Tuesday, December 21, 2010

blessed solstice!!

Yule, (pronounced EWE-elle) is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb. Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were “wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider.

Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun, the boughs were symbolic of immortality, the wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly, mistletoe, and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes. It was to extend invitation to Nature Sprites to come and join the celebration. A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to pay visit to the residents.

The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the festival. In accordance to tradition, the log must either have been harvested from the householder’s land, or given as a gift… it must never have been bought. Once dragged into the house and placed in the fireplace it was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set ablaze be a piece of last years log, (held onto for just this purpose). The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.

A different type of Yule log, and perhaps one more suitable for modern practitioners 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 (season), green, gold, and black (the Sun God), or white, red, and black (the Great Goddess). Continue to decorate with greenery, red and gold bows, rosebuds, cloves, and dust with flour.

Date: Dec. 20, 21, 22
Type: Lesser Sabbat
Etymology: The word “Yule,” is likely derived from an archaic Norse word “Jol,” meaning “a wheel.”
Symbolism: Rebirth of the Sun, The longest night and shortest day of the year, The Winter Solstice, Introspect, Planning for the Future, death of the Holly King (Winter), reign of the Oak King (summer).
Place in the Natural Cycle: Yule is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. At this time the sun rises and sets at its most southerly point. After this day the sun will begin to appear farther North each day, and the days will begin to grow longer. On Yule the Sun is at its most southeastern point over the Tropic of Capricorn in the northern hemisphere and has no apparent northward or southward motion.
Pagan Mythology: The dark time between Samhain and Yule draws to an end. We are half way through the weight of winter and celebrate the transition from death to life.
Animals: reindeer, the stag, mouse, deer, horse, bear, wren/robin,
Astral/Mythological Beings: Snow faeries, storm faeries, trolls, ugly chaos monsters, jule gnome, phoenix, winter tree faeries, yule elf.
Altar Decor: Bells, holly, holly berries, ivy, mistletoe, oak, solar symbols, symbols of rebirth, candles, cinnamon sticks, fir or pine bows, fire, garlands, stars, wheel symbols, wreaths, Yule log, Yule tree.
Herbs: Bay, bayberry, blessed thistle, bougainvillea, cinnamon, cedar, chamomile, frankincense, ginger, holly, ivy, laurel, mistletoe, moss, myrrh, nutmeg, pine cones, rosemary, sage, valerian, yarrow.
Flowers: poinsettia, tropical flowers, dried flowers, mistletoe flowers.
Trees: All evergreens. Cedar, fir, juniper, larch, oak, pine, spruce, yew.
Celtic Tree Month: Elder (Ruis)
Planetary ruler: Saturn
Zodiac: Zero degrees Capricorn.
Moon: Oak Moon, Snow Moon, Ice Moon, Wolf Moon, Cold Moon, Winter Moon. The full moon after Yule is considered to be the most powerful of the whole year.
Traditional Foods: Apples, beans, caraway cakes soaked with cider, cookies, dried fruit, fruitcake, ginger bread, nuts, oranges, pears, pork, poultry, short bread, roasted turkey.
Traditional Drinks: Cider, eggnog, ginger tea, hibiscus tea, mulled wine
Incense: Apple Spice, bayberry, cedar, cinnamon, chamomile, frankincense, ginger, juniper, myrrh, nutmeg, pine, rosemary, saffron, sage, sandalwood, wintergreen.
Tools: Candles, cauldron, chalice, bell, horned helmet, lantern, Yule log.
Stones/Gems: Rubies, bloodstones, garnets, emeralds, diamonds.
Goddesses: Brigid, Isis, Demeter, Gaea, Diana, The Great Mother.
Gods: Apollo, Ra, Odin, Lugh, The Oak King, The Horned One, The Green Man
Colors: Red, green, gold, white, silver.
Threshold: dawn
Taboos: Extinguishing Fires, and Traveling.
Oils: Cedar, ginger, juniper, myrrh, nutmeg, pine, rosemary, saffron, wintergreen.
Spellwork: Spells concerning renewal. Peace, new beginnings, harmony, love, happiness, prosperity spells.
Meditations: Creative inspiration, death and re-birth, inner renewal, new life, light out of darkness, return of the Sun, the Mysteries, regeneration, reflection/introspection, transformation.

Ways to Celebrate

- Gift-exchanging with friends and family.
- Decorate Yule Tree
- The feeding of creatures have been associated with Yuletide holidays for hundred of years in Europe. To continue this tradition feed our feathered friends as a family project. See who comes to visit your little sanctuary and identify them with a field guide, try stringing peanuts in the shell and popcorn garlands for the trees.
- Tell stories.
- Let your child stay up with you all night, and watch the Yule log burn. If your child (or you!) can’t make it all night long, wake up extra early and plan a dawn picnic in a park, or on a hill, or somewhere where you can watch the sun rise.
- Make a wreath out of pine boughs that the family collects on a family outing. Put the wreath in a visible location, such as on the front door, on an inside wall, or in the center of the dining table.
- When summer solstice arrives it may be burned in the fire.
- Make or decorate a special red candle to light on Yule.
- Make a Yule Log
- Bake Sugar Sun Cookies.
- Keep a candle lit throughout the night to encourage the Sun to keep it company. Make sure the candle is in a safe place where it can’t accidentally set your home ablaze.
- Create a ritual of re-birth. Let it begin with all in darkness, and, throughout the ritual, light candles until you are surrounded by warmth and brightness.
- Donate to food-banks, or give to a child toy charity.
- Gather up Yule greens after 12th night and save. At Imbolc, burn the greens to banish winter and usher in spring.
- Make offering to household and nature spirits during this cold time.
- String popcorn and cranberries and hang them on an outdoor tree for the birds.
- Hang little bells on the Yule Tree to call the spirits and fairies.
- Make a Yule log. Drill three holes in it to hold three candles of white, red, and black. (Don’t let the candles burn down *into* the wood!)

~from iheartpaganism

Yule Pictures, Images and Photos


Meghan said...

Yay! BTW I had Brian read this. He was amazed at how much we already do that are also traditions in Christianity.