Yule : The Winter Solstice
The Winter Solstice ; The time of death and rebirth of the Sun
God. Typically on our around December 21st.
The Basics of Yule
Also Called: Yuletide - in American and Celtic
traditions; Alban Arthan - in Caledonia traditions; Feill Fionnain -
in Pecti-Wita traditions.
Celebrations vary from tradition to tradition, but there are
some similarities that most people will probably recognize.
The real "12 Days of Christmas",
Yule begins on "Mothers Night" and ends 12 days later on "Yule
Night". Typically starting on the 20th or 21st of December to
December 31st. Yule is a time when the waxing sun overcomes the
waning sun (the shortest day and the longest night of the year).
The Holly King which represents the death aspect of God, is overcome
by the Oak King who represents the rebirth of the God. It is the
time when an individual concludes the chapter of their life for the
year and prepares for the rebirth of the New Year's lessons and
Yule is the first of the solar festivals and the first
Sabbat of the new year. But here's something you may not know; Yule
has a lot more in common with Christmas than most people think. Many
of the symbols and underlying meaning of both holidays are very
similar, if not actually the same.
- Dark red or Bayberry candles are used to decorate the home
and ensure wealth and happiness for the coming year. Many
Witches will place the candles as a centerpiece on their dining
table and allow it to burn until it extinguishes by itself. A
set of candles can also be placed on the mantle and lit at the
beginning of the Yule ceremony.
- The festival is associated with fire, and the Yule log. The
fire is the tool that returns all to it's beginnings, "ashes
to ashes". And prepares the soul for rebirth, the "rise
of the Phoenix from the ashes".
- The season is also represented by the colors red (for the
fire) and green (for the rebirth) process.
- The season includes the cutting of the Yule tree, decorating
the home with a holy wreath (natures red and green bush) and
decorating special cookies for celebrating the sweet joys of the
year past and the sweetness for the year to come.
- Finally, the season includes the reindeer stag to represent
the horned God, the Wiccan God of death and the final chapter of
- The tale of Yule begins when the Holly King battles the Oak
King in a fight to the death. The Oak King can be associated
with many aspects of God. The year that has passed, or Father
Time, death, or if you look at the king through nature, he can
be associated with the old stallion who must fight for his
position as the head of the heard. In the battle, the Oak King
loses to the Holly King. Who represents the new year, the young
stallion claiming his position over the heard. He is also called
the Divine Child. The newborn aspect of God.
- On a personal level, it is a time for each
witch to put to rest the old lessons, battles and issues that
need to be released. To let go of those things that hold you
back and move on into the new year with a fresh view and
perspective. It is a continuation of the introspection which you
began during Samhain. It is a time of renewal, and movement; so
- It is also a time to honor the Triple Goddess. Celebrating
the birth and purity of the Maiden, the life and nurturing of
the Mother and the wise knowledge of the old Crone. In many
sects this is also a time of celebrating the gifts brought to
you by family and friends. Those being the gifts of spiritual
growth and understanding. As the Holly King is born, the essence
of that spirit is also born within ourselves, and honoring that
birth is also part of the festival on Yule Night. Many believe
this is where the exchange of gifts at Christmas originated
from. After all, in the Christian faith it is the Son of God who
is being honored on his birthday, so why would you buy a new
toaster for Aunt May? So decorating the Yule tree and placing
presents under it to be opened on Yule, is actually a very pagan
What many people associate
as Christmas colors, were actually Pagan long before the birth of
Christ. Red, White and Green bows, candles, and various other
decorations can be placed around your home and alter. Honor the Oak
King with holly wreaths, and the Holly King with decorations of a
The Yule Tree should be cut at the beginning of
the Sabbat and decorated with all the traditional colors and
symbols. Find that special piece of firewood for you're Yule log
too. Some witches like to decorate the log with a pine garland, pine
cones, oak nuts, white flowers like mistletoe, and red holly berries
to add a dash of color. We like to sit our Yule log on the top of
our firewood holder near the fireplace.
If you want to
include the Triple Goddess in your decorations, select three special
candles with small candle wreaths (you might find wreaths of silk to
use each year, and to help represent the Goddess aspect). Chose a
white candle with a wreath of Lily of the Valley to represent the
spring when all things emerge and grow for the Maiden. Chose a red
candle with a wreath of roses or carnations, to represent the
mid-life of summer and the Mother. Chose a dark green candle with a
wreath of holy and pine, to represent the old Crone and winter
Traditionally Sabbat festivals begin at sun set on the eve of the
Holiday. You can use the daytime hours of this holiday eve to
prepare baskets for harvesting the next day. Prepare your alter with
red and green candles. A dark green table cloth covered with red or
white lace is also an attractive addition.
Some witches include
gemstones to bring or add to the energy of the festival. Malachite
or tiger eye are good stones for the Holly King. Blood stone or
garnet are wonderful stones to represent the Oak King. Serving trays
and goblets for ritual offerings are also placed on or around the
alter for easy access. Arrangements of winter flowers and foliage
should also be included to recognize the festival.
If your alter
is outside or you have space on your interior alter, you might add
wreaths and garlands around your circle. Red and white poinsettia
are a nice touch inside or out.
There are several ways of conducting a ritual. Each
witch should learn many different methods and then construct your
own within the boundaries of the festival.