Yule is almost upon us, the trees are bare, with the earth settling into the cold, quiet, rhythm of winter. Snow is on the horizon. The days have grown shorter and the nights longer, leaving us eagerly awaiting the return of the Sun. On Yule, also known as Winter Solstice, we experience the longest night of the year. After the Solstice, the light begins to return and the days lengthen. Yule/Winter Solstice celebrations have been observed for thousands of years, across countless cultures. It’s a special time of celebration, as we all collectively anticipate the return of warmth.
Nearly all Christmas traditions have roots in Pagan culture and celebrations. You will see familiar Christmas festivities, decorations, and rituals in Yule celebrations and Pagan communities. Evergreen boughs, wreaths, Holly, and Mistletoe were brought indoors and used in rituals all over the world, wherever they grew. These lush, green, plants were a symbol of life and perseverance in the dark months and were believed to have magical protective properties. Since these beautiful plants were able to survive harsh winters and thrive, they were brought into homes to channel and celebrate that energy, dating all the way back to ancient Roman and Egyptian societies (although the Egyptians used Palm tree leaves, native to their surrounding areas). The symbolism of Evergreens paved the way for the modern Christmas tree. It’s impossible to imagine the season without picturesque Christmas trees peeking out from curtained windows, full of lights, ornaments, and garland. Today, Yule/Christmas trees still represent vitality and the magic of the season, with their lights shining in the darkness. Incorporating Evergreen springs/related plants into your altar space, will enhance the seasonal magic in your rituals and workings. Adding pine cones, cinnamon sticks, and other seasonal imagery is another way to connect with the nature aspect of Yule.
Working with candlesand corresponding incenses, such as Frankincense, Myrrh, and Cinnamon, will also connect you to the Yule spirit ~ burning candles and bonfires on Yule connects us with the symbolism of the Sun. Working directly with Solar, masculine, deities on Yule is appropriate, to honor and welcome the warmth and celebrate the turning of the Wheel of the Year. Since the Sun was so vital to ancient cultures, the Winter Solstice was a sacred holiday and held great importance – the light of the Winter Solstice retrieves us from the darkness of night, and the harshness of winter.
You will find that many different cultures have solar deities that are born between December 21st and 25th, such as the Egyptian Sun God, Horus. Horus was guided into the world by the powerful goddess, Isis. As in many cultures, the goddess brings forth life and the light, acting as protector and creator, guiding the light of the Sun and its cycles. The birth of the archetypal Sun, the shining son of Isis, on the Winter Solstice brings forth the luminescence from the darkness and shares the gift of life with the world. Horus is depicted as a falcon, with a bright halo of Sunlight. He holds the power of the cosmos; his right eye symbolizing the moon and stars, while his left eye symbolizes the fiery energy of the Sun. He is an extremely important, protective figure in Egyptian culture. Isis and Horus, or any solar deities that you work with, can be honored and celebrated on the Winter Solstice by leaving offerings of candles, bread, or alcohol.
Three Ways to Celebrate Yule
~ Have a Feast. Food and drink are woven into the tapestry of Yule. You can spring into the spirit of the season by working magic in the kitchen! Heavy, hearty dishes, delicious desserts and warm drinks come to life this season. Traditional dishes include roasts, soups, cookies, cider soaked cakes and other heavier, more filling foods. During this time of year, Pagans also enjoy hot tea, eggnog, and alcohol ~ especially Wassail. Wassail is a popular and traditional Yule cider drink. There are many different recipes available, but it’s always a variation of a spiced apple cider, served warm. This drink has been used for centuries during the Yule season in rituals and festivities. You can use Wassail as a blessing or toast, while sharing and giving thanks during the Yuletide season.
~ Create a Yule Log. The ancient tradition of the Yule Log goes back thousands of years, and was originally practiced by Pagans in Norway. The Yule Log was freshly cut and brought inside and lit. The blaze kept the hearth warm and was thought to protect the home from evil spirits. If you have a fire place or fire pit, you can burn the Log in the traditional sense or you can adapt it into your space. If you choose to burn the Yule Log, write your wishes for the upcoming year onto pieces of paper and burn them with the Log. Your intentions will be released into the Universe. It’s a simple but meaningful tradition. If you wish to keep your Log for the whole season, you can bring it in and dress it with magical holiday materials ~ candles, seasonal greenery, ribbon, cinnamon sticks, herbs or essential oils. The Yule Log can be placed directly on an altar or in your meditative space. It can also be used as décor on the kitchen table or by the tree, to honor the Winter Solstice and the ancient ways.
~ Welcome Back the Sun – Simple Ritual. Fire is deeply connected to traditional Yule rituals. Incorporating candles, incense, or bonfires into your celebration honors the Sun and the beautiful traditions of our ancestors. You can welcome the Sun’s return through candle magic. Designate a specific candle for the Sun, it can be gold or yellow and you can etch solar sigils into the wax. Light your candle, feeling the warmth of the flame and envision the golden energy of the Sun swirling around you. Think of all the ways the Sun effects your life and what the return of warmth means to you. What do you look forward to in the warmer months? Sit with your candle for a few minutes. When you are ready, complete the ritual by thanking the Sun or any Sun deities that you’ve worked with. Leave the candle to burn out (safely) on its own.
We at the Dreaming Goddess, send you Yuletide Blessings this season and hope that your Yule celebrations are filled with warmth, laughter, and merriment. Remember that the light will always return…
Love & Blessings,