Tag Archives: Yule

Merry Christmas, Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays!……..

Merry Meet friends!  I am in the middle of enjoying a quiet Christmas Eve at home. My hubby Jim, daughter Sara, and brother Chris enjoyed a less busy day today.  Football, holiday movies, an all day fire in the fireplace.  My sister came by for a while.  Tonight we enjoyed a variety of appetizers for a simple dinner.  It is cold outside, an ink black starry sky as it is the New Moon,  and it’s been just awonderful day in every way.  Tomorrow, it will still be just us…. until the evening when all the rest of the family will be here for Christmas dinner.  During the day there will be music playing, fire going, cooking, and fine tuning the house for company.  Our gift giving day isn’t until monday morning for my family so we still have to wait for that (to accomodate my daughter Kate’s family and all the functions they are expected at…we pick a different day altogether!)  I love that things are under control and I can really enjoy these days and evenings.  My cup runneth over with peace and joy this night 🙂 

As a simple way to give all of YOU a gift…I’m going to repost my favorite post I’ve done for Christmas in the past.  It still pertains to today very much!  Merry Christmas to you all dear friends!  and to your loved ones!! 

 

 

Today I watched “A Christmas Carol”…my all time favorite book and movie…all versions..ever! Today happened to be the musical version..which I happen to think is excellent. Has Kelsey Grammar as Scrooge and many wonderful British and American stars.   My favorite version..for the record..is probably George C. Scott…he was a most excellent Scrooge! Or maybe Patrick Stewart…or maybe even the Muppets and Michael Caine 🙂  I love all the versions..even the bad ones…because I adore the story so much!!

 “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!”

……..Scrooge…Charles Dickens

 I am sure many of you will recognize this quote. I am a huge lover of Charles Dickens and I think he writes beautifully and from the heart and his words are still ringing true all these years later. He was indeed teaching a lesson in this Novella. What is the lesson? I would imagine most people would say the same thing…”goodwill towards men”. I see it as more than that.

My understanding is that Dickens was appalled at the poverty he saw around him, and that the middle and upper class were doing nothing to help them at all. His Scrooge talks about the work houses and the programs set up by the government to aid the impoverished…but it was nowhere near enough. He wrote this book to open the eyes of those who were not “seeing” what needed to be done. For people to open their hearts and their wallets to help the less fortunate and it would make them happier and more blessed in their own life.

As a pagan witch, I believe that God/Goddess, the Universe, the Creator, whatever you believe in… put us here to learn lessons..with the ultimate goal being LOVE. Our goal in life should be to discover that..LOVE. And to love means to care for our “fellow man”. To me, “goodwill towards Men” means just that. We should love our family and friends as I’m sure we do. But we should also love those we don’t know, help those who need it, love and care for Mother Earth and the creatures who inhabit Her… No judgement, no greed, no setting standards for others in our own minds, equality for all, acceptance of all religions, courtesy, kindness….Love.

To me, Dickens hit the nail on the head so to speak…he saw a vision of how the world should be. More of us could learn from Scrooge’s Christmas Eve night. Scrooge was not an evil man..he was afraid. His father did time in debtors prison..causing him to have to slave in a work house at 11 years old. He never wanted to do that again..but he lost track of his self, his soul..so focused was he on never being poor.  Hoarding his money, working long hours, never enjoying the money he had; even for himself. He didn’t have a relationship with anyone except his business partner, Marley. He lived a very “poor” life in every way…because of his fear. Until he learned what dying a lonely old man would truly be like..did he become a truly rich man.

 There are many positive wonderful characters in this book..I love so many of them.  Old Fizziwig, who gave a huge party, sparing no expense, to show his gratitude to his employees. There is the clerk, Bob Cratchit, so lowly in Scrooge’s eyes, but greatly loved by his large poverty stricken family, especially Tiny Tim. Then there is Fred, Scrooge’s endearing nephew. He was the epitome of a good man who’s life was abundant in family, friends, love , joy, and blessings. He showed love at every turn. All he wanted from Uncle Scrooge was for him to come to Christmas Day dinner. He came every year and requested it every year. He never gave up on him. and when Scrooge had his life altered…he welcomed him with open arms..holding no grudge for all the years of rejection. Though he was not a rich man…he was rich in every other way. I don’t know about you..but I want to be like Fred….I want to be rich in friends. I want to be rich in experiences. I want to be rich in appreciation for the blessings that come to my life. At the end of my days, I want to know that there will be people who will mourn my passing for all the right reasons..that I LOVED! This is the lesson that Scrooge learned..luckily while he could have some time to truly appreciate it.

The version I talked about above..the musical…has a song in it that is the main theme song thruout the movie.  I have looked up the lyrics because I love the song so much..it brings tears to my eyes everytime I hear it.

 

God Bless Us Everyone

 

Let the Stars in the sky

remind of us Man’s compassion.

Let us love til we die

and God Bless us everyone.

In your heart there’s a light

As bright as a Star in heaven

Let it shine thru the night and

God Bless Us Everyone.

Till each child is fed

Till all men are free

Till the world becomes a family…….

Star by Star in the sky

and kindness by human kindness.

Let me love til I die and…

God Bless us everyone! 

 

Look into your own Past, Present, and even into your Future. Have you done well by others? Can you do better? I think I can ALWAYS do better.  Something to strive for everyday.   A Christmas Carol will always mean a lot to me…and I will try to keep Christmas in my heart all year long. and as Tiny Tim says……God or Goddess!  Bless Us Every One!!

 

 Blessed Be and Merry Christmas!   Autumn

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Filed under Books I'm reading, Discussion, Family, God, Goddess, Holiday, Movies, Music, My Writing, New Moons, Poem, Seasons, Winter, Yule/Winter Solstice/Chrismas

Blessed Winter Solstice……..

Brightly burns the Yule log tonight
Magic dances in firelight
Hold my hand and join the song
Raise the Sun King bright and strong
Dark is giving way to light
As brightly burns the Yule log tonight!

by my friend

Saffron Celtic Moon

 

Merry Meet my friends.  Whew…I have been so so busy..as I’m sure you all have been.  I’m taking a few minutes to write  a quick post and to post some pictures.  The Winter Solstice is upon us!  Here, it is warm and very rainy. Not Winter weather at all!  But be that as it may, I can FEEL that the Solstice is here…the darkness prevails, Mother Earth is dormant, the animals are still collecting, scurrying, hurrying to prepare for the long Winter.  Cut wood is being delivered, the stores are busy with people shopping for their festivities the next few days, the malls and restaurants are swamped, traffic is terrible LOL.   But…..tonight..the longest night of the year….leads to a Sunrise in the morning..the Sun God is reborn…and the days wills start getting longer again. 

As I said before, the Winter Solstice for me is the peace I find in myself.  Taking the time to reflect, to renew, to rest..to be quiet with myself.  With all the hustle and bustle going on around me….quiet is what will be happening here, both tomorrow morning watching the Sunrise with my coffee, and tomorrow night..in ritual.  That is what the Solstice is all about!  Welcoming the Sun God, knowing Spring will come again though Winter is upon us, and spending time on myself.

Tomorrow, I will have my family here.  We’re going to have a luncheon, exchange a small gift, and burn the Yule log.  We make wishes on the Yule log by writing them down on a piece of paper, and burning it with the Yule log and greens.  It will be laid back and fun.  Tomorrow night, I’ll be at my altar. 

So speaking of altar….here is some pics of mine this year.

The pics and what I put on my altar probably speaks for itself.  The beautiful stag in my God representative.  The oranges represent the Sun…of course cloves are perfect this time of year.  The greens are pine, spruce, holly, lavender and rosemary..all from my own yard.  The pinecones are from my yard too.  I used gold to represent the Sun in the stars and candles, of course red and green had to be there too.  My Yule log and rosemary tree have a cardinal on them..my favorite Winter bird!  I’m pretty happy with the results and can’t wait to work at it tomorrow night.  Oh of course, wine and some cake..oatmeal I think, will be enjoyed as well 🙂 

So, spend some time by a fire with family, spend some time reflecting on the last year and on yourself, and welcome the Sun God during the Sunrise in the morning. May your Solstice be most Blessed with Love, Joy, Peace and Prosperity.  I thank you all for reading my blog and for being my friend.  I am most Blessed this Solstice Night!

Yule Blessings and Love, Autumn

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Filed under Altars, Holiday, Mother Earth, Photography, Poem, Seasons, Uncategorized, Winter, Yule/Winter Solstice/Chrismas

Winter Solstice/Yule Recipes 2011……

Merry Meet friends!  I can’t believe that the Solstice is just a few days away and Christmas right behind!  I’m not as ready as I’d like to be.  Some shopping yet to do, grocery and gifts, and lots of wrapping to do!  But my cards are done, most of the shopping is done, menu is planned, some cookies have been baked and I’ll hopefully get my altar done this weekend.  I need to pick up a couple more things for it.  I have been pretty under the weather for too many weeks, and that is slowing me down quite a bit :(.  While I’m relaxing tonight, I thought I’d post some recipes that we love to have for our holiday dinner..no matter which one you celebrate!  Our weather here has been so so…pretty gloomy, quite a bit of rain, and quite warm..or really cold.  I’d love to see some snow.  We have had a night or two of flurries but nothing sticking yet.  I’m so anxious to see a good amount of snow on the ground! 

 I’m sitting by the fire tonight,   having a glass of wine, and dealing with some emotions from a sad day.  One of my sisters…a Witch sister..suffered the loss of her dear husband yesterday.  My heart is broken for her… as are the hearts of All of her circle of friends.  We are sad for her, worried for her and want so badly to be there for her.  Such a helpless feeling when there is distance between our homes.  But there is no distance between our hearts and our love for her..and we are sending her love, comfort and strength to help her through this very sad, difficult time.  Blessed Be Cheryl. I love you. 

So, to move on with the recipes.  I’ll start with my Winter Solstice altar recipes…I especially love these!  Many of my favorite scents are during this time of year.  Pine, Cedar, Orange, Cinnamon, Clove….yummy!  I’ll be making these up soon to enjoy at my altar!

Winter Solstice Oil Blend

 4 drops Pine

 2 dropsOrange

 2 drops Cedar

 2 drops Juniper

 2-3 lumps finely ground Frankincense

This is really a wonderful blend.  Add a piece of clove or cinnamon stick or allspice berry to really spice it up.  It smells so so good!  I just want to take a bath in it!! LOL

 

Winter’s Night Yule Incense

2 parts Juniper berries

2 parts mugwort

1 part cedar

1 part pine resin

1 part evergreen leaves

1 part chopped sweetgrass

½ part rosemary

1/2 part ground cinnamon

I have altered this recipe a bit.  It called for Laurel leaves which in my area are not to be found.  And I just had to add the cinnamon..it’s a must 🙂  You can also add allspice, anise stars (which I love!) and cloves again.  Just grind everything really well..and it will burn great and smell like gingerbread on a holiday tree! 🙂 

 

Ok..on to the good stuff for your Santa belly!

Rum Spiced Egg Nog

 4 cups milk

5 whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

12 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 1/2 cups light rum

4 cups light cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

Combine milk, cloves, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and cinnamon in a saucepan, and heat over lowest setting for 5 minutes. Slowly bring milk mixture to a boil.

In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar. Whisk together until fluffy. Whisk hot milk mixture slowly into the eggs. Pour mixture into saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 3 minutes, or until thick. Do not allow mixture to boil. Strain to remove cloves, and let cool for about an hour.

Stir in rum, cream, 2 teaspoon vanilla, and nutmeg. Refrigerate overnight before serving

*The “cooked” eggs make this a safer dish from the raw eggs version.  Also…if you like…use 1/2 light rum and 1/2 spiced rum for an even better treat!

 

Spiced Wassail

 2 quarts apple cider

1 1/2 cups orange juice

3/4 cup pineapple juice

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)

1 dash ground cinnamon

1 dash ground cloves

Directions

In a large saucepan, combine all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Discard cinnamon sticks. Serve hot in mugs.

(makes 10 cups)

Sugar and Spice Nuts

 3 egg whites

2 tablespoons water

3 cups walnut halves

2 cups pecan halves

1 cup whole unblanched almonds

2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites and water until frothy. Add nuts; stir gently to coat. Combine the remaining ingredients. Add to nut mixture and stir gently to coat. Spread into two greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pans. Bake, uncovered, at 300 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring every 10 minutes. Cool. Store in an airtight container.

 

Cranberry Meatballs

*A family favorite..we make them often and often double the batch!

Meatballs:

2 lbs ground beef

1 cup crushed corn flakes

1/3 cup dried parsley

2 eggs

2 TB soy sauce

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/3 cup catsup

2 TB dried minced onion

Mix all ingredients well and form into meatballs..cocktail sized.  Place on a jelly roll pan or 2- 9″ x 13″ baking dishes. 

Sauce:

1 – 16oz can cranberry jelly roll

1- 12oz bottle chili sauce

2 TB brown sugar

1 TB lemon juice

Blend together.  Pour over meatballs.  Bake at 350* for 30 mins. 

* I then put these in a warm slow cooker for serving. 

 

Reuben Spread

*Another family favorite!

16ozs shredded swiss cheese

16ozs shredded cheddar cheese

28oz jar Saurkraut, drained

8ozs chopped corned beef (I use Buddig)

1 1/2 cups Hellmans mayo

Mix all ingredients well.  Place in a greased 9″ x 13″ baking dish.  Bake @350* for 45mins to an hour til brown & bubbly.  Serve on rye on pumpernickel party rounds and put out a dish of Thousand Island Dressing 🙂  *This will get inhaled…I promise!!  Great warmed up the next day ..if you have any leftover 🙂

 

 

 

This ham recipe beats the honey hams you go buy!

Tangy Honey Glazed Ham

1 (10 pound) fully-cooked, bone-in ham

1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar

1/3 cup pineapple juice

1/3 cup honey

1/3 large orange, juiced and zested

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Place ham in a roasting pan.

In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, pineapple juice, honey, orange juice, orange zest, Dijon mustard, and ground cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside.

Bake ham in preheated oven uncovered for 2 hours. Remove ham from oven, and brush with glaze. Bake for an additional 30 to 45 minutes, brushing ham with glaze every 10 minutes.

 

Cheesy Potato Casserole

*So easy and So good!

1 bag frozen shredded hash browns (slightly thawed so they will spread)

1/2 pint whipping cream

1 stick butter

2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.  Layer potatoes then cheese, then potatoes and cheese again.

In a small saucepan, melt butter into whipping cream, stirring so it won’t burn and mix well.  Pour over potatoes and cheese layers.

Bake at 350* for 45 mins or until cheese is melted and browning a bit. 

 

 

Apple Gingerbread Cobbler

14 oz package Gingerbread cake mix, divided

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup butter, softened & divided

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2- 21oz cans apple pie filling

Mix together 2 cups gingerbread mix and water until smooth; set aside.  Stir together remaining gingerbread mix and brown sugar.  Cut in 1/4 cup butter until mixture is crumbly.  Stir in pecans and set aside.

Combine pie filling and remaining 1/4 cup butter in a large saucepan; cook, stirring often, for 5 mins over med heat.  Spoon apple mixture evenly into a greased 11″ x 17″ baking pan.  Spoon gingerbread mix over apples, then sprinkle with pecan crumb mix.

Bake at 375* for 30-35 mins.  Serve warm with ice cream!  Yummy!!

 

Be sure to add lots of fresh veggies and fruits or a salad to round out all the rich, spicy foods.  Finish off with a delicious coffee with Baileys!! 

You won’t find that all of these recipes contain something from the list of correspondences for Yule.  But many of these, as I said, are family favorites I wanted to share.  At my house, we split up the dishes..everybody brings something..so it’s a lot less work for me and I have more time to enjoy the day! 

One thing to remember when you are so busy cooking….is to take the time to put lots of intention into your cooking.  Put love, joy, abundance, harmony, peace and goodwill into your dishes.  Throw in your favorite spices to add the magickal elements you can draw from them.  Put on holiday music or your favorite holiday movies.  Dance, sing, talk with family, have a glass of wine or eggnog.  Keep it simple and you will enjoy it too.  Your family will love your efforts and everyone will enjoy the good food!  Happy Cooking!!

 

“So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!”
– Susan Cooper, The Shortest Day

 

 

Blessed Yuletide Season, Autumn

Sources:  My recipes, some from the internet.  Pictures from the internet.

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Filed under Family, Holiday, Loose incense recipe, Oil Blend Recipe, Poem, Recipe from my Kitchen, Seasons, Winter, Yule/Winter Solstice/Chrismas

Winter Solstice/Yule/Christmas books I love…….

Greetings!  I can’t believe how fast this month is flying by!  I have been so busy preparing for Yule and Christmas that I haven’t had time to write her as quickly as I would have liked to after my last post.  However, I’m about done shopping, most of my Holiday cards are mailed, and I’m ready to start wrapping soon.  It has been softly flurrying here today, quite cold and the Full Moon is peeking thru clouds..looks like it might clear up yet tonight.  Blessed Full Moon to you all by the way!!   I have lit a fire, my healing candles are going, incense burning..my feet are up and I just drank a very delicious eggnog milkshake my hubby brought home for me from Steak and Shake…so so good!  A wonderful way to spend a Full Moon evening.  Later, I’ll go out and spend some time with the Goddess, cleanse a few things, and I’m hoping to catch some Full Moon snow water in a jar.  The Yule Full Moon is to me, a very powerful Full Moon, and I intend to take in that energy to help me get thru this busy and sometimes stressful time of year! 

So, I have several books about Yule, Winter Solstice, pagan customs etc that I just love and I refer to them often.  So let’s get started doing a bit of show and tell……

 

The Winter Solstice….The Sacred Traditions of Christmas  by John Matthews. 

Despite the word Christmas in the title, this book is about the Winter Solstice, how Christmas came about, and the history and lore surrounding the whole Season. Each chapter provides cross-cultural connections to the ideas, customs, and icons of Christmas.  The book starts out discussing Solstice celebrations and lore across the world where the celebration of the Return of the Sun takes place from Egypt, to Rome, to Europe and America.  Saturnalia, the Mummers, the Morris Dancers are all talked about.  At the end of each chapter, there are suggestions for faith-free activities you can do to celebrate the Season..or you can incorporate your faith as you wish.

  The Child of Wonder chapter talks about the different gods across the ages..such as Apollo, Mabon, Osiris, Mithras and yes, Jesus. It talks about the Wise Men and the Star and the Nativity.   The Green Bough chapter discusses the symbolism of the tree, the evergreens, holly, ivy, mistletoe and of course the Yule Log. In Old Sir Christmas we are introduced the the “Santa’s from around the world.  The Solstice Animals …tough chapter for an animal lover…it’s about the slaughter of animals and the rituals about it…for food for the long Winter. I love the activity at the end of this chapter though..how to make soul cakes.   Lastly, the 12 Days of Christmas ….I especially love this chapter. This is not about the carol we all know, but about the true 12 days..from Dec 24 night to January 6th.  There is Snow day, Boxing day, The Feast of Fools day, Bringing in the Boar day and others.  Each day has an activity or ritual you can do to honor the day.  I have incorporated some of them into my own celebration. 

Thruout this book, there is beautiful artwork, drawings, photos….poetry, quotes, recipes and rituals.  I just love this beautiful book.  I suggest you will love it too!!

Pagan Christmas…The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide….by Christian Ratsch and Claudia Muller-Ebeling. 

 This book is a beautiful book..about the Ethnobotany (the study of plants) of the Season. It’s about the traditional uses and symbolism of the Yule Season plants…like the fir tree, mistletoe, holly, ivy, evergreens, laurel, yew…even tobacco and mushrooms!   There is info galore on the plants themselves, photos, how and why they are used in ritual, for decorating..ways to use them such as making incense, decorating your home etc.  There are stories from Befana to the Wise Men, From St. Nicholas to Woten.  I especially love all the incense recipes as I love making my own.  Another great book you will learn so much from!

Yule…A Celebration of Light & Warmth…by Dorothy Morrison. 

I love this book and Dorothy Morrison 🙂  This book is chock full of everything about the Solstice.  It has holiday lore from around the world, history, crafts, and  recipes. She explains the traditions behind the symbols of the Season, such as the tree, bells, evergreens, reindeer, gingerbread and lights amongst others.

She talks about the superstitions, and omens that surround the holiday in different countries.  She has some rituals and simple charms you can do as you get ready to celebrate.  A chapter on decking the halls, with craft projects to do.  My favorite..a tree blessing right before you decorate the tree.  There is ideas for parties and gift giving…how to’s included. 

There is a chapter on her personal celebration and a great chapter on things you can do to celebrate every day of the month of December. The final chapter is about is tips on cleaning up AFTER the holidays…what to do with your popcorn strings, how to store your decorations etc.   Also, I love her poetry and there is poetry she has written and  poetry others have written thruout the book. This book is a real keeper!!

The Wheel of the Year..Living the Magical Life…by Pauline Campanelli

This book takes you on a month-by-month journey of the Wheel of the Year and how it is celebrated by Pagans and the Campinellis’ themselves.  Every chapter starts out with a beautiful description of the month and what is going on in nature etc during that month.   December..the Yule month of course…has in it … The Magic of Mistletoe; The Ritual Burning of the Yule Log; Magical Uses of Ashes from the Yule Fire; A Ritual for Cutting Sacred Fir; The Pagan Symbolism of Santa Claus. It talks about wreaths, birds, ornaments and the Oak Moon.  There is a Bayberry Candle Charm, a Yule log ritual, and a cutting the tree ritual.  It ends with some info on New Years Eve and Father Time! 

This book has something for every month and it is one of my all time favorite books..If you don’t have it..it’s a must for your witchy library!!

Sabbats..A Witch’s Approach to Living the Old Ways….Edain McCoy

Edain’s book is awesome as well.  Again, each chapter is about a Sabbat..starting with Samhain and going thru Mabon.  For Yule, she discusses the history and customs and how some of the customs have been preserved in various cultures.  The discusses the fight between the Oak King and the Holly King, the Celts and Druids use of evergreens, the symbolism of the wreath and tree, and again, of course, the burning of the Yule log.  There are recipes for sugar and gingerbread cookies, rituals, some craft ideas and how to make an edible Yule log ..yummy!  There is a nice pathworking meditation that I really love!  There are some correspondences, foods for Yule and a bit about how old christmas carols often have pagan symbology in them.

I love this book …again, a must have! 

Ok…those are my main books….some honorable mentions…..

Wicca in the Kitchen by Scott Cunningham.  ….for recipes for Yule

Witch in the Kitchen by Cait Johnson…again for recipes, a meditation, and a ritual or two…very nice! 

Moon Magick by DJ Conway….Lovely book..a chapter on the Cold Moon, recipes, crafts and a Winter Solstice ritual. 

So these are some of my favorites.  My wishlist would be for more children’s book about Yule and more for us grown- ups too 🙂  Whether you celebrate the Solstice or Christmas..there is something in these books to help you to celebrate it in a beautiful, meaningful way.  The Season is rich in tradition, lore and history..a most beautiful time of year.

If you have a favorite book not listed here..I’d sure like to know about it!  Please write me here and let me know!

My next blog post ..soon..will be recipes.  I’m gonna start gathering them this weekend!  and I’m actually going to be baking this weekend with my daughters and granddaughter.  ah….another beautiful memory in the making!

Blessings and Love, Autumn

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Filed under Books, Books I'm reading, History, Holiday, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Seasons, Winter, Yule/Winter Solstice/Chrismas

Joy and Love is the Reason……

Merry Meet my friends!  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones.  I know I did.  We had a small group this year as some of my family was scattered in all directions, but those of us who were here had a very wonderful day.  Watching my granddaughter Lily open her birthday presents for her 3rd birthday was highest on my list of memories that day. Such a blessing is that little girl 🙂 

Since then, I have been in full Yule mode! 🙂  Shopping and decorating and sending off cards and spending time having fun with the family.  I feel behind so far but taking the time to enjoy the season so I’m having fun either way.  My house should be fully decked out by tomorrow night, shopping is more then half done, cards will be going by the weekend and wrapping and baking will commence soon after.  We have even had our first snow tuesday night and it was beautiful.  It didnt’t stay around for long but I’m quite sure, living in Ohio as I do, there is much more to come..and soon!  I have had fireside, Bailey’s in my glass night, and watching holiday movies nights, and lunch out with family and shopping days…I just love this time of year!

Along with the joy of the Season, comes again the Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays wars.  *sigh*.  I just felt the need to put in my two cents worth as I see many who feel like me…. and then there are those people who are apparantly completely offended if the “right” words aren’t spoken to them during this time of year. 

As you all know by now, I am a Witch..a Pagan.  I celebrate Yule, the Winter Solstice. It is a very joyful and meaningful Sabbat for me and I celebrate it fully!    I also celebrate Christmas  *gasp* LOL.    I grew up celebrating Christmas and some of my family members are Christians.  I celebrate the day with them.  For me, it’s not  a celebration of the birth of the Christian Jesus Christ, It’s a family holiday…..it’s about Santa, presents, good food, fun, family, love and joy. Just like many Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Pagan families do..we celebrate both!  Now I know that to some Pagans, this is an unpopular decision, and yet I have many many facebook Witch and Pagan friends who do the same. Unless you are born into a family who is all of one faith, it would be disrespectful, in my opinion, not to share in the day with those I love, who celebrate Christmas. 

When I see all the comments about “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”  or “Don’t take Christ out of Christmas”….well, one I agree with and one I sure don’t.  I agree that Christ is the reason for Christmas..after all, Christmas IS a Christian holiday, the birth of Jesus to the Christians.   However, Jesus is NOT the reason for the Season in my mind.  The “season”  is not just a day…the Season is much more..for some people it denotes the period of time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.  For others, it may be just the December holidays.  For still others, it might be the whole Wintertime..after all, many “holidays” are celebrated well into January.  The birth of Jesus, (Which we should all know by now, was NOT in December)  is not the reason for ANY of the other holidays but Christmas…right??  For me, the Solstice, the turning of the Wheel of the Year, the re-birth of the Sun God, the longest night of the year is the reason for Yule and my celebration of the “season”.  Hannukah, Kwaanza, and other faiths have their own reason for the season as well.  The season is not just about the Christian holiday, Christmas.

Having said all that, I think the argument over what to say or what you want to hear is just absurd. For me, if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Blessed Yule, or Happy Holidays…I look at it as well wishes for a joyful holiday, joyful season, or joyful day.  Merry Christmas is not a slap in the face to my beliefs.  It is what the OTHER person believes so that is what they say.  Why don’t we all quit being so selfish and just take the sentiment in the way it was meant to be taken? They are wishing you well!!  You can choose to respond as you want too…of course.  There is nothing wrong with saying something different back to them…for instance “Merry Christmas to you and Blessed Yule to me”….or say what you prefer to say…in a nice way..not in a correcting manner. Most likely they will smile and still wish you well.  and keep in mind..if you are being helped by someone in customer service..they HAVE to say whatever the store policy is….don’t get nasty with them for saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas or vice versa.  I have seen this happen and it just gets my Irish up! LOL. I have also seen a Christian get very nasty when told Happy Holidays..and it actually scared me it was so nasty!  Same with other faiths folks who don’t think about anyone but themselves this time of year.  My fear is that some day nobody will be giving a seasonal greeting to anyone out of fear of saying the wrong thing and receiving an earful!  How sad would that be?  😦 

I’m not telling anyone what to do..just saying what I think is the right thing to do.  I try to be gracious, accept whatever greeting comes my way and move on.  I believe if I react kindly, the Goddess will appreciate that I was kind. The Pagan community is growing in leaps and bounds and Blessed Yule is on the lips of many!  Take comfort in that if anything 🙂 Look at Joy and Love as the Reason for the Season..for I believe no matter what you celebrate …those are two good reasons we can all agree on and embrace in unison!

I don’t know if I have Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Athiest readers here..but I know I have a lot of beautiful Witches and Pagans..many I call friends.  I know many of you feel as I do, and some of you may not.  I honor your choices either way.  And by the way,  I do feel the irritation too when someone puts Jesus and Christmas down my throat when it’s unwanted.  That is a whole different thing and I would deal with that much differently..after all, I am a Witch! Hehehe 🙂

Soon I will be posting my Yule recipes, altar pics and some favorite Yule books I love.  So I’ll be back soon!  Please feel free to leave comments…whether you agree or disagree…I love a good discussion!

Blessings and Light, Autumn

 

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Filed under Discussion, Family, Holiday, My Writing, Seasons, Yule/Winter Solstice/Chrismas

Season of Yule 2011 Begins…….

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.”

 ~Edith Sitwell

 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*  🙂

Yule Correspondences

*Element– Earth

*Threshold– Dawn

*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 🙂

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Filed under Correspondence, Family, God, Goddess, Granddaughter, Holiday, Mother Earth, Photography, Seasons, Sunrise/Sunset, Winter, Yule/Winter Solstice/Chrismas

Yule Altar…………..

Merry Meet my friends!  Yule is just two sleeps away and I am so excited.  This year is even more magickal with the Long Night’s Full Moon, the lunar eclipse and a meteor shower thrown in for good measure!  The energy, beauty and magick will be amazing!  Today I got my altar all ready to go and I’m really happy with it. 

I chose a black altar cloth as it is the longest night and all the gold, red, green and white decorations look fabulous against it.  My Yule log is the centerpiece of course.  This is not one I will burn but one I made specifically for my alter.  Its is a small white birch log with white pine greens and holly from my own yard.  Pinecones, cinnamon sticks, gold star tinsel and a big red bow finish it off.  The red candle is for the Holly King, the green candle for the Oak King, and the gold candle for the Return of the Sun King.  I anointed it with Yule oil a lovely witch sister made for me.  (Thanks Mossy) 

Also on my altar is my cauldron to burn my loose Winter’s Solstice incense.  I have scattered gold glittery stars, pine cones, a beautiful stag statue, orange pomanders, a cardinal, a rosemary tree, the elemental reps, and my working tools.  A beautiful silver chalice to hold mulled wine and later I will add my “cakes” to enjoy during my ritual.  There is also crystals of Garnet, tiger’s eye, Aventurine..red & green of course… and a picture of the Oak King and Holly King I printed out from the internet.  and of course lots of candles!!

I have so much fun setting up my altars and put alot of time and thought into them.  When I sit down to work at it I want it to have all the magick I can muster from the “things” on it, and to feel that the elements are working with me, in sync, to accomplish whatever spell or ritual I am performing.  I always bless and consecrate it as well.  Whether your altar is a whole room, a shelf on the wall, a dresser or table you set up then put away, or you take it all outside, setting it up for each Sabbat is a ritual in itself.  Put your own magick and your intention into each item you place on it.  Take pics and save them in your BOS to remember in the future what you did in the past.  Or you can start a blog and talk about it there..LOL.

As I don’t think I will be back on my blog between now and Tuesday I want to wish all my friends in the Southern Hemisphere a very Blessed Litha..may your Summer Solstice bring you Love and Light!…and I wish all the rest of you a very Blessed Yule.  May the long night be full of love, magick, time with loved ones, may your candles burn brightly, and may your heart be filled knowing that the Sun returns again! 🙂  Thank you all for sharing this season with me!

Much Love Light and Blessings, Autumn

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Filed under Altars, Full Moons, Yule/Winter Solstice/Chrismas

A Yule Poem and Solstice celebration…..

Merry Meet my lovely friends.  How is your Yule/Christmas preparations going?  If you’re like me, you’re as busy as can be..running everywhere…shopping, wrapping, baking, visiting and feeling a bit run down, tired and stressed. This time of year can be very hectic but because we are witches we know how to fix that don’t we?  Be sure to take quiet time every day.  Meditation, altar work, ritual baths, moon gazing, fire gazing, candle spells, scented oils and incense and grounding and centering are all ways for us to relax, regroup, and to re-energize our minds and bodies so that we feel better and don’t get so stressed out and tired that we don’t enjoy this time of year.

For us christmas day is about spending time with family, feasting, opening gifts and having a fun filled day.  Yule or Winter Solstice is something quite different.  It’s more about quiet peace, the glow of candles, a yule log burning, a simple meal and reflecting on the past year and what you hope to manifest in the next.  There are many things you can do as a family to celebrate the solstice that will be rewarding and memorable and make the day lovely and relaxing at the same time. 

*Instead of buying gifts, make some together on Yule Day. My daughters, sister and I love to knit and crochet. There are so many things you can make with that skill for loved ones.  Or make something and donate it to a charity such as chemo caps, preemie caps, and blankets for hospice patients. Or you can make homemade decorations for your Yule tree, wreath,  or Yule log.  Cinnamon or Salt dough ornaments shaped like stars, moons, pentacles, apples etc would be a fun family project!

*Go on a nature walk in a nearby woods or nature preserve or on a beach.  Look for a Yule Log for the fireplace or a smaller one simply to decorate the home. Look for natural decorations such as ivy, mistletoe, and pinecones, taking care to only pick what has already fallen. If its snowing, take bird seed, dried corn or shelled peanuts to put out for the birds and furry creatures.  Make snow angels.  Catch snowflakes on your tongue. Sing carols outloud. 

*Collect evergreens to make a Yule Wreath or to put on your Yule log…the scent when you burn the log will be delicious! 

*While sitting around the burning Yule Log, share the stories of Winter Solstice. Each member of the family throws some dried holly sprigs into the fire, saying a farewell to the old year. Talk about your past year together and what you’d like to have happen in your next year.  Perhaps everyone has a favorite memory that could be recorded in a journal or blog.

*Have a Solstice Meal.  Make it as big or as simple as you wish.  Make a cake for the return of the Sun King…maybe put a sunburst on the cake with icing.  Each person can light a candle on the cake and make a wish for the coming year.

*Have the family do a ritual together to wish the Holly King a pleasant journey til he comes back again. 

*Stay up all night and watch the sunrise and toast the Sun King’s return with fresh orange juice or mimosa..then have a nice breakfast and take a long winter’s nap!

Can you think of a tradition you would like to start with your family?  I know you can…you may have some in place already!  One thing I do too..is for myself, I take time at my altar..or outside with the Moon Goddess…to give thanks for the blessings in my life.  I value my time to reflect and be with the Goddess anytime I can.

I found this poem this evening and just loved it…thought I would share it here with you. 

“So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
…They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!”
– Susan Cooper, The Shortest Dayj
I don’t know who Susan Cooper is but I salute her writing!  She captured Yule perfectly in her beautiful words.  So my dear friends, look for ways to find calm in the raging busyness of the season.  Embrace some time for solitude to regroup and reconnect with the Goddess and your soul.  Have a glass of wine or eggnog in the evening by a fire or a lit candle.  Put your jammies on early and watch a holiday movie.  Kiss under the mistletoe with your honey.  Call old friends you haven’t talked to for awhile…just reconnect with loved ones.  It’s going to be a long winter but each day the sun shines a bit longer and spring will come soon and Mother Earth will wake up and it WILL be green again! 🙂
Yuletide Blessings to you and yours, Autumn

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Filed under Family, Goddess, Mother Earth, Nature, Poem, Yule/Winter Solstice/Chrismas

Yule Recipes for Altar and Kitchen……..

Merry Meet my lovely friends. It is a chilly night..I’m sitting in jammies by the fire, sipping on egg nog and focusing on the upcoming Winter Solstice.   Yule is less then 2 weeks away and Christmas just a few days later.   I am about done shopping and my thoughts are turning to my kitchen and my altar.  I love cooking yummy, great smelling foods for my family to enjoy and I love “cooking” up sweet smelling oils and incenses for my use at my altar…. to anoint candles or myself,  for spells and ritual.  So thought I’d post some recipes for fun!  Some of these I have made and some I am looking forward to trying for the first time!

First some recipes for magickal workings.

Winter’s Night Yule Incense

2 parts Juniper berries

2 parts mugwort

1 part cedar

1 part pine resin

1 part laurel leaves

1 part chopped sweetgrass

½ part rosemary

This is one I have not tried yet..but look forward to making in a few days!  Can’t you just smell the pine, rosemary and cedar..must smell like a Yule tree farm!

Christmas Incense

3 parts Frankincense

2 parts Myrrh

2 part Cassia

2 part Mace

1/2 part clove buds

*from Pagan Christmas

If you don’t know how to make or burn loose incense…there is a post here on my blog about how to do it.   I love the loose incense..the smell is richer and lasts longer…and I feel very “witchy” when making it and burning it! 🙂

Winter Solstice Oil Blend

 4 drops Pine

  2 drops Orange

  2 drops Cedar

 2 drops Juniper

 2-3 lumps finely ground Frankincense

This I have made and it is wonderful!  I like to mix it with olive oil to give it a green look!  The smell of orange and pine is just luscious…for extra special scent..add a bit of ground clove too…smells like an orange pomander sitting on a bed of evergreens! 🙂

Ok..now lets head to the kitchen for some favorite Yuletide season recipes!  This is the time of year to NOT be on a diet! LOL!  Women (and men) have gathered in their kitchens for hundreds of years, cooking up feasts for their loved ones.  From ham to pie, from wassail to sides…the kitchen is full of delicious smells, the warmth from the oven and hearth, and the laughter of the family and friends who have gathered there.  This is the REAL reason for this season…..the love shared at this time of year.  In my family, my daughters learned to bake at an early age and my granddaughter Lily is learning already!   Giving a plate of homemade yummy goodness makes the receiver and the giver feel great!  So here is a few favorites to enjoy with your family!

GINGERBREAD CAKE 
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
1 c. boiling water
1 3/4 tsp. soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. molasses
1/2 c. shorteningMix all dry ingredients, cream sugar, shortening, add molasses, blend all together.Pour into greased 13 x 9 inch pan, bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until center springs back. Cool in pan, cut into squares.  I love making gingerbread cake and serving it warm with Lemon Sauce or Caramel Sauce..you can also make this into loaves to give away as gifts!LEMON SAUCE1/2 c. sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 c. water
1/4 c. butter
1 tbsp. grated lemon rind
3 tbsp. lemon juice

Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in saucepan. Gradually stir in water. Cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in rest of ingredients. Serve over gingerbread.

Now that you have your delicious cake you might want something hot and warm to go with it to drink.  Hot spicy drinks are the perfect thing for this time of year…to sip, to make you feel warm and cozy inside!  Here’s a couple that might just fill that order!

 

 HOT BUTTERED RUM
 1 c. softened butter
1 1/3 c. light brown sugar
6 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanillaMix all together. Refrigerate. When ready to serve, place 2 heaping tablespoons in each mug of hot apple cider and add rum to taste.  For even more great taste..add a spiced rum like Captain Morgans…Yum-O!! 🙂

HOLIDAY HOT WASSAIL
 4 c. apple juice
3 c. pineapple juice
2 c. cranberry juice cocktail
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
Lemon slicesCombine all ingredients in a large kettle and simmer.  Serve hot.  You might need to double this if it’s for a holiday party…and of course you can add brandy or spiced rum to this delicious holiday punch as well!One more recipe…and I confess I haven’t made this one though I’ve made something like it.  I think this would make a wonderful gift to give to neighbors, co-workers, your paper boy or mailman or UPS guy..(I know mine by first name! LOL).  I also think it would be delicious to have on Yule morning or Christmas morning while opening gifts!

CHERRY EGGNOG BREAD2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 c. eggnog
1/3 c. oil
1/2 c. nuts, chopped
1/2 c. cherries, cut upMix dry ingredients. Add eggnog, egg and oil. Mix well. Pour into greased bread pans. One large or two small.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.  I think this is a recipe that will be doubled or tripled right off the bat!  Wrap it in red or green plastic wrap, tie a silver or gold bow around it and it will make a beautiful gift.I hope you all will try and enjoy these recipes.  Money is tight for everyone this year and there may be some feelings of discontent or sadness in so many who have lost their jobs or can’t celebrate the season like they want to.  Serving delicious food and making cakes, breads, cookies etc  will put the cheer back in your heart and the skip in your step.  Make each meal a celebration of love and joy and savor the taste and the time with family and friends! 

May Peace and Plenty be the first to lift the latch of your door

and Happiness be guided to your home by the candle of Yule

-An Old Irish Blessing

 

Wishing you warm wishes for a joyful Yule season!  Autumn

 

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Filed under Family, Loose incense recipe, Oil Blend Recipe, Recipe from my Kitchen, Spice, Yule/Winter Solstice/Chrismas

Yule traditions and symbolism…..

Merry Meet lovely friends!  I am sitting in my easy chair with a warm glowing fire going, my daughter in the chair next to me, chili in the slow cooker, hot tea (cinnamon) in my cup and decided to write a blog post.  It has been snowy again today..we have about two inches of snow so far with more expected as the week goes on.  Winter is here no doubt!  Temps in the mid 20’s during the day, windy, brisk..and I just love it!

Earlier this week I pulled out three books I have on Yule..one is Dorothy Morrison’s book “Yule..a celebration of light and warmth.” and “The Winter Solstice.the sacred traditions” by John Matthews, and “Pagan Christmas”  by Christian Ratsch and Claudia Muller-Ebeling….all three are great books and contain a huge amount of information, history, recipes, crafts & rituals for the Yuletide season.  A common theme all 3 books is the symbolism behind our much loved “stuff” we put all over the place at this time of year.  Thought I would discuss a few of them!

Bells– Pagans, at their festivals, would originally ring bells to drive away the “demons” that surfaced during the cold, dark time of the year.  Christians are taught in the bible “to make a joyful noise”.  Bell ringing seemed to fit the bill.  Have you ever heard a bell ringing choir during a christmas eve service or mass?  Very beautiful.  Bells are very much associated with the season.

Candles-As a witch, the symbolism of a candle is about representing the element of fire, and representing God and Goddess and sends healing and protection when needed.  Candles are thought to have originated in ancient Rome when they gifted them to each other during Saturnalia.  The flame was thought to chase away dark winter demons and urge the Sun back into the sky.  At this time of year especially, my home is alight with candles to add warmth and light to my home.

Evergreens– Evergreens were used to decorate homes and halls dating back to the earliest Winter festivals.  Because the green never fades, they were thought to have power over death and destruction.  That power was again thought to chase away the winter demons and urge the Sun to come back. Evergreens in winter gave the pagans hope for a return of the light and the renewing power of the goddess nature.  I love to bring in the greens for their wonderful scent also!

Holly–  Holly has vibrant green leaves and bright red berries during the winter’s cold, providing a beautiful symbol of rebirth. The Celts gathered holly branches and placed them in their homes the night before the winter solstice as protection against sorcery, lightning, and death.  In Scandenavia, it was believed that holly would bring luck to the house.  In Roman Bacchus, holly was the female counterpart to male ivy and this is why wreaths were made of both and hung on the front door.  Pagans believe Holly is Masculine to Ivy’s feminine.  With this multilayerd symbolism, the holly is indeed the crown jewel of evergreens.  This is why the Green Man wears a crown of holly.  I have beautiful holly bushes in my own yard and can cut fresh stems thruout the season. 

Mistletoe– Sacred to the Druids, the berried mistletoe symbolized the semen of the gods, and was used to bring about great fertility and abundance.  Brought into the home and hung over doorways, it also protected from evil.    Why do we kiss under the mistletoe?  Norse legend  says that Frigg, loved her son Balder so much that she couldn’t stand the thought of something happening to him.  but Loki (the God of Mayhem) fashioned an arrow out of mistletoe and gave it to Balder’s blind brother.  The arrow was shot and Balder fell dead.  Frigg’s tears restored Her son to life, and in her happiness, she declared the mistletoe plant a symbol of luck, love and promise.  Kissing under the mistletoe means you are receiving Frigg’s blessing.  I think it’s also very romantic and fun!

Reindeer– Pagans believe the reindeer symbolizes the horned God Cernunnos.  Others believe they represent the stags that drew the Norse goddess Freya’s chariot..either way, reindeer have pagan origins.  And how would Santa get all over the world without them??? 🙂

Wreath–  A circle of greens…to a pagan a perfect symbol of  the never-ending cycle of birth, death, and re-birth.  Often used to represent the Sun as well.  The Romans gave wreaths during Saturnalia as a gift to symbolize goodwill, friendship, and joyfulness.  To me, nothing says Yule/Christmas more then a wreath on the front door.  And now many people keep a wreath on their door all year long..decorated for the various holidays or seasons.

Yule Log– The Celts adorned a log (symbolizing the Oak King) with evergreens (symbolizing the Holly King) to signify the  death of darkness and the warmth of the sun during the newborn  solar year.  According to tradition, the log should be burned continuously for 12 days, and a bit saved  to light the yule log for next year’s fire.  I burn my Yule log on Winter Solstice night.  I decorate it with greens from my own yard.  I also make a tabletop version…holes have been cut to support tapered candles in red, green and gold.  Covered in greens, pinecones and a big red bow!

In her book “Yule”, Dorothy Morrison has a beautiful chant to say while burning your Yule log…

Old King we thank you for all you’ve done

For lessons learned and victories won

We must however, bid you adieu

For your reign is finished, it’s over and through

Come forth young King of newest light

Be born with ease; grow strong and bright

Gain strength and stature in the sky

Shed your warmth on us, now from on high!

Now, while decorating  for the holidays, you will know the meaning behind the items you place so lovingly around your home.  You are bringing magick into your home, celebrating rituals that have been practiced since ancient times.  Warm bright candlelight, the smell of pine and fir, the family gathered for wassail while the Yule log burns.  Whether you celebrate Yule, Christmas, Hannukah…the feeling this time of year is universal.  It is approached with great love and  joy.   Take the time to celebrate the Solstice…you will make a new tradition in your own family that will be passed on to your children and grandchildren.  Blessings to you and yours, Autumn

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