What Happened at a Latvian Summer Solstice Ritual with Herbal Magic
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Latvian Summer Rituals and Herbal Magic
When I got an invitation to a Latvian summer solstice ritual at Cate Hill Orchard, my heart did a little dance. As first generation Latvian, I always wanted to connect with a community that understood my culture and could help me learn more about it. As I drove farther and farther from the city, I was a bit nervous going somewhere I knew not much about.
It was an unusually warm and balmy evening. When I arrived at the orchard, what struck me most was the peaceful feeling of being somewhere completely remote and free of any car noise. Cate Hill Orchard is an organic apple orchard and sheep farm deep in the heart of the Northeast Kingdom.
As I walked into the apple orchard to gather wildflowers to make flower crowns, I heard the quiet and lulling hum of bees in the hives on a sunny day. We picked fleabane, yarrow, bladdercampion, and black eyed susans. Flower crowns represent the sun. Learn how to make flower crowns!
We gathered at the top of the sun laden hill to make the flower crowns and sing traditional Latvian and Russian summer solstice songs. The drone of the music transported us into the magic realm of fairies and someone found a four leaf clover. Maria served us fresh honeyberry juice that she made from her own bushes.
Maria’s Honeyberry Juice
Honeyberries are in the blooming honeysuckle family and originated in Russia, though they are grown in Eastern Europe and Asia. They are a potent remedy for taming inflammation, improving eyesight, and boosting memory. Honeyberries are high in antioxidants and taste like blueberries with a more tangy and rich flavor.
Maria from Cate Hill Orchard created a delicious juice recipe made with honeyberries. While honeyberries are most prolific in early summer, there will still be a few berries left to pick on the farm by mid July. The juice was the color of wine and was both tart and sweet at the same time.
Maria’s Juice Recipe
Simmer honeyberries for 10 minutes on low and strain the liquid. Add raw honey once cooled to a warm temperature and raw apple juice. Refrigerate and serve cold. Juice will keep for 1 week in the fridge.
At dusk, Maria served us fresh honeyberries with homemade honeyberry jam and red clover jelly.
Something incredible happened at the summer solstice ritual- as we were singing, the veil to the plant spirits lifted. You could see the field of oat straw swaying and dancing, celebrating with us. I could feel the pure joy of the plants and flowers basking in the last rays of late evening sun.