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Wiccan Wheel of the Year: Yule Correspondences and Associations for the Winter Solstice

Updated on August 25, 2016
WiccanSage profile image

Sage has been celebrating the Wheel of the Year with her family for 25 years as a Wiccan; she's like the NeoPagan Martha Stewart.

Winter Solstice Correspondences

It's beginning to look a lot like-- Solstice! The Wheel of the year plunges us into the depths of darkness-- but that's okay. There's nowhere to go from here but up; the Wheel continues to turn, turning us toward the light, filling us with hope and inspiration for the future. So take some time out in this busy week to celebrate the Solstice and all it stands for!

If you're planning your Yule celebrations, you may be wondering what you need to have-- especially if you're new to Wicca and this is your first Solstice. If you asked me what you need, I would answer, "You don't need anything; it's just about you and your Gods!"

But if you want to decorate, to set up your altar or plan some seasonal appropriate activities, you certainly should! It can truly make the season bright and make the occasion more cheerful. Make the most of this sacred night, whether celebrating alone or with friends. Use some of the the seasons most common correspondences and traditional associations.

What's the Winter Solstice mean in Wicca? Just look here.

Celebrate Yule!

The 'Wiccan Christmas'
The 'Wiccan Christmas' | Source

A Beautiful Tribute to the Sun

Wiccan altars don't need to be elaborate.
Wiccan altars don't need to be elaborate. | Source

The Yule Altar

The secular calender that marks the Winter Solstice as the beginning of winter; the Wiccan Wheel of the Year holds the Solstice as the zenith of the season. Winter began at Samhain, and will continue until Imbolc. If you like to turn your altar or start your invocations in the seasonally appropriate direction, you would face North-- the direction of the icy winds that blast, the dark of night and that time between death (pondered in the fall) and renewed life (welcomed in the spring).

I tend to keep the Solstice altar simple. A snowy altar cloth and maybe a little seasonal greenery. One thing I always have on my altar is the cauldron, and inside of it I place a large candle (my annual sun candle). This is symbolic for the womb of the mother Goddess (the cauldron) giving birth to the Sun/Sun God (candle flame).

Solstice Candles

God and Goddess Offering Candle Set.
God and Goddess Offering Candle Set.

I really love using silver and gold candles for Solstice altars. I mean, not only are these colors just ingrained in our subconscious as seasonally appropriate (Burl Ives, anyone?), but what better color to represent the Sun Lord than gold? And what better color to represent the Lady of the Moon than silver?


Gods and Goddesses of the Solstice

The Wild Hunt of Odin (Peter Nicolai Arbo/1868)
The Wild Hunt of Odin (Peter Nicolai Arbo/1868) | Source

Yule Deities

Deities honored during the solstice generally incude Sun Gods or Gods associated with light. Also you will find Yule altars everywhere honoring Gods associated with rebirth. Some Gods you might invoke at Yule include Apollo, Balder, Helios, Horus, Osiris, Mithras, Ra or Saturn. Of course, if you lean towards the Norse deities or Asatru traditions, you'll want to honor Odin in this time as he takes off to lead the annual wild hunt.

The Mother Goddess in any form is the focus of Solstice, as it's seen as a time when she gives birth to the Sun/Sun God. Your ritual might include prayers to Arianrhod, Ceres, Cerridwen, Demeter, Freya, Gaia, Isis, Juno, Morrigan or Nephthys.

A Blessed Solstice Moment


Happy Solstice

Yule is a warm Wiccan holiday.
Yule is a warm Wiccan holiday. | Source

Seasonally Appropriate Decor

Organic Beeswax Celestial Sun Candle
Organic Beeswax Celestial Sun Candle

A candle like this would work for any of the Wiccan Sabbats, which are all solar festivals.


Yule Symbols

You probably already know many seasonal symbols for Yule. They've been incorporated into other Winter holidays you may be more familiar with, but most have come down to us from our Pagan ancestors across Europe and have roots in antiquity.

The colors of the season are green (for the evergreen trees), red and gold (for the fiery sun), and white or pale blue (for the snow and ice). Seasonal plants of winter are primarily evergreens, which remind us of the eternal promise of spring. Put up a Yule Tree if you like, and decorate it heartily with symbols of winter like snowflakes and ice crystals (quartz crystals are great for that). Alternatively, decorate it with solar symbols like sun ornaments, citrus fruit pomanders and strings of lights.

Everyone should have a Yule log-- even if you don't have a fireplace, it makes a beautiful decoration; just pluck a scrap from a tree lot and put it someplace prominent. Decorate it if you want, with leaves and berries, or glittery solar symbols-- whatever is your style. Drill holes into the top of it to make it a candle holder and it can be a nice alternative for people who don't have a fireplace to burn it.

Holly, mistletoe, bayberry and poinsettias are also seasonally appropriate. The furry critters of the woodlands, majestic stags, snow white doves and bright red cardinals are the poster animals for the season. Most of the more festive decorations you'll find for Christmas and Hanukkah can be used for your Solstice d├ęcor, as it all revolves around the same things-- the Winter season and light.

And of Course, There MUST be Music:

I Cannot Rave Enough About This

Firedance: Songs for Winter Solstice
Firedance: Songs for Winter Solstice

Beautiful, perfectly Pagan solstice music.Oh, I can't tell you how moving this CD is for me in the middle of the longest, darkest night as I sit in candlelight gazing out at the stars in silence.


Homemade Spiced Tea to Warm You on Solstice Night:

Here's our family's favorite holiday tea: Peel and roughly chop some ginger and a green apple (remove the seeds) and throw them in a pot of water along with a cinnamon stick. Bring them to a boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Pour it out into cups in a strainer. Add honey and enjoy hot.

Yule Food and Drink

The flavors of the season are warm and comforting flavors, with hints of spice and tempting scents that warm you on cold winter nights. My family traditionally has a ham for Solstice dinner; pork dishes are great this time of year. Any kind of roasted poultry-- chicken, turkey, duck-- will also do, especially with roasted chestnut stuffing or root veggies. Dried fruits, poached pears and citrus fruits are delicious this time of year.

In my house on the eve of the Solstice, we bake-- cinnamon bread, challah, sometimes bubble bread or miniature pies. Of course, gingerbread usually makes it's way onto the table-- how can you not have gingerbread this season? Along with that, there's usually a host of holiday cookies-- from the simple, traditional sugar cookies cut and iced to more elaborate recipes. These usually are packaged for friends and family and given as holiday gifts.

For a drink, break out your favorite eggnog recipe and indulge. If eggnog isn't your thing, how about a hot milk toddy? Another option is mulled wine or cider will do, particularly with spices like cinnamon and ginger. Hot cocoa and herbal teas are also warm and comforting.

Yule Magical Workings

Think about the winter, not just what our Pagan ancestors once did but what we do now. It's hibernation period-- they used to be mostly stuck indoors. Now, we're just stuck in our daily bump and grind. It's cold, dark and the weather is bad for many at this time of year so they don't get out much. It's a time to hole up and plan for when we re-emerge in the Spring. We make New Year's resolutions, we spend the winter planning for the spring garden, the places we want to go for vacation next year or the home improvement projects we want to start.

The Winter Solstice is a good time for planning.This time of year is a good time to do spells to help you prepare you to tackle those plans. Spells for wisdom, clarity, guidance, strength, energy-- these are perfect for the Solstice season. More than anything, turn your eyes forward now and don't look back. Put the past, the losses, the failures, and all those things you've been working so hard to let go of behind you and concentrate on a bright and prosperous future.

Blessed Solstice!


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    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Thanks so much bethperry; There are a lot of great photos on Pixabay, all released into public domain. Thank you for your comment and have a happy holiday!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Hi cfin. Newgrange would be a bit out of my territory, I'm in the US. Will you be going? I've never been to Europe, but I've seen some photos, it would be great to go someday. Have a blessed Solstice!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      A lot of Christmas traditions and imagery was borrowed from old Pagan customs, and they ran with them and made them their own. Now, a lot of neoPagans in the Pagan revival borrowed back from Christmas, having grown up with those traditions. It's a beautiful exchange I think. Thank you so much, I appreciate your comments and may yo have a wonderful Christmas.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Thank you Nell; you have a lovely holiday as well and happy New Year!

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 3 years ago from Tennesee

      A very useful article! And I love the photos. Happy Winter Solstice!

    • cfin profile image

      cfin 3 years ago from The World we live in

      Interesting. Will you be out at Newgrange for the Solstice? :)

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Yes, fascinating read. We have incorporated some of these things in our Christmas celebration especially the evergreen tree and boughs. Happy Solstice to you!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Have a wonderful Solstice and holiday Wiccan, this was fascinating reading as always!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Thank you Mystic; Have a warm and wonderful Solstice this weekend!

    • profile image

      MysticMoonlight 3 years ago

      Great article, Sage. I love your suggestions, very handy, and the homemade spiced tea sounds just perfect! Happy and Blessed Yule to you and yours!