What is Yule / Yuletide?
It is a Pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice and one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world. Yule celebrates the birth of the new year and is meant to lure the sun back during the darkest days. It has many traditions that have evolved from all over the world, a lot of which were even adopted into Christianity. Originally Yule is of Germanic decent to celebrate the Wild Hunt and the God Odin. Yule is celebrated each year on December 21st-23 in the Northern Hemisphere, but some festivities and celebrations will go on for 12 days, ending in the beginning of January..
What are some festivities and rituals you can do for Yule?
Bells would be rung in the morning during the dark times in order to keep evil spirits away.
Candles are placed around the home to summon the sun back during these dark days.
Caroling was a way for children to celebrate the holiday. They would go door to door, singing their songs and would get little gifts or treats. This was a way to show the food and prosperity that was received by the Mother Goddess.
Contribute to a Charity of Your Choice
Spread the joy and abundance to others who need it during this time.
Decorating The Yule Tree
Best to be done with a live tree (can be done outside, if you can not have a live tree). The Yule tree symbolizes manifestations of things you wish for the coming year. For some, the Yule tree is brought inside to present a warm and festive place for tree elementals as well as to attract Faery Folk to participate in rituals.
Popcorn and cranberry garlands (best used on outdoor trees) are used to feed the birds and animals. Fruits to attract a successful harvest in the coming year. Coins for wealth. Love charms for happiness. Decorate pinecones with glue and glitter to attract Faeries. Little bell will call on spirits and Faeries. Ornaments to represent the Gods/Goddesses that you want to pay tribute to in your life. Candles (best to use electric lights) are used to encourage the return of the sun.
You would then consecrate the tree by spritzing it with salted water. Use incense smoke (bayberry, pine, spruce, cedar or cinnamon) through the branches and walk around the tree with a candle Saying: "By fire, water, air and earth, I consecrate this tree of rebirth."
The spirits that created the sun inhabited the land of the Elves. Elves were incorporated into Yule to call on their help to coerce the return of the sun.
This would traditionally be something that is nature based. A wreath, natural candle, crystals, seeds, etc.
Give back to Nature
Spend time out in nature. Feed the animals or just scatter some seed for them. Start a tree seedling in your home to plant during Beltane.
During these times there was a shortage of ginger, which meant that gingerbread was only allowed to be made for holidays.
Holly and Garland
Holly is placed around entrances and windows of your house in order to capture evil spirits in its prickliness before they enter the home. It is symbolic of the Holly King and represents hope and potency. It is also hung around other areas of the home to represent life and renewal.
A representation of the fertility of the Mother Goddess and the seed of the Forest God. Druids would harvest from sacred Oak trees with Golden scythes. However, if the branches touched the ground, the Earth would absorb its magic, so maidens would stand under the tree to catch them. They were then hung over doorways to ward off evil and invite vitality, as well as worn as amulets or hung over headboards to bring fertility.
You will need candles - one red, green, gold or white candle. Other things you could use, but are not necessary are - green, red or gold glitter. And cinnamon, cedarwood, pine, myrrh or frankincense oil.
What to do:
1 - Call on the energy you require help from: spirit guides, deities, the universe, the god and or goddess.
2 - If you have glitter or oil, take your candle and anoint it with the oil and cover in glitter. Light your candle and say:
"As I sit in reflection on winter's longest night,
I welcome with my candles the return of the light.
Into the new year, rebirth and renewed,
prosperity and love will lead me through."
Now would be a good time to meditate and reflect on the past year, as well as set your intentions for the coming year. You would, in the old days, light the rest of the candles in the house and have them burn through the night. If you have a safe way to do that, then you can, but be very careful if you do!
Symbolize the wheel of the year and the end of another cycle. Made from evergreens and decorated with berries and pine cones. Often they were made to gift to others as a sign of goodwill and friendship.
Set up your Altar for the Yule celebrations.
Candles - Ideally in a yellow or gold to represent the return of the sun.
Colours - Red, green, gold, silver, white and blues.
Nature - Pine cones, evergreens, holly.
Dieties - The Green Man, The Mother Goddess, Norse God Odin, Alcyone, Balder, Demeter, Frau Holle, Frigga, Holly King, Horus, La Befana, Mithras, Thor.
Herbs - Bayberry, blessed thistle, frankincense, holly, mistletoe, oak, pine, sage, cedar, witch hazel, orange peel, juniper berries, allspice berries, lemon peel, galangal, elder berries rosemary, peppermint.
Incense - Pine, cedar, bayberry, cinnamon, orange, peppermint, sandalwood
Crystals - Ruby, bloodstone, garnet, emerald, diamond, snowflake obsidian, black onyx, clear quartz.
Yule Log (Make Your Own!)
The Yule Log was originally to honour the God Thor. Celtics kept a continual fire to ward off evil spirits from entering the home. This meant using a large Oak tree and placing it trunk first into the hearth, but keeping a small part of it to burn in the next years fire. The longer the log burned for meant the sun would return faster to warm the Earth.
These are some of the main things you can incorporate into your celebrations. But there are many other traditions that can be looked at as well, depending on your path.
Until next time,
The Bat Witch