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.
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 opportunities.
- 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 year.
- 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 miss it.
- 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 event.
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 young Stag.
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 season.
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.