Merry Meet friends! I would imagine many of you..like me..are very busy this weekend. Thanksgiving is just a few days away and I’m in the midst of planning the meal, cleaning house, grocery shopping, cooking and baking….all while having the first flu bug I’ve had in 5 years! But I love this time of year so I’m plugging along 🙂 Thanksgiving is just a simple traditional meal with my family and extended family. Easy and laid back and I give Thanks for the blessings in my life. This year, it also happens to be my granddaugther, Lily’s 3rd birthday, so we’ll be celebrating that as well! Happy Birthday Lily darlin!!
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth,
for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:
it is the time for home.”
I love Winter and after a beautiful Autumn, I’m ready for it to be here. I love everything about this time of year. The hustle and bustle of busy stores and restaurants. The music piped in the stores and thru the radio and blaring in my home. I love the first snowfall and anticipate it coming every year. Sweaters, coats, scarves and mitten…so colorful and cheerful to see. The shops all decked out in lights and greens and trees! It’s cooking and baking goodies to give as gifts and to stock the cookie jar. Making plans with family and friends for Yule parties or lunches out or seeing a movie together. Shopping for gifts I know my loved ones want or need and doing my best to make it a beautiful time of year for those I love the most. I feel alot of joy this time of year!
The Winter Solstice though, to me, is a whole different thing. Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, is about quiet, peace, introspection. It’s time with family. It’s a nice dinner with lots of candlelight throughout the house. It’s about lighting the Yule log and watching it burn. I spend time contemplating the last year and what I’d like to change in my life in the next year. It’s spiced wine under the Moon and if I’m lucky it’s softly snowing. It’s spending time at my altar in solitude. My altar will be bright with candlelight and greens and I’ll welcome the coming of the Sun God because though there is still a long winter ahead of us, we know the warmth of the Sun will return. Yule, the Winter Solstice….is pure magick!
Picture this….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 from our warm, candlelit rooms onto the cold, snowy ground outside. Our homes are 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. soft music playing or a favorite christmas movie playing. It’s the Winter Solstice Night. *sigh* 🙂
*Symbolism– Rebirth of the Sun, The longest night of the year, TheWinter Solstice, introspection, 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 a help to you for decorating your home, setting up your altar, and for ideas on how to celebrate Yule. I was raised celebrating Christmas and raised my children the same way…though it was secular..not religious for us. It was about Santa, presents, family fun…. christmas cards, movies, music. It was secrets, and wrapping, and sneaking peeks, The Night Before Christmas, Rudolf and Frosty. It was shopping, and caroling (yes, caroling), cookie baking, laying under the lit tree in the dark, looking at the beauty of the lights and shiny ornaments. It was time with grandparents, cousins, aunts & uncles. To this day we celebrate Christmas with our extended family. But celebrating Yule, in this house, has enriched our lives with so much more. It is truly a beautiful, magickal time and I really look forward to it. So as you are curled up in your jammies in your favorite chair, perhaps internet shopping or making lists or watching a holiday movie….start thinking about how you can honor this Sabbat..in a different way then the typical “Christmas” day you may have celebrated 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.
My family likes to do a one! gift exchange that night…something witchy for our cupboard…to make the night even more fun! Smudge sticks, incense, crystal or stones, essential oils, dried herbs and even a piece of jewelry are favorites to give and receive 🙂 We also like to think of the birds and critters who are holing up for Winter…put out nuts, fruits, birdseed…keep a water supply for them. We love to do up an outdoor tree with bird seed “ornaments” and cereal “garlands” and watch all the activity it brings 🙂 We make a Yule log centerpiece for our altars. A piece of white birch, 3 holes drilled to hold a red, green and gold candle, then decorated with holly, greens, star tinsil, berries, ribbon..whatever you like. Mine is always on my altar throughout the Season. Other ways to celebrate….. 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. Spray pinecones with “snow” or glitter, attach a red or green or gold ribbon and hang it on your tree. Don’t forget the mistletoe, holly and ivy…traditional greens for the Solstice. Lots and lots of candles are a must! Burn your dried herbs from your garden in your fireplace to scent the room. Anyway you can bring nature into your home..do it 🙂
This is a Winter Sunrise from my porch last Winter!
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! Welcome Him back and enjoy the feel of the cold morning Air!
I’ll be back soon with recipes, altar pics and any thoughts I feel like writing about 🙂 During this busy time, take the time to BREATHE! Don’t get overwhelmed so much that you don’t enjoy this holiday season yourself. Take care of yourself first so you can care for your loved ones. Enlist help when needed and always remember to connect with Mother Earth..She will give you energy renewed everytime. Oh and I’ll be back in a few days with a Thanksgiving greeting too!
Blessings and Love, Autumn
Sources- My BOS, one pic is mine..the rest from the internet, my words 🙂