Merry Meet! Now that we are past Thanksgiving I am turning my full focus on the Yule season. As I said in my last post, I love Winter and Winter Solstice is most magickal to me. It is a time for family and a candlelit dinner. The burning of the Yule log, spiced wine, sharing gifts. The time I spend in solitude at my altar is just as special. The longest night of the year is a time for introspection, to looking back at last year and turning my thoughts to the next year. My altar will be bright with candlelight and greens and sweet incense will waft through the air, calming me and centering me as it always does. Yes, I love Winter Solstice or Yule very much!
Yule or Winter Solstice falls in the Northern Hemisphere somewhere between December 20 and 23. It is the longest night of the year..tomorrow the Sun starts to return and the days will start to lengthen. Winter is here. The first snows have fallen and cover the earth. The nights are dark, the air is cold and sharp, trees are bare, smoke is pouring out of chimneys, the windows in our homes spill light onto the cold ground from our warm bright rooms. Your home may be decorated with twinkling lights and fragrant greens and candles everywhere. A tree covered in glass globes and beloved ornaments stands in the corner. Perhaps cider or wine is warming on the stove. You may be sitting in your easy chair, soft wooly socks on your feet, a blanket thrown over you, a fire burning in your fireplace, a good book on your lap. But how did they celebrate Yule in ancient times?
In some Traditions, the Winter Solstice begins the new year. For all pagans, it’s when the Wheel begins to turn once more toward the light. Fires and candles are lit to welcome back the Sun God, born by the virgin Goddess..as he returns to bring light back to the dark nights and to start to warm the Earth again. Yule is a time of awakening, of welcoming the new and the possible. Homes are decorated with Evergreens, which represent life continueing, even in the dark Winter. Mistletoe, a druid symbol for fertility is hung in the hallways. Holly and Ivy represent protection and good fortune. Reindeer symbolize the Horned God; and the colors red, green, silver and gold represent fire, earth, the Moon and the Sun, respectively.
Customs for this Sabbat include burning a Yule log (an oak or birch log decorated with ribbons, greenery, and holly berries) to represent the fire of the returning Sun. Light the log using an unburned piece of the previous year’s log; afterward, spread the ashes in your garden for fertility and save a small piece of the log for next year, keeping it in your home for good luck. Burn bayberry candles for prosperity, or write wishes on bay leaves and throw them into the fire. Bake cookies or bread using cinnamon, a traditional spice representing the Sun. Make a wreath to symbolize the Wheel of the Year, and decorate it with pinecones to represent the God and fruit to represent the Goddess. Decorate a Yule tree with images to invoke the coming year’s blessings, such as fruit and nuts for abundance, heart-shaped charms for love, feathers for inspiration, and coins for prosperity.
A different type of Yule log would be the type that is used as a base to hold three candles. Find a smaller branch of oak or pine, and flatten one side so it sets upright. Drill three holes in the top side to hold red, green and white candles (season)…green, gold, and black (the Sun God)…or white, red, and black (the Great Goddess). Also you can decorate it with greenery, ribbon, roses, pinecones, spices etc. I make both a Yule log for my fireplace and this lovely version as a table centerpiece. It’s a great craft project to do with the kids as well.
*Symbolism- Rebirth of the Sun, The longest night of the year, TheWinter Solstice, Introspect, death of the Holly King (Winter), reign of the Oak King (summer), night of the greatest lunar imbalance, death & rebirth of the Sun God, shortest day of the year.
*Symbols/Tools/Decorations- Yule log, evergreen boughs and wreaths, holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, bayberry candles, lights, gifts, candles, clove studded fruit, wassail, Christmas cactus.
*Herbs- Bayberry, blessed thistle, evergreen, frankincense, holly, laurel ,mistletoe, oak, pine, sage, cedar, moss, bay, ginger, juniper, myrrh, pinecones, rosemary, chamomile, cinnamon.
*Incense/Oils- Pine, cedar, bayberry, cinnamon, ginger, rosemary, frankincense, myrrh, nutmeg, wintergreen, hollyberry
*Colors- Red, green, gold, white, silver,
*Stones/Crystals- Rubies, bloodstones, garnets, emeralds, diamonds, cat’s eye
*Customs/Activities- Caroling, burning the Yule log, decorating the Yule tree, exchanging presents, kissing under the mistletoe, feasting, wassailing, burning candles, ringing bells, honoring Father Yule, family and friend bonding, generosity.
*Foods- Nuts, apples, caraway cakes soaked with cider, pears, ginger tea, roasted turkey, fruitcake, cookies, eggnog, mulled wine, pork dishes.
*Gods- Apollo, Ra, Odin, Lugh, the Oak King, The Green Man, Jesus,
*Goddesses- Brighid, Isis, Demeter, Gaia, Diana, The Great Mother, Mary
*Spellworking/Rituals- Peace, harmony, love, happiness, personal renewal, meditation, honoring family and friends, Festival of light.
The above correspondences will be of great aid in helping you to set up your Yule altar for your solstice ritual. I will post more on my own personal altar later. I will also post simple rituals, prayers, recipe’s for food and incense, and ideas on how to bring a bit of magick to your days and nights during this magickal time of the year. So as you are curled up in your warm comfy home, reading that great book or watching a holiday movie, and sipping your warm drink with your cat curled up beside you….start thinking about how you can honor this Sabbat..in a different way then the typical “Christmas” day you may have been used to celebrating as a child. If you have always celebrated Yule..I truly envy you for being raised in such a wonderful magickal way! I wish I had been.
There is one other thing I love to do for the solstice, on the morning after the longest night of the year, I like to either stay up or get up and watch the sunrise and toast the returning Sun King with spiced cider or a good hot cup of coffee!
Blessings and Love, Autumn
*Sources..Simple Wicca by Michele Morgan, the internet and myself! 🙂