Winter Solstice is a powerful moment in time marked by the moment at which the Northern Hemisphere is tilted farthest from the sun, thus producing the longest darkness at night/shortest amount of daylight of the year. Yule, however, is a season marked by the beginning of the solstice and lasts until January 1st. The Solstice marks the sacred time when the sun returns to our land, is birthed. This is celebrated by merry making in many differing ways for nearly two weeks.
- also called: Solstice, Jul/Jól, Saturnalia, Midwinter, solar/secular New Year
- dates: around December 21 and the season runs from the Dec 21- Jan 1
- colors: red, green, white, silver & gold
- plants: evergreens, holly, ivy, mistletoe, birch, oak, yew
- herbs: bayberry, evergreens, frankincense, holly, laurel, mistletoe, oak, pine
- oils/scents: wintergreen, pine, myrrh, frankincense, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
- energy: regeneration & renewal
- goddesses: Great Mother, Isis, Mary, Tonazin, Lucina, Bona Dea, Diana, Gaia
- gods: Sun Child, Horus, Jesus, Mithras, Santa/Odin, Saturn, Holly King, Ra, The Horned One, Green Man
- rituals: personal renewal, world peace, honoring family & friends
- spellworkings: peace, harmony, love, and increased happiness
- activities: Welcoming the Sun ritual on Solstice Morn/(ring the bell or singing, caroling the neighbors, decorating & burning the Yule log, making pomanders, decorating the Yule tree, exchanging of presents to loved ones and gifting those less fortunate, kissing under the mistletoe, honoring Kriss Kringle the Germanic Pagan God of Yule, feasting, making resolutions, bonfires & releasing ceremonies, making food and clothing donations, laying sunflower seeds/making suet feeders outside for birds, creating and walking a solstice spiral, performing magick for a peaceful planet, and wassailing the trees at the end of the season.
- decorations: wreaths on the doors, mistletoe hung, decorated Yule tree, garlands, lights/candles, witch balls, pomanders, pine cones, stars/pentagrams, bells
Yule Blessing Prayer Ritual: cut out multicolored strips of paper, bless & anoint the strips, light candles, speak the prayer, write your blessings on a strip as you think of them, make a loop & glue the strip end to end… making a blessing chain to use as garland about your home, altar, or tree.
“I am grateful for that which I have.
I am not sorrowful for that which I do not.
I have more than others, less than some,
but regardless, I am blessed with
what is mine. Blessed be.”
Pomanders: The orange is associated, like many fruits, with abundance, fertility and prosperity. While you’re making pomanders with oranges, you can incorporate them into magical practice. As you poke the cloves through the skin, focus your intent on bringing abundance your way. Use corresponding ribbon colors. Roll the pomme in corresponding herbs to cure it (often nutmeg & cinnamon are used)
Wassail: originally a word that meant to greet or salute someone—groups would go out wassailing on cold evenings, and when they approached a door would be offered a mug of warm cider or ale. Over the years, the tradition evolved to include mixing eggs with alcohol and asperging the crops to ensure fertility. While this recipe doesn’t include eggs, it sure is good, and it makes your house smell beautiful for Yule.
Ingredients for a basic wassail recipe:
- 1 Gallon apple cider
- 2 C. cranberry juice
- 1/2 C honey
- 1/2 C sugar
- 2 oranges
- Whole cloves
- 1 apple, peeled and diced
- 3 cinnamon sticks (or 3 Tbs. ground cinnamon)
- 1/2 C – 1 C brandy (optional)
Set your crockpot to its lower setting, and pour apple cider, cranberry juice, honey and sugar in, mixing carefully. As it heats up, stir so that the honey and sugar dissolve. Stud the oranges with the cloves, and place in the pot (they’ll float). Add the diced apple. Add allspice, ginger and nutmeg to taste—usually a couple of tablespoons of each is plenty. Finally, snap the cinnamon sticks in half and add those as well.
Cover your pot and allow to simmer 2 – 4 hours on low heat. About half an hour prior to serving, add the brandy if you choose to use it.
Enjoy your holy days and be blessed.