit with a cup of tea, resting for the work ahead. For our Ancestors, this was a time to fill root cellars with squash and capture the summer’s bounty in jars.

They are with me as I pull out my canning pot, fill it with water and lift it onto the stove. I light the flame and slide empty canning jars into the water to heat and sterilize.

Before I can harvest and fill my soul, my soul must be pure, transformed in Cerridwen’s Cauldron, free of weeds, free of relationships that no longer work, of things I no longer need. Like the canning jars and the Lakota Holy Man Fool’s Crow, I must become Hollow Bones for the Great Spirit to enter.

I pull out a heavy Dutch oven, the crucible of transformation, and empty my basket into it. I measure the sugar. Every life, no matter how bitter and full of pain, has some sweetness. As I crush and thank the berries, they pour out their blood in sacrifice, as the God will soon do, opening the Fisher King’s wound to bless the Land with Sovereignty. Only through sacrifice can we be transformed. I add a little lemon juice, the tartness that will make me treasure the sweetness all the more.

As I stir, the Shining Ones speak:

“You have worked much, prayed much, cried much, laughed much. You planted the seed at Imbolc. Ostara’s warmth and gentle rains brought it to life. At Beltane, pollen and flower, male and female, united in joy and power. Their union sparked the sweetness you taste today, and the Sun God’s radiance brought it to this moment of black, shiny, falling-off-the vine perfection.

“It is time for that sweetness to be released but it is also time for the thorns to prick your fingers; a soul never grows without pain. But as your fingers bleed, Mother Earth’s laughter echoes in your heart as Her sweet juices run from your mouth.”

I stir with my favorite wooden spoon, stained with jam and spaghetti sauce and the love and tears of two generations. As the spoon’s energy and my love and offering prayers pour into the pot, sweet-smelling steam fills the kitchen and the jam becomes a ruby red scrying mirror. I see my Grandmother’s smile. Her love and offering prayers unite with my own. In the translucent red jewels on the spoon I see countless generations whose bodies returned to the Earth but whose spirits live in me.

The jam bubbles as Cerridwen’s Cauldron transforms the berries into sweet, sticky perfection. My works, laughter and tears of the past cycle have been offered to the Shining Ones with humble, joyful hands and have been found worthy. I smile and whisper a prayer of thanks.

I pull the hot jars from the canner with my lifting tongs. I place a towel on the counter to protect my pure vessels from cracking, and ladle the jam into them. Making sure they don’t overflow, I remember that the Christian Scriptures say we are never given more than we can handle.

I lift a hot metal lid with rubber underneath from a small pot of boiling water and center it on each jar, then screw on a metal band to hold each lid in place. Not too tight—there must always be room to breathe. Gently, as I must always handle my heart and soul, I lift the full jars into the hot water canner. I set a timer and wait while listening to the cauldron’s gentle burble.

I sip my tea and wait. The heart must wait until the time is right for harvest, and trust the Universe that It will know when the time is right.

A soft ding interrupts my reverie. It is time. I lift each jar from the canner and let it rest on the towel-covered counter to cool.

The cycle is complete, and jewels in a jar are ready for my shelves. I pause, enjoying their glow, and thank the Shining Ones for my private harvest.