Yule traditions in Wicca and Paganism
books by my favourite Wiccan writer - Kate West
golden candles for Yule
- Metallic Spiral Birthday Party Candles
If you're on a tight budget and don't have the space for much. This is a good alternative.
- Golden Christmas Glitter Candle
Low Price on Christmas Candle Lights,Golden Christmas Glitter Candle, Christmas Sparkle Candles and Salco Sparkle & Shimmer Golden Christmas Glitter Candle 14cm from Choiceful.com. Free delivery available.
- Golden Pillar Candle - Triple Moon Pagan Magic: Wicca and Witchcraft Shop - Delivery Worldwide
Pillar & Large Candles for altars, longer rituals and decoration. We have thousands of Pagan, Wicca, Witchcraft and Magical Products - plus - Hundreds of Free Spells, Competitions, News & Reviews and More. Browse and Buy Online, Delivery Worl
books on paganism
Robins for Yuletide decoration
How to make a chocolate Yule log
How to make a chocolate Yule log
- Yummy chocolate log recipe - Recipes - BBC Good Food
A Christmas treat the kids will enjoy helping to make, with an unusual minty filling.
- BBC - Food - Recipes : Chocolate yule log
James Martin's version of the Chocolate Yule Log
- Yule chocolate log recipe - Recipes - BBC Good Food
Mary Cadogans festive chocolate log will go down a treat with everyone - it's a lighter recipe than most.
Yule or the midwinter solstice aka Christmas
What is Yule and how can you honour this festival?
As the days shorten and the nights lengthen we who practice the craft like those of our brothers and sisters who celebrate the Christian holiday of Christmas prepare for the approach the midwinter solstice of Yule. On Yule, usually celebrated on the 21st of December, the days are at their shortest and the nights are at their longest. Because the cycle of the Earth around the Sun isn't exactly the same length as our calendar year, sometimes the dates can fall on the 20th or the 22nd of December. However, as our pagan ancestors didn't really have calendars and clocks, we can be more or less loose with the exact time of the solstice and generally celebrate on the 21st. If you are the type that wants something more exact, do refer to an astrological almanac.
Christmas is, indeed, an adaptation of the pagan holiday, for the founding Church Fathers found it difficult to stamp out long-help pagan beliefs. They instead appropriated the holidays along with their customs and gave it a new twist. This is the origin of Christmas. Now, however, Wiccans are once more able to come out of the broom closet as it were and celebrate Yule more openly, without having to cover it up as a celebration of Christ and his birth.
The Sabbat of Yule is the festival that celebrates the rebirth of the Sun. Having been in decline since the Summer Solstice on June 21st, the Sun now begins to increase in power again. Slowly the days will once more begin to length and banish the night's long grip on the earth. This reminds us all that life will begin again, that everything is cyclical.
Witches will often bring evergreen decorations into their home. This will remind them of the return of the growing season. This is the origin of the Christmas trees and decorations. Holly with berries is a favourite for décor, the red symbolising the resting Mother and the life that is slowly returning to the land, while the dark green of the Holly symbolises the Holly King, who rules until this time. Mistletoe is another plant used in decoration with strong Pagan symbols. The plant is seen as magical because it is said to grow beneath the earth and the sky and is not rooted in the ground.
Many people go out to watch the Sun rise on the winter solstice. This is to welcome the Sun King. It is the easier solstice to honour in this way since sunrise is generally not that early in the morning and lasts a nice long time. If you can't go outside, stand by a window facing the direction of the Sunrise. Call upon the Goddess and the God to be with you. As the Sun rises, give thanks for the return of the light and warmth. If you are outside, once you have thanked the Goddess and the God, you could make a wish and dedicate it to the returning Sun. Ask it to empower you so that you can achieve what you have asked for. If you can, look for a stone or a twig, something that catches your attention that you can keep with you as a symbol of the promise you have decided to make.
Just as Yule marks the death of the Holly King, it also marks the birth of the Oak King, also known as the Lord of Summer. Robert Graves suggests in his book The White Goddess that two mythical figures, known as the Holly King and the Oak King, represent the two haves of the year. They perpetually strive for superiority with the Holly King being victorious over the Oak King at midwinter and the Oak King winning in midsummer. Graves similarly identifies many other paired hero-figures including the robin and the wren, Lleu Llaw Gyffes and Gronw Pebr, Gwyn and Gwythr, Lugh and Balor, Balan and Balin, Gawain and the Green Knight and even Jesus and John the Baptist. These pairs were seen as the dual aspects of the male Earth deity, one strong in summer and the other strong in winter. Similarly, the Holly King and the Oak King can be seen as personifications of Light and Darkness. This must not be confused with concepts of good and evil, for both Light and Dark are needed for the growth of crops.
Moreover, the Wild Hunt with began on Samhain or Halloween is now at its height. Legend says that anyone unwary enough to be caught out at midnight on the Winter Solstice will be swept up by the Hunter and carried away. Not for the faint hearted.
To mark this holiday many witches prepare a Yule Log. The traditional Yule Log is not the chocolate covered Swiss roll but a real log. Onto this log, candles are placed to represent each member of the family or your coven. If you are doing this, please be careful and make sure that your Log will not roll. If you, like me live in the city, then a symbolic gesture of having a chocolate Yule log on which you place birthday candles might be a good alternative. The candles symbolise the return of the days with increasing light. They are a wish for the coming season. Of course, traditionally the Yule Log would then be kept and be burned on the following year. But because so few of us live in environments that allow for open fires, the chocolate Yule Log seems the most practical. After the candles are lit and the wishes made, the Log can be cut and eaten.
Place a robin in your Yuletide decorations. The Robin is one of the many birds with very strong Pagan connotations.
Light a Yule candle. This should preferably be gold or a golden orange in colour. Prepare it by dedicating it to the rising Sun and the days of increasing light. This can be done by stroking the candle from the centre to the end while visualising the Sun. Ideally, the candle should be lit before Sunrise on the first day of increasing light and then be allowed to burn out. However, practically, you should never leave a lit candle unattended, so you can light the candle for a few minutes and then put it out. Do not blow out the candle but use a candle snuff for this purpose. Relight the candle every day after the Solstice, remembering why we celebrate this festival until it is gone.
If you've found some of these pointers interesting, you can do some more reading on solar deities to make your Yule celebration even more meaningful. Mithras, Dionysus and Adnois might make interesting reading. You could also have a look at the first part of the film Zeitgeist. It is available to view free.
More by this Author
The four elements correspond to the four quarters that we call in casting the circle
why it matters
How what you wear and the way you wear it is still a marker of your class.