The winter solstice marks the rebirth of the sun. This is the longest night of the year and from this point onward the sun’s light and power begins to grow. The sun waxes and wanes, similarly to the moon, but over a yearly cycle. The solstices are the turning points. As the sun waxes, it brings more warmth, triggering the cycle of rebirth in the land. Even though winter is hard upon us, there is hope. The days will now grow longer. Yule starts the season of light festivals.
Date: around Dec 21st
Ritual Theme: Rebirth of the Sun God, return of the old God to the Underworld, bringing back the sun/light, hope
Astrology: Sun moves from Sagittarius to Capricorn
Lunar Correspondence: dark of the Moon
Deities: Solar Child, Sun KIng, Great Mother, Underworld/Horned God, Oak King & Holly King, Saturn/Chronos, Bel, Mabon, Pryderi, Taliesin, Cerridwen, Balder, Apollo, Horus, Set.
Altar: Evergreen decorations, pine cones, oak, holly, mistletoe, white candles
Colours: Red, green, gold, white, black
Herbs: Herbs of Saturn, Capricorn and the sun. Traditional hers include holly, mistletoe, pine, oak, fir, birch, chamomile, cinnamon, frankincense, myrrh, wintergreen, nutmeg, clove, ivy, blessed thistle, hyssop, and rosemary.
Tarot: The Sun card
Ritual suggestions: focus on the rebirth of light and warmth in your life. Do healing for your inner child. Burn wishes / blessings on a yule log or tie them to a yule tree. Yule is a great time for housewarmings.
Mythology: In Wicca and some Celtic traditions the aspect of the God as the force of life, the God is viewed as a child, and the Goddess, the Universal Mother, gives birth to the young Sun King. In some traditions they honour the Oak King who rises up out of the Underworld to combat the God of Darkness or the Holly King to take his place as ruler for half the year.
Traditional Christmas celebrations drew heavily from the ancient pagan customs of Yule. Since the birth of the god of light is a common theme at this time of year in many cultures, the Christian church moved the celebration of Jesus’ birthday close to the solstice. Evergreen trees are decorated to show the promise of the Goddess and God to preserve life. Yule logs are another celtic pagan tradition.
To the Romans, it was Saturnalia, a festival to honour the god Saturn.
The tradition of kissing under mistletoe came from the Norse traditions. Mistletoe wood was the weapon used to slay Balder, the Norse Sun God, signalling the start of the end of the world. His mother decreed that the hern would forevermore only be used in acts of love, starting the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe.
Recipe: Yasmine Galenorn’s Yule Wassail - serves 20 - 25.
1 gallon of burgundy wine
2 bottles of port wine
A fifth of brandy
¾ cup white sugar
2 oranges, well washed
1 lemon, well washed
2 granny smith apples
A muslin bag containing:
15 whole cloves
½ teaspoon grated ginger
2 inches candied ginger
3 cinnamon sticks
In a large enamel or stainless steel pan ( a large stock pot that can hold at least 2 ½ gallons is ideal), mix all of the wine and brandy. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Thinly slice the oranges and lemons and remove the seeds. Core, peel and chop the apples, then add all the fruit to the wine mixture. Tie the muslin bag closed with clean string and drop into the pan. Heat over low heat for 2 - 3 hours (a crock pot is great for this). Do NOT boil. Remove spices and pour into a pre-warmed punch bowl. Serve hot.
Craft: Creating a Perpetual Yule Log
It is best to make it out of birch, if at all possible. Procure a length of Birch log about 18 inches long. Cut the log in half length-ways sp the bottom is flat. Sand it down. Measure the top and drill three equally spaced holes to hold taper candles (about ¾ - 1 inch each). Sand these as well. You can stain the bottom to protect the Yule Log, and I recommend fitting the holes with metal so that the candle flames don’t burn into the wood. Decorate with runes, gold paint, holly leaves, ribbons, or whatever you like.
(Taken from Dancing with the Sun by Yasmine Galenorn)